Lieutenant Daniel Leary and Warrant Officer Adele Mundy are back in The Far Side of the Stars, the third book in David Drake's RCN series (With the Lightnings and Lt. Leary, Commanding). A marked departure from his popular military science fiction novels (Warlord, Conqueror, etc.) and bestselling Lord of the Isles fantasy saga, Drake's RCN series is best described as high space opera. Protagonist Leary is part John Wayne, part Don Juan, as he travels the galaxy killing villains and seducing damsels in the name of the Republic of Cinnabar Navy.
In The Far Side of the Stars, the recent armistice between Cinnabar and the Alliance of Free Stars has led to many ships being decommissioned. One of those ships is the Princess Cecile, the legendary warship involved in many of Leary's past heroics. A couple of snobbish nobles purchase the ship, turn it into a private yacht, and hire Leary and his crew -- which includes information specialist Mundy -- to guide them on a tour throughout the largely unexplored Galactic North. While the aristocrats search for wild alien creatures to hunt down and kill as trophies, Leary manages to discover a priceless long-lost artifact, become one with a primitive deity, and spark another war!
Fans of Simon R. Green's Deathstalker novels and David Feintuch's Seafort saga should give Drake's RCN series a try if they haven't already. It's space opera the way it's supposed to be: breakneck-paced, overflowing with action, populated with larger-than-life characters, more than a little irreverent, and just plain entertaining. Paul Goat Allen