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Lt. Leary, Commanding (RCN Series #2)

Lt. Leary, Commanding (RCN Series #2)

4.4 5
by David Drake

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Lieutenant Daniel Leary of the Republic of Cinnabar Navy commands the corvette Princess Cecile; his friend Signals Officer Adele Mundy has the latest in spy apparatus and the skill to prowl the most tightly guarded database. All they lack are enemies, and fate is about to supply that in abundance!

  • A hostage uses the Princess Cecile to regain


Lieutenant Daniel Leary of the Republic of Cinnabar Navy commands the corvette Princess Cecile; his friend Signals Officer Adele Mundy has the latest in spy apparatus and the skill to prowl the most tightly guarded database. All they lack are enemies, and fate is about to supply that in abundance!

  • A hostage uses the Princess Cecile to regain his freedom—and his throne!
  • An ally intrigues with enemies of Cinnabar—knowing the plot can only be safeguarded by destroying the Princess Cecile!
  • A pirate chief joins in a cutthroat battle with a rival—and the Princess Cecile is a pawn!

Daniel, Adele, and their crack crew must battle bureaucrats and traitors, the winds of a barren desert and the strains of a voyage never before attempted. If they succeed at every stage, their reward will be the chance to fight another enemy: one which can blow them and a hundred ships like theirs to vapor!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
No one who read Drake's first account of Lt. Daniel Leary's adventures in With the Lightnings will be surprised at the appearance of this sequel; that novel clearly launched a series. What is surprising, however, is the wonderfully strong quality of the follow-up. Although Drake starts off on an odd note (with a panoramic view of a military-SF hierarchical society), his Dan Leary and Signal Officer Adele Mundy prove an uncommonly engaging pair of protagonists. Mundy in particular is something of a novelty in the field--not particularly attractive, she's not only older than Leary, but she's also a formidable pistol shot, a genius with electronics (albeit something of a klutz otherwise) and not romantically involved with Leary (or anybody else). Finding themselves aboard the Royal Cinnabar Navy ship Princess Cecile, the two plunge into a multilayered sequence of adventures. They survive bureaucratic pettifogging as well as the machinations of charming and unscrupulous political exiles trying to get home, peril in space, attempted assassinations and an encounter with a den of pirates they hope to make into allies against Cinnabar's enemies. The suspense on the way to the climactic battle is genuine, and the action scenes are up to the author's very high standard. To top that off, Drake has also managed to rein in his sometimes tedious cynicism, replacing it with dry wit. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal - Library Journal
Given command of the Princess Cecile, a space-faring corvette of the Republic of Cinnabar Navy, Lt. Daniel Leary receives an assignment to travel to the planet Strymon to reinforce that volatile world s alliance with Cinnabar. Instead of a routine voyage, however, Leary contends with an unwelcome passenger, political sabotage, and an attempt to maroon him on a backward planet. Drake s sequel to With the Lightnings continues the saga of a brash and brilliant young man determined to make his way by his own merits. Filled with battle scenes on the ground and in the far reaches of space, this sf adventure should appeal to fans of military sf. Suitable for most libraries. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Military science-fiction specialist Drake continues the series he began with With the Lightnings (1998). For the uninitiated, the heroic Republic of Cinnabar is at war with the evil-empire Alliance of Free Stars. Last time out, disgraced aristocrat and data-whiz Adele Mundy teamed up with Lt. Cassian Daniels to throw a spanner in the empire's works. This time, Adele teams up with the lieutenant of the title, another veteran of the previous episode, now in command of his own space corvette. As always with Drake, you take the politicking along with the action, though the proportions vary from yarn to yarn.

Product Details

Publication date:
RCN Series , #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.78(w) x 4.20(h) x 0.94(d)

Read an Excerpt

Lt. Leary Commanding

By David Drake

Baen Books

Copyright © 2001 David Drake
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0671319922

Chapter One

Lieutenant Daniel Leary rolled his uncle's wheelchair to the end of the catwalk and paused, gazing back at the corvette Princess Cecile nestled in the center of the graving dock. He turned the wheelchair. "Now that you've inspected her, Uncle Stacey," he said, "wouldn't you agree there's no finer ship in the RCN?"

The battleship Aristotle in the next bay lowered over them: seventy thousand tons empty, with a crew of two thousand and missile magazines sufficient for a day-long engagement. The eight-inch plasma cannon of the Aristotle's defensive battery could not only divert incoming projectiles but also devour ships the corvette's size in rainbow cascades of stripped nuclei.

Daniel was as oblivious of the battleship as he was of the wisps of cirrus cloud in the high heavens. For him, the twelve-hundred ton Princess Cecile was the only ship in Harbor Three. He'd commanded her, after all. Commanded her and fought her and-by the grace of God and the best crew ever to come a captain's way-destroyed an Alliance cruiser of many times the corvette's strength.

"Didn't we, Adele?" Daniel said, forgetting how little of his previous thoughts had made it to his lips. He grinned over his shoulder at the severe-looking woman of thirty-one who'd joined him and Uncle Stacey on their excursion.

Adele Mundy smiled in response-it was hard not to smile when Daniel was full of happy enthusiasm, as he was at most times-but her expression gave no sign that she knew what he was talking about. Like Daniel she wore a 2nd Class RCN dress uniform, gray with black piping. Her collars bore the crossed lightning bolts of a signals officer, a senior warrant rank with pay and allowances equal to those of a bosun.

Adele's handheld data unit slipped into a fitted pocket on her right thigh. That modification to her uniform was absolutely nonstandard and the sort of thing that would send an inspecting officer ballistic if it were noticed.

Daniel didn't even bother to wince any more. Adele without her data unit would be like Adele without hands, personally miserable and of no value to the RCN. Whereas with the unit-and with the little pistol, also nonstandard, nestled in a side pocket-neither Daniel nor Cinnabar ever had a better bulwark.

Adele Mundy was an RCN officer by grace of the Republic's warrant. By training and inclination she was an archival librarian, a task she'd performed with skill amounting to genius before circumstances required her to accept other duties. By birth, she was a Mundy of Chatsworth, one of the wealthiest and most politically powerful houses in the Republic before the Three Circles Conspiracy had forfeited the money and cost the head of every adult Mundy but one.

Adele had been at school off Cinnabar when the cycle of treason and proscriptions played itself out in blood. Distance had preserved her life; not her fortune, but she wasn't the sort to whom money meant much one way or the other.

For that matter, Daniel sometimes suspected that life didn't mean much to Adele either; but duty did, and craftsmanship. Daniel didn't try to remake his friends.

"She's a trim craft," Uncle Stacey said, assessing the corvette with a mind no less sharp for being confined to a wheelchair-bound body. Commander Stacey Bergen, the finest astrogator of his day, had opened or resurveyed half the routes in the Sailing Directions for Ships of the Republic. "I've never seen a Kostroman-built ship that wasn't as pretty as anything of her class, though some of them use lighter scantlings than I'd have chosen for anything coming out of my yard."

The old man cocked his head over his shoulder to catch his nephew's eye with the implied question.

"The frames and hull plating are at RCN specifications, Uncle Stacey," Daniel said quickly. "The only problem we've had in the conversion was that all the astrogational equipment is calibrated in Kostroman AUs instead of Sol standard like us and the Alliance. Granted of course that the Sissie's a fighting corvette, not a dedicated survey ship built to accept stresses that'd turn a battleship inside out."

The Princess Cecile's hull was a rough cylinder two hundred and thirty feet long and fifty-five feet wide, with bluntly rounded ends. Here in the graving dock she was clamped bow and stern by collars like the chucks of a gigantic lathe. They could rotate her into any attitude, so that the antennae that lined her hull in four rows of six each could be extended and canted throughout their range of motion.

Two twin four-inch plasma cannon provided the corvette's defensive armament in turrets offset toward the starboard bow and sternwards to port. Their bolts of charged particles could deflect incoming missiles by vaporizing portions of the projectile and converting that mass into slewing thrust. Offensively, a practiced crew in the Princess Cecile could launch her twenty missiles in pairs at one minute intervals. The crew which Daniel had brought from Kostroma was trained very well in that and every other aspect of war.

As a boy, Daniel had listened to Uncle Stacey and the naval friends who came to chat with him in the shipyard he ran after retirement. They'd talked of shifts in the Matrix, of sheared antennas, torqued hulls; of days at a time spent in the glare of Casimir radiation, picking a course where none was known before.

It was those tales, told by master astrogators to other masters of the art, that had led Daniel to join the RCN at age sixteen after the flaming row he'd had with his father, Corder. The Learys weren't a naval family: they were politicians, movers and shakers of the Republic, and never a one of them had risen higher than Corder Leary, Speaker Leary, himself.

Daniel laughed, surprising Adele and his uncle both. Grinning apologetically at their surprise he explained, "I was just thinking that six years on, there's no decision I'm more glad of than that I joined the RCN, but it could be that my reasons for making that decision had more to do with spiting my father than they did with making a name for myself."

"I've never noticed that the reasons people do things have much connection with how well or badly matters turn out," Adele said. "For example, I'm confident that my parents entered the Three Circles Conspiracy with the full intention of saving the Republic from men who couldn't be trusted with power."

She smiled. Adele gave the impression of being dispassionate about everything except knowledge, and then only knowledge in the form of marks on paper or electronic potentials. That wasn't true-the passion was there, Daniel knew, as surely as it was in his own explosive outbursts-but Adele's analysis would always be as cold and clean as the blade of a scalpel.

That was true even at times like this one, when Adele was analyzing the factors that led to the severed heads of every member of her family, including her ten-year-old sister, being displayed from Speaker's Rock.

"Your Lieutenant Mon's a good man," Stacey said. "Who did the yard assign for a supervisor? Archbolt, I suppose? Or did they give you Berol?"

"Yes, Archbolt," said Daniel, watching members of the Princess Cecile's crew-the Sissies-clambering over the antennas with tool belts.

Harbor Three had a regular dockyard staff, but the strain of fitting out the fleet in anticipation of full-scale war with the Alliance had overstrained their capacity. There would have been jobs for three times the number of workmen, and there were no trained personnel to hire into the new slots.

One way around the problem was to use a vessel's own crewmen to perform all but the specialist yard work. Normally crews were paid off when their ship docked in its home port; now, a third of the Princess Cecile's crew was at work refitting the vessel under the command of a ship's officer who also was kept on full pay.

Daniel, as the corvette's captain, would normally have been that officer. He'd passed the posting down to his first lieutenant, Lt. Mon, who would otherwise have been trying to support his family on half pay and no other resources. Mon had been a prisoner during the capture of the Princess Cecile; therefore he had no share of the prize money which the Navy Office would eventually adjudge for the ship.

Daniel had two eighths of the prize money coming to him. That would be months or years in the future, but his bank was more than happy to advance him funds against the event. Daniel didn't have the expense of a wife, and he did have a great personal interest in meeting young women who might be impressed by a dashing naval officer. Leaving the full-time duties to Mon gave both officers what was best suited to their circumstances; an idyllic situation so far as Daniel was concerned.

"A trim ship," Uncle Stacey repeated, "and very well found."

In his present state of health, Stacey hadn't been able to walk the telescoping antennas and yards, so now he locked a pair of naval goggles down over his eyes to use their electronic enhancement to view them. They determined the position, attitude, and expanse of sails of charged dielectric fabric which created imbalances in Casimir radiation and drove the vessel through the Matrix.

Raising the goggles, the old man looked up at his nephew again. "Are they going to give you command again after she's commissioned, lad?" he asked.

Daniel shrugged. Civilians assumed the answer was obvious: of course the Hero of Kostroma would be returned to command. An RCN officer, however, knew there was much more to the question.

"I don't know," he said. "I performed well, but there're many skilled officers senior to me."

He smiled at a sudden thought. "Lieutenant Mon among them."

It was a grim joke, of course, because Mon would never have a command of his own. He didn't have the interest of a senior officer nor the sort of family money that would allow him to cut a figure socially and call attention to his undoubted abilities.

Worst of all, Mon had bad luck: he'd always been at the wrong place when there were prizes or honors to be won nearby. And there he differed from Daniel Leary, who'd been sent to Kostroma with no interest and no money, but whose good fortune had handsomely made up for those lacks.

"Short of Admiral Anston," Adele said dryly, "there's no better-known officer in the RCN today. You won't be the wonder of Cinnabar forever, but I think you still have some of your nine days left."

Daniel grinned, but he said, "That's not an unmixed blessing, you know, Adele. There'll be some who think I've carried myself a little higher since my return than an officer so junior ought to do. And they may be right."

Uncle Stacey nodded, his lips pursed. "You're young, Daniel, you're young, and they'll understand that. But still ..."

"You carried yourself here with the same well-justified confidence that you showed on Kostroma," Adele said, raising her voice slightly. Her words had the precision of the teeth of a saw cutting timber to the proper fit. "The reason we're not in an Alliance prison-or dead-is that you never let any of us doubt that you were going to get us free. I have far too much respect for the organization of which I'm now an officer-"

She touched a fingertip to the rank flash on her collar with a thin smile.

"-to doubt that those in charge can also see the merit of a more extroverted personality than mine when the task involves leading others into battle."

A plume of steam expanded from a berth halfway across the port. The ground trembled for several seconds before the roar of a ship lifting off reached Daniel's party through the air. He slipped his goggles down to protect his eyes-the optics blocked UV completely and filtered white light to a safe intensity-and looked toward the event.

In truth, Daniel was glad to have an excuse not to respond. He was comfortable with the praise of his peers and generally amused by the compliments of civilians who hadn't the least notion of what they were talking about. Adele's words were disconcerting, though. He couldn't equate her cold analysis with the confused bumbling he remembered going through; to ultimate success, agreed, but that was due less to Daniel's own efforts than to luck and the expert assistance which Adele and so many others provided.

The ship lifted high enough that its plasma motors no longer licked a shroud of steam from the pool on which the vessel had floated. The plume of ions flaring from the thrusters was a rainbow beauty over which a long steel cigar continued to lift. She was an Archaeologist-class heavy cruiser, an old ship with a greater length-to-beam ratio than more modern vessels of the type. If Daniel had wanted to, his goggles would have let him read the pennant number to identify her.

The plasma motors stripped atoms and voided them as ions to provide thrust. Any reaction mass would do, but water was ideal as well as being available generally on human-habitable worlds. Permanent harbor facilities were usually on seas or lakes which absorbed the plasma roaring from the thrusters at stellar heat and made refueling a matter of extending a hose.

When the vessel was well above the surface of the planet, she would switch to her High Drive, which used matter-antimatter conversion to provide sufficient inertial velocity to enter the Matrix. The High Drive was efficient but not perfect. If exhausted into an atmosphere, atoms of antimatter would flare and eat away the vessel itself.

The trio let the throb of the cruiser's liftoff drop back from its plateau before any of them tried to talk over it. Harbor Three was a huge installation with frequent movements, but the sound of a heavy ship taking off or landing made it impossible to speak in a normal voice anywhere within the perimeter.

Uncle Stacey took out his hundred-florin touchpiece-part of an issue struck twenty-two years before to mark the birth of Speaker Leary's son Daniel. He spun it so that the internal diffraction grating caught the light.

"People talk about how pretty Cinnabar coins are," he said as they watched the cruiser rise. "There's nothing as lovely as a well-tuned plasma motor, nothing. Unless maybe it's the way the universe shines on you as you drop into the Matrix."

"That reminds me," Adele said with a faint smile. "I need to talk to my banker again. It's time to make another draft on my prize account."

Uncle Stacey snorted. "Bankers!" he said. "The worst risk one of that lot faces is that the wine he orders with dinner won't be properly chilled."



Excerpted from Lt. Leary Commanding by David Drake Copyright © 2001 by David Drake. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

David Drake, an American science fiction and fantasy writer, is one of the major authors of the military science fiction genre. His books include the genre-defining and bestselling Hammer’s Slammers series, as well as the nationally bestselling RCN series and his classic novel Redliners, which he calls "possibly the best thing I’ve written." He is a Vietnam War veteran and worked as a lawyer before turning to writing full-time.

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Lt. Leary, Commanding (RCN Series #2) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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Hunting grounds
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Guest More than 1 year ago
can any one help me on a summery of this book today?