This week I decided to review RCN Saga: The Sea without a Shore by David Drake. The story opens with Captain Daniel Leary doing some fishing with his servant and surrogate father Hogg. It then switches to the Republic of Cinnabar’s naval archives where Aedle Mundy, usually Daniel’s communication and signals officer when he’s on active duty and an elite agent for Cinnabar’s intelligence service. She meets a young female midshipmen whom she later arranges to have join the crew for the main adventure of the book before setting in motion the likely firing of the clerk who is basically not doing his job. She then leaves to meet Daniel’s sister Deirdre who needs her help with a problem. The colony world Corcyra has declared independence from Pantellaria, the planet which colonized it. During the recently ended war, the Leary family invested in the shipyards on Pantellaria, which was controlled by the hostile Alliance of Free Star during the war and used to build warships for their fleet. Unless the Leary family helps arrange support to defeat the rebellion, these dealings will be revealed, but Deirdre and her father don’t want to give in to the demands, so Deirdre asks Aedle for help. Meanwhile, the husband of Cinnabar’s intelligence chief is asking Daniel to help protect his stepson Rikard, who is making a new life for himself on Corcyra as part of the Transformationists, a small religious group that supports the rebellion. Rikard believes he has found an ancient treasure but excavating the find will be very dangerous with the war on, and he is seeking a ship and crew to help. Daniel buys a small freighter and loads it with weapons to be delivered to the Transformationists after rescuing Rikard from the crew of a ship he had almost hired to transport him. But soon after arriving at Corcyra, the former Alliance Garrision, now a faction of the rebellion, tries to seize the weapons, forcing the freighter Kiesche to flee, leaving some of her crew behind. Eventually it is revealed that the rebels feel they need more anti-ship missiles to prevent the Pantellariaian forces from using their destroyers as air support. Unfortunately, the team sent to negotiate the purchase of the missiles was captured by pirates on the return voyage and is now being held hostage. Daniel volunteers to rescue them upon returning and neutralizing the leader of the Garrision faction, and decides that he wants to help the rebels win the war without buying more missiles, so he begins planning a final push to drive the Pantellariaian forces away from Corcyra for good. Meanwhile, Aedle, who hasn’t shared the details of her request from Deirdre with Daniel, is struggling to aid his plans without dooming his family to disgrace. And there are still some personal enemies of Rikard lurking.
I give this book a 7.0 out of 10. There’s a lot of political maneuvering and deal-making in this book, but not much actual combat. There are no battles in space at all and the ground actions are mostly small scale and often more brawls then military combat. It was interesting, but I felt it could have definitely used more action sequences. I’m still hoping that either the truce between the Alliance and Cinnabar collapses in the next book, or a new enemy for Cinnabar appears, because in my opinion the series needs to get back to a full-scale war rather than the minor conflicts that this book and the previous one focused on.