Totally Frivolous Leary/Mundy Post

Readers of this blog may be aware that I’m very fond of David Drake’s RCN (Royal Cinnabar Navy) series, and its main characters, Daniel Leary and Adele Mundy. If you only have time to read one Napoleonic naval series set in space, read this one.
(I like Honor Harrington well enough, but if you’ve already read Pern, Hornblower, and the Life of Nelson, you don’t really need to read them all mixed together. Besides, this one’s shorter.)

But the problem is that Drake is not shy about the debt his series owes to the Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O’Brien. In turn, the Aubrey-Maturin books did owe a little something to the Hornblower series.

Can we say “disastrous marriages”? I knew you could.

Meanwhile, Drake points out that the next RCN book (due out in September of 06) is “quite different from earlier volumes in the series”. Then the sample chapters at Jiltanith start having Daniel meet a nice, smart, respectable girl from a naval family… with a rather unforgiving mother. Both of whom seem to be on the catch for Daniel. Neither of whom seem to be the type to understand Adele, but both of whom seem capable of driving poor Adele into a murderous rage. Or at least making her, like, ruin her life and stuff.
So that’s the problem. We’re getting to the point in the series when Aubrey, Maturin, and Hornblower all met exactly the wrong woman, and had their lives made miserable for years as a result. I don’t really want to read about that.

But I will, of course. I’ll want to read about Daniel Leary whatever Drake does… but I’ll just whine about it a lot. A lot. Sigh.

See, I really do want my favorite authors to stretch themselves, and I really do trust them when they do so. But I also really hope that those series I like will continue to develop in ways that I like. There’s no way to guarantee that I’ll get anything I want, of course. But mostly, I really want them to continue to be writers I respect, both as artists and human beings. I truly wish them well, and I am glad to use my cash to help support them.
However, David Drake also has a new Isles book coming out next month. I’m all in favor of that since it’s the antepenultimate volume and Serious Plot is guaranteed to occur. Also, he’s coming to Books & Co. on his book tour, so I’ll be conveniently able to moan, groan, pone and swear undying loyalty to the man himself. (Assuming he doesn’t put a restraining order on me before then….) If he’s coming to your area, I highly recommend going to see him. He’s an interesting character in himself.

(And for all you Latin fans in St. Blog’s, don’t forget the man’s a really gifted student of the classics.)


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3 responses to “Totally Frivolous Leary/Mundy Post

  1. O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels may owe a small debt to C.S. Forester’s Hornblower books, but they excel the Hornblower books in depth and in scope, I think. Plus, there was always something a little wooden and off-putting about Mr Hornblower….

    But! Royal Navy in space? I’m all over it! 😀

  2. I think you’ll really enjoy the RCN books. It’s pretty clear that Mr. Drake enjoyed writing them. He does an impressive amount of worldbuilding along the way as well.

    Well, of course Aubrey-Maturin’s a better series. O’Brien’s a better writer, more immersed in his subject, more concerned with writing literature, and writing primarily for adults.

    There is ripping off and then there is ripping off. O’Brien is ripping off Hornblower like Dante ripped off Virgil, or Shakespeare ripped off his sources. Everybody at the time of writing was perfectly aware of the Hornblower series, and of both writers’ debts to the life of Nelson. Drake and Weber don’t hide their sources and inspirations, either. They rove and pillage the riches of Story, just like every other writer back to Homer.

    (I’m more worried by, say, huge fans of Honor Harrington who were mystified by the mysterious ability of other fans to predict what was coming next, when those other fans were just following the Nelson parallels. )

    Ah, Hornblower… he’s so darned angsty! Burden of command, burden of his men, burden of his officers, burden of his wife, burden of his true love… honest to goodness, does the man ever enjoy anything? (Okay, getting prize money and being right… but besides that?) Still, I have to say that I enjoyed the books pretty well when I was in my teens, and still remember them. But I sympathize with Patrick O’Brien (and Gene Roddenberry, and David Drake) making their captains much more fun-loving and happy-go-lucky.

    The command distance thing… well, Americans were never quite so into that as the English, anyway. But I admit that I was rather interested to find out just how seriously the English took that, even up to quite recently. To be honest, Hornblower was not unusually “distant” or “wooden” by that standard.

    I have to say, probably the most interesting book I’ve read (or listened to, in my case) in a while was At War at Sea: Sailors and Naval Combat in the Twentieth Century by Ronald Spector. It looked at… well, how each major navy did its thing, including not only technology, strategy, and tactics, but what it looked for in its personnel and how it produced what it wanted. The sections on the British, especially the officer training schools, were… um… interesting. Yeah. Very. Check your local library.

  3. 😀 Thanks for the recommendation! It sounds like an interesting and useful read (and since I’m currently working on my own stories that owe no small debt to certain writers of naval fiction…. :D)

    Actually, I read Aubrey-Maturin before I read Hornblower, so I started out with a bias. Hornblower’s distance as a commander didn’t bother me so much as Forester’s inability to make him seem like an actual human being.

    Have you read David Donnachie’s Nelson & Emma trilogy? It’s a fictionalization/dramatization of their lives, and it’s pretty enjoyable, although I was sad to find that I enjoyed the Emma-being-a-courtesan/light woman sections more than the Nelson-at-sea sections. Characterization, again, I think. How do you portray a demigod and make him seem human?

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