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A novel by Eric Thomson
(2015, Sanddiver Books)

Siobhan Dunmoore, book 2

Reduced to convoy duty, Captain Dunmoore traces seemingly illegal activities to a secret Naval base, where she is introduced to a charismatic admiral with dubious plans.


+ -- First reading (ebook)
January 1st to 14th, 2022


These books have a great, crisp feel to them, and while I don’t have any in-depth military knowledge, they feel military, and as I would expect a naval ship to feel. I love the style that the author takes with the captain and the entire crew. In the first book they evolved into a crew. Here they show their trustworthiness and loyalty. I especially liked Pushkin, who could observe Dunmoore’s actions and comment on them as an outsider, while still following orders. He is a very, very good conscience. Because I had trouble believing that Dunmoore would fall for the Admiral’s schemes in the first place. She found him charismatic, but I didn’t. Maybe that’s just because I’m also observing from afar. Fortunately, that part of the book didn’t last long, and we could get into her own scheming. Both the first and last third of the book were great, in setting up the characters on convoy duty and her ultimate plan. I just don’t think the author made Corwin as much as a believable influence as he wanted, and that brought the book down in my view. However, I expect to see a fallout from this in the future, and look forward to it.

Spoiler review:

This book takes place in three parts, as far as story goes. It was nice reuniting with Dunmoore. After the hard time the crew gave her, trying to solve the mystery of the lax and reluctant crew in No Honor in Death, this one shows a well-honed and trustful crew, people who would follow their captain into any danger, because they believe in her, and know she’ll do the same for them. The convoy duty is a kind of punishment for failing to save a ship whose crew was taken and the ship destroyed while they tried and failed to catch the reivers (pirates).

Dunmoore’s actions and interactions with the captains of the convoy were a lot of great fun to read about. Very few of them like the idea of her taking the lead, especially as they doubt her abilities due to the destroyed ship. She manages to herd them along, but loses one ship, which turns out to have dropped off her radar intentionally. At their destination well outside the Commonwealth, the crew notices one of the reiver ships, and she follows it to a star system incorrectly tagged on the charts. It’s here that Admiral Corwin is hiding.

By way of a crewmember who once served under Corwin, the author lets us know how magnetic a personality he is. Dunmoore goes into the first meeting with him knowing that he’s been preying on merchant ships, and is heavily skeptical of his motives. He claims that the planet he has claimed is an ancient Shrehari world, long abaindoned, but preserved as if their ancestors planned to come back. A hundred thousand years later, humans are digging up artifacts, and Corwin thinks some of them are weapons that will allow them to win the war. When he gains her trust a little more, he lets her in on the secret plan to overthrow the Commonwealth government, and leans on her continual troubles with the established government, the mismanagement of the war, to gain her interest and support. I didn't fall for Corwin, and had a lot of trouble believing that Dunmoore would, too. But she's had so many troubles with the existing leadership that he is able to convince her his treason is the best way.

I'm also glad that we didn't visit Shrehari society in this book, as I found it to be weak and derivative. I'm sure we'll have to return to them at some point, but I think they need a bit of a revamp before we do.

It’s only when Dunmoore raids a reiver base that turns out to be a merchant base (with a secret service fighter on the runway), that she starts to get doubts. Her first officer Pushkin sees how she’s been manipulated, and offers not to relieve her of duty if she can come to her senses. Investigating further, they find that Corwin has set himself up as despot on the planet, confining anybody who disagrees with him to an internment camp. The mercenary ships he has under his control, along with the mercenary army, are ready for a strike Earth’s government.

Dunmoore is pretty good at deceiving Corwin, who is obviously unstable and is ready to believe everything she says. I had my doubts, but the author gives a few pages from his point of view, which makes it clear that he doesn’t see through her. I really liked the way she planned out her mutiny, disguising it as a training exercise, and staging the attack on his planet, as if they were planning the attack on Earth. They laid out mines, destroyed the planetary defenses, and used Corwin’s own plans of a coup with bioengineered weapons against him, gaining the trust of most of the mercenary captains.

As with the best stories, things don’t go according to plan, but Dunmoore and her crew made extensive preparations, so even when some things go awry, it doesn’t thow things too far off track. In the end, Corwin kills himself, and Dunmoore survives. It does leave a lot of tension, though, as she knows the coup attempt was real, and that it had powerful backers probably both in the Admiralty and elsewhere. What that bodes for this ship and its crew is anybody’s guess, but there are more stories to come, and I expect to see some repercussions.


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