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Reviewer: Newest from David Drake is 'nothing spectacular'

'With the Lightnings'
by David Drake

Baen Books, $22

Review by David Mandeville

(CNN) -- Let me start out by saying that David Drake is one of my favorite authors. When this book arrived I couldn't wait to read it.

I should have.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed it. But it didn't fulfill its potential or my expectations.

"With the Lightnings" tells the story of two young aristocrats, naval officer Daniel Leary and scholar Adele Mundy, who must foil a military coup. Adding in spaceships, a distant planet, and warring stellar empires, you have the foundation of a good space opera.

Drake's best stories have been military fiction, and he equals anyone in the genre. This novel tends more to intrigue, but doesn't stray far from his tried and true course.

The problems lie in its pacing and characters. The novel reads more like a series of short stories strung together with the weakest one at the end. The plot never caught me up to push me to turn the pages. Instead, I got a few bright moments and a deflated, ho-hum ending.

Of the two main characters, only one ever really comes to life. When the coup begins Adele Mundy must re-evaluate herself and the choices she has made in order to make the transition from librarian to spy. Daniel Leary remains constant, but instead of contrasting, he's just two dimensional.

Overall, I found "With the Lightnings" a nice, light read, but nothing spectacular.

David Mandeville is a webmaster who lives in Atlanta.

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