Sunday, 2 June 2013
We are simultaneously transported into an interstellar future and reminded of ancient empires, particularly the Roman and British, when we read that on remote planets "...men turned dark and leathery, or thick and weary, by strange weathers lifted glasses in salute..." for the Emperor's birthday. (p. 7)
Almost immediately, we read some unexpected honesty on the part of the Terran aristocrat, Lord Hauksburg:
"Everybody knows the Empire was won and is maintained by naked power, the central government is corrupt and the frontier is brutal and the last organization with high morale, the [Space] Navy, lives for war and oppression and anti-intellectualism." (p. 8)
I did not know that it was quite that bad. Fortunately, our Naval hero, Dominic Flandry, is not anti-intellectual. We do see him waging war and, in a later volume, participating in the oppression of the planet Brae. In this, his first volume, he is mentioned in Chapter Two but first appears in Chapter Four where he has adventures with the native crew of a merchant ship on the planet Starkad. These adventures continue between chapters and we understand that he presents an exaggerated account of them to Lord Hauksberg's concubine so an interesting spin-off series might have been Flandry's Adventures On Starkad.
Ensign Flandry reads a bit like a juvenile novel since its hero is nineteen and tours the exotic planets of Starkad and Merseia before saving the Terran Fleet and thus Terra.