Review: The Two Space War

Rating: ★★★★☆
The Two Space War
by Dave Grossman and Leo Frankowski

I have a rule – I review pirate books, and ONLY pirate books. There are loads of nautical, naval, and otherwise maritime books out there. Many of them are very, very good. But this is a pirate site, and I review pirate books.

And so now I’m breaking this rule by reviewing The Two-Space War. Why? A couple of reasons. First off, it’s a wonderful book that you might well never hear about otherwise, so I consider it my duty to help spread the word. And secondly, it has monkeys in it. Lots and lots of space monkeys.

The Two-Space War is a combination of things that should generally never be combined – Napoleonic naval warfare, space exploration, and Tolkein-inspired races (elves, dwarves, etc.) But in the hands of authors Dave Grossman and Leo Frankowski, these varied elements begin to feel surprisingly natural. The basic premise is that mankind has begun to travel the galaxy by accessing the second demension, or Two-Space. Far from being Star Trek gobbledeegook, the concept of removing the Z-axis from our ordinarily XYZ, three demensional, existence would necessarily have the effect of bringing things closer together – a planet might be a thousand lightyears “above you” while being only a few miles to your right – crushing the galaxy flat would certainly bring you much closer to such a destination. Continue reading

Review: Victory in Tripoli

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Victory in Tripoli: How America’s War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation
by Joshua E. London

Having read several historical novels of late, it occurs to me that one thing they most all lack is a proper story arc. For example, in a typical pirate biography Pirate A was born, raised, raids this city, raids that ship, yaddy-yaddy-yadda, and then dies. Real life rarely offers the proper format of dramatic elements that make for traditional storytelling, which can make for historical novels that are sometimes a bit winding and seemingly aimless.

No such danger with Victory in Tripoli – we have both a protagonist and an antagonist, a beginning, middle, and even an exciting conclusion. And we of course have pirates – it’s all here!

Long before the United Stated won its independence, the Barbary Nations had established a unique relationship with the major European powers – namely that of terror, extortion, and downright piracy. Continue reading

Review: Bravo Two Sierra

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Bravo Two Sierra
by Stephen R. Gagin

Bravo Two Sierra is quite the change of pace from the usual pirate book. The story is completely modern and – like most modern piracy – it completely lacks the romantic panache that makes historical piracy so much fun. But that’s not to say this book isn’t entertaining. Indeed, more than anything I enjoyed the language. It reminded me of reading Treasure Island, except instead of words like “belay” and “scupper,” author Stephen R. Gagin has inundated his work with modern nautical terminology. Phrases such as “1MC” and “sea and anchor detail” abound, phrases frighteningly familiar from my navy days. Indeed, it was Gagin’s persistence in sharing the details of modern shipboard life that made this book most worthwhile. Continue reading

Review: A Hanging Offense

Rating: ★★★★☆
A Hanging Offense: The Strange Affair of the Warship Somers
by Buckner F. Milton, Jr.

Now normally I side with the pirates – it’s in my nature. But in this story I just had to root for the naval captain. Sorry, not story – this is history. And a fascinating piece at that. Word has it that at the time these events gripped the nation (the OJ trials of the 1800s, I suppose,) but today not many have heard of the Somers. 19 year old Philip Spencer was a midshipman, the son of the secretary of war, and trouble. Insubordinant from the get-go and selfish to boot. That may be all forgivable, but when he’s stationed on the Somers, a training vessel manned almost entirely by children, well, that’s when I draw the line and playful mutiny becomes cold-blooded murder. Of course, Captain Mackenzie learned of the plans in advance and dealt with it as best he could, but you can read about that yourself. Continue reading