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Apocalypse Troll

By David Weber

Where to get it: Apocalypse Troll

Not in the public domain.
Read it at Baen's Free Library: Apocalypse Troll
Buy it at Apocalypse Troll
Search for more David Weber books.

Review: Apocalypse Troll

The year is 2007, and the world is mostly at peace. A quiet night at in the middle of the Atlantic on Richard Aston's sailboat is punctuated by a dogfight in the sky overhead. Several nuclear explosions later, he rescues an alien who crashes in the water beside his little yacht. She turns out to be not quite non-human, and Captain Aston's retirement from the U.S. Navy must be put on hold, because she came chasing an alien which will destroy the Earth and everything on it, if they can't find it and stop it.

Weber is a prolific science fiction author, whose work includes the Honor Harrington series (space navy fiction), of which this is not a part. He writes exciting stories with human, interesting, believable characters. This is ``hard SF''; there's no magic, and the technology is plausible enough to let you suspend your disbelief. The technology is central to the story, but it's a story about people, and the technology neither gets in the way of the story nor pulls rabbits out of hats for a plot device. This particular book is suspenseful, and got me in trouble with my wife when I stayed up much too late reading it. I recommend it.

An Oblique Approach

by David Drake

Where to find it: An Oblique Approach

Not in the public domain.
Read it at Baen's Free Library: An Oblique Approach
Buy it at Amazon: An Oblique Approach
Search for more books by David Drake.

Review: An Oblique Approach

Belisarius is a general of Christian Rome, and a very exceptional man. When the old monk brings him a jewel which brings visions, he is able to learn from it that he must save India from the Mongol hordes to save the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, the Emperor is frightened and jealous of his generals, the Persians are pushing at the border that Belisarius' army must defend, and India is far away. Fortunately, an opportunity arises in the form of a delegation from Ethiopia. Belisarius is sent to accompany them to India, which will keep him safe from the intrigues of Rome, and give him at least a chance to ward off the catastrophy he now believes is coming. How can he accomplish that with only a small honor guard and a few African barbarians? General Belisarius fights his battles with clever tactics rather than brute force alone, and a brilliant plan is the only thing that can save Rome, and the entire Western world.

David Drake is a fairly prolific author, who writes excellent science fiction. This is science fiction of the alternate history variety, though the point here is keeping the alternate history from happening. Like all of Drake's books, there is plenty of action and battles, and there is also a great deal of clever thinking. I'm not enthusiastic about all of Drake's books, but even the worst of them are well written and fast-paced, and this is one of his masterpieces. I recommend it.


by Linda Evans

Where to find it: Sleipnir

Not in the public domain.
Read it at Baen's Free Library: Sleipnir
Buy it from Amazon: Sleipnir
Search for more books by Linda Evans.

Review: Sleipnir

Randy Barnes is going to hell. To get there, he has to find his way through a cave in Norway. He's sure that the old Norse myths were true, and he has a bone to pick with the Gods. Once he gets there, he still has to get to Valhalla. That's where things get difficult, and the story takes some surprising turns. It turns out that Odin's a lousy general, and somebody's going to have to do something.

This was the first Linda Evans book I've read, and I like her style. The book is fast-paced enough to hold your interest, and the action is plausible. Her command of Norse mythology is better than mine, and she turns it into a good tale. The tone of the book is mostly dark and gloomy, but the book isn't depressing. This isn't a re-hash of the Sagas, either: it's a modern story, of a modern character dealing with some gods who have very modern problems. The story is more fantasy than science fiction, but it didn't turn me off the way most fantasy does. The ending is mostly happy, and there is a big hook left for a sequel. The book is good enough that I'm looking forward seeing what comes next.

Riddle of the Sands

by Erskine Childers.
Nautical fiction, spy story.

Where to find it: Riddle of the Sands

Get the Project Gutenberg   Etext
Get the Plucker    ebook.
Buy from

Review: Riddle of the Sands

Riddle of the Sands is often said to be the first modern spy novel; it's also an excellent account of coast-wise cruising in a small boat. Two friends in a small yacht sail the shallow, stormy waters of the German North Sea coast, to uncover a German plan which menaces England. It was published in 1903, and is set at the very beginning of the 20th century, well before WWI. The book begins slowly, but it soon picks up speed, and is exciting to the end. Read more about it.

The Solar Pons Omnibus

by August William Derleth
Detective fiction, short story, Sherlock Holmes.

Where to find it: August Derleth's Solar Pons

Not in the public domain.
This particular set is out of print, and frightfully expensive used. You can find the same stories in several other books, by searching Amazon. Buy them at August Derleth's Solar Pons

Review: August Derleth's Solar Pons

The time is sometime between the world wars, Sherlock Holmes has retired to keep bees in Suffolk, and the British police have a new, brilliant ally: Solar Pons. Solar Pons and his friend Dr. Johnson are cast in the same mold as Holmes and Watson, and Pons consciously imitates his hero, Holmes. Some of the criminals are conscious imitators, too: a few of Pons' cases bear a striking resemblance to one or another of Sherlock's famous cases.

If you love the Sherlock Holmes stories and wish there were more of them, your wish has been granted. These stories are a wonderful addition to the universe of Holmes stories. Derleth is an excellent writer, with a style which is very like Doyle's. Holmes fans need to get any of the several books available, and start reading these stories.

More coming soon.

By Pike and by Dyke: a Tale of the Rise of the Dutch Republic

by G. A. Henty
Historical fiction.

Where to find it: By Pike and by Dyke

Get the Project Gutenberg   Etext
Get the Plucker    ebook.
Buy from

Review: By Pike and by Dyke

A historically accurate novel, which tells the story of the early years of Holland's struggle for independence from Spain. It begins in 1572, and is told from the point of view of a teenaged sailor, half Dutch and half English. When his Dutch relatives are murdered by the Inquisition and his ship is attacked by a Spanish galleon, he joins the Prince of Orange and is involved in most of the important battles of the war until the fall of Antwerp in 1576. This book is an enjoyable way to learn European history.

By England's Aid Or, the Freeing of the Netherlands, 1585-1604

by G. A. Henty
Historical fiction.

Where to find it: By England's Aid

Get the Project Gutenberg   Etext
Get the Plucker    ebook.
Buy from

Review: By England's Aid

A historically accurate novel, which tells of the later years of Holland's war for independence. As the subtitle says, it covers the period between 1585 (when England first sent troops to aid the Dutch) and 1604, when England made a peace treaty with Spain. This story is told from the viewpoint of two young brothers who enlist as pages with an English nobleman who is fighting in the Netherlands. They foil Dutch traitors, fight in the historically important battles, are captured by the Libyan pirates and escape, and eventually live happily ever after. As always, Henty has written an engaging tale which will teach the reader some history along the way.
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