Friday, August 9, 2013

Ride the Rising Tide by Peter Grant

 I think Grant has really begun to hit his stride in the second book of the Maxwell Saga. The resemblance to many of Heinlein's young adult works is uncanny. As Ride the Rising Tide begins, our hero Steve is packing up his belongings, heading off to the Recruit Training Depot, ready to become a junior member of the Lancastrian Commonwealth Fleet.

The only major "beef" I have with anything in this series is the ongoing saga of the Jade knife. I find it difficult to suspend my disbelief for long enough to believe that the (pardon the expression) jaded head of the Lotus Tong, Mr. Wang, would fall for as lame a story as Steve spins to conceal the fact that he is the actual owner of the artifact. I suppose that Grant has some key plot element later on that requires Steve to finally surrender the knife in return for a major favor from the criminal syndicate, but if I were a ruthless tong lord I'd have pulled him in for some enhanced interrogation techniques the first time he showed up - that's just how I think, I guess.

One other thing that slows down the story a bit is that the author is presenting a lot of expository information about the Lancastrian Commonwealth, its Fleet, and the purposes behind a great deal of the training Steve receives. It is, fortunately, not delivered in a lecture format, but in small doses from bit players in the saga. Steve has inherited from his "father" Bosun Cardle, a strong work ethic, a penchant for honesty and fair play (aside from when dealing with criminals, eh?), and a knack for getting along with nearly everyone he encounters, so he does well in his recruit training, graduating near the top of his class, then serves equally admirably in flight school later on, gaining his commission in the Fleet.

Where some authors have spent several volumes dealing with a meteoric career rise, Grant has managed to just hit the high points of Maxwell's ascent on the rising tide of good fortune, abetted by hard work on his part. There are some really good lessons wrapped up in a fairly exciting storyline here, but I wonder if today's young adults are too worldly to enjoy these books, in a media matrix filled with graphic sex and violence these days. For those of us, however, with a sense of nostalgia about the golden glory days of science fiction, they're a must read.

I eagerly await the third novel, due out in September, I believe.

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