cover image The Spark

The Spark

David Drake. Baen, $25 (432p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8276-9

Drake (the RCN series) is known for expert, long-running series of action novels, and this entertaining tale combining the feel of Arthurian legend with nifty far-future super science, though billed as a standalone, looks like the start of another saga. In what may be the far future, beasts and other beings inimical to all life prowl in the Waste outside the scattered nodes where human beings can survive. A company of noble warriors is needed to subdue brutish renegades and reintegrate society. Idealistic adolescent protagonist Pal treks to Dun Add, “capitol of the human universe,” to become a Champion of Mankind. But Pal is more than a warrior: he can sense and sometimes repair the broken devices left behind by an ancient civilization. His rise from talented but naive bumpkin to worthy champion is interesting and ingenious; he faces a series of physical and moral tests, learning that heroes aren’t always heroic. Though Pal’s own rigid niceness sometimes shades off into priggishness, he’s a likable fellow. It’d be fun to follow him through other adventures. (Nov.)