Monday, April 1, 2019

David Drake hits mediocre with The Sea Hag

David Drake, the guy who gave us Hammer’s Slammers, has written some solid books. The Sea Hag wasn’t one of them. At best, I’d call it fair to middlin’. However, it is free to download from the Baen Free Library and I downloaded it for travel reading so I’m satisfied with what I got from it.

Spoilers... spoilers... spoilers...

Prince Dennis discovers that his dad’s kingship comes from a deal his dad made with an eldritch abomination who is also the name of the book and that part of the deal is that Dennis has to be handed over to the Sea Hag. So Dennis runs away with Chester, a robot octopus who is his nurse maid. And that’s just the opening.

I got to admit, I was really expecting Chester to turn out to be evil until I realized that the story structure was that of a fairy tale. Then I realized he was just Puss in Boots as a robot octopus. 

While there are some fantasy trappings, the setting is definitely science fiction with the monsters really being aliens or some kind of technological wonder. And the story structure is that of a fairy tale pounding on the rule of three so hard it’s a wonder it doesn’t break.

Oddly enough, that’s actually what made the Sea Hag work for me as well as it did. As soon as I realized what the formula was (and the Sea Hag is incredibly formulaic) and knew what I had signed in for, I was fine with the ride even while I saw every ‘twist’ coming. After all, I chose the book for light reading on a road trip and it worked very well for that.

Would I recommend the Sea Hag? Eh, not really. You have to be into fairy tales and looking for fluff reading. This is honestly some of the blandest writing I’ve read by Drake. I got what I wanted out of it and that’s the best I can say for it.

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