Sometimes the most diligent and loyal thingan old man can do is fumble, drink beer, and let a young man get into trouble....
the New Jardeen Incident."
A frozen silence followed the last five words. Hunter thought, So that's what the little weasel was fishing for....
Rockford quietly laid down his fork. Val's face turned grim. Lyla looked up in quick alarm and said to Narf:
"Don't misunderstand me, gentlemen," Narf's loud voice went on. "I believe the commander of the Terran cruiser wouldn't have ordered it to fire upon the Verdam cruiser over a neutral world such as New Jardeen if he had been his rational self. Cold-war battle nerves. So he shot down the Verdam cruiser and its nuclear converters exploded when it fell in the center of Colony City. Force of a hydrogen bomb--forty thousand innocent people gone in a microsecond. Not the commander's fault, really--fault of the military system that failed to screen out its unstable officers."
"Yes, your lordship. But is it possible"--Sonig spoke very thoughtfully--"for a political power, which is of such a nature that i
A nice little story set in a Cold War diplomatic showdown over a powerful but ruled by a lonely princess.
Modern readers might object that people do not think that way or otherwise argue that the characterization is poor but this is a story written in the early 1960s when people's sense of duty was still strong (the hippies and other radicals were vastly outnumbered by those who did follow their duty). For many people then, and some people now, dying or suffering emotional pain for their country is a perfectly acceptable thing to do if required. That so few books and movies depict that basic reality makes it a relief to find one that is both sensitive to individual thoughts on the border between private needs and public duty and which describes it in a very unemotional manner.
The ending was somewhat too pat but only slightly. The introduction in many ways gave it away. The stereotypes of the Princess and her husband-to-be are likewise predictable as well and only the main protagonists are really well depicted as thinking and calculating human beings (the servant being an alien does not qualify).
In general, the book was a relief to read. A much drier depiction of human emotion is far more enjoyable that people trying to describe it as deeply as possible. The writing was enjoyable, the plot engaging, and the protagonist entirely credible.
Only the ending and the overdone stereotypes of the princess are why it got 4/5 stars. Well worth your time.
A fun, little gem of a story!
I thought that I had predicted the ending, but I was surprised at the final twist at the end. The heroes are appropriately manly, the distressed damsel appropriately helpless, and the villains appropriately evil!