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Drakon cover Drakon by S.M. Stirling

Published by Baen Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Drakon by S. M. Stirling is the fourth installment in the Draka universe, only with a nasty twist. At the beginning it is five hundred years after the Final War that was portrayed in the end of the last book.

In all the Sol system there are no humans, only the post-human Draka and their creatures -- natural-slave servus, centaurs, fauns, etc. And although some true humans from America did get to the Alpha Centauri system to found Samothrace, the Draka have cast their greedy eyes outward and enslaved the inhabitants of several other worlds, using genetech to make them into natural slaves like the servus.

But the real action comes in their attempt to build a molehole (their term for a cosmic wormhole). Their experiments result in one Draka named Gwendolyn Ingolfsen (last seen as a young woman weeping in envy as the Americans fled for Samothrace) being transported to 1995 in an Earth very similar to our timeline.

A Samothracian spyship discovers it and sends one of their own cyberwarriors, Kenneth Lafarge (apparently a descendant of the Lafarges of the earlier books, although the son had only daughters -- maybe one of them broke custom and gave her children her maiden name in spite of their traditionalism) after her. The rest of the novel deals with their game of cat and mouse while Gwen tries to contact the home timeline so that the Draka can conquor this new world while Ken tries to stop her.

There is plenty of action, some of it pretty brutal. That led one reader to question whether Lafarge is that much different morally than Gwen. I say yes because while Gwen sees the world and all its people as objects for her use and killing as a tool to get what she wants, Ken sees killing as a necessary evil to stop an alternative that is infinitely more horrible. Although at the end the world is saved, the epilog makes it clear that there will be a sequel and the Draka danger may not be eliminated forever.

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If you enjoy the Draka books, you may also want to read The Chosen for another look at the battle between a slave-based culture and a democracy.

Review posted May 19, 1999

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