The Seafort Saga: A book review

The Seafort Saga is a series of seven books by David Feintuch. The series follows the military career of Nicholas Seafort from Midshipmen in Earths Naval Service up to Presidency of the UN.

Set at the end of the 22nd Century the series is compared by most to being ‘Hornblower in Space’ and this is true. It gives the closest analogy to its style and content. On the face of it one might assume it to be one of the many ‘lite’ naval military novels like those of Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series but in fact the novels have a greater depth and scope.

Feintuch creates a believable new future universe in which man is alone in space and colonising other planets. The United Nation Naval Service is supreme in space and her Captains have total power and authority.

The lead character, Nicholas Seafort is an interesting character, his internal dialogue carries through the narrative and you see his doubts and fears with great clarity. We see him struggle with his internal demons and the over powering pillars of authority, the navy and god. These two factors loom large in the books and guide Seafort in nearly every action. He has a very moral core and carries every decision like a burden. He takes responsibility for every action, a flaw that comes close to driving him insane at times and gives us a hero who takes into account consequences rather than just plunge on heroically unmarked from each encounter.

The author takes great care to establish the ground rules for the navy so that he has a backdrop upon which to pin drama and the unexpected rise to Captaincy of the hero. It is this naval service and the rules within it that ties the story together and gives structure to the plot which advances quickly with the arrival of the ‘fish’ aliens.

The feel of the early books is very much one of early maritime exploration. Frigates crossing unknown stretches of ocean to far flung colonies in exotic lands. Later books pursue more political themes as the character ages and transfers from military to civilian life and is faced with the socio-political problems on Earth itself. Feintuch is not afraid to tackle prejudice, fights for independence, poverty and corruption and these elevate it above the normal military sci-fi novel.

The space combat and ship detail is excellent and the boarding action sequences are reminiscent of pirate boarding parties. The science side of the novels are good and well explained within established physics.

I read these books when I was much young, back in the late 1990’s but it is a series I continue to reread and one of the few hard copy books I have kept when I ran out of bookshelves. I found the pace exciting and the tone easy to read something that still stands as an adult.

Sadly David Feintuch died in 2006 with an unfinished 8th book in the works. The series as a whole are an excellent read although the first three books are the most engaging, the more detached Seafort becomes from the navy the weaker the narrative becomes.

 

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