If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve probably already heard me sing the praises of Litka’s books many times. In fact, there are a few people who, I’m delighted to say, I’ve introduced to his work and who have also become serious fans. (Litka-heads, maybe? We’re still working on what to call ourselves.)
Yet, Litka’s work is not as well-known as it should be. Sailing to Redoubt may indeed be his greatest work, although I suppose I always feel that way after reading any of his books.
Litka books have a way of transporting you instantly into another world. They are at once fantastic and simultaneously cozy. There is rarely anyone truly “evil” in a Litka book; the conflict tends to arise from misunderstandings or differing priorities than from people who are just out to be mindlessly bad.
In that regard, Litka reminds me of P.G. Wodehouse. Now, you might not instantly see the parallels with Wodehouse’s world of upper-class Edwardian silliness with Litka’s tales of sci-fi and fantasy adventure, and indeed, no one will ever get confused as to whether they are reading Litka or Wodehouse.
But, all the same… there’s a little of Bertie Wooster in our hero, Lt. Taef Lang, and the way he just can’t seem to say no to the sisters, Lessie and Sella Raah, who lead him from one madcap adventure to the next. Lessie, with her cold aloofness, calls to mind PGW’s Florence Craye, while the playful and flirtatious Sella is more like Stephanie “Stiffy” Byng. While Lt. Lang gets dragged into matters considerably more complex than, say, stealing a cow creamer, the principle is the same: a good-natured young man who repeatedly finds himself in the middle of all kinds of strange adventures.
That said, Lang, while he can be a bit reckless and at times foolish, can definitely hold his own. He’s a naval officer, after all, and has a thorough understanding of the history and geography of local islands as well as a taste for adventure acquired from reading adventure novels as a boy. All in all, he’s a man to be reckoned with, though he wears his knowledge lightly and falls easily into the role of a personal assistant to the two sisters.
And speaking of the “local islands”: as always, I’m in awe of Litka’s ability to craft an entire world with scant description. Seemingly effortlessly, he builds a setting complete with geography, climate, multiple cultures, languages, political history, and even its own series of adventure novels. Before I even knew what was happening, I was completely immersed.
There are a few typos here and there, but nothing that detracted from the story. Also, you should know this book is part of a series, and ends with many things to be resolved in the second book.
You may think, “aww, that’s just a ploy to sell books!” Except… both this book and the sequel are free. Yes, free. You can get this wonderful nautical adventure and its sequel without spending anything.
So what are you waiting for? Why are you still hanging around here? Be off with you, and go read Sailing to Redoubt!
[Audio version of this post available below.]