Code of Honor

Written by Robert N. Macomber
Review by Loyd Uglow

Admiral Peter Wake has had a long and illustrious naval career. This 16th and latest entry in the Wake saga carries the admiral through a dangerous and important intelligence mission. He is assigned by President Theodore Roosevelt, circa 1905, as an international naval observer onboard the flagship of the Imperial Russian Navy on its months-long voyage from the Baltic to the Sea of Japan to fight the Japanese Navy during the later stages of the Russo-Japanese War. Wake’s specific assignment is to gain firsthand knowledge of Japanese and Russian tactics and equipment with an eye toward future potential conflicts the U.S. may face.

The admiral travels with his trusted aides—crusty, dangerous Chief Boatswain’s Mate Sean Rork, and young Marine Captain Edwin Law—and, for a time, with his beautiful Spanish wife, Maria. Their journey carries them through a number of encounters with European diplomats, intelligence operatives, and heads of state before the main mission—the voyage—even starts. Once it does get underway, the Russian fleet carries Wake halfway around the world, with danger in every port.

Macomber writes with an easy assurance that only comes through deep historical familiarity with the time period and thorough identification with the protagonist. The book is reminiscent of earlier series on fictional naval heroes, such as Horatio Hornblower, Richard Bolitho, and Jack Aubrey. The admiral tells his story in first-person, and he comes across well as a believable professional military man of the period, with his own fears, faults, and talents.

I just may have a new favorite author.