David Drake has long been a master of using historical events or classical literature as a basis for stories that, when transposed into a science fiction setting and stripped of their historical context, become brilliant character studies of how ordinary humans behave when caught up in extraordinary events. What Cross The Stars and The Voyage did for the tales of Odysseus and Jason, the stories of Piet Ricimer, Stephen Gregg, Sarah Blythe, and the rest in Igniting The Reaches, Through The Breach, and Fireships do for Drake and the other Elizabethean sea dogs of the Age of Discovery.
I'd read Reaches and Breach several months back, and had been scouring used bookstore shelves for Fireships religiously. I finally struck gold at McKay's, and finished the read last night.
As a short synopsis, the first book is based on Francis Drake's early pirac... er, privateering days, the second on the epic voyage of the Golden Hind, and the last centers around the events of the Spanish Armada. These characters and events make for compelling reading no matter what milieu they're dropped into, and David Drake does his usual expert job of humanizing the people caught in the most inhumane of circumstances.
The whole series is now available under one cover as The Reaches.