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David Weber's Honor Harrington novels are starting to feel like old friends. Their mix of SF adventure yarn and Napoleonic naval fiction blends to give us a story that is a slick and easy read, that fills the dead time of a commuting journey with derring do and danger. Or at least they used to.

The latest novel, War Of Honor, is a change of pace. As the war between the Republic of Haven and the Kingdom of Manticore hangs in the stony stalemate of diplomatic limbo, Honor Harrington and the Earl of Whitehaven find themselves in the position of being the most visible part of Manticore's loyal opposition. While the Manticore government takes advantage of the current state of affairs to feather its nest, they're hunting for a means to discredit Harrington and remove a vocal thornin their side. In Haven, the shock of defeat has resulted in a new rash of military development, and a desire to even the playing field with Manticore.

As political machinations on both sides start an inevitable slide back to shooting war, Harrington is sent as a show of strength into the fractured and pirate-ridden Silesian confederacy. It's a place where something suspicious is going on, but whether it is Havenite machinations, or a opportunistic expansion by a local power is a question for Honor to answer. It's a question that's going to change the strategic picture, and set the scene for the next few novels in the series. There are two interregnums here: one for Honor, and one for us, Weber's audience.

If you're used to the frenetic pace of earlier Harrington novels, you'll find this hefty book a much slower and more gentle book. What action there is takes place off-screen for the most part. This isn't a bad thing - what Weber has delivered is a novel that deals with the larger issues around the strategic nature of interstellar warfare, mixed with the byzantine politics of Manticore and Haven. However, for an audience that demands more and more Honor, the many different viewpoints used to construct War Of Honor may feel confusing - but Weber is making a point: the road to war is not one individual and one decision, instead it is a combination of deliberate decisions, mistakes and confrontations.

So, the verdict is in. Not a bad novel, just a different one. It's definitely worth a read if you're a fan of the series, and if not, the bundled CD-ROM of ebooks contains the other nine volumes in the series in a wide variety of formats for most common operating systems and PDAs, making this an economical place to start an Honor Harrington addiction...

I still haven't quite decided how close a match Honor is to Nelson. It's getting there, though...


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Dec. 4th, 2002 03:22 am (UTC)
Completely agree. It's been interesting to see how Weber's development of the background to the stories, which began as comparatively formulaic (albeit great fun) Hornblower clones, has begun to move to the foreground as he explores the detail of the Star Kingdom and, more itnerestingly, the developments in the PRH.

I'd take some issue with the Ghastly Conspiracy thing which he often produces - in the case of this novel, the machinations by the PRH Foreign Minister are just a bit too Sathanas ex machina as a vehicle for restarting the war - and would like to see more plain old cockups, but that's a taste thing.

The other thing he often overlooks is that in grand strategy, warfare occurs when perceived national interests collide. There isn't a clear clash between Manticore and the PRH, in strategic terms, as neither side's objective interest is served by restarting hostilities, but that's a taste thing as well.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )