Honor! I’ve missed you!
Since I’m trying to read the Honorverse books in chronological order from On Basilisk Station, it’s been some time since I’ve seen much of Honor Harrington. The development of the overarching macroplot that is the focus of the current books started with other characters, and only starts to splash on Honor peripherally at first, such as by sending her back to war with Haven (see At All Costs.)
But now she’s in it up to her ears. Things are exploding between Manticore and the huge and powerful Solarian League in Talbott, and the war against Haven is one they really can’t afford to have in the face of such a threat. So she is sent to Haven to decide the war once and for all . . . by making peace.
What a joy it is to watch our battle-seasoned heroine serve as a diplomat as well as a soldier! She is fortunately aided by her empathic link with her treecat, Nimitz, and her own subsequently enhanced empathic abilities. She’s been a voice of reason in support of the new Havenite administration for a long time, so it makes sense to send her, despite her lack of diplomatic experience. She’s an iron fist in a velvet glove – her battlefleet remains parked in Haven’s home space while she tries to negotiate – but she really means it in her attempts to bring an end to hostilities.
Action is cut between Honor’s efforts and the rapidly escalating situation in Talbott, where Mike Henke is attempting to hold the fort. Some good space battles happen that get the blood stirring.
And in the meantime, the provocateurs at Mesa laugh and twirl their mustaches as the tsunami they’ve unleashed crashes off to destroy Manticore and Haven both.
Then something happens that nobody sees coming, and the game completely changes.
I would give this book five stars for its excellent action and plotting, except that we end up bogged down in a number of apparently unnecessary conference scenes while people speculate about what others might be thinking and planning. It’s good strategic thinking, but it really derails tension when the characters are constantly saying, “This is my idea of what they’re thinking. Oh, they could actually be thinking this.” That “oh” became a frustrating refrain.
For the discerning space opera fan, the scale of the space battles starts to ramp up in this book noticeably. There’s a lot more ships and a lot – a lot – more missiles flying. I love it! Bring on the explosions! Bring on the worlds-shattering, high-stakes fleet battles!
But then, I love the high-stakes politics just as much. When the fate of worlds hangs on the utterance of a word, I’m just as there as I would be with a battle to the death in spaceships.
Weber once again proves why he is one of the modern masters of space opera. Definitely recommended.
And hey! I’ve started my True Chronological Reading of the Last 10 Honorverse Books, as I said I would in the last couple of Honorverse reviews I did. You can check it out at the link above!