This book is not about Honor Harrington. It’s not about Aivars Terekhov. It’s not even about Mike Henke or either of the series’ Zilwickis.
This book is about Sinead Terekhov. It’s about Grezegorz Zielinski and Tomasz Szponder. It’s about Adam Siml and Zdenek Vilusinsky. It’s about Mackenzie and Indy Graham. It’s about the Allenby family. And above all, it’s about agent provocateur Damien Harahap, a.k.a. “Firebrand.”
Firebrand, you know, if you’ve been reading the Honorverse. Sinead you’ve met briefly, because she is Captain Terekhov’s wife. The rest are new, and with the series being so deep in, it’s confusing people, I think.
So who are all these people? They are folks who have been hurt by tyrannical Verge planet governments whose regimes have been propped up by the Solarian League’s Frontier Security. They want to overthrow those regimes, but know they also have to fight Frontier Security in order to do it. And they are the ones approached by Firebrand on behalf of the Mesan Alignment’s shadowy false flag operation to pretend to offer that support… from Manticore.
There’s only one problem. Firebrand actually sympathizes with the movements he’s been “pretending” to assist. And Mike Henke – and now, Aivars Terekhov – intend to deliver on the promises that someone else has been making on Manticore’s behalf.
On its own, this would be a fantastic space opera book. I chewed it up in about three days, and it’s a big, BIG book.
This late in the series, it’s not what people expected. It goes back in time and seems to cover ground that’s already been covered (and it some places, it does do that.) And yet, it’s absolutely necessary to get the whole picture of the story that Weber is trying to tell in this vast, epic conspiracy.
By this time, I had given up the initial expectations that soured me towards The Shadow of Saganami when I first read it, because I think I had finally absorbed what it was that Weber was trying to do. As a result, I thought this book was excellent.
The loss of a star is simply because it’s so complex that it becomes difficult to keep track of which characters are which if you’re not paying close attention, especially with the plethora of unfamiliar Polish names (I have Polish ancestors, but I am Canadian, and I had to make a list.)
Definite plus: all of these tyrannical governments were tyrannies in different ways. No cookie-cutter regimes here, as would have been all too easy to do, especially with the similar cultural milieus. I can only imagine the brain-wracking worldbuilding that would have required!
I’m also a bit staggered by the enormity of the timeline Weber would have had to shuffle! Keeping track would have been a nightmare! As a result, it suffers occasionally from pacing problems, but nothing that I think is a deal-breaker.
A definite must for fans of the series, and if you’re up for a chewy space saga that’s as complex as A Song of Ice and Fire, well worth it for the discerning space opera fan as well.
I’m doing a 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!