This is the first of a spin off in the Honor Harrington series. It starts off by dealing with the next generation of midshipmen. Helen Zilwicki, one of the characters created by Eric Flint for the Honorverse, is prominently featured.
I was disappointed with the first 300 pages but after that the book rapidly picks up the pace and shows true Honorverse form. It is a shame that Weber has descended into verbose overflow. Yes, David, I understood what you meant after the first sentence. You don’t need to re-explain and expand for another overly long paragraph. It slows down the action too much.
I would recommend this for the Honor Harrington fan, but not as a first taste of Weber. There is too much background information that needs to be known to make it enjoyable as a first foray.
Note: This series is also known as Saganami Island.
This is the first of a spinoff series in the the Honor Harrington Universe. My guess is that Flint is doing most of the writing since he is the one who came up with the Zilwicki characters in the Honorverse anthologies.
All the way through reading the book, I kept thinking that Weber and Flint can do much better than this. While the characters are engaging, the plot is lackluster. There’s a lot of interesting material here, but it just doesn’t feel like the high adventure it’s supposed to be. The whole thing is rather construed and feels forced. The first half is very dull, but the novel thankfully picks up during the second half. And then there’s the endless exposition; just as in the later works by Weber, the explanations drone on and on. If I hadn’t been a fan of the Honorverse, I would probably not have finished the book.
Book 12 in the “main” Honor Harrington series finds Manticore finally confronting the Solarian League. As Weber has been hinting at for years, Manticore (and to a lesser degree, Haven) have both achieved very significant technological superiority compared to the league with regards to military hardware. The Solarian League is huge and powerful, but also complacent, arrogant, and full of self-delusion. Added to the mix is the growing threat from Mesa/Manpower. The main action in this book is divided between Michelle Henke’s trouncing of a Solarian Navy task force, an attack on Manticore by Mesa, and most importantly Honor’s mission to Haven to broker peace. After the Battle of Manticore, Haven does not have much choice but to accept Manticore’s terms.
What with the two spin-off series (Saganami and Wages of Sin) and the increasingly complex macro plot, the series is spinning out of control a bit, in the sense that it is becoming almost too intricate for the action to shine through. Like most people, I started reading the series because it combined strong action with strong characters and an interesting but not too complicated macro story. While I do enjoy the additional facets to the Honorverse that are being uncovered, the whole thing does make for rather ponderous novels at this point. Long gone are the days of “On Basilisk Station” or “Honor Among Enemies”, where the mission was relatively simple and there was only one main plot.
Don’t get me wrong, I can live with the complications. Unfortunately Weber’s writing style has also become almost insufferably ponderous. There’s internal dialog after internal dialog, and endless conference scenes. The first third of the book is pretty much one meeting after another, with long breaks for internal dialog. To add insult to injury, about two thirds could have been cut. Every character seems to exhaust every option of every single train of thought or statement. “Oh I know this is not a perfect plan, but on the other hand this and that.” Ad nauseam. Mr. Weber, your readers are smart enough to draw those conclusions without needing them spelled out. There’s also endless summarizing of events from previous books. I did a lot of skimming at this point.
And don’t get me started on the conference scenes that start by introducing ten or twelve new characters with a paragraph or two each. How are we, as readers, supposed to keep track of all those? And why should we, given that most are never seen again?
The middle of the book mostly gets back to old form, with some nice action scenes. Weber really is a master of these. It’s a shame he still feels the need to pause the action for a page or two of internal dialog every so often.
Unfortunately, the last third of the book is back to conferences, though it is not as bad as the first third since by now the characters have something to actually talk about.
The real shame here is that the story and characters are really great. A good editor could have cut the fat and made this book half as long, at the same time transforming it into a gripping page turner like the early books in the series. Nevertheless, I suppose I shall have to continue reading. After twelve books I am pretty invested in this epic story.
Space Opera in the spirit of Horatio Hornblower. Action, adventure and all that. And really good. Although I feel that Weber has lately slackened off a little, and is given to perhaps excessive verbosity in his tangents, I still eagerly await each new release.
On Basilisk Station (HH I) – Arguably still the best Honor book. Lots of action, but also humor and great characters. This kind of editing would do the books after 6 good..
The Honor of the Queen (HH II) – An incredible ride.
The Short Victorious War (HH III) – Long on the action, short on the characters. But that’s fine 😉
Field of Dishonor (HH IV) – Weber shows how even Honor has a dark side, and it’s very dark.
Flag in Exile (HH V) – An interesting character study of Honor.
Honor Among Enemies (HHVI) – Perhaps my favorite Honor. A great story of redemption.
More than Honor (Anthology)
In Enemy Hands (HH VI) – Very exciting but not quite as good as books 1 through 6.
Echoes of Honor (HH VIII) – Great storyline, but unfortunately Weber’s style is slipping by this point, with overlong exposition and contrived dialogue among the still great action.
Worlds of Honor (Anthology)
Ashes of Victory (HH IX) – Losing steam, which unfortunately stays lost in “War of Honor”.
Changer of Worlds (Anthology)
War of Honor (HH X) – Pretty ho-hum compared to the others. Definitely an interim book.
The Service of The Sword (Anthology)
At All Costs (HH XI) – This definitely shows a partial comeback of Weber’s old form. Although he still hems and haws his way through dialogue, the action is great and the stakes are high.
Some of the stories in the anthologies contain background for later novels, so it is rather important to read them as part of the sequence.
Around War of Honor (HH X) The Honorverse branches off with the “Saganami Island” and “Crown of Slaves” series.