hankrules2011

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A Review of Flag In Exile

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 24, 2015

Flag in Exile (Honor Harrington, #5)Flag in Exile by David Weber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another good Honor Harrington book, the fifth of the series. In it, she’s lost her commission in the Manticoran navy due to her duel with arch-enemy Pavel Young, in which she legally killed him, and is now on half pay. She has retreated to the planet of Grayson, where she has been made a Homesteader, something akin to a governor of her own state. She’s been awarded their highest honor for saving their planet from an invasion a few years ago and is much loved and respected by many. But not all. See, Grayson is backwards. It’s a patriarchal, religious zealotry-based world where women are respected, but they are expected to stay home, barefoot and pregnant. And the church, while not the official ruling body, controls much of what goes on. So Honor has a lot to learn and the people of Grayson have a lot to learn about her. Fortunately, the leader of the planet has been offworld and has seen what there is to offer and is determined to bring about reforms to his planet, in terms of technology and women’s roles.

When we see Honor, she is trying to recover from her lover’s murder in the previous book. And she’s having to endure demonstrations at the entrance to her capital, people who have been bused in from other homesteads with signs calling her a harlot, etc. Her people don’t like it, as they like and respect her, but little can be done about it. Meanwhile, the navy has been refitting some superdreadnaughts captured from a battle with Haven, given to them by Manticore, which will beef up their fleet significantly. However, they lack experienced captains and officers. So, the commanding admiral asks permission to ask Honor to take over and join the navy. She thinks it over and agrees. She’s surprised to find that they’ve made her an admiral and have given her her own squadron of superdreadnaughts and support craft.

Before she goes up to her new ship, there’s a community party, which is interrupted by an outsider priest, who screams maddening insults at her, even as the leading religious figure is there with her. This man goes too far, however, and the crowd beats him up, only to be saved at Honor’s command by her guards. The church strips this man of his office and his homesteader, and religious fanatic if I’ve ever seen one, is livid. He arrests the new priest sent to his community and reinstalls the disgraced priest who has been barred. The world’s leader is ticked, but he feels there is little he can do.

Honor has invested in a venture called Sky Domes to build domes over the cities to protect them from the harsh environment. The evil homesteader has gotten some of his men into the work crew and sabotages the project, causing a dome to collapse, killing 32 children and over 70 adults. All of a sudden, all of Grayson is against her and he is elated. However, her engineers know it couldn’t have happened by accident and they pour over video and details and discover the sabotage, finding the perpetrator and alerting Honor and the president. Honor is on her ship with the religious leader and her lead engineer. The president calls a secret, closed meeting of the “Keys,” the Steaders. They don’t know what it’s about, but it can’t be good because that never happens. On their way from her ship to the ground, two assassins get onto her airfield and fire a surface to air missile, blowing up her craft and killing a number of people. She survives. One of the assassins comes looking for her and points his gun at her head. Just as he pulls the trigger, someone leaps in front of Honor, saving her and dying for her in the process. It is the world’s religious leader. When the assassin sees this, he is dumbstruck and gives himself up because he knows he is now going to Hell. He signs a detailed confession and the president calls a new secret meeting of the Keys and announces he is charging a member of the body with treason and murder and the crowd gasps. Honor walks into the chamber and the president charges the religious nut. Just as he is about to be hauled away, this guy invokes a little used rule that allows him to challenge his accuser or his accuser’s champion to a duel by sword. He’s a grand champion. He knows he will kill Honor. Honor slices the shit out of him. It was awesome to see him die.

So she returns to her ship to rest and relax. She’s been up and going for something like 36 hours. She has four broken ribs. She has cuts and bruises. After one hour of sleep, however, she is woken. There’s an emergency. Radar shows an incoming fleet of about 160 star ships. They’re being invaded by Haven. All she has is her six superdreadnaughts, several battleships, and some cruisers. How will she survive? Does she survive? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

The reason why this is a good book in the series is because we get to see Honor displaying all sorts of emotions, for once. Normally, she’s something like a robot. Here’s she’s fragile, scared, elated, excited, angry, sad, etc, and it fills her character out more so than in previous books. I like that. Now I’m eager to read the next book in the series. If you haven’t read any Honor Harrington books, I suggest you start with the first one, although this probably stands on its own. Nonetheless, recommended.

View all my reviews

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