Hell Hath No Fury by David Weber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Second in the Multiverse series created by David Weber and Linda Evans, Hell Hath No Fury is quite excellent. If one can stomach quite a bit of violence. For violent it is. Two separate worlds in two separate universes, each exploring new alternate universes through portals they’ve discovered, encounter each other in the first book. And Arcana, the magical, militaristic culture run entirely by spells attacks a civilian survey crew from Sharona, which is a technology-based world, of a WW I era of technology, including rifles, revolvers, artillery, etc. Both sides suffer casualties, but while Arcana takes two prisoners, both of whom are presumed dead by Sharona, and one of them is the most popular woman in their universe, Sharona exacts their revenge on Arcana. So Arcana sends out some “diplomats,” asking to negotiate, not shoot. Things seem odd, but the Sharonans decide to negotiate in good faith, as they don’t want an interstellar war. Meanwhile, the devious Arcanans are moving up thousands of troops and dozens of battle and transport dragons to attack the Sharonans and invade their portals and take as many as possible into Sharonan territory. In doing so, they’ve lied to their troops, telling them their most popular citizen was killed by Sharanon troops when in fact it was an Arcanan who killed him. And they know that. They’re itching to start an interstellar war, but they have no orders to do so. One rogue mid-level officer has ordered this and now tens of thousands of lives are at stake.
Meanwhile, we meet Crown Prince Janaki, heir to the Sharonan throne, detailed to take some prisoners home and accompany Voice Darcel Kinlafia, the man who “saw” the original slaughter and alerted all of Sharona to what had happened. Janaki is a good man and talks Kinlafia into going ahead of him to run for Parliament, where he might be able to do some good. He, like his whole royal family, has Glimpses and knows his destiny lies in dying in defense of a major portal fort several universes away. His father, Zindel, and his sister, Andrin, not yet 18, both have strong Glimpses and are deeply worried. A Conclave is called and a world government is called for to unify the world’s countries and their armies into one, all presumably to be led by Zindel. Unfortunately, one Chava Busar, Emperor of Uromathia, is holding everything up, refusing to give his approval to this arrangement unless Zindel’s son marries one of his daughters, thus putting his grandchild on the empire’s throne at some point in the future. Many people are ticked, but Zindel agrees and the time is set for putting this all together.
So, the time has come for the Arcanans to attack. And they do, with 14,000 men against 800 Sharonans. And they lose a battle dragon or two, which shocks them, even though they annihilate all Sharonans. There are three types of battle dragons. One breathes fire, one throws lightning bolts, the third breathes poison gas, killing the most people. They are their secret weapon, since the uncivilized, barbaric Sharonans don’t have and have never seen magic.
And they attack a fort. And decimate it. And take prisoners. And torture and slaughter the prisoners. And this becomes a pattern. When Weber, for this is undoubtedly his work, writes bad guys, they are REALLY bad! The Arcanans are evil bastards. They kill all the Voices, since the have learned about the Sharonan VoiceNet and how they use it, and they destroy fort after fort, taking prisoners and torturing and slaughtering them as they go. It seems the only honorable Arcanans are the long distant Jasak Olderhan and Gadrial Kelbryan.
Finally, they reach the big fort, the major fort where Janaki is. Through his Glimpses, he has been able to warn the commander of the impending attack, how it will happen, where it will come from, how to defend, etc. And they’re ready. The battle scene is a typical David Weber battle scene: most excellent. And of course, Janaki dies. The serious problem with that is it leaves Andrin heir to the throne and now Busar is insisting she immediately marry one of his sons and he is gloating his way to the throne. However, as we will hopefully find out in the next book, Kinlafi will have something to say about that and will play a major role in the survival of Sharona. The book ends in a typical Weber cliffhanger stalemate and I’m damned eager to see some Sharonan revenge. The problem for many people is that this book was published in 2007 and there’s been no Book Three. People have been left hanging and they’re not happy about it. Apparently, Linda Evans became quite ill, so the series was discontinued. People ask why Weber didn’t just continue it himself, since it was so quite obviously HIS book. But he didn’t. The good news is, I just learned that Book Three is scheduled for publication in March 2016! With a different co-author. Don’t know what happened to Evans, but I’m damned glad Weber got together with someone to continue an excellent series. The first book was quite good, but this one was better. Lots of action, lots of intrigue. Definitely recommended.