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Posts Tagged ‘Honor Harrington’

A Review of Cauldron of Ghosts

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 1, 2016

Cauldron of Ghosts (Honor Harrington - Crown of Slaves)Cauldron of Ghosts by David Weber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh man, what a book! What a hell of a book! That was one of the best damn books I’ve ever read. So why only four stars? Cause the last few pages, the ending, is so anti-climactic and incomplete and leaves you panting for justice and revenge and more and more and it’s damned cruel of Weber to do this to us and I’ve NEVER felt so let down by an ending in my life!

This is the third book in what is probably a final book of an Honor Harrington sub-series trilogy called the Crown of Slaves Series, starring Manticorian superspy Anton Zilwecki, Havenite superspy Victor Cachet, Torch General Thandi Plame, and assorted other characters, many of whom we get to know quite well, some of whom we don’t. This book largely takes place on Mesa itself, home of genetic slave breeders and builders and destroyers of the human race, whom Manticore, Haven, Torch, Beowolfe, and the Audobon Ballroom have all found out the truth about and are about to come down on its heads, so the secretive Mesan Allignment is conducting Operation Houdini and disappearing thousands of its top people from the planet to places unknown, through nukes being blamed on ex-slave terrorist’s Ballroom, literally nuking their own population and causing a killing bloodlust among the Mesans for the slaves and seccies. Victor and Thandi have helped the local crime bosses set up to defend their areas of the city from the Mesan police and military and the fighting is gruesome with a take no prisoners approach. People, good and bad, die, are blown to smithereens, while our heroes hope that Zilwicki has reached Harrington and is bringing a Manticorian fleet back to Mesa to save them and to break the Mesan Allignment. Just as some of our heroes have committed suicide by bombs to save others and just as Cachet is about to blow himself and the entire 400 floor building they’re in to smithereens, a report comes in that some ships have been spotted in orbit. And that’s where it ends. AAARRRGGHHH!!! Okay, you can probably safely assume they’re Manticorian. But it’s never safe to assume anything, especially in Weber novels. How do we know these aren’t Solarian League ships? Whose ships are these? How do we even know they’re warships? It’s implied Honor’s friend, Mike, Admiral Henke, is riding command over this small fleet into Mesa, but it’s never actually said. We don’t know. So we don’t know if Victor and Thandi are saved, and all the others. We don’t know what happened to the thousands of Mesans who escaped via Operation Houdini. We don’t know what’s happening to the Mesan security forces. We don’t know what’s happening on Torch. We don’t know what’s happening with the other seccie rebellions about Mesa. We don’t know where Zilwicki is. We don’t know much of anything, dammit! So UNSATISFYING!!! So, this book had so much tension and so much action and so much intrigue and so much mystery and so much plotting and so much of just about anything you’d want out of some good military sci fi or some good Weber, but even though it’s among the best I’ve ever read and that means it’s a five star book, easily, I’m knocking it down to four stars because it’s at best, a two star ending. Geez, the last 10 pages make it a two star ending. Unreal. I simply can’t believe he’s leaving us that unsatisfied. And if rumors are true and this is the last book in the series, I’ll be forever unsatisfied and that will seriously piss me off. Weber does this to me. My wife hates him as a result. He’s pretty much the best writer I’ve ever seen. He can spin a tale like no other, can write battle scenes like no one else. But he’s got these damn annoying habits that drive you insane and make you want to punch him in the face. Shit! Safehold series, prime example. The names are ridiculous. The titles are ridiculous. The never-ending war is ridiculous. The story being told at the speed of sludge so I might finish it by the time I die is ridiculous. Dammit, Weber! Come on now, you have fans. You owe it to us to help us out. Geez. So, IF you’re reading this series, strongly, strongly recommended. If you’re not reading this series, you won’t understand anything that’s going on, so don’t read it. Great book.

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A Review of Crown of Slaves

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 4, 2016

Crown of Slaves (Honorverse: Wages of Sin, #1)Crown of Slaves by David Weber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Crown of Slaves is the first book in a new Honor Harrington sub-series called Wages of Sin focusing on Mesa-Manpower and the newly liberated ex-slaver planet of Torch. As I have figured out, these several sub-series’ are really required reading if one wants to get additional necessary pieces of information to fill in the gaps in the Honor series when it comes to things such as Torch, the Zilwickis, Haven super spy Victor Cachat, the whole Mesa-Manpower mystery/disaster in action, etc. This is a truly necessary series. This is a pretty good book and I’m already halfway through the second one.

Due to the complete incompetence of Manticore’s Queen Elizabeth’s current government, the tenuous alliance between the Star Kingdom of Manticore and its ally Erewhon is on the verge of dissolution, so the queen sends her niece, Ruth Winton, a spy-wannabe in training, as an “unofficial” representative to a state funeral to try to patch things up. And that’s where the story starts. The mission begins with Ruth, led by Manticore’s super spy, Anton Zilwicki, and his teenage daughter, Berry, off to Erewhon. It turns into quite the espionage incident, as Manticore, Solarian League, Havenite, Erewhon, Masadan fanatics, and Mesan groups all meet and engage in some way in this book, at times quite violently, while Berry and Ruth survive an assassination attempt with the help of Havenite Cachat, aided by Solarian marine lieutenant Thandi Palane, a most larger-than-life character. The two of them develop a relationship that is sweet and readers will quickly come to like the two characters, even if Victor is a cold-blooded killer.

Before the blood can dry, Victor leads a group of people on a mission to the planet, Congo, Manpower’s slave planet, to liberate the slaves and the planet. He and they do and for some bizarre reason, 17-year-old Berry, with a phenomenal personality who has really taken to the ex-slaves, is elected queen of the inhabitants of the newly renamed planet of Torch, with Ruth her intelligence director and Thandi, with the help of her “Amazon” warriors (who are a fun group of women in this book) installed as her military leader, and Audubon Ballroom terrorist leader Jeremy X installed as Minister of War. Of course, her father Anton will stay and help out with intelligence for an indefinite period of time, as will Victor. Both are intent upon penetrating Mesa-Manpower. And both are concerned about Mesa-Manpower’s attempts to get to Berry and others on Torch, with good reason, as we shall see.

This isn’t necessarily the best Honorverse book I’ve read, but I’d be hard pressed to name another that’s better. Of course, none of them really measure up to one of the better Honor books, but that’s to be expected. Still, it’s a good sub-series and I’m enjoying the second book more than the first. I’d love to give this book five stars, but I don’t think it’s a five star book. Still, it’s a solid four star book and easily recommended.

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A Review of The Shadow of Saganami

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 2, 2016

The Shadow of Saganami (Honorverse: Saganami, #1)The Shadow of Saganami by David Weber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Shadow of Saganami is an Honorverse spinoff of the brilliant Honor Harrington series that I really didn’t want to start reading, but I had been reading so much about the several sub-series’ spinoffs and how they elaborate on key plot elements, that I decided to go ahead. And I’m glad I did. Of course, the book didn’t feature Honor and I missed her, and it’s a whole new cast of characters, but you quickly get to know them and care about them and, as it’s a long, long, comprehensive David Weber book, you end up feeling a connection with a number of them by the end of the book.

Saganami Island is Mantictore’s version of the US Naval Academy and this book follows the careers of several recent graduates, most in their first post-graduate assignments as midshipmen. They are assigned to the heavy cruiser HMS Hexapuma, headed by Captain Aivars Terekhov, a mysterious, intense man who is suffering from PTSD due to a terrible battle he survived with a Haven fleet some time before. No one knows if he’s recovered and everyone wonders how he’ll react under pressure.

They are assigned to the Talbot Cluster, a cluster of planetary systems on the verge of the Solarian League near Manticore’s newly discovered Lynx Junction. The planets of the Talbot Cluster have just overwhelming voted in favor of being annexed by the Star Kingdom of Manticore and are drafting a constitution. However, there are some dissidents and some Solly-related planets and corporations willing to arm and aid these dissidents in rebellion in attempts to destabilize their governments and destroy the constitutional convention and the annexation. Of course, if this happens, the Solarian Frontier Security will move in and take over the Cluster and those worlds will be doomed.

The plot of this book is too detailed and far too complex to go into in a significant review of this type. The Hexapuma joins the few Manticoran ships in the area for patrol and support of the cluster’s systems and meanwhile terrorists are blowing up people and planets, aided by mysterious strangers with modern weapons. Terekhov ultimately discovers the secret behind the plot and moves a squad he has called together against a star system to engage in a typical Weber space battle, which is handled pretty well, if a little subdued for Weber. There’s a great deal of tension in this novel and that makes it engaging and interesting. Some of the interesting new characters include Lt Abigail Hearns and Midshipwoman Helen Zilwicki, among others. We’ll see them again in other Honorverse books.

Even though this is a good book and rather enjoyable, I do have a complaint and it’s not unique to Weber. There are, per usual with this author, way too many characters to keep up with. Not only are there a ton of naval officers to try and remember, but there are a ton of system politicians to try and keep track of and it’s virtually impossible to do so. To make matters worse, the Talbot Cluster is larger than I ever imagined and we’re introduced to what seems like a ton of planetary systems. Somehow, we’re supposed to keep track of worlds like Spindle, Pontifex, Split, San Miguel, Montana, Rembrandt, Kornatia, Nuncio, Mesa, Dresden, Monica, Torch, and of course, Grayson and Manticore, among others, and there are also scenes featuring Manpower, the Jessyk Combine, and Technodyne Corp., the “evil” corporations behind all that’s wrong with the picture in this puzzle. It’s just too much. And of course, all of these planets and corporations have presidents, vice presidents, admirals, boards of directors, police chiefs, various naval ships, most of which are obsolete by Manticoran standards, and so on. It’s damned annoying and stupid!

Whatever the case, this is a good book. It’s got a good plot, introduces an interesting new cast of characters, has a couple of decent naval battles, has some ground battles, has some political intrigue, if that’s your game, and fills in a lot that’s left out in the main Honor books. However, it’s typically long, at times it drags, the plot can be a little convoluted and somewhat scattered, the names of characters and planets are just too much and too many to make the book enjoyable, and it’s a little galling to think that this is the first book in an Honor sub-series, one of several, information that can’t actually be told in a real Honor book, which is annoying. Worthy of five stars? Not quite. But certainly worthy of four stars. A solid four star effort. And definitely recommended.

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A Review of Shadow of Freedom

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 3, 2015

Shadow of FreedomShadow of Freedom by David Weber
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In a word: disappointing. In another word: lame. Frankly, this book sucked. I have given every Honor Harrington book except one five stars, but this barely deserves two. And I feel betrayed. First of all, as I was finishing Honor #13 not too long ago, I was reading reviews of it and a number of them mentioned Shadow of Freedom as being Honor #14, so I immediately ordered it. Lots of people referred to it as Honor #14. People reviewing THIS book — Shadow of Freedom — even refer to it as Honor #14. But it’s not. At all. All Honor books come with the words “an Honor Harrington novel,” or something to that effect, on the cover. This book says it’s part of the “Honorverse.” And when I listed it in Goodreads, it comes up as Saganami #3, an Honor sub-series that I haven’t read, one of at least two such sub-series’. So, imagine my shock when Honor herself doesn’t even appear in this book at all! She’s quoted a couple of times, I guess to make it an Honor-related book, but she’s nowhere to be found. Indeed, only one main character from the Honor series is in this book — Michelle Henke, who has her fleet in the Talbot Quadrant on the edges of the Solarian League. And this book is about her adventures, and the adventures of “independent” world rebels trying to throw off the yoke of Solarian sponsored oppression. The thing that makes it tricky is they’re contacted and given weapons by an agent who claims to represent Manticore, so they naturally assume the Manticorian Navy will come to their aid, all of them. However, he’s a Mesan Alliance agent and is trying to screw Manticore. There are a couple of mildly interesting scenes in the book, but it’s a short book and not too much happens, aside from the usual ungodly amounts of dialogue Weber throws into his books cause he’s apparently paid by the word count. He likes to double his books’ lengths by going dialogue-heavy. All that said, as others have pointed out, the truly damning thing about this book is that at least two chapters are literal total cut and paste chapters from previous Honor books, and that’s unforgivable. Weber doesn’t even have the decency to try and mix them up just a little; he holds his readers in that much disdain. What an asshole. Honestly, Weber can write awesome stories and great battle scenes, but I’ve decided that he must be a royal asshole as a person and I truly don’t like him at all, even as I eagerly await all of his new Honor and Safehold novels. And I hate myself for it. This book is most definitely NOT recommended.

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A Review of At All Costs

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 13, 2015

At All Costs (Honor Harrington, #11)At All Costs by David Weber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another five star Honor Harrington book. It seems all I ever give those books are five stars. But I think they’re that good. This book has a 4.15 out of 5 rating on Goodreads, so a lot of people obviously like it, but most of the reviews I read were one and two star reviews simply bitching about it. And I don’t understand that. Why are they even reading this series if they don’t like the characters, the kingdoms and systems, the politics — which are essential to the plot — the battles, etc? I think these people giving these books one stars are idiots and need to be reading something else, something besides military sci fi, obviously.

I think this book is a turning point in the series, even though the series is drawing to a close. Honor gets pregnant and via tubing, gives birth to a baby boy. Everyone’s happy. However, maybe not everyone. See, the people on her planet of Grayson wouldn’t understand a single, unmarried woman giving birth to a bastard child, so someone must think about a solution. She, of course, has been seeing Earl White Haven, and by extension, his crippled wife, Emily, who also gets pregnant and gives birth to a baby girl. The grand solution? Honor marries them. Both of them. I know, it’s crazy and no one protests at all, but she does it and I guess it satisfies people. However, I would have liked it if Weber had written some people’s reactions into the book.

Meanwhile, the diplomatic documents going back and forth between Manticore and Haven have been sabotaged, so both make plans to restart the war, and many have misgivings about it. Honor is selected to lead Manticore’s fleet and they strike first and draw blood. However, Haven has developed a huge fleet and attacks a planet and does even more damage. Haven’s president wants to end the war and sends a peace proposal to Queen Elizabeth who grudgingly agrees to meet with her in a neutral location. However, three separate assassination attacks take place leading to some gruesome Manticorian deaths, all of which point to Haven, so Manticore gears up to restart the war once more. Haven knows they’re not responsible, but they also know Manticore assumes they are, so they plan to put together the biggest, strongest fleet ever assembled and attack Manticore’s home system and end the war with Manticore’s surrender. And so develops the biggest, baddest, coolest space battle you’ll ever read about. Hundreds of superdreadnaughts and thousands of LACs fly and die. Millions of people die. And who wins? Well, you have to read the book, of course! It’s a pretty awesome and big section of the book, though. Weber really knows how to write battle scenes. It’s his greatest strength.

From events that occur in this book, it looks like Manticore is about to gain a new enemy for future books. That’s pretty bad for a kingdom suddenly without much of a fleet, since their fleet has been shot to hell. But I’ll take that bridge when I come to it in the next book. I’m anxious to see Honor get back to Grayson to settle things with the opposition steadholders. Very anxious to see that. If you’re reading this series, this book is strongly recommended. If you’re not reading this series, don’t start with this book — you won’t know half of what’s going on. Awesome book.

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A Review of War of Honor

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 5, 2015

War of Honor (Honor Harrington, #10)War of Honor by David Weber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Even though this Honor Harrington book has a 4.09 rating on a 5.0 scale on Goodreads, it seemed that all I saw were one and two star reviews. People HATED this book! They thought there was too much politics and not enough action. Well, I completely disagree and I loved this book. Yes, there is a hell of a lot of politics, but it’s all completely critical to understanding the buildup to the beginning of the new war between Haven and Manticore. Without seeing the politics and the behind the scenes dialogues and scenarios, we’d have no idea why hostilities have resumed. It’s critical to the book and the series. I suppose Weber probably does go overboard on the amount of politics he shoves into this book. He has a tendency to do that in his books. But it’s still critical to the book. In fact, I wish we had seen more of Grayson’s politics in action, personally. That was probably pretty critical too, but Weber largely skipped over that.

In this book, the Opposition government, led by Baron High Ridge, has downsized Manticore’s navy by an extreme amount, because of sheer arrogance and stupidity. Meanwhile, in the four years of negotiations, during which time Haven has actually tried to get a peace plan in place and High Ridge won’t negotiate cause he’s a greedy bastard, Haven’s been rebuilding its navy. Big time. At the same time, the Andermani Empire is trying to take Manticore on to take over Silesia and Honor is named task force commander of a largely obsolete group of ships sent to Silesia to watch over the Andermanis. Fortunately, Grayson sends a group of its state of the art superdreadnaughts to support her, so that’s awesome. Communications between Haven and Manticore disintegrate over time, in part because Haven’s Secretary of State is modifying them to tick off the High Ridge government. So finally, Haven attacks Manticore’s many systems it had taken from Haven in the previous war, as well as Honor, and they have great success, accept for Honor, of course.

One thing in this book which is odd and which is a carry over from the previous book is a budding romance between Honor and Earl White Haven, who is married. It doesn’t seem realistic, like her relationship with her dead lover, Paul. It seems forced, strained, unbelievable, and the government’s opposition releases news that they are lovers, when at the time they are not, and it damages their reputations. Yet they yearn for each other. And White Haven’s crippled wife, whom he loves, meets Honor and loves her immediately and approves of their romance like any wife would — in a stupid, unrealistic sci fi novel written by an arrogant, dumbass man! This carries over to the following book too, which I’ve already started.

This isn’t the best Honor book I’ve read, but it’s quite complex and juggles many scenarios and issues simultaneously and does so rather well. Honor is still perfect, a bit too much, but one unique and cool thing about this book is Weber turns the tables on the systems. In this book, the Havenites are portrayed as the reasonable, peace loving, nice, realistic people while the Manticorian government is portrayed as arrogant, greedy, snide, deceitful liars, and much worse, so that you actually find yourself rooting for Haven for the first time ever. It’s brilliant! Good book. If you’re reading the series, strongly recommended.

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