Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Review: War of Honor by David Weber

I love Honor Harrington!

There. Now that I've professed my admiration for my favorite literary heroine, I wish I could say the same about the book War of Honor by David Weber (2002).

It's not that I didn't like the book, but weighing-in at 929 pages, it's hard to love a story this long.

First of all the title is something of a misnomer. A more appropriate heading would be something like:

An Analysis of the Rising Tensions between the Star Kingdom of Manticore, the Republic of Haven and the Andermani Star Empire, with Anecdotes on the Genetic Slave Trade and the Exploration of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction

However, such a verbose title sounds like a doctoral dissertation on intersellar relations--and promises the reader it will be just as boring.

The first shots in Honor's war aren't fired until somewhere between pages 707 and 708. The action, squeezed between two consecutive pages, is discussed at length in a back story. But the outbreak of all-out hostilities doesn't start until page 827.

So what's the other 826 pages about?

As my doctoral title suggests, it is one long exposition on the chain of events that leads to open warfare between Honor's Kingdom of Manticore and the Republic of Haven. Both nations have been abiding by an armistice for the past five years. However, the fragile peace comes unglued due the ambitious and shortsighted actions of leaders on both sides.

David Weber combines "show" and "tell" in his 826-page exposition by way of cabinet meetings, staff briefings, economic round table discussions and press conferences. These gatherings are hard to sit through in real life, not to mention reading about them in a book!

So what did I like about this book?

Throughout the series, the author has done a fantastic job Honor's character development. In each novel, including this one, Honor is shown to be an inspirational, cunning and even gracious leader. David Weber is an imaginative writer of futuristic combat who can hold his reader's attention, so for an Honor Harrington fan like me it was worth reading the first 826 pages of this story.

I give War of Honor 3.5 stars. While the pre-war build-up is interesting, this book is not for a first-time Honor Harrington reader.

Now that war has resumed between Manticore and Haven, the following book, At All Costs (2005), promises to be more exciting.

Wikipedia's synopsis of War of Honor:


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