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Flag in Exile by David Weber
Cover art by Gary Ruddell
Published by Baen Books
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
In the conclusion of Field of Dishonor Honor Harrington confronted her nemesis, Lord Pavel Young, now Earl of North Hollow, on the dueling ground. In retribution for his hired murder of her beloved and his subsequent treacheries, including a blatant violation of the rules of the code duello, Honor slew him.
Although she was in the right morally, this was not the politically expedient thing to do. As a result she was barred from the Manticorean House of Lords and effectively shut out of command in the Navy. Suddenly the entire life she had built for herself had come apart.
Hoping to rebuild a life for herself, Honor has retreated to her adopted home, the religious world of Grayson, to take up her office as Steadholder in the newly-created Harrington Steading. But while the majority of Graysons regard Honor as a hero for her role in protecting their world from the Masadan extremists backed by Havenite money, there are plenty of religious fanatics who see the change she represents as a threat to their positions and power.
It begins with a public insult by the personal chaplain of one of the most fanatically conservative Steadholders. When this is met with calm logic and the rational force of law, both civil and religious, the fanatics turn to violence. They rationalize their actions on religious grounds, believing that God will approve of whatever means they use to achieve what are His ends.
Although David Weber wrote this novel in 1995, it has special power in this post-September 11 world, where we have seen what can happen when religious leaders afraid of modernization decide that murder is an acceptable technique of persuasion. The fact that Weber makes his fanatics a splinter group of a Christian sect (the Church of Humanity Unchained seems to be a mixture of Baptist and Mormon doctrine, with Amish distrust of technology and odd inclusions of Catholic ceremony) rather than a Muslim sect actually makes his story stronger, since it does not raise so many questions of caricaturing and stereotyping.
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Review posted March 14, 2002
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