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Service of the Sword cover Service of the Sword by David Weber (ed.)

Cover by David Mattingly

Published by Baen Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

The fourth anthology in the long-running Honor Harrington universe continues a proud tradition of expanding upon the stories developed in the principal novels of the series. Some offer new perspectives on familiar characters, while others give us views into parts of society that generally escape the notice of the viewpoint characters from the novels.

For instance, the extremists of Masada have been frequent villains, but what does their society look like from the inside? In "Promised Land" we meet brave young Judith, a Graysonian captured by a Masadan freebooter and forced into concubinage. A hellish situation -- but one in which there are glimmers of hope, if only she has the wit and patience to use them.

We have seen bits of humor gleaming through the grim horrors of total war in John Ringo's Posleen universe. But in his two contributions to the Honorverse, his humorous side shines through full force. Francis is a cursed ship, maybe not as bad as Wouk's Caine, but crazy enough with its doleful chaplain and its tyrannical exec. And who knows what kind of mischief a couple of bored intelligence officers can get into when they decide to take a little vacation -- on a Haven-occupied hellhole of a world known as Prague.

Eric Flint continues the storyline he began developing in the last Honorverse anthology ("From the Highlands") with "Fanatic," a story that builds the foundations for A Crown of Slaves, the spinoff novel that he and David Weber are writing.

And what would an Honorverse anthology be without a contribution by the master himself? David Weber weighs in with the title cut of the anthology, which tells the story of Abagail Hearnes, first female Grayson to come to Saganami Island. We glimpsed her in War of Honor, but here she has her opportunity to truly shine.

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Review posted January 21, 2004

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