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War of Honor by David Weber
Cover by David Mattingly
Published by Baen Books
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
What if they gave a peace and nobody came?
That's the problem facing the newly-reconstituted Republic of Haven. At the close of Ashes of Victory, they proclaimed a cease-fire in the war with the Star Kingdom of Manticore, which was still reeling from the effects of an assassination attempt that partially succeeded, killing Prime Minister Cromarty and many key members of his government, even if Honor Harrington narrowly saved Queen Elizabeth III and Grayson's Protector Benjamin.
But a cease-fire is not true peace, merely a momentary cessitation of active hostilities. And although both parties claim to want to achieve a lasting peace, neither really wants to, and is willing to manipulate things to make it appear that the other star nation is sabotaging the negotiations by insisting on unreasonable demands.
Meanwhile, the new coallition government of Prime Minister High Ridge and his pack of overbred aristocratic weenies seem determined to destroy the very alliance that the Star Kingdom has carefully built in its war against the Peeps. Their arrogant and high-handed policies progressively alienate every friendly star nation, even the deeply grateful Graysons.
And to make matters worse, things are going down the toilet in the Silesian Confederation, where corrupt governors, pirates and slavers have free reign. The Andermanni Empire, fed up with continual incursions on their frontiers by these unsavory elements, are moving in to clean things up. In doing so, they are coming against Manticorian forces who regard the area as their own star nation's natural balliwick. The growing tensions are made worse by slavers who are using false Andermanni recognition codes to gain Andermanni cover when challenged by Manticorian patrols.
Into this tangle comes Honor Harrington, bearing her reputation as the woman who can fix things, but in fact sent by a government who wants her to fail so that they can disgrace her for good. She's already managed to foil an attempt by these people to disgrace her by manufacturing a scandal from her painful personal relationship with a man she dares not love, and she wants only a situation where her duty is clear and she can do it. But things are never easy where Honor Harrington is concerned.
This is the longest Honor Harrington book to date, with an enormously complex multi-threaded plot. This is by and large a result of Honor's growing power and rank in both her native and adopted societies, which will necessarily make her far more of a player in political intrigue, rather than a simple commander as she was in On Basilisk Station, the original Honor Harrington novel. In addition, Weber is drawing upon an ever-growing wealth of other material about the world, developed by the various anthologies (I particularly enjoyed how he has incorporated the theme of the war on genetic slavery as developed by Eric Flint in the novella "From the Highlands" in Changer of Worlds). However, it does require more concentration to keep track of all the players and the various plotlines as they develop.
In addition, the first printing of this novel includes a CD-ROM containing the entire Honor Harrington series in electronic format, as well as e-versions of a number of other books by David Weber and several other Baen authors. Banking on the idea that low-cost or even free e-books can actually drive sales of paper versions of their novels, Baen Books has generously permitted the copying and sharing of the CD-ROM, so long as no copies are sold.
Click here to buy War of Honor in hardcover
Review posted November 18, 2002
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