Sometimes things don’t work out exactly as planned.
Ain’t that true…
For example, author of renowned s/f series might publish a half assed book that serves no purpose other than maybe diverting his readers from the fact that he can’t advance the main storyline since 2012.
I love Honor Harrington. If it’s military porn for nerds, well, that’s my kind of porn. Wikipedia lists 34 books from the Honorverse, and I’ve read… 24, enjoying most of them. He is Tom Clancy of s/f, and similarly adept at writing excitedly about battles and soldiers while simplifying political issues to a worrying degree. And with that knowledge I delve into worlds of Honor, escaping from the reality of my more and more complicated political views in a world getting rapidly uglier.
My review of the main part of Weber’s series was enthusiastic and I stand by my words, I will also read whatever Weber writes to learn how Honor Harrington will finally win. But he should finish quickly, IMHO, because the well of fresh ideas had certainly dried up.
The first big war of Honorverse, Manticore vs. Haven, was epic. Great Britain against revolutionary France, in space, as envisioned by a mortal enemy of French enlightenment. A little bit more sophisticated than later volumes, and with enough space battles to distract our attention from flaws in characterization and increasing repetitiveness. I like to have more of stuff I like, I don’t need constant changes. But…
It’s gone too far. And Solarian League as a parody of UN/EU does not work half as good as Haven did as France/Soviet Union analogue. After all, in 2016 Anglo-Saxons are far less revered as masters of political system design. And Weber did not learn many new tricks, he uses the same solutions over and over again, often with less skill and sophistication than he used to. Just a few sketches and nods to the audience, who’s supposed to applause, but is often rather disappointed. At the moment book’s score is 3.33 on Goodreads, and that’s lower that you might think. 34 volumes into series most of the readers are fans, reaching for another Honor with good disposition.
What we have here is The War on Straw, Weber fully utilises the power he holds over the characters he doesn’t like. Caricatures of ideas and institutions he abhors, represented by evil people, fight against noble protagonists. With mislead public often manipulated into believing the wrong side, until they learn better. And it’s getting so obvious I find it hard to really enjoy my space battles.
Of which there was only one, and fairly small. Still, the best part of the novel. Particularity dreadful were the first 100-200 pages, describing planet after planet of interchangeable peoples suffering at the hands of identical, Solarian League-supported kleptocrats. We’ve seen it before, a few times, but never written so badly. Even if Polish planet had decent names, which does not happen that often.
Was the book even necessary? Well, there is some development on a few fronts that could be used as an excuse for a novella. 700+ pages… only if Weber came up with any new ideas.
I want to read one-two books with grand finale and a corny epilogue. There is no need for more.
Score: 5/10 (and it’s a weak five)