Monday, August 23, 2010

Mission of Honor by David Weber

Mission of Honor (Honor Harrington, Book 12)
Over the years, I've spent countless hours reading and sometimes re-reading David Weber's novels. I've been following the adventures of Honor Harrington from the beginning, and so I was eagerly awaiting this installment. I have to admit I somehow missed Torch of Freedom, so I wasn't completely up to date on happenings in the Honorverse, but even taking that into consideration, I wasn't as thrilled with this book as I had expected to be.

A great deal of the action takes place out at Spindle, where in a previous book, Admiral Michelle "Mike" Henke forced the surrender of a group of Solarian warships after destroying their flagship. Predictably, the Sollies decide to not let this provocation from a bunch of "neobarbs" stand, and send another fleet to teach the upstarts a lesson. As Star Empire fans might expect, Henke's small fleet totally wipes out the reprisal fleet, and the Solarians response is to escalate further with an undeclared declaration of war upon Manticore.

Meanwhile, back in the Empire, Honor has been sent as an ambassador plenipotentiary to the Peeps, to try to negotiate a peace treaty. Despite her previous experiences with the forces of Haven, she is bound by her sense of honor and her deep personal knowledge of the results of the carnage the war has wrought to negotiate fairly, and she even finds herself coming to like President Pritchard and Secretary of War Theisman. Of course, there are forces within the People's Republic Congress that are trying to wring all the personal advantage they can out of the negotiations, and so hammering out a treaty proceeds very slowly.

Unbeknownst to the Star Empire, but made transparent to the readers throughout the novel, the Mesans are planning a surprise attack on the war infrastructure of both Manticore and Grayson. We can see the hammer about to fall all along, and can only wonder if our friends will see the blow coming in time to do something about it.

Weber warned us in a preface a couple of novels ago that things were going to get much much worse before they got better for the Star Empire of Manticore, and he's certainly delivering on that promise. I just think the pacing of this one is much slower than the early novels that I really enjoyed, the action seems sparse, and WAY too much of the book is spent describing the political calculations and discussions by the Peeps, Manties, Sollies and Mesans. Maybe it's just giving us the background for what is yet to come, but I just didn't find it gripping. It is, however, a must-read in the series, for all you followers out there.

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