Saturday, September 1, 2012

Wind Rider's Oath by David Weber

Weber, I believe, really began to hit his stride as an author at about the same time as Windrider's Oath was published. His Honor Harrington novels were showing a deep complexity, with a well-imagined social and political back story, and antagonists within the plot line who had their own deep motivations, aside from being foils for Honor and her friends. We begin to see the same depth and richness appear in the War God series in this iteration, as well, though there were certainly indications of a broader story arc and deeper plot all along.

Bahzell, Brandark and Kaeretha are right in the middle of things up on the Wind Plain, as Bahzell has become an unofficial ambassador between the hradani and the windriders, or Sothoii, in Baron Tellian's court. The Sothoii who have objections to making peace with the hradani after centuries are, for the most part, quite loudly and openly making their opinions heard, but there are also those who are engaging in guerrilla warfare against those who want peace, and darker conspiracies are underfoot, and there are subtle intimations that the dark gods are involved in stirring up trouble in the kingdom, too.

Weber displays in this novel another one of the traits that he's known for - splitting the action into multiple plot lines, centered on different protagonists. Bahzell and Brandark head away from the capital city of the Sothoii to a Lord Edinghas holdings, where there has been an attack on a herd of Coursers, supernaturally augmented horses who are the companions to those humans who have been chosen by the gods to be wind riders. Kaeritha heads to Kalatha, where a dispute between the local lord, Trisu, and the War Maids may be getting out of hand, and Leeanna, daughter of Baron Tellian, flees the prospect of a politically arranged marriage to ask for asylum in Kalatha and to join the War Maids. We also see another plot line developing, centered on the priests and priestesses of the dark gods, who have their own plans for the Wind Plain, mostly revolving around destabilization and destruction of our heroes' friends' lives and domains.

An interesting philosophical/theological point from the book:

"We need to be able to stand on our own two feet, and if we started to rely on Him for explicit instructions on everything we're supposed to be doing, how long would it be before we couldn't accomplish anything without those instructions? He expects us to be bright enough to figure out our duty without his constant prompting."
A good way for the follower of any god to live their life, I think.

A fun passage about how we often assume things about others' motivations:

"Cunning and intelligent the nobleman might be, but what he'd just said showed an alarming ability to project his own deviousness and inherent dishonesty onto others, whether it was merited or not...but automatically assuming that those same qualities were what motivated an opponent, especially a powerful opponent like Wencit of Rum, was dangerous. Success required that enemies not be underestimated or discounted."

And one of the wisest things any character of Weber's has ever said:

"Any man who has his wits about him ought to be smart enough to know a wife with brains at least as good as his own is a treasure."

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