Friday, October 30, 2009

Fridays are Fun: The "Honorverse"

I've recently started reading David Weber's Honor Harrington series, AKA "The Honorverse". It's military SF, with a heavy emphasis on naval combat. The series has been described as "Horatio Hornblower in space", and having read the actual Hornblower series from start to finish, I would agree with that description, although it appears the books grow beyond that in later books.

The books are set around 4100 AD (in Terra-years, or "T-years", at least). The main protagonist is Honor Harrington, a female officer in the "Royal Manticoran Navy". Yes, humanity has spread from Earth to the stars, and the Star Kingdom of Manticore is one of the most wealthy of Earth's children, mostly due to trade. One of the main threads running through the books is Manticore's ongoing feud with Haven, another colony settled by Earthlings. Haven, at the inception of the series, is technically a republic, but is actually a moribund semi-monarchical bureaucracy, ruled by the Legislaturalists. In order to keep its economy rising, Haven must conquer more territory, and they've come into conflict with Manticore as a result.

I can't speak for the whole series, but having read the first four books in the main series (I'm in the middle of the fifth right now), I will say that the Honor Harrington books have one definite strength: the battles. Weber has certainly given a great deal of thought to the military elements of this, and it shows. The battle sequences in the various books are well thought out, and he gives the reader a nitty-gritty look at the military tech and how it affects the way things work.

If I had one quibble with the series, it would be with some of the antagonist characters. A lot of them seem to be simple strawmen/-women, and their competence as villains could be seriously questioned. Also, subtlety is obviously not David Weber's strong suit. For instance (spoiler alert!) in book three, there is a revolution brewing in the series Big Bad, the "People's Republic of Haven". The leader of that revolution? Rob S. Pierre. I kid you not. The secret police of Haven? State Security, which he can (and has) abbreviated to SS.

Quite beside the mainline series, there are two spinoff series covering other parts of the 'verse, along with several short story anthologies. Perhaps, though, one of the best things about this series, is that you can get most of it FOR FREE. It's on, under the CD marked "Storm From The Shadows". Yes, Baen, the publishers, are giving it away for free. The books all come in multiple formats, and unlike your average pirated OCR version of a book, they are all very well formatted and put together. I would Highly Recommend this series, if only because there's no reason to not try it out.

Coming next Friday: The Gathering Storm! SQUEEE!

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