BOOK REVIEW: Honor Among Enemies, by David Weber

-Major spoilers abound for previous books in the Honorverse. Click here for a full index of reviews-

honor 6.jpg

Publisher: Baen

Series: Honor Harrington (#6)

Genre: Space Opera/Military SF

Pages: 538

Publication Date: 1996

Verdict: 5/5

 

Given one last shot at redemption, Honor Harrington accepts a mission that will take her beyond Manticore’s borders. Pirates, rebels, deserters, enemies old and new alike. If anyone can handle all that, it’s Honor Harrington . . .

Now this, this is the Honor Harrington I signed up for. The political shenanigans of the past two instalments largely take a back seat. Surprisingly, so too does the war between Manticore and the People’s Republic of Haven. What we get instead is an all-action, against the odds voyage through the nearby nation of Silesia. Placed in command of some mildly upgraded merchant vessels, Honor is tasked with clearing the region of pirates so that standard shipping can continue. Without the trade, Manticore’s ongoing war may soon become unsustainable.

What I enjoyed most about this sixth novel in the Honor Harrington series is the expansion of the Honorverse itself. By now, the reader knows Manticore and Haven very well, and the semi-independent Grayson better still. Now we are introduced to two new powers in the region. The Silesian Confederacy and the Anderman Empire. The latter is given only a flying visit, as Honor must pass through Anderman space to reach her final destination. Just as Manticore resembles England circa the 19th century, and Haven is modelled after Napoleon’s French Republic, so is Anderman Germanic in origin. A large if weak Empire, inward-looking and stubborn. there’s not much to say about it yet, but I’m sure this is not the last time Honor will visit the region.

Silesia, meanwhile, is less an empire, and more a loose coalition of equally corrupt worlds. From what we see of its governance, it’s no wonder the nation is so pirate-ridden. the anarchic society seems to draw in the dregs of the galaxy – a real Nar Shaddaa of a nation. In fact, there’s a tangible Star Wars-esque feel to the entire novel. Change a few names around and it wouldn’t be all that out-of-place within the Star Wars EU. And that’s no slur on Weber’s worldbuilding. Anything reminiscent of that golden era for the genre can only be a good thing.

The action too is everything you’ll have come to expect by this point. Brutal, costly, and oh-so-brilliantly described. It’s more ship-to-ship than we’ve seen in the past two books, and once the shooting starts it rarely lets up. I have a real soft-spot for long-journey stories, especially when they’re through hostile terrain. Star Trek: Voyager, Battlestar Galactica and The Lost Fleet are all perfect examples of this trope, and now Honor Among Enemies joins their number.

As the series progresses, the cast has begun to grow. There are some returning faces here other than Honor herself, but also some new ones. Not everyone makes it out alive of course, but I would be happy to see any of the new crew returning in future instalments. Most impressive is the ease with which Weber balances so many competing viewpoints. The narrative skips around a fair bit, but within a few sentences it’s usually easy to see whose eyes we are now seeing the galaxy through.

Honor Among Enemies is easily my favourite book in the series so far. Coming off the back of two slower volumes, this is exactly what was needed.  Next up, it looks like we’re heading back to the war.

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