BOOK REVIEW: Echoes of Honor, by David Weber

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

echoes.jpg

Publisher: Baen

Series: Honor Harrington (#8)

Genre: Space Opera/Military SF

Pages: 718

Publication Date: 1999

Verdict: 4/5

 

Honor Harrington is dead. Executed by the People’s Republic of Haven for her pre-war crimes. Or so they would have you believe. In truth, Honor is stranded deep in Republic space. But she is determined to return home, and only a fool would bet against a Harrington . . .

After a brief hiccup, the Honor Harrington series is back on form. When we last saw Honor, she was presumed dead by just about everyone. Clearly, that is not the case. But while she has escaped execution, she’s still stuck behind enemy lines with very little in the way of firepower. With most of the set-up in place from In Enemy HandsEchoes of Honor wastes little time in getting to the action.

The idea of a long retreat is possibly my all-time favourite trope in fiction. Battlestar GalacticaThe Lost Fleet, Xenophon’s march, I just love the idea of a massively outnumbered force pushing hard to leave hostile territory. Weber’s approach is a little different, largely due to the way the Honorverse handles the mechanics of interstellar travel. Simply put, Honor’s problem is not getting out of Havenite space, it’s finding enough ships to carry all her fellow refugees.

As has become tradition, the storyline is now split between three main arcs. the first is of course Honor’s ongoing struggles as both war hero and hated villain, depending on which side you fight for. The second is the political shenanigans going on within the People’s Republic, which are just as much a threat as the Manticoran Alliance. And the third is developments back home in Manticore. That final thread gets a lot more development here than in previous books, with Honor’s mother taking centre-stage as Grayson tries to cope with the ‘death’ of their hero.

There is a lot going on in this book, as you might guess from its page count. The one thing I’ve noticed about the Honorverse is that it rarely feels that long, even with page counts over five hundred. But when a book of this length is in mass market paperback, it can’t help but feel a little chunky. Looking ahead to the thousand-plus page monstrosities coming soon enough, I can’t help but wonder if the story will start to drag. it seems inevitable, but Weber has seldom disappointed yet, and clearly has a lot of material left when it comes to storytelling.

While there is little change on a grander scale, with even the larger conflicts being largely character-based,  Echoes of Honor does end with a lot of pieces on the board. The war has been going on for a while, after all, and when the book ends, it seems that the conflict may finally be nearing a climax. One way or another, there is going to be a reckoning.

A book that restores the Honor Harrington books, and Weber, to their usual high standard, Echoes of Honor is a fine introduction to the second half of the series.

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