BOOK REVIEW: Mission of Honor, by David Weber

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

mission

Publisher: Baen

Series: Honor Harrington (#12)

Genre: Military SF/Space Opera

Pages: 832

Publication Date: 2010

Verdict: 4/5

Manticore and Haven have fought each other to a bloody stalemate. With both nations devestated by decades of war, the vultures are circling. As the Solarian League steps up its campaign of hostilities, could there yet be a chance for peace . . ?

The twelfth Honor Harrington novel builds on the strengths of the eleventh. After a side track into the increasingly messy Saganami Island series, it’s good to see Weber back on form. As with its predecessor, Mission of Honor brings great changes to the Honorverse, the vast majority of them for the betterment of the series. Though of coruse, to the detriment of Honor Harrington’s life.

These last few books of the Honorverse have continued to expand the setting, and Mission of Honor is where we get to spend a fair bit of time in the company of the Solarian League. These are antagonists on a level with the People’s Republic of the earlier novels. There are a few stupid decisions made by them, but it feels perfectly organic for them to be made. Of course, the introduction of a new polity leads to the inevitable slew of new characters, each compeeting for both position in their factions and in the reader’s mind. The bloated cast of these novels remains one of Weber’s greatest faults, and I’m glad he includes glossaries and dramatis persoane lists, or I would be utterly lost as to who is who.

For all its length, Mission of Honor flies by. It contines At All Cost‘s forward momentum, and genuinely feels like there are great changes afoot, By the end of the novel, it’s clear that neither the Manticore Star Empire nor the Honorverse will ever be the same again. The greatest reason for this quick pace is that the book is covering new territory. After a dozen novels of on-off, hot and cold warfare between the same two nations, Mission of Honor offers us something new. You know the road is going to be rough, but not once do you doubt that peace might be possible.

Mission of Honor covers several months of time, handily signalled by dates scattered throughout. This does mean it crosses over with some of the spin off novels, but that is not so much a problem here as it was in Storm from the Shadows, as we are seeing things from a new perspective. Notably, Honor herself is separated from Manticore and her usual allies for a large part of the novel, meaning that her personal affairs are largely set aside in favour of the far more interesting Galactic concerns. Only a few times does the chronology negatively affect the narrative, as a  number of chapters end with characters filling each other in on events that we the read have already seen for ourselves.

Mission of Honor marks a late-stage turning point for the series, and I can only hope the remainder is as string as recent volumes.

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