BOOK REVIEW: Cauldron of Ghosts, by David Weber & Eric Flint

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

cauldron.jpg

Publisher: Baen

Series: Crown of Slaves (#3)

Genre: Space Opera

Pages: 823

Publication Date: 2014

Verdict: 2/5

The Mesan Alignment’s conspiracy to bring a new order to the Galaxy has been exposed. But as old alliances are broken and new ones forged, not everyone is convinced as to the scale of the threat. It falls to a small group of spies to reveal the true weight of what is about to come crashing down on the human race . . .

After a few leaner entries in the series, the Honorverse returns with a far longer instalment. As regular readers will know by now, this means bloat. It is odd, with a series this far in and this close to the end, that Weber insists on adding yet more irons to the fire, and yet here we are. Cauldron of Ghosts is not quite the lowest the series has sunk, but it’s a far cry from the fun adventure of the first two Eric Flint collaborations.

One of the main problems I have with a series this long, particluarly one with multiple ongoing arcs, is keeping track of what’s happened so far. This is particularly true of a series like the Honorverse, where much of what has already occured is no longer relevant, but where everything seems important at the time. In this regard, I am indebted to Wikipedia and fandom sites for providing summaries of previous books. Including something along the same lines within the book itself would go a long way toward alleviating this problem. It’s been a long while since I read Torch of Freedom, and not much of it has stuck in my mind this long. Thankfully, with a little help from the internet, I was just about able to keep up.

Anton Zilwiki and Victor Cachat are our protagonists this time around, as events drift away from Torch and Queen Berry. It’s nice to see the smaller roles getting fleshed out, but as per usual in a Weber novel, they are soon drowned in dozens of other viewpoints. With so much going on, much of it overlapping with other novels, it’s hard to remain interested in what you see on the page. Flint’s style of writing, once a welcome change, now seems disjointed and out of place when he is telling the same story as Weber’s central narrative. Characters are ever so slightly different her ethan in the main series, and everything feels just a little off.

Regardless of these issues, there is a lot of plot development here. Things in the Honorverse are finally coming to a head, and with only two more books remaining in the series, it’s looking like we might finally get closure on the dozens of plotlines spiralling around out there. I certainly hope we do, because to throw away the potential this series still has would be a travesty indeed.

Cauldron of Ghosts is not a good book, not by itself. But in what it sets up, there’s hope for the Honorverse yet.

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