BOOK REVIEW: Shadow of Victory, by David Weber

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

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Publisher: Baen

Series: Saganami Island (#4)

Genre: Military SF

Pages: 1158

Publication Date: 2016

Verdict: 2/5

 

War rages across the Galaxy, and no world is spared. As the Solarian league and the Star Empire of Manticore fall into an all-out shooting war, the Mesan Alignment continues to operate behind the scenes. But with their plans about to be exposed, the conspirators grow ever more desperate . . .

As long-time followers of this readthrough will know by now, I have been less than impressed with the Saganami Island series. And even though the sub-series has now well and truly been folded into the narrative, I still treat it as a separate entity. Sadly, this fourth and final volume continues every disapoointing trend of the series so far.

The main problem with Saganami Island has always been a lack of focus. When a series starts off with the promise of focus on the next generation of heroes, there’s an obvious problem when those characters are quickly and comprehensively overshadowed by characters from the main series crossing over. There’s no single plotline either. Each book is something different, and not in a good way. The fact that they all overlap with other books certainly doesn’t help, as scenes and chapters are robbed of the tension they should have. The first half of this behemoth of a tome suffers extensively from this. In fact, the main characters don’t really turn up until this point.

And that’s the biggest issue with this, the Honorverse’s longest book. It is incredibly bloated. Convsersations are circular. Battles are repetitous. The constant backstabbing and politicking just drags by for chapter after chapter after chapter. For the prelude to the series finale, this book is the one thing it shouldn’t be possible to be. It is boring. I read a fair few books of similar length across SF and Fantasy, and they are enjoyabe because they are page turners. the only manner in which Shadow of Victory is a page turner, is that I was desperately turning through the pages in the hopes that something – anything – would happen. And time after time, I was disappointed.

The saving grace of Shadow of Victory is that it moves the plot forwards, albeit only a little. The last few Honorverse books have really felt as though they were building to something, rather than being that something in their own right. This is certainly true here. With the next book being both the final volume in the series and a mainline Honor Harrington novel, I hope that it will prove a satisfying conclusion to the series. But I have to admit, those hopes are as high as they were just a few books ago. It seems to me that Weber’s magnum opus has lost steam, and it remains to be seen if it can get going again in the thousand pages it has left.

If it weren’t a necessary read to understand the series, I wouldn’t recommend Shadow of Victory to a friend. But if you are going to read it, be warned that it may not be all you hope it to be.

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