If this book is
any example, (which I am sure it is) there is a very good reason the Honor
Harrington series is so enduring. It is a world so saturated with complex
social, political, and military dynamics, and yet the reader is privy to the
characters’ personal dynamics to a degree that it is impossible not to care
deeply about them. Yes there is action, and yes—goodness, yes—there is plenty
of tech, but that is not what drives the series. Here is a rich world with
characters you can understand. People
you care about.
You can feel the
grit and the grime of a well-worn universe carrying through each of the stories
in this collection, despite them being penned by different authors.
Ruthless, by Jane Lindskold
Starting off the
collection, this story is more intimate in nature, dealing more with the
personal motivations of Lieutenant, Senior Grade, Michael Winton…Crown Prince
of the Star Kingdom of Manticore. Michael must balance honor and duty when a
friend’s child is kidnapped.
This story was a
nice kickoff to the collection, introducing the reader to the political
climate, some of the players, and the maneuvering to be expected throughout the
book; a good thing for readers where this might be their first introduction to
the series. Ruthless receives an 8
out of 10.
An Act of War, by Timothy Zahn
In sharp contrast
to Lindskold’s story, An Act of War
plunges the reader head first into the complexities of espionage and intrigue.
Plots within plots, where the reader isn’t quite sure who is on whose side, but
is left without any doubt that things are going to get interesting fast.
It was a little
hard for me to get into this one in the beginning. It was excellently written,
but quite overwhelming to the uninitiated. At times I found it hard to keep
track of what was going on and who to rally behind. This was less of a problem
as the story went along. An Act of War
receives an 8 out of 10.
Let’s Dance!, by David Weber
this is my favorite story in the collection. The balance of protocol, action,
and characterization gently immersed me in the universe from the beginning and
carried me through to the end effortlessly. I felt the moral dilemmas and hard
choices in a very real sense, and appreciated the way that the characters and
their inner motivations were not lost amidst the action. The sense of accountability
stressed throughout was both refreshing and well done. Tightly woven and
As a personal
aside, being a person who appreciates animals as both companions and
characters, I was particularly pleased with the interaction between Honor and
Nimitz, and the manner in which the treecat was a fully active presence in the
story, rather than a prop.
Here is where I
shamefully admit that this was my first encounter with the Honorverse (though
by all means I was previously aware of it). I can assure you, it will not be
the last time I enter that space. Let’s
Dance! receives a 10 out of 10.
In addition to
the three stories above, the collection includes two other aspects to thrill
and delight the tech-heads among the Honorverse
following. The first is a scholarly extract: An Introduction to Modern Starship Armor Design. So well-done it
gave me flashbacks from my years of doing production work on symposium volumes.
The second is a companion Appendix of Armor Design schematics. These each receive
a 10 out of 10 for thoroughness and attention to detail.
was action packed without sacrificing a character-driven plot that keeps the
reader connected. The military and political aspects were well-portrayed and
the tech was clearly extensively thought out. It was easy to lose myself in the
rich backdrop of the Honorverse, without losing sight of the characters I
quickly came to care about. This collection receives a 9 out of 10 overall.