While this isn’t my favorite Honor Harrington book, I really can’t think of any reason not to give it five stars, so that’s what I’m doing. In this book, Honor is still an admiral in the Grayson Navy, but Manticore comes crawling back to her, begging her to rejoin their navy as a mere captain to lead a four ship squadron of Q ships in the Silesian Confederacy area, where pirates are destroying merchant shipping and crews. It’s an ugly invitation, but she wants back in the Manticoran Navy so badly, she accepts. Crazy.
Q ships are converted merchant freighters with no armaments to speak of, but in this case, with lots of weaponry. They are to act as targets for pirates and when they are attacked, to destroy the pirates. But obviously, they have to do so immediately, as they can’t sustain damage. Honor is gratified to learn that her captains and execs are of good quality and she knows some of them, but the crews are a combination of cast...
This is a good book, following from the previous volumes. Harrington is now an acting commodore with a small squadron of Q-ships. Needless to say, she triumphs against long odds in a complicated plot. There is still too much techno and psycho babble and too much narrative to convey information which a more skillful or mature writer would do dialogues and conversation, The write would have done better to compress all this (or at least the technical and prior career developments) into the first chapter and then get to the plot. As ever, the tree cats are cute (there are now two), but they are highly improbable and detract further from the credibility of the stories. While we are on that subject, it's hard to see why in 4000 A.D.+ ships still require crews of thousands of humans. The manning levels seem to be from the 1940's, although the ships are 20 to 200 times bigger. It is far more likely that two thousand years from now, robots will be doing almost everything on space ships and...
Without going into the plot, I felt like HAE was a refreshing return to the origins of the series - a single ship and her captain against the world. Harrington finds herself assigned away from the rest of the RMN or even a proper warship squadron, yet undergunned and out numbered she still manages to bring her usual panache to the fleet.
This book stood out to me because it took the time to look at the 'lesser' crew of the Wayfarer and the other vessels, and some of the problems which commonly face Enlistedmen (as one, I appreciate this rare look). This was an excellent and refreshing change of pace from the all-officers-all-the-time pacing of some other Sci Fi series.
The pacing is excellent, with enough time spent on setup, technical explanation, intrigue and action - I did feel that she dealt with the first mini-boss a little too easily, but to have spent more time on the tin-pot dictator would have necessitated lenghtening the book longer than it needed to...
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