on March 13, 2012
This is a review I didn't want to write. I genuinely like David Weber's writings. I own most of the books he's produced and loved On Basilisk Station when it first came out. This series has been a huge breath of fresh air in the world of science fiction writing.
Sadly, this series is also a wonderful example of a storyline that has been extended far past the original scope. David Weber seemed to be flailing around more than a bit as he tried to hold the pieces of the plot together.
There are many things that have gone wrong in this world. At first it was about one person and her uncanny ability to get a ship's crew to excel in combat. Yes, the combats were in some ways simple. Originally missles were described as more of a standoff weapon while energy weapons and fighting in a line like 18th century warships was the standard. However, the technology kept becoming more and more powerful, and missiles have become the uberhammer in the universe. This book not only notes it, but emphasizes it with many of the discussions the characters get involved in.
And sadly, the bad guys are showing almost no character development. Haven and its people were textured and deep with many of the characters showing shades of gray in their personalities and motivations. The "five mandarins" of the Solarian League and the Detweiler clones who run the Mesan Alignment are extremely 2-dimensional. Sure the supposed plots that Weber has them conducting might appear complex, but the foundations are simple and the motivations are just too obvious. There is no attempt by David Weber to add nuance to the characters.
And as others have said, this read like a very long setup for later books. Overall, it was like one of hte middle books in The Wheel of Time, there was a lot of filler and exposition, but the plot moved incrementally.
This series has been suffering since the first "Podnaughts" appeared, and has seemed to almost lose it's way. Mission of Honor had many unnecessary deaths and new technologies that appeared to exist solely to help boost the power of a new bad guy. It was almost like reading a bad comic book where the villain suddenly gains a new power just to add in more danger. The early books were character driven, with the personalities of the characters being a major component of hte story. A Rising Thunder downplays the individual characters.
This story is lost in "epic" mode. Weber is best when he can keep the story focused on a few specific characters, rather htan try to write about every action taking place in his universe.
For lovers of the series, this will add a few details and does push towards a couple of major confrontations in later books, but in my opinion it is a major disappointment.
on March 7, 2012
Probably NOT the worst, but not great. It's compulsively readable. BUT. The story is being painfully stretched. Since At All Costs, only the Weber/Flint collaboration Torch of Freedom has had sustained vitality.
This book has battle set pieces that fizzle; yes, we get that war is hell and the Mesans are really, really evil.
There are lots and lots of repetitive political machinations, which consist mainly of the good guys reacting to external forces and the bad guys and incompetent guys proving that they are bad and/or incompetent. At length. And on and on and on.
There are myriad brief check-ins with various good guys and bad guys (but not necessarily the ones you care about) to keep them in mind, one assumes, for later books. We also get glancing views of various naval officers, space station crew, etc., each of whom is given rank/title and full first name(s) and last name(s), carefully chosen to represent the multi-national origins of the galaxy of the far future. The character list for this series--including all minor characters--must be enormous. Most of these people are spearcarriers and don't need names.
We have an improbable seemingly instantaneous complete trust between two sets of good guys formerly sworn enemies. Once the leaders become best buddies, the people fall in line. The people in all these books, especially the later ones, always go along because they are completely manipulated by government-run propaganda machines. This is convenient for plot.
Thing is, Weber does better with individual relatively small groups/units (the early Harrington books, the first Saganami book, the Cachat/Zilwicki adventures), but he gets pretty tiresome when we have to spend so much time with the leaders and their plotting (if they're bad guys) and planning (if they're good guys).
There are incremental improvements in military tech that by this time have become little more than chrome
Then we get an extraneous royal wedding that MAY be set up for a later book because if it's meant simply to show life goes on (especially if you're part of the leader group and even if half your family was wiped out several books ago), it's a waste of pages.
Treecats get more involved, only to be merely decorative.
And so on. At this rate, we're not going to get the final confrontation with the ultimate bad guys for 2-3 more books.
Problem is, I'm not sure I have the patience to stick with it, especially since I don't care very much about the characters Weber focuses on anymore. They're virtually immortal (unless killed in battle or assassinated), and I am not.
This review is based on the e-book version (not the e-ARC) bought directly from the publisher. There were a very few typographical errors, none critical, which I suspect are also in the print version.
on March 7, 2012
First, if the name of the NEXT book in this series is named "A Breaking Storm", I think I'll track Dave down and smack him on the head with a wet noodle.
Second - well, this had better not be your introduction to the Honorverse, because you'll be confused as hell.
In reading the other reviews, I think what many of the readers are missing is that this is, literally, a bridge work. Right now we've SO much going on from a political stand point that David had two choices. He could blow things off in a couple of paragraphs - or he could lay things out. And since, effectively, this entire book is research that had to be done by Weber to make and keep things consistent in the Honorverse - well, here it is. Not two paragraphs, but an entire novel dedicated to all the back story and notes that an author must do when such a detail story is written.
So that sums this book up in a nutshell. This is a foundation work on where the next book in the series are going to go, and gives you background so that, two books down the line when the suddenly a group of four Solarian officers and police take over, you won't go, wait, what? You'll know why and when things started.
I also can't see this series going much past two more decent sized novels. Not because I don't WANT it to continue - it's just that it's reaching a crescendo. Mesa is going to get blown up, the Solarian League is going to break apart, and the new force in the galaxy will be the Grand Alliance.
Quick edit: I came up with the name "A Breaking Storm" on my own. It's nice to see that other Weber readers think the same way I do - which is scary...
Yes, that's right, David Weber. I'm breaking up with you. I've been with you in the Honorverse for a long time. Years. And, although I was less than thrilled with the past couple of books, I hung in there. I just knew that you were once again going to hit your stride - that A Rising Thunder was going to be the engrossing, action and intrigue filled book that I have come to expect. But no.
"Bridge book" or not, a book should still be interesting, engaging, creative, and a pleasure to read. A Rising Thunder was not. Mostly, this book was dull. While reading, I often heard my inner teenage voice whining, "Boooooooriiiing." Pages and pages of talking heads droning on and on in order to convey information that could have been effectively, and much more interestingly, communicated in a page or two. Or, better yet, set it up, give a hint of what might be coming, and then just let events unfold, in this or later books. Readers aren't too stupid to follow the trail. Even the one big space battle we had in this book was boring - lots of set-up and excruciating detail about acceleration rates and hyper limits, and then poof!, it's all over.
Do I recommend this book? I suppose that's really irrelevant, isn't it? If you are a fan of the series, you're going to read it anyway. If you're not, you're certainly not going to look at the ratings reviewers have given this book and decide to pick this one up and start off with it. So, yeah, fans of the Honorverse, go ahead and read this one. But, get it from the library or borrow it from another fan. Don't spend your hard-earned money to buy it. That's what I'll be doing for any future books. I've bought my last Honor Harrington novel.
Picture this: There's an executive. He lives for meetings. In his spare time, he attends seminars on meetings. He works three jobs so he can attend more meetings, he loves them so much. He can't understand why other people don't love meetings like he does. So he writes a book about meetings. This is that book.
Weber is obviously out of ideas and has this series on life support. In the typical 100 pages of this waste of ink and paper, we have 60 pages of meetings, 25 pages of analysis and - if you're lucky - 15 pages of action. In the first 100 pages, it was three yes - 3 - pages of action. If I want to read the minutes of meetings, I'll review board minutes or go back to business classes. Unfortunately, apart from the few and far-between action sequences, this book is about as entertaining and exciting as reading corporate meeting minutes. The rest of the book? ZERO action. When we finally see a "battle" Weber sticks it too us. You'll know it IF you make the mistake and read this mess.
This is the perfect example of what happens to a fantastic series that is taken beyond it's logical conclusion, after all the ideas are gone, and the author is just stringing readers along as long and as far as possible to line his pockets. Take this book, the previous two, and the next two, eliminate the meetings, and you have ONE good book. But then again, this is the same author who just copies 100 pages or so from book to book to "catch readers up."
What's worse - this an HONOR book - not "Honorverse" - HONOR. So when do we finally see her? Page 128!!! Now, can you guess how we finally see her?
A) On the bridge of a ship in battle
B) Fighting for her life
C) Saving treecat orphans
D) In the middle of a marathon meeting
Answer: D. In a friggin meeting. And that's the ONLY place we see her. Meetings. Meetings. More meetings. This is NOT military SF. This is a WASTE OF PAPER and ink!
One positive aspect: Weber has increased my visits to the library. I stopped paying good money for his books years ago - now I borrow them from the local branch.
on April 7, 2012
The Honor Harrington series has been very gradually going downhill for a while now, but this book was the last straw for me. Weber has always had a bit of a problem coming up with good reasons for his villains' actions. The introduction of Mesan mind control as a plot device has now given him total license to just skip all internal logic for the bad guys. If an action is necessary for the plot, then someone is mind controlled to do it. Nothing makes sense, nothing has to. Why bother reading a book where there's no connection between the characters' personalities and their actions?
on March 16, 2012
Weber is feeding his readers thin soup again. It's not as bad yet as with the "Safehold"-series where literally nothing happens on 800 pages, but he's getting there. The boring dribble just seems to flow effortlessly out of Weber's pen - or other orifices of his body. This book is another piece of lazy work: The first 130 (!) pages are a rehash of events we already know about from the last book. And there's no end either, after a while the book just stops. To be continued.
The Honor series should have ended many volumes ago, when it was still good and epic.
on March 14, 2014
As others, featured reviewers Mvargus (critical) and Carl Abrams (favorable) have noted, this novel is to be a bridge to subsequent novels featuring Honor Harrington in action-packed roles.
Well, I won’t be reading them. The pillars supporting this bridge are rotten. There is nothing in this book which would encourage a satisfied reader of David Weber’s Honor Harrington’s series to purchase and read future works. It’s just boring!
This book is around 400 pages of explanation of what is about to happen in posited future books by Weber. Why couldn’t he give purchasers of this book some of this action and political maneuvering; after all we paid our money for A Rising Thunder.
I can’t believe I read this whole book, hoping something would happen to or with the title character. And to the last page it never did. Weber has a lot of nerve.....
Lowest rating possible for a hollow book.
on March 6, 2012
I confess that I enjoy David Weber's books; usually. I have read all of the "Honor Harrington" series. Having said that, this is probably the least enjoyable one in the series for me. In the IBook format the book was 1625 pages long and of them, possibly 200 were interesting or action oriented. The rest consisted of office conversations, meetings, and other gobbledygook. No doubt some of the matter was devoted to setting up the next book, but wading through the material was painfully boring.
I wish he had kept to the format of the earlier books in the series with more action and less politics/blather.
Come on Mr. Weber, missiles away!
on March 9, 2012
Weber's latest creation in the Honor Harrington series has reached a peak density of vignettes of good-guys chattering together about saving the world and bad-guys, all of which (except Mesa villains) are dumber than dirt and conspire to do evil in a predictably stupid ways. The Mesa villains are improbably farsighted and manage to kill off their dupes who don't ever sense their danger.
The Honor character doesn't appear until after 25% of the book's pages have been turned then she appears in a vignette establishing peace between Manticore and Haven. If this book were a movie, Honor's role would be described as a bit-part with most pages devote to characters who appear and disappear leaving an impression that Weber needs a good editor.
Despite the attack by the Alignment (Mesa) on Honor's Manticore we see nothing in this book about damage recovery or preparations for striking back. A vignette is introduced in the middle of the book suggesting the Mesa villains are planning to hide to escape Manticore's retaliation, but nothing more about that retaliation appears.
Weber normally has pages devoted to battles, but the one between Manticore and the Solarian League has dozens of pages leading up to the battle and less than one page about the battle.
Villains conveniently commit suicide under control of Mesa at opportune moments and Solarian League leaders all are arrogant morons. Most of the vignettes are devoted to show these traits and to supply plans for action, but action is missing. Talk is substituted instead.
This book ends with no real ending and appears to be sliced from a larger story after some arbitrary number of pages were written. It doesn't appear that Weber takes pride in his story-telling in this book.