Friday, January 18, 2008

David Weber and Honor Harrington

It's been a bit of time since I gave a content post, and I've accumulated a new backlog of comments because I've been reading a lot, so I thought I'd give an overview of the Honor Harrington novels that I have read, a three for one deal.

As soon as I post this, I'll be updating the book table as well. Hmm, maybe I should make a new table for 2008? We'll see :D.

On Basilisk Station by David Weber

(Acquired: family)

My family has been trying to get me to try Honor Harrington for years and it's not that I was resistant, just that it never came to hand when I had a spare moment. Well, I was down there visiting and my older sister shoved the first book into my hands (stole it from my parents' shelf actually ;)). I started reading and then asked for the next books in the series. Honestly, I don't know if I would have enjoyed it when they first started, and may even have tried it before back then. This book is space opera, something I wasn't much into until reading Stardoc by S.L. Viehl. But then, my tastes were very much into hard science fiction or anthropology (genre or mainstream) and have only started branching out in the last 15 years or so. Anyway, suffice it to say that I'm reading the second book now...and enjoying it.

The Honor of the Queen by David Weber

(Acquired: borrowed)

I'd guess that my family (who have been trying to get me to read this series for years) already knew this, but it didn't become clear until my husband said he didn't like David Weber because it was military SF. Anyway, I have figured it out. This is Hornblower in space! Sigh. If only I could come up with good taglines for my own novels :). Anyway, another good novel. There are some points that are old style and so jarred me, but I enjoy the interactions. I do think there is a nasty twist at one point where I got my hopes up twice only to have them dashed both times though. It's a fun read that doesn't pull any punches, and besides the main character, it seems everyone is potentially at risk. And hey, if I don't understand the battle scenes from a physics perspective, at least nothing in them threw me out because it was implausible. I have to laugh at the occasional nods to "this is military SF not space opera" with comments like that an explosion should have blown their eardrums if sound travelled in space.

The Short Victorious War: We Love Our Honor by David Weber

(Acquired: borrowed (actually, my parents wanted theirs back so bought me the series except this one wasn't available, so I snagged it from their shelf over Christmas :)))

Well, it's hard to come up with something new and original to say as this is the third Honor Harrington book I've read. Honestly, this was the weakest of the three because the scope was so large that it was hard to remember who was who and what had last happened to them. The ending made this very clear because of how huge crises were wrapped up just as summary of events mentioned by some of the players. I understand how the climax would have been too confusing if it displayed two major battles simultaneously, but that doesn't stop me from feeling as if the threads weren't really resolved. Ultimately, I enjoyed the Honor parts. I felt this one was a little more messagey than the previous two, which may have contributed to me not particularly liking the parts that were so distant from her career as to be in another empire. Will I keep reading the series? Of course :). It's still Hornblower in space as far as I'm concerned. I definitely wouldn't recommend this one as an intro to the series though. What's odd is that I've said that about two books recently but for completely different, in fact opposite, reasons. This one because the scope moved so far back that it was too broad to take in. The other because it moved so close that you needed the grounding in the character to understand the full significance of the events.

So, have you read David Weber or Honor Harrington? Have you read Hornblower? Are you going to give it a try?


Jean said...

This is an interesting observation. My husband gave me a David Weber to read a few years ago, and I hated it. I know lots of people love Weber, but I was wondering if he gave it to me as an example of bad writing (but he reads the whole series, so that didn't make sense). I didn't finish it.

Now you compare it to Hornblower in space. And I love Hornblower. Thanks for the dilemma. Now I'm probably going to have to take another look at it.

Margaret said...


Sorry to have made your life more difficult. To be honest, it took me a bit to get into the first book and only the fact that my family would be waiting on my report made me keep going, but then it clicked (a heck of a lot faster than Robin Hobb's style who I also enjoy) and I've been going back.

I'm waiting for my older sister to chime in about whether the third book signals a focus change for the series...and hoping VERY much so that she says it was only a bump in the road :).

jjmcgaffey said...

Actually...I don't remember SVW giving me those kinds of problems. But I do remember that the next two are very much focused on Honor, at close range, so if you had trouble with the broad brush the next two will be better. However, as you get farther along in the series Honor does get more politically involved and has to consider some _very_ broad consequences of her actions...same problem as with the Hornblower books, IMO!

By the way, you Hornblower fans - note that Weber is addicted to (highly esoteric) puns. For instance, at the end of SVW, Rob S. Pierre comes to power in Haven...

Margaret said...

Eh, it wasn't the politics so much as non-Honor-focused politics, and really that there was a universe-wide war going on and Weber tried to focus on ALL of it simultaneously. It can be done, but I don't think this one succeeded.

Thanks for the tip on the next two though :).