Posts Tagged ‘space opera’

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War of Honor

April 21, 2015

77743This is the best book in this series so far. Everything is fully blown. And it is the thickest one also, which will make quite a bore if you cannot take the heavy stuffs.

Why I like it so much? First, politics! I know that a lot of people actually hate this book because it is 90% politics and only 10% actions. But this is precisely why I like this novel! Look at A Game of Thrones series, almost all of them ARE about politics, one scheming against another. The politics gives you the depth about the character and the issue, that makes the story much deeper and realistic feel.

I cannot believe that I quite enjoy the parliamentary debate in the House of Lords of Manticore. And also the lobbying and the political manoeuvrings. It is even more intricate than a clash between two battle-groups of navy. The motive is not easy to be seen, and almost everyone has something to hide deep inside. The character is not quite black and white anymore, even though you cannot help to scorn some characters, like you scorn Joffrey in Game of Throne.

And the best part is the diplomacy between The Havenite Republic and The Manticore Kingdom. Neither of them want to resurrect the bloody war. But somehow the internal politics takes over the international politics, not to mention some stupidity and personal ambition. All of them is a perfect ingredient to restart a fresh war that nobody would dare to comprehend!

The politics of media is also very good. Many characters are doing some back deal to hide the true motives. Add some polished media coverage, and you have a real political situation just like in our own world.

So, in the end, this novel is a full blown Honor Harrington series. You will have deep insight of the Manticoran politics once you finished this novel, and you will ask for more! Yes, it does not have a lot of battle, but it will make all the battle makes sense.

A solid FIVE STARS.

five star

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Ashes of Victory

March 31, 2015

77742This book is a real turning point in this series. Before this book, everything is just about space battle. Our beloved Honor Harrington is just the pawn in the midst of the power play. This book marks when it started to differ. Dame Honor just liberated an entire prison planet and became one of the most decorated (and living) heroes in two systems. And she deserve to take a break after all her ordeals.

The beginning is a bit domestic, a warm hero welcome, plus an even warmer family reunion. Fortunately that warm welcome does not continue forever to make me puke, and she get right into business, became the instructor in the Royal Manticoran Naval Academy, the infamous Saganami Island. At the battle front, it has to be taken care by her proteges Alice Truman and Scotty Tremaine.

What makes it truly different is the portion of the story given to the other side, the Peeps, or People Republic of Haven. Their national political tension is cause, some are caused by the escape of Honor Harrington, which is supposed to be dead according to their propaganda. Actually most of the action in this novel I think is in this side, not the Manticoran side. This is the first time we have a direct view within the enemy’s camp. And it is worth it.

The tension is also increasing in the Grayson side. Nothing new happened there though, still the old enemy, the fundamentalist. But this time, they are helped by the Peeps, so they have extra ammunition. And they will do anything to stop Honor from “destroying” their culture and religion, even cooperating with their enemy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Even by leaving Honor Harrington on the bench during the battle, this novel is still very interesting. It also started to get more political, and I like it for that. All for all, a solid FOUR STAR.

four star

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Echoes of Honor

January 28, 2015

77741The pace is already set from the previous book. The goal is clear, to escape from the prison planet Hades. The question is how?

Using his inner cadre that survived the death while escaping from Peeps prison ship, Harrington is making a plan. Fortunately, she has quite a resource with her. What she does not have is manpower, which are plenty in this prison planet.

At the home front, Harrington ideas are put into design, the new Medusa class Super Dreadnaught, the missile pod carrying dreadnaught, and the LAC carrier. Both are expected to change the playing field with the war against the Peeps.

The plot and pacing is already tense in the beginning, unlike the previous book (In Enemy Hands) that almost bore me to death. Even though there are no big surprises, the plot is satisfactory.

There is a change of form starting from this book for this series. Now Weber is using more multiple point of view. Some readers do not like the idea, since they don’t want to care what the enemy is thinking. I am clearly on the other side, I want to know what happened with the enemy. It makes the story richer. Anyway the enemy is not as clear as black and white. There is always a shade of gray in both camps. And this book supplies a good view on what happened in the enemy’s camp. Some characters are going to be influential in the next book.

Starting on this books also, the book is getting thicker. As long as it is not full of the hero worship and romance crap, I can take it.

Final verdict, it is way better than the previous one, which I think keep the series alive. Not the highest point, but certainly not bad at all. FOUR STAR.

four star

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In Enemy Hands

September 9, 2014

In Enemy Hands (Honor Harrington, #7)This is the weakest link in all this series that I have read, so far. If not by the merit of the ending, or the flow of the story as a whole, I would have give this book a TWO stars.

The title already suggests (so I don’t think that it is a spoiler) that our heroine Lady Harrington will be captured by the enemy. No surprise there. But the important thing is how the story goes.

The beginning is just too slow, too damned slow. nothing really happened. It will be much better if it is cut into half. Honor is back into the regular of Manticoran navy, after the succesfull mission as a commander of a Q-ship (or armed Merchant Ship). Everything is back to normal. And normal is boring.

The love interest story is totally unnecessary. Maybe the author wants to keep that as an investment in a long term, but I think he should cut it to a minimum level. Just give a little hint of it, without telling it in more than one page. It is boring and against the flow of the novel as a whole.

The actual story only begin when Lady Harrington is captured. And the action starts. Luckily the story is good, otherwise it will fail to redeem the rest of the novel. There are plot twists and tragedy. Many things are lost, too many actually, for better or worse. Fortunately, luck is always in her side (otherwise the whole installment will stop, right?)

Final verdict, a THREE, and I am already being nice.

three star

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Honor Among Enemies

August 26, 2014

Honor Among Enemies (Honor Harrington, #6)Honor Harrington is back from exile. Although she is reinstated into the Manticoran navy, circumstances does not allow her to be a captain of the list. Thankfully, there is an opening for her to be a merchant escort, due to some changes in situation in Manticoran navy. She is given a Q-ship (an armed merchant ship) to patrol the Silesian sector, a sector rampant with pirates.

So the story goes, she is the leading captain, patrolling the Silesian sector, hunting for pirates. There are no politics, no crazy war development, just pirate hunting.

Fortunately, the side story telling what happened among her crew is interesting. For this mission, she is getting the scrap of the bottom crew, the crew that other captains want to get away with. And she is damned lucky to have all the competent officers with her. With them she can beat this crew into some reliable fighting force.

For the first time in this series, we encounter the Andermani empire, a German speaking star kingdom. Maybe they will play an important role later in the series. It looks like that they are a bit cunning, not exactly black or white. Their strongest point is their spy network. I am looking forward to seeing more of them later.

In the end, she is facing a notorious pirates. The character of this pirate is too one dimensional to be interesting. He is just cruel, that’s it.

The final conflict which I will reveal here is interesting. Harrington again will be tested beyond her limit. With just a Q-ship, she must face a real battleship. The chance is not on her side, and she does not have the best crew with her. Will she survive? Of course, she is the salamander. It is just somehow that she is too lucky to be true. That is the only part that I don’t like in this series.

Verdict, so so, with some interesting parts. THREE stars.

three star

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Flag in Exile

April 23, 2014

77738Lady Harrington is on exile. Not because of her fault of course, but when you do everything straight, it is guaranteed that you are not going to make everybody happy. So, she is on half-pay (meaning she is stripped from the command), and fortunately the there is a chance to fill in her office in Grayson. So, Grayson it is…

Now, she is involved with all the politics of Grayson. Even though the Masadan conflict is over, there is no guarantee at all that she will meet no opposition. Beside holding the office as a steadholder, she is also enlisted in the Grayson Navy (and it is complicated, because she also belongs to the Manticoran Navy). And she is given an admiral rank! The heat is on! The culture in Grayson is as misogynistic as ever, saved for some enlightened people.

I find that the Grayson part of the story is refreshing. Seeing how Weber described the fundamentalist way of thinking (in Grayson) really show us the reality today. When the book is published, the Oklahoma bombing happened. It rings a deeper meaning that what is written as fiction is novel actually happened in our real world.

One more important part in this novel is the ENGINEERING porn! Weber is getting serious with the structural engineering. If you have a slight understanding of mechanical engineering, it is surely interesting to see how the engineers of Grayson work! What a design, what an investigation!

I might be biased in reviewing this novel, because I enjoy the Grayson setting more the Manticoran setting. So I give this novel a 4 STARS.

 four star
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Field of Dishonor

April 10, 2014

504369The first official conflict between Haven Republic and Manticore Kingdom is resolved with the victory on the Manticoran side. But the conflict is far from being concluded. The political situation in Haven only exacerbates the situation.

This time, there are no big scale battle fought, but the clandestine war is by no means less cruel, if not even crueler. The enmity between Harrington and Lord Pavel Young becomes worse. The rise of Lady Harrington’s career and the court-martial of Lord Young will tear both of them equally. Despite there are no space battle, actually I feel that this novel is more tense than the third novel: The Short Victorious War. And by all means, it is also better.

The political situation in Manticore Kingdom is also troublesome. Even though Manticore is a kingdom, it is a parliamentary monarchy, like the United Kingdom. The balance of power is delicate, and the majority led by the Centrist and Crown Loyalist is threatened. Compromise must be made. And as always (sigh), Honor Harrington is in the middle of the storm.

On the lighter side, she must get accustomed to her new role in the House of Lords, being a Countess. She is also a Steadholder of Grayson, a foreign nation, which makes thing even more complicated.

There are plenty of “events” in this book to serve as the climax. The road ahead is indeed hard to travel. Later on, as the title of the novel suggested, it will be a field of dishonor for Lady Harrington.

Final verdict: 4 STARS.

four star
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The Short Victorious War

March 26, 2014

2037129This is the weakest link in the series so far.

The clash in Yeltsin Star has started the conflict between Haven Republic and Manticore Kingdom. The Haven Republic, as always, denied any involvement. But nevertheless the tension is rising.

I am actually glad, because in this novel, we know more about what happened in the Havenite side. It brings more balance to the story, now we know what happened at the other side. The admiralty of Manticoran Navy is also troubled by the deployment of the task force. The protection of the allied nation is important, but also keeping the invading force at bay. The decision maker is torn between making a defense of an offense.

In this novel also, a full scale squadron battle is staged. The war is no longer a covert action, but a direct invasion. Unfortunately, the war, despite its bigger scale, fail to grasp the horror of war so well described in the second novel, The Honor of the Queen. This reason alone made me decreased the rating from 4 STARS to 3 STARS.

Don’t let my review disappoint you. There are still a lot of good points. We have a full squadron manoeuvre, some interesting battle tactics (not just from the Manticore side). To be honest, this book is the beginning of the full scale conflict between Haven and Manticore. It is just somehow, the emotional tone is out-scaled by the Grayson-Masadan conflict.

So, only 3 STARS.

Note: I like it that the info dump is separated from the main part of the novel and put at the back, so that it does not disturb the flow of the story.

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The Honor of the Queen

March 12, 2014

261758This is the second book of Honor Harrington series.

Definitely better than the first novel: On Basilisk Station. Some of my expectations from the first novel are actually answered. The second novel actually brings more stories from the enemy’s side. I certainly are looking forward to seeing Captain Yu and Theisman, two commander from Haven side.

After Basilisk, Captain Harrington is assigned to a new post in a diplomatic mission to Grayson. It looks like an easy task, but something is lurking behind. Grayson’s nemesis, its sister state: Masada, is planning a coup just in time. Harrington will be trapped in the escalation of coup d’etat.

The political situation is also very interesting. Grayson is an extremely patriarchal nation. Woman is seen as nothing but property. Seeing Honor Harrington as a senior officer of a heavy cruiser is like a slap in the face for them. Honor Harrington is indeed challenged by the local political situation. Will she succumb to this unfortunate situation or will she triumph one more time? The political behavior of a fundamentalist state also deserve an attention. It works really well with the plot of the story.

The fighting is indeed more gruesome than the first. Despite they are no land battle, the naval (space) battle is much more brutal. I have not read such a tense description of a battle, as depicted in this novel, for a long time. It is most satisfying as well as emotionally gripping.

Despite the hard science fact is not the main issue in this novel (like most space opera), Weber is consistent with the technological frameworks that he set in the beginning. It works well with all the naval tactics in the battle. This alone shows that he is indeed a good sci-fi writer, unlike most space opera which care about the plot only while abandoning the tech stuff.

The classification of space ship starting to look interesting. We have in this series battle between heavy cruiser, destroyer, battle cruiser and LAC (Light Attack Craft, a small intra system space ship with no hyper capabilities). We can see the difference of capability between those ship. I can only expect a larger campaign, space battle between two opposing fleet in the next book. You got me hook, Mr. Weber.

But unfortunately, somehow this book is still not enough to be listed in my 5 STARS class. It is still missing something “philosophical” for brain crunching, which is my criteria for a 5 STARS. So 4 STARS.

Note:
One thing I don’t really like is the depiction of the Haven Republic. It looks like Weber created Haven as conglomeration of everything that he hates. By using the name of People’s Republic of Haven, it resembles the name of a communist country: People’s Republic of China. But from the story in this book, the Haven Republic looks like more like a fascist, militaristic, and expansionist country, like Nazi German, than a communist. And the naming of the space ship class: Saladin, A Sultan class battle cruiser; is using name from Turkish Sultanate, the Ottoman Empire. So, it shows that he hates communist, fascist, and Islam. I am not a big fan of those either, but I think it’s not wise to do that.

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On Basilisk Station

February 12, 2014

On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington, #1)This novel is the first in Honor Harrington series. It is a strongly military flavored sci-fi space opera.

The main character is Honor Harrington, a recently made captain of a space ship. Even though she is the best graduate in her academy, her career in the space fleet is not too shiny, because she is a commoner, against all the well connected aristocrats (the government in this novel is a monarchy). And story begin when she get her first assignment in HMS Fearless, a light cruiser with some history in her majesty fleet.

The military aura in this novel is strong, especially the navy culture. This book also covers high politics of the parliament and admiralty down to the actual naval operation. Maybe it is a bit too wide, but Weber did the job pretty well. Most of the story is about the life of the crews of HMS Fearless in their new station at Basilisk.

What I truly love about this novel is the plot. This is actually common is a good space opera, where the science is down played, and the plot is emphasized. This novel really gives you a thrill ride. The characters are plunged into an impossible situation. Her crew and her ship are not of the best kind available.

The setting of politics is also interesting, full with corrupt officers, interest laden politicians, and incompetent leaders. And Honor Harrington, is trapped in the middle of this maelstrom.

One thing that deserved mentioning in this novel I think is the gender role. There are no differences of role between male and female in this novel, whether in politics or military. Even in physical strength, a female character can beat a male character. Maybe it is too good to be true, but certainly it is a future that I am dreaming of.

The one thing that I find lacking is the voice of the enemy. Too little portion of the book is given for the antagonist. Sometimes it is good to know the entire motives of the enemy, even to sympathize with them.

In conclusion, this in a very good beginning of a series. Solid 4 stars.

PS: This novel is a tribute to Captain Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester.