Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review::The Honor of the Queen(Honor Harrington) by David Weber

The Honor of the Queen (Honor Harrington, #2)The Honor of the Queen by David Weber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Honor of the Queen(Honor Harrington) by David Weber

Once more I'm reading the next Honor Harrington novel to try to understand why I like them so much. One might ask why( I'm doing this) and this came about because in trying to read the newest of the series I found myself making constant starts and stops and wondering what has changed. Obviously the most changed factor would seem to be me. (Since some of these books are twenty years old it is that long ago that I first read them.)

I really love this book the first three times I read it and I still do but this time I tried to pay particular attention to why. And I discovered first that the style of writing is one that I would describe for myself as a reader as the writing that reads like a bad LP plays on a player. There are passages that are like a scratch on a record and you suddenly find yourself at the bottom of the page wondering how you managed to skip those last three paragraphs. I realize that in the best description I can give I have been scanning large portions of this book to get to the parts I like.

This in fact is caused by the massive walls of techo-babel that seem so important to the tactics of battle that will play out later. It's quite interesting because it does add some element of depth to that part of the story and it suddenly made me realize that the main character in this story often seems to be the techno-babel. That's not necessarily a bad thing but it can be annoying to some readers. There is still a lot of world building going on here and David has a lot to tell us about this new system where Grayson is. There is a lot of political and religious background that goes into the telling of this story. In fact it all might be considered Techno-Politico-Religio-babel. That's a trifecta destined to either awe or bore.

What I love about these novels is the character of Honor Harrington. She's one of the best female protagonists in this type of science fiction and yet she is in some ways the worst. I say this because David Weber seems to have difficulty in directly accessing the true emotions of Honor Harrington. I believe that its an effort to make her some uber war strategist that might impair this process. Most, not all, of her emotions are throttled until something within the context of her general macho nature goes beyond the pale. Let's translate that to the type of character Clint Eastwood plays so well. The kind that shows few emotions until he's pushed beyond some limit. That means most of the time we see Honor as a dispassionate soldier. Oh sure she has her opinions of politics and other such things but they are all driven and focused into her military career. This is probably quite accurate for what David is going for here, but it creates that sort on one dimensional character that people can't peer around without loosing sight of since the other side of the page is blank.

What David does do is give insight into much of Honor's character through how other characters see her. The problem with that is is that it's no holds barred in the field because it ranges from everyone from close friend to worst foe. Mostly this ends up creating caricature's of these other characters who are being judged by how they perceive the protagonist and that perception is colored by the reader's own opinion of what Honor is (as they see her). The largest window into Honor is in chapter Twenty Six and her reaction to the way the prisoners of war were treated. Unfortunately the focus on the treatment of the women in particular causes the rest to pale, but the overall reaction in Honor is again a good indication of what this woman soldier is all about. Sad to say that's a small portion of this long book.

The interesting part of all of this one dimensional nature of Honor is that in a way David Weber is leaving it open for the reader to fill in a lot of the blanks based on the information and misinformation traveling through the thoughts of others. This is actually normally a good trick in writing-not telling the reader everything and letting them think for themselves. It obviously works quite well here because more people like these books than those who don't. The caveat here is that those who don't can't grasp the fundamental to why they don't like it other than that the characters are all flat.

David has an interesting opinion and take on the directions that politics, religion, and technology might shape the future and unfortunately the reader gets a lot of this in long bouts of telling that leave little to the imagination though sometime it left me scratching my head. The biggest stumbling block for Honor this time might be this sexist thing with the Graysons and its in Chapter Twenty that we see Honor putting the nails to that coffin by her selfless act (which she later tries to minimize by stating she was only protecting herself.)

And just like many of those protagonists of the great movies everyone around Honor gets killed and injured while she walks away with all the guilt and the rewards. Once again the most heroic people are those who have cleaved to this their leader and have marched off to their deaths in defense of honor and country (world).

This is a great read for SFF fans who like a lot of techno-babel and somewhat authentic sounding space battles and strategy.

Once again I loved this story, but I'm not sure if I see the same Honor Harrington that David wrote about by the time I reach the end, and I don't think that that is such a bad thing.

J.L. Dobias

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