Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Review: A Rising Thunder by David Weber

A Rising Thunder
Author: David Weber
Publication: Baen (March 6, 2012)

Description: Peril and strife strike on a double front for Honor Harrington and company. After a brutal attack on the Manticoran home system, Honor Harrington and the Star Kingdom she serves battle back against a new, technologically powerful, and utterly nefarious enemy. And as if that weren’t task enough, Honor must also face down a centuries-old nemesis in the crumbling, but still mighty, Solarian League.

The war between the People’s Republic of Haven and the Star Kingdom is finally won and peace established, but grave danger looms–for there is a plan well on its way to completion designed to enslave the entire human species. Behind that plan lies the shadowy organization known as the Mesan Alignment.

Task number one for Honor is to defend against another devastating Mesan strike–a strike that may well spell the doom of the Star Kingdom in one fell blow. It is time to shut down and secure the wormhole network that is the source of the Star Kingdom’s wealth and power–but also its greatest vulnerability. Yet this is an act that the Earth-based Solarian League inevitably will take as a declaration of war. 

The thunder of battle rolls as the Solarian League directs its massive power against the Star Kingdom.  And once again, Honor Harrington is thrust into a desperate battle that shemust win if she is to survive to take the fight to the real enemy of galactic freedom–the insidious puppetmasters of war who lurk behind the Mesan Alignment!

My Thoughts: If you like political intrigue and political maneuvering, this is the story for you. There is relatively little action of the space-ship battle sort in this episode of the Honor Harrington series and not very much of Honor either. This story takes us all around the universe but seems to concentrate on the actions of the handful of upper level bureaucrats who really run the Solarian League. I feel that Permanent Senior Undersecretary Kolokoltsov of the Solarian League, one of those bureaucrats, got the most "page-time" of any of the individual characters in this story. 

The story concerns the growing and escalating conflict between Manticore and the Solarian League that has been fomented partially by the maneuvering of the Mesan Alliance and partially by the egocentric attitudes of the Solarian League. This story also cements the new alliance between long-time enemies Manticore and the Republic of Haven. A new alliance is forming that also includes Beowulf, a long-time League member who has close financial and person ties with Manticore. In fact, the Chairman of the Board of Directors (the governing body) is Honor's uncle. 

Reading this one was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. All the various actions are leading to a fall for the Solarian League. As detail piles on detail the bureaucrats in charge are doing all they can to spin events their way and try to find something that will save their jobs and power and, incidentally, save the Solarian League. To throw in another metaphor, the bureaucrats are "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

There weren't a lot of things of a personal nature in this one. We could see the growing friendship between Empress Elizabeth of Manticore and Eloise Pritchart, the President of the Republic of Haven. We got to see a little of the relationship between Honor and her husband Hamish and wife Emily. We got to see Crown Prince Roger marry his commoner love Rifka in a combination Roman Catholic and Jewish ceremony! But most of the relationships were brief and political.

This is an episode for those who are very familiar with the Honorverse. Newcomers would be both baffled and bored with the constantly shifting scenes between people who come and go with great rapidity. Hopefully, this one is leading up to something with more excitement and more face time for Honor. It did have brief moments of humor and poignancy but they were almost buried by political maneuvering. 

I rank this one "for devoted fans only."

Favorite Quote (This one is humorous once you realize that two of the most dangerous men in the universe are having the conversation):
"You know," Cachat said now, "it would be a tragedy if the working relationship you and I have developed should come to a catastrophic end due to the sudden, unanticipated demise of one half of that relationship."

"Really?" Zilwicki's tone remained grave, but there might have been the merest hint of the twinkle in those dark eyes, and his lips twitched ever so slightly. "Are you feeling ill, Victor? You don't have a bad tooth, do you?"

"Oh, no." Cachat smiled sweetly. "I'm feeling just fine."
I bought this one because I am a fan of the series. You can buy your copy here.

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