Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book Review: Shadow of Freedom by David Weber

Shadow of Freedom
Author: David Weber
Publication: Baen; 1st Printing edition (March 5, 2013)

Description: New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and international bestselling phenomenon David Weber delivers book #18 in the multiple New York Times best-selling Honor Harrington series. Honor Harrington’s Royal Manticoran Navy fights space battles alongside planetary rebels as its old rival, the corrupt Solarian League, begins to crumble.

#18 in the multiply-bestselling Honor Harrington series.

Wrong number? There are two sides to any quarrel . . . unless there are more.

Michelle Henke, Queen Elizabeth of Manticore's first cousin, Honor Harrington's best friend, and the commanding officer of Manticore's Tenth Fleet, is just a bit surprised when a messenger arrives from the Mobius System to inform her that the Mobius Liberation Front is prepared to rise in rebellion against the hated regime President Svein Lombroso. She can understand why anyone would want to rebel against someone like Lombroso, but why tell her about it? After all, she has problems of her own, like the minor matter of a life-or-death war against the Solarian League.

Michelle has just handed the "invincible" Solarian League Navy the most humiliating, one-sided defeat in its entire almost thousand-year history in defense of the people of the Star Empire's Talbott Quadrant. But the League is the most powerful star nation in the history of humanity. Its navy is going to be back – and this time with thousands of superdreadnoughts.

Yet she also knows scores of other star systems — some independent, some controlled by puppet regimes, and some simply conquered outright by the Solarian Office of Frontier Security — lie in the League's grip along its frontier with the Talbott Quadrant. As combat spreads from the initial confrontation, the entire frontier has begun to seethe with unrest, and Michelle sympathizes with the oppressed populations wanting only to be free of their hated masters.

And that puts her in something of a quandary when the messenger from Mobius arrives, because someone's obviously gotten a wrong number. According to him, the Mobians’ uprising has been carefully planned to coordinate with a powerful outside ally: the Star Empire of Manticore. Only Manticore — and Mike Henke — have never even heard of the Mobius Liberation Front.

It's a set-up . . . and Michelle knows who's behind it. The shadowy Mesan Alignment has launched a bold move to destroy Manticore's reputation as the champion of freedom. And when the RMN doesn't arrive, when the MLF is brutally and bloodily crushed, no independent star system will ever trust Manticore again.

Mike Henke knows she has no orders from her government to assist any rebellions or liberation movements, that she has only so many ships, which can be in only so many places at a time . . . and that she can't possibly justify diverting any of her limited, outnumbered strength to missions of liberation the Star Empire never signed on for.

She knows that . . . and she doesn't care.

No one is going to send thousands of patriots to their deaths, trusting in Manticoran help that will never come.

Not on Mike Henke's watch.

My Thoughts: This eighteenth book in the Honor Harrington series stars Michelle Henke, cousin of the Empress of the Manticoran Empire and fourth in line for the throne. Mike has forged a career in the Manticoran Navy and is currently Admiral in command of the 10th Fleet. Mike is out on the sharp point of the spear. 

The time period of this book seems to be concurrent with A RISING THUNDER which actually stars Honor Harrington. Communication is fast in this vast interstellar world but that still means that they are weeks late in getting the word from back home. That leaves Mike needing to make decisions without guidance from her government. And Mike has lots of decisions to make. 

The Solarian League, old and corrupt, is losing its grip on its planetary protectorates. The Office of Frontier Security has devolved into an organization that takes over planets and bleeds them of everything useful at the hands of their corporate partners. Needless to say, many revolutionary groups are rising up on these planets. Manticore's secret enemy, the Mesan Alignment, is taking advantage of this situation by offering help in the Manticoran name. Their thought is that a little investment now in advanced weapons will pay off in bad publicity later when the Maniticoran aid they are promising doesn't show up. 

Weber is writing a world that is getting increasingly black and white. The Solarian League, the Office of Frontier Security, and the puppet governments they support are all bad. They are stupid, venal, greedy, and have no respect for the lives of the citizens of the planets they have conquered.  The Manticorans are good and stand for right, truth, and justice. 

The Mesan Alignment has a deep seated plan and is busy manipulating the Solarian League, the Manticorans, and everyone else in the vast universe. They will do anything to support their future goals. Hundred of thousands of civilian deaths can be written off as collateral damage. But their secrecy is disappearing. More and more of those in the know are coming to believe that the Mesan Alignment exists and are focusing their attention on it.

The Honor Harrington series is a huge epic adventure. I will admit that I do a lot of skimming when pages are devoted to space battles and weapons development. I am interested in the people and what they do and think. The story is told from multiple viewpoints and from multiple locations in the vast Honorverse. I have no idea how Weber keeps track!

I am always eager for the next Honorverse book and always enjoy getting lost in the adventure. 

Favorite Quote:
"Oh, you ain't seen bad yet, but don't you go away, now. It'll be along on a minute."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here

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