Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Review: A Call to Duty by David Weber and Timothy Zahn

A Call to Duty
Authors: David Weber and Timothy Zahn
Series: Manticore Ascendant (Book 1)
Publication: Baen Books; 1 edition (September 15, 2014)

Description: Growing up, Travis Uriah Long yearned for order and discipline in his life . . . the two things his neglectful mother couldn’t or wouldn’t provide. So when Travis enlisted in the Royal Manticoran Navy, he thought he’d finally found the structure he’d always wanted so desperately.

But life in the RMN isn’t exactly what he expected. Boot camp is rough and frustrating; his first ship assignment lax and disorderly; and with the Star Kingdom of Manticore still recovering from a devastating plague, the Navy is possibly on the edge of budgetary extinction.

The Star Kingdom is a minor nation among the worlds of the Diaspora, its closest neighbors weeks or months away, with little in the way of resources. With only modest interstellar trade, no foreign contacts to speak of, a plague-ravaged economy to rebuild, and no enemies looming at the hyper limit, there are factions in Parliament who want nothing more than to scrap the Navy and shift its resources and manpower elsewhere.

But those factions are mistaken. The universe is not a safe place.

Travis Long is about to find that out.

My Thoughts: A CALL TO DUTY is the first book in a new series that takes place early in Manticore's history. The main character is Travis Uriah Long who is seventeen when the story begins. He had been a neglected child and ached for order and boundaries in his life. He rather impulsively joins the Royal Manitcoran Navy in hopes of finding the structure his life had been missing.

Travis hasn't picked the best time to join the Navy. A recent plague and other political considerations have put into question whether or not the navy would continue to exist. There hadn't been any threat to the star system and many in politics felt that the money devoted to the navy could best be used for domestic needs.

The navy itself was going through some issues too. Politically well-connected students were advanced over more competent students and cheating was common. Travis was a rule-follower and his calling attention to breaches in the rules didn't endear him to all his commanding officers or to all of his fellow recruits.

However, he makes it through training and finds himself on a ship where he gets involved in a situation. He comes up with a possible solution but can't get the commanding officer to accept it which leads to the death of a ship which happened to contain two of the people who helped him when he was a recruit.

He is surprised when he is assigned to another ship that is on its way to a meeting with Haven and some other star systems. He is even more surprised when a well-planned pirate attack happens. Despite being a rule follower, Travis also has a unique way of thinking outside the box. He does manage to provide some ideas that are very useful in Manticore's counter-attack.

This story has a lot of the usual Honorverse things - political intrigue and infighting, lots of descriptions of ships and weapons, and multiple points of view. It provides a good explanation of the development of the Star Kingdom.

I enjoyed watching Travis find his people and find a place in the Royal Manticoran Navy. I look forward to his further adventures.

Favorite Quote:
"Long," he said. "Travis Uriah Long." He tried another half-smile. "Is an ethical core one of the requirements you mentioned for naval officers?"

"If it was, the officer corps would be a lot smaller," Blackstone said dryly. "But if it's not a requirement, it's certainly a plus. Shall we go back inside and get started on the datawork?"
I bought this one for my Kindle. You can buy your copy here.

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