Saturday, September 29, 2018

ARC Review: Uncompromising Honor by David Weber

Uncompromising Honor
Author: David Weber
Series: Honor Harrington (Book 19)
Publication: Baen (October 2, 2018)


The Solarian League's navy counts its superdreadnoughts by the thousands. Not even its own government knows how enormous its economy truly is. And for hundreds of years, the League has borne the banner of human civilization, been the ideal to which humanity aspires in its diaspora across the galaxy.

But the bureaucrats known as the "Mandarins," who rule today's League, are not the men and women who founded it so long ago. They are corrupt, venal, accountable to no one . . . and they've decided the upstart Star Kingdom of Manticore must be destroyed.

Honor Harrington has worn the Star Kingdom's uniform for half a century and served her monarch and her people well. In the course of those years, the woman the newsies call the Salamander has grown from a tactically brilliant but politically naïve junior officer to supreme fleet command and a seat on the highest military and political councils of the Grand Alliance.

Very few people know war the way Honor Harrington does. Very few have lost as many men and women, as many friends, as much family, as she has. Yet despite that, hers has been a voice of caution. She knows the Mandarins and the Solarian League Navy are growing increasingly desperate as the truth of their technological inferiority sinks home, but she also knows the sheer size of the League. And she knows how its citizens will react if the Grand Alliance takes the war to the League, attacks its star systems, destroys its infrastructure . . . kills its civilians. Today's victory, bought on those terms, can only guarantee a future war of revenge against a resurgent Solarian League and its navy.

Honor knows the Grand Alliance must find a victory that doesn't require incursions deep into Solarian space, doesn't leave a legacy of bottomless hatred, and the strategy she supports has been working.

The League is sliding towards inglorious defeat as it steadily loses ground in the Protectorates and the Verge. As its central government teeters towards bankruptcy and even some of its core systems opt to secede in the face of the Mandarins' corruption. As the Solarian Navy finally realizes it cannot face an Alliance battle fleet and win.

But the Mandarins have embraced a desperate new strategy, and in pursuit of that strategy, the SLN has committed atrocities such as the galaxy has not known in a thousand years. The League have violated its own Eridani Edict against mass civilian casualties, violated the Deneb Accords prohibition on war crimes.

And they have finally killed too many of the people Honor Harrington loves.

Hers is the voice of caution and compromise no longer, and the galaxy is about to see something it has never imagined.

The Salamander is coming for the Solarian League, and Hell is coming in her wake.

My Thoughts: This epic space opera is the 19th in the Honor Harrington series and is filled with adventure, battles, weapons, hidden enemies and enemies not so hidden. Manticore is trying to recover from the sneak attack that ruined much of their military industrial complex and millions of innocent civilians. To do so they have forged alliances with their oldest enemy, the People's Republic of Haven, and other star systems because they know the Solarian League centered on Old Earth will take advantage of any weakness.

Speaking of Old Earth, it is in the control of an unelected bureaucracy known as the Mandarins who want Manticore defeated and who are not above using their space navy to commit war crimes in star systems who are neutral or allying with the Grand Alliance. They are also trying to use military force to keep their member planets from voting out of the Solarian League mainly because it is hurting the Mandarin's bottom lines. Their major goal seems to be padding their own pockets and covering their own "arses." They have no idea, and refuse to believe, that they are being manipulated by the very secret Mesan Alliance. Those on Haven and Manticore are aware of this hidden enemy but are, so far, unable to locate them or understand their end goal.

This story has multiple plot threads woven through its 784 pages and the reader jumps around to find out what is happening a very large galaxy. See, the Mesan Alliance is fomenting rebellions on many of the fringe and Protectorate planets and promising that Manticore will back them up. Since Manticore doesn't know this, it can't be more than a deadly attempt to smear Manticore's name and reputation among the planet systems who should be their potential allies. Of course, when they do find out, they do what they can to help.

Manticore and its allies are so far ahead of Sol in military technology that all the Solarian attacks really accomplish is killing lots of the Solarian Navy but the hidden Mesan Alignment is doing their bit to help out the Solarians just to keep the pot of chaos boiling. But then they go too far.

When an attack on Beowulf is repelled by Grand Alliance forces but hidden nuclear bombs take out three of Beowulf's space habits killing 43 million people including many diplomats who are meeting to decide what to do about the Solarian League's threat, Honor and the Grand Alliance have had enough. Wracked with grief because many of her friends and her husband were at the Conference, Honor and the Grand Alliance target the headquarters of the Solarian League to bring the war home to them.

This book was filled with grand adventure, great acts of heroism, great acts of evil, quiet loving home moments, and treecats. While it could be considered the end of Honor's involvement in Manticore's Space Navy, there are enough dangling threads for many more sequels. For example, what are Damien Harahap and Anton Zilwicki going to find when they look into the atomic explosions on Mesa? Will they find leads to the sinister Mesan Alliance?

While this series may tell me more about missiles, armament and tactics for space battle than I really need or want to know, it is also filled with great characters living interesting lives in a well developed universe. Fans of space opera won't want to miss this episode in a long-running series.

Favorite Quote:
She'd told him once that a monster lived deep inside her, and he believed that, too. He'd seen it as she wept for Andrew LaFollet and her family after the Yawata Strike. He recognized it, know that for all his own outstanding military record, he wasn't even in her league when it came to sheer, focused deadliness. But that monster was chained by compassion, by the moral code of someone who'd devoted her entire life to protecting others. Who'd found a use for her monster and embraced it in a way which, conversely, made her one of the two gentlest, most loving human beings he'd ever met.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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