Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Audiobook: At All Costs by David Weber

At All Costs
Author: David Weber
Series: Honor Harrington Book 11
Narrator: Allyson Johnson
Publication: Audible Studios (Dec. 15, 2009)
Length: 32 hours and 33 minutes

Description: What price victory?

The war with the Republic of Haven has resumed . . . disastrously for the Star Kingdom of Manticore. Admiral Lady Dame Honor Harrington, Steadholder and Duchess Harrington, the single victorious Allied commander of the opening phase of the new war, has been recalled from the Sidemore System to command Eighth Fleet. Everyone knows Eighth Fleet is the Alliance's primary offensive command, which makes it the natural assignment for the woman the media calls ''the Salamander.'' But what most of the public DOESN'T know is that not only are the Star Kingdom and its Allies badly outnumbered by the Republic's new fleet, but that the odds are going to get steadily worse. Eighth Fleet's job is to somehow prevent those odds from crushing the Alliance before the Star Kingdom can regain its strategic balance. It's a job which won't be done cheaply. Honor Harrington must meet her formidable responsibilities with inferior forces even as she copes with tumultuous changes in her personal and public life. The alternative to victory is total defeat, yet this time the COST of victory will be agonizingly high.

My Thoughts: In this episode, Manticore is at a serious disadvantage. Haven has had a number of military victories which have destroyed much of the industrial infrastructure that was building units for the Manticoran Navy. The Manticorans have always had fewer people than Haven but they made up that disadvantage by having much better military hardware. Now the odds are even more in Haven's favor.

But Haven isn't really interested in pursuing military victory. Their new government only went to war in the hopes of forcing the Manticorans to the peace table. This is even more important now that they have learned that their former Secretary of War manipulated the messages passing back and forth between Haven and Manticore in order to keep the pressure on and for his own political advantage. But they don't have proof - just really strong suspicions.

Haven has proposed a meeting between President Pritchard of Haven and Queen Elizabeth of Manticore to discuss a possible peace treaty. After much convincing, Elizabeth has agreed to meet on neutral territory - the newly organized planet of Torch which was founded by ex-genetic slaves and is now ruled by Queen Berry who is the daughter of Anton Zilwicki.

However, there is a mysterious organization who doesn't want a better relationship between Haven and Manticore. They have developed some nanotech that turn people into unwilling assassins. They have used it on Earth to kill the Manticoran Ambassador and they have used an assassin to try to kill Queen Berry but she was saved at the cost of the lives of her bodyguards. They have also tried to assassinate Honor Harrington by using their nanotech on her young flag lieutenant. They have also tried to make it look like Haven was responsible for all the assassinations and assassination attempts and Queen Elizabeth is more than willing to blame Haven.

So Manticore withdraws from the peace process and goes back to war against Haven. Because of their disadvantages, Honor is given control of the eighth fleet and tasked with making raids on Havenite planets with the goal of damaging their industrial infrastructure. They also have the advantage of two new weapons which level the playing field some. But the new weapons aren't in large enough supply for anything more than the eighth fleet. 

Haven needs some military victories in order to force Manticore back to the peace table and come up with an audacious plan to bring the war to Manticore's home system. 

While all this war stuff is going on, lots is also happening in Honor's personal life. Through a medical error, she finds herself pregnant which really couldn't come at a worse time. Her political enemies on Manticore and Grayson are eager to use this unmarried pregnancy to do her harm. Luckily, she still has powerful friends and family who are determined to manage things for her. Thus, this is the book where Honor marries both Hamish and Emily Alexander and becomes the mother of a son. 

This was a great story with lots of things happening. At over 30 hours of listening there was time for a lot of detail both about Honor's personal life and about the politics between Haven and Manticore. 

I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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