Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Audiobook: Uncompromising Honor by David Weber

Uncompromising Honor
Author: David Weber
Series: Honor Harrington Book 14
Narrator: Allyson Johnson
Publication: Audible Studios (Oct. 2, 2018)
Length: 30 hours and 27 minutes


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 concluding volume of the Honor Harrington series was over 30 hours long and brought a number of the plot threads that were left dangling in other books to some sort of resolution. 

Admiral Henke has brought the war to Mesa which has forced the Mesan Alignment's hand in some ways. They won't be able to get all of their core supporters off the planet and so they choose to set off a number of nuclear explosions to murder those they can't take and destroy all evidence of their plans. Albert Detweiler and his wife are among those who die. He and his wife choose to suicide after he presses the button to set off all the other explosions. The timing makes it look like the explosions were done by Henke's fleet which would make it an Eridani Violation - needlessly killing civilians. And Mesan Alignment sleeper agent and famous newsy Audrey O'Hanrahan is on the scene to "prove" that the Manties were responsible for the atrocities. 

The news plays right into the hands of the Mandarins who are secretly running the Solarian League and who are facing desperate times - bankruptcy and losing star systems. They decide that they need to commit atrocities of their own if they want any chance to hang on to their own power and sent the Solarian Navy out to destroy the infrastructures of planets they think are disloyal. And if millions of people die, it certainly isn't their fault. They wouldn't need to take such steps if it wasn't for those Manties. The only problem with that strategy is that the Solarian League Navy isn't in the same class as navies of Manticore and its allies. The losses are tremendous both to the League and to the forces sent out by the Manties but the Solarian League isn't winning in any encounter.

Meanwhile in old Chicago, a small number of people in the various intelligence agencies have decided that the Manties idea of a secret organization who is intent on destabilizing things is real and they set out to prove it. 

But the Mesan Alignment wants revenge on the Manties and secretly provides new weapons to the League which will change the balance of power. They first deploy those weapons against Beowulf while there is a conference going on with the movers and shakers of the whole Alliance in attendance. The losses, including a number of the people who are key in the Alliance, are horrendous. But the way the attack was launched screams Mesan Alignmnt to those in the know. 

Honor decides to take the attack to Old Terra itself because she and her colleagues see no other way to end the violence and bloodshed. And Honor has losses of her own to make up for. Hamish and her Uncle Jacques were among the delegation lost on Beowulf.

This was a great conclusion to a fascinating series. Of course, there are multiple loose ends that didn't get tied off. Weber says that it is time for Honor to go into an honorable retirement but he does leave the door open to revisit the Honorverse with other starring characters. I hope he does. 

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

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