Uncompromising Honor audiobook
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Im no expert on David Weber stories. Ive read only a couple. In fact, I was surprised the last Honor novel was published five years ago. I guess time flies faster as we age.
This, the 19th book in the series, especially for this authors early following, might be showing signs of wear and tear for them, but, how does it read for new followers? Is it stand-alone, or must the other novels be read? Well, pull up a chair and lets ponder those questions.
To set the stage, let me explain a bit. Im old-school science-fiction. I love the adventure presented by science fiction, but crave action scenes only moderately. Think of me as a Star Trek addict, but not so much as a Star Wars Junkie. (Yes, I enjoy Star Wars stories, but not as much as younger folks).
Thus, youre apt to think the oft-referred to brilliance regarding action in Webers novels doesnt wow me. Yet, to tell the truth, I do appreciate the action scenes. Vivid and just about ideal.
Transitions, dialogue, world building? Yes, theyre nothing to shout about, but, honestly, they are better than some of the reviewers are talking about. At least, for me, they are more acceptable.
POV: Third person.
BLUSH FACTOR: Rough language and profanities might steer you away from this otherwise interesting tale. The f-word pops up here and there, so, if that annoys you, go looking for good reading elsewhere. As for me, its not a serious issue.
ADVENTURE: Yeah, I guess. Insofar as science-fiction can. Im greedy for seeing new places and have come to enjoy stories that put me in some far away world. The writing didnt quench much of that desire, but, in other ways, I did get a sense of adventure.
ACTION: The strongest point is action.
THE WRITING: Its okay, sometimes even excellent. The excerpt below will give a better view. Probably could be much improved if some of the information jammed into the story were conveyed through smoother dialogue. What I mean is, sometimes it tends to feel more like an info-dump than creative writing.
EDITING Typos & Grammar: Much better than most indie-published novels. No worries here.
SUITABLE AUDIENCE: Except for the profanities, this could be found an excellent fit. Then again, when I was wild, young and foolish, my friends and I talked what we imagined was the talk of adults. Not gentlemen, but adults, so, it is wrong to be too judgmental.
Its good to see him laughing again, Emily Alexander-Harrington said quietly as her mother- and father-in-law headed towards the table.
Agreed, Honor said, equally quietly. And I think
She paused for a moment, then shook her head.
You think what? Emily pressed.
Oh, it was just a passing thought. Honor shook her head again, her expression sobering. Were all having a few of those at the moment, I think.
Yes, we are, Emily agreed, but she gazed at Honor speculatively, and Honor made herself look back with tranquil eyes as she tasted the curiosity in Emilys mind-glow. She also didnt mention what had spawned that passing thought.
Tell me, have you given any more thought to a brother or sister for Katherine and Raoul? she asked instead.
I have. Emily nodded, although the question seemed to have sharpened the focus of that speculation Honor had tasted. In fact, I have an appointment to discuss it with Dr. Illescue at Briarwood tomorrow afternoon, before I go back to White Haven.
Oh, good! Honor beamed at her, bending over her chair to envelop her in a gentle hug. Im thinking about doing the same thing. Maybe this time we can time it even closer!
Theres only a month or so between the two we have, dear, Emily pointed out drily. What? You want to synchronize the deliveries to the same minute?
Well, if neither one of us is going to be in a position to do it the old fashioned way, we might as well take advantage of the opportunities we do have. Besides she straightened with a devilish smile twins do run in Moms family, you know!
Emily laughed, and Honors smile turned more gentle. But then she straightened and looked at Hamish across Emilys head. She swiveled her eyes to one side, to where Sandra Thurston, Emilys nurse and constant companion, stood chatting with James MacGuiness while he kept an eagle eye on the evenings festivities. Her gaze came back to Hamish, and he shrugged ever so slightly, letting an edge of worry show in his own blue eyes.
Her mouth tightened as she put that together with the undertone shed tasted in Emilys mind-glow, but then she drew a deep breath. She wasnt going to borrow any trouble, she told herself firmly. Not tonight. And not when all three of them had so much to be grateful for, including
Youre right about how good it is to see Daddy laughing again, she said, looking back down at Emily and squeezing her good hand gently, then looked at Captain Lessem. I think its going to be good for him to get back to work, too.
Well, I can tell you the entire staffs
Weber, David. Uncompromising Honor (Honor Harrington Book 19) (Kindle Locations 1686-1709). Baen Books. Kindle Edition.
CRINGE FACTOR: Probably as do many reviewers, I read a wide variety so I can get some ideas for when I finally start authoring fiction. As an inspiring novelist, I want to post stuff, when I get the time to read it, that wont make me cringe in knowing that other folks paid to read. Had I written Uncompromising Honor and come back to read it after publishing, would I cringe or would I think, Yeah, some rough spots, but this is okay. For me, had I written this, Id be fairly pleased with my work.
Four stars out of five.
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Uncompromising Honor audiobook in series Honor Harrington
I am only on page 100 but I am finding it hard going. The earlier novels in the series had real zing to them. They don’t here. It feels as though Weber exhausted the properties of the “Honor” world and is going thru the motions of churning out yet another novel in the series. Given I loved the previous novels, this one is ok. But if this was the first one of these novels I had ever read, I probably couldn’t get thru it. Give it a pass unless you love the honor series – but if you buy it, be prepared to be disapointed. Still, its ok for reading in airports waiting for planes – not good for much else.
Audiobook Uncompromising Honor by David Weber
(Edit – changed rating to three stars, up from two)
In my opinion, David Weber writes some of the best action scenes of any novelist. This book has several action scenes, and they are all up to his usual high standard. Also, the plot has actually moved forward a considerable amount, though there are still plenty of loose ends waiting for future books. That is good, and frankly welcome.
However, while Weber may be an excellent action writer, he is not very good at writing characters (outside a limited number of types, which he does very well), nor is he good at writing dialogue. That is a major problem, because he seems to really love -many- characters and -a lot- of dialogue. Granted, most of these characters were set up many novels before, but honestly, if he would have just forgotten about them, I doubt I would have noticed. He used up his good characters between Grayson, Manticore, and Haven, so everyone else is either a duplicate under another name, or worse, a caricature. The dialogue is an even bigger problem, because it seems to take only one form “I agree with you, but let me argue the other side anyway, no matter how ridiculous”. Now, I don’t mind that format, but it is basically every significant conversation, and there are so many! Fortunately, I tend to skim when I read, otherwise I doubt I would have been able to finish the book, and would probably leave a one star review.
Audio Uncompromising Honor narrated by Allyson Johnson
After 25 years, David Weber finally completes the main story arcs for his character Honor Harrington with one of the better books in the series.
Although it is a long book this is more tightly edited than some of his recent novels and manages to cover a huge canvass while maintaining dramatic tension. The Solarian Republic opponents who the Manticoran Alliance good guys come up against are a lot cleverer than in some recent books and the Mesan Alingnment bad guys come up with more dastardly tricks, leaving the reader in much more doubt about how some of the battles and the overall story are going to go rather than the outcome being obvious.
This is the 21st of a group of novels set about two thousand years from now in the future which David Weber initially created for his character Honor Harrington. Of these “Uncompromising Honor” is the fourteenth novel in which Honor Harrington herself is the most important character.
Currently (October 2018) there are 21 full-length novels set in the same universe at the same approximate time, and that may well be it for this group of stories, but there will almost certainly be a new story arc set a few years down the line and probably also more books in one or both of the two prequel series set five centuries before (e.g. only fifteen hundred years in the future) featuring respectively Travis Long, and Honor’s ancestor Stephanie Harrington.
The reason for the length of this review is that I’m trying to set out, without any significant spoilers, how all these books fit together to help potential readers decide in what order they might wish to tackle them.
The first 11 books of this series are a “Ms Hornblower in Space” series with the main character, Honor Harrington, representing a cross between Horatio Hornblower and Horatio Nelson.
The preceding Honor Harrington book but one before “Uncompromising Honor,” which was called ”
Mission of Honor: Honor Harrington, Book 12
” concluded with a handshake between Queen Elizabeth of Manticore and President Pritchard of Haven which marked the final end to the series of wars between these two star nations which dominated the first eleven Honor Harrington books.
This was followed by “A Rising Thunder” which was a sort of “bridge” novel, because it more or less completed the transition or bridge from the “Ms Hornblower in Space” storyline about the conflict between Manticore (clearly inspired by Britain at the time of Nelson) and Haven (an enemy power which has elements inspired by nazi Germany and soviet Russia but is mainly equivalent to Revolutionary/Napoleonic France), to a different story arc in which the sinister Mesan Alignment is trying to manipulate pretty well the whole galaxy into a gigantic series of wars, including one between Manticore and the vast “Solarian Republic.”
During the past few books the situation between Manticore and the Solarian Republic, which is the biggest star nation in the galaxy, has been getting worse and worse. The reader knows, but at first most of the characters didn’t, that they were being manipulated by the sinister “Mesan Alignment.” One of the sub-plots in both this book and “A Rising Thunder” is that a small group of relatively junior officers in the Solarian Republic are gradually coming to realise that the Manticorans may actually be right when they say that the Star Empire of Manticore and the Solarian Republic are being tricked into war by a conspiracy hostile to both. Those officers are in a race against time to assemble enough evidence to convince those of their superiors who have functioning brains but are not part of the conspiracy.
The story of how two super-spies discovered an outline of what the Mesan Alignment are really up to was told in the book ”
The Torch Of Freedom
” but although the author gives the reader some idea what the Mesans are doing, nobody else in the galaxy fully understands their aims or plans.
It has been clear for some time, however, both to the reader and to many characters in the series, that the entire galactic order is in danger of collapsing into war and chaos.
A number of the “Honorverse” books are organised into linked but distinct sub-series which portrayed unfolding events with the focus on three different perspectives of the galactic situation, but “Mission of Honor,” “A Rising Thunder” and “Uncompromising Honor,” while telling the story from Honor Harrington’s perspective also give a “helicopter view” of the whole galactic picture.
If you have not read any of the Honorverse books and are interested in doing so, do not start with “Uncompromising Honor” as these stories work far better if read in sequence. Start with the first book, which is ”
On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington)
.” You will not get full value from “Uncompromising Honor” if you read it without having read most of the previous novels.
For example, there are two short references in this book to a breakaway group called the “Renaissance Factor” which would appear like a fairly minor detail to someone who hadn’t read any of the previous novels. To anyone who has read chapter 39 of “Mission of Honor” these references tell you something extremely important about where the bad guys are with their plans, with implications which will probably be the subject of an entire new successor serious of books set a few years down the line.
As hinted above, the first eleven “Honor Harrington books, despite the futuristic setting, exhibited strong parallels with Nelson’s navy. Assumed technology in the stories to this point imposed constraints on space navy officers similar to those which the technology of fighting sail imposed on wet navy officers two hundred years ago. Similarly, the galactic situation in the novels up to the eleventh book. “At All Costs” had marked similarities to the strategic and political situation in Europe at the time of the French revolutionary wars. However, particularly after the gigantic battle at the end of that book which roughly corresponds to Trafalgar, the story has started to go in a wholly different direction.
This divergence applies to both the political diplomatic storyline and to naval technology. For the first few books you could see close parallels for the characters, nations and ship classes with those in C.S. Forester’s “Hornblower” series or the real history of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. E.g. Manticore was Britain, Haven was France, Honor Harrington was a mix of Horatio Nelson and Horatio Hornblower, Rob S. Pierre was Robespierre, the Committee of Public Safety was the Committee of Public Safety, “ships of the wall” were ships of the line with superdreadnaughts as first rates, etc, etc. One book,
Echoes of Honour (Honorverse)
was even an almost exact parallel to the Hornblower book
However, as the story diverges from that of the Napoleonic wars, so the parallels with 20th century naval warfare or with space battle games like “Starfire” (of which Weber was one of the creators) have become stronger than those with the age of fighting sail. First he brought in Q-Ships, then spaceships which correspond to aircraft and carriers, missile cruisers and stealth ships.
Before the tensions between Manticore and the Solarian Republic led to actual hostilities, those tensions could be seen as equivalent within Nelson-era parallels as imposing similar strategic considerations on the Manticoran navy that the threat of war with the USA (which, of course, eventually happened as the war of 1812) had on the British Royal Navy prior to 1812. But the Solarian Republic in this story is so much more relatively huge, populous and wealthy relative to Manticore than the infant United States was in 1812 relative to the British Empire, that the Nelson era parallels are no longer helpful.
If you are trying to work out in what order to read the “Honorverse” books, here is a description of the sequence of the 21 novels. The sequence of 14 novels including this one which follows the career of Honor Harrington herself consists of
1) On Basilisk Station
2) The Honor of the Queen
3) The Short Victorious War
4) Field of Dishonour
5) Flag in Exile
6) Honor among Enemies
7) In Enemy Hands
8) Echoes of Honor
9) Ashes of Victory
10) War of Honor
11) At All Costs
12) Mission of Honour
13) A Rising Thunder
14) This book, “Uncompromising Honor”
The “Torch” or anti-slavery sequence (with Eric Flint as co-author) focusses on the battle for freedom of people who have been held in slavery by “Manpower,” which at first appears to be a huge and corrupt company corresponding to the slave trader interests in Britain and America some two hundred years ago. The books with this focus are
(i) Crown of Slaves (set at about the same time as “War of Honor”), and
(ii) Torch of Freedom (set at about the same time as “At All Costs”).
(iii) Cauldron of Ghosts (Set at about the same time as “A Rising Thunder”)
The “Shadow” or sequence consists of three books which focus on the “Verge” on the edges of the Solarian Republic and particularly on the Talbott Quadrant, and particularly on the rapidly worsening crisis between Honor Harrington’s home star nation of Manticore and the Solarian republic. The books in this sub-series are
(a) The Shadow of Saganami (overlaps the 1st half of “At All Costs”), and
(b) Storm from the Shadows (overlaps “At All Costs” but starts and finishes later.)
(c) Shadow of Freedom (set at about the same time as “A Rising Thunder”)
(d) Shadow of VIctory (overlaps “Mission of Honor” and “A Rising Thunder”)
I ought for completeness to add that besides the volumes listed above there are several collections in the “Worlds of Honor” series of short stories by Weber and co-authors set in the same universe, and featuring a range of characters, some from the main series of books, others new. It doesn’t matter in what order you read most of these, but I do recommend that if you are about to tackle “Ashes of Victory” and have not read “Nightfall” from “Words of Honor 3: changer of worlds” you may want to be aware that “Nightfall” describes in detail a very major incident in that book of which only the causes and results are described. To read the full story in sequence, get the two books together, and start with “Ashes of Victory.” When you reach chapter 33 of that book, which begins with St Just’s secretary saying “Citizen General Fontein is here, Sir” you put down that “Ashes of Victory” turn to “Nightfall” in “Words of Honor 3” which begins with the same words, and read that story through to the end. Then you can go back to “Ashes of VIctory” and start again at chapter 34 – chapter 33 is the same as the opening of “Nightfall.”
In addition to the stories set at the time of Honor Harrington’s, there are also two prequel series set four or five hundred years earlier. One of the short stories was extended to form the first of a new Honorverse series for young adults, with the eponymous novel ”
A Beautiful Friendship
” released in October 2011. It features Stephanie Harrington, a member of an earlier generation of Honor Harrington’s family, who was the first human to be “adopted” by a “Treecat,” a member of the planet Sphinx’s native intelligent species. The Treecats are telepaths among themselves and can read human emotions, and some of them form a lifelong telepathic bond with humans: for example Honor Harrington has been adopted by a treecat called Nimitz.
The three books in the Stephanie Harringon/Treecat series are:
1) A Beautiful Friendship
Fire Season (Star Kingdom)
3) “The Treecat wars.”
The second prequel saga, set in the same century as the Stephanie Harrington books but so far without any direct link to them, is the “Manticore Ascendant” series of novels about the early days of the Royal Manticoran Navy in which Travis Long is the main hero. This series so far consists of
1) A call to duty
2) A call to Arms
3) A call to Vengeance
Finally there is an Honorverse companion book, “House of Steel.”
I can recommend “Uncomrpromising Honor” and indeed the entire Honorverse series.
Free audio Uncompromising Honor – in the audio player below
For reasons more to do with habit and compulsive completism, when my friend Rob mentioned last week that hed picked up the new Honor Harrington book UNCOMPROMISING HONOR, I got onto Amazon and picked up the Kindle version.
This is the point where I should mention that Im probably not going to get through telling you how much I loathe this book without some serious spoilers. If you havent read it yet and anticipate getting any pleasure out of it please skip this review until you have. If youre looking for reasons not to bother read on.
The earlier novels about Her Grace Dame Lady Admiral Honor Stephanie Alexander-Harrington, Duchess and Steadholder, were fun enough in a gung ho military fashion that I could ignore the political agenda in the background. They were about Our Heroine commanding a single ship or a handful of ships and thwarting the other side in high style.
I think the last one I really enjoyed was the prison breakout story in ECHOES OF HONOR but even there the dread disease of high command was waiting in the background. The viewpoint of the novel was split between the genuine derring-do of getting her and everybody else who wanted to come off the prison planet and the developments of the war among everybody who was left behind.
It only got worse as time went on. In the latest one were jumping around between Honors viewpoint, the viewpoint of other people on her homeworld, the viewpoint of people among her allies, the viewpoint of her chief overt enemies the Solarian Leagues bureaucratic overlords, the viewpoint of the people in the League who are secretly investigating the hidden secret enemies who are manipulating both sides,the viewpoint of the said secret enemies, the viewpoint of the smaller states caught between the two big navies
Attempting to give us an overview of the development of the war renders any sort of coherent or comprehensible narrative impossible. And Weber has a terrible habit of giving us named characters whose viewpoint and tragedies are on stage just long enough for us to form some sympathy for them before they die horribly along with millions of others. The slaughter in this one is astounding! It makes me wonder that anyone can build up any sort of civilization at all when weapons striking from space can do so much damage. And the Nasty Sneaky Tricks of the Hidden Enemy are there to add a cherry on the top of all the destruction.
The worst bit is when Honor is given her excuse to go all vengeful (it doesnt really last: she gets a deus ex miracle for the core part of her loss and shes not the only character who gets that) so that she can struggle against her murderous impulses and her staff can look at her appalled as she only at the last moment decides to accept an enemys surrender.
She does this in the course of pulling something off that if she had done it about four books back would have brought the war to an end: it seems to bring it to a victorious end in this one except for mopping up the Nasty Hidden Enemy. I dont recall any technological or strategic development that makes this only possible after the previous books but that said the weapons R&D stuff is the second hardest bit of these to get through, the mass slaughter in the battle scenes is worse.
But the worst thing about this book is the nature of the Open Enemy which is the unelected bureaucrats of the Solarian League government. It seems plain to me that this concept, meme, slogan, catchphrase or what you will is one with communists, globalists, international financiers and others. It is an excuse to hate people on principle. At the climax (REALLY BIG SPOILERS HERE) Honor forces the Solarians to arrest the Mandarins and hand them over to Manticoran justice. This happens as the result of what I can only describe as a military coup: it is plain that the servants of the State in uniform are the only servants of the State that have any decency in the Honorverse and the rest are petty bullies, out for what they can get, corrupt, perverters of the Constitution and general nogoodniks. Military officers who break their oath of allegiance and rearrange the government to their own satisfaction are just patriots doing their jobs.
(Oh, and she tells the Sollies to go and write a new Constitution and if Manticore doesnt like it shell come back and beat them up some more.)
As a retired low level bureaucrat I am alarmed by this depiction of the grey-suited, grey-minded paper-pushers I once found myself among. As a citizen I am much more alarmed. I see a growth of authoritarianism under the guise of populism, a determination that anyone who disagrees with or advises against the current fashion in politics needs to be dismissed at best, put on trial and shot at worst.
Theres nothing easier for a politician to do than blame his own folly and shortcomings on the permanent staff. When Weber was going on about how his made up nations proved that Socialism! (1) was a bad idea I thought it quaint and ignorant. But the diatribe against unelected bureaucrats is an active force in the world and an inimical one.
Its all a big pity. As I said, I enjoyed the early books.
(1) Socialism! with the exclamation mark is the thing that American right wingers fear. It has more to do with the inside of their heads than it does with actual political policy in the world.
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