This particular entry is pretty tame so far as the Honor Harrington Mythos is concerned. In order to get back into the good graces of the Manticoran military and political complex, Honor is given the task of ridding the Silesian Confederacy area of the pirates menacing their merchant and freight liners. Her task force consists of four converted and heavily armed merchant freighters to ask as lures, while Klaus Hauptman and Reginald Houseman both expect her to fail. Rich and powerful adversaries notwithstanding, the idea that sacrificing thousands of people simply to dispose of Honor is clearly abhorrent even to Hauptman, yet at least he stands to gain something if she succeeds.
And while the pirates and even Haven make things difficult, and while there are the usual politics I’ve come to expect in the Harrington books, nothing really leapt out at me as surprising. The real groundbreaking elements here come from a Havenite captain who risked his commission to rescue a Manticoran freighter from pirates, and contributed significantly to Honors own efforts to eradicate them. I believe the point here is that Haven isn’t all bad, and that there are enough opposing factions in Haven’s own structure that their true downfall will come from within.
This appears supported from the prologue of In Enemy Hands, so I’ll consider this another transition novel. The situation required honor to undergo some kind of testing, and while not entirely idle, Haven couldn’t come on too strongly either in Harrington’s weakened standing. This book is a minor skirmish in the grand scheme, but sets things up nicely for other implications and machinations to roll over the characters I’ve come to enjoy following.
There is a minor subplot that involves a character being transformed from a relatively skittish techie to a fighting machine at the intervention of a few marines due to an especially subversive bully brought in by the mad scramble for personnel to crew Honor’s new ships. This resolved well, but I think David took the easy way out at the end, making it essentially impossible for these characters to cause trouble later in the series, so I wonder about the point of it all. It’s obvious Ginger Lewis and Aubrey Wanderman are going to be recurring characters, but the complete destruction of their enemies was a little heavy-handed, permanent, and unnecessary.
But that’s hardly a reason for worry. It’s been a good series so far, and it has kept me reading.