Fittingly, this particular installment is more about Haven than Honor or Manticore. The first half of the book is almost purely setup, and considering the title, it’s not exactly a surprise that our heroine is eventually captured. But that’s fine in this context, because Haven has historically received the short end of the stick. Haven’s society is a precarious testament to unchecked power, the potency of directed propaganda, and delusions of grandeur. Weber paints a portrait of a society on the verge of another revolution, desperately scrabbling for scraps to maintain a war now required for public opinion.
And yet the war is currently at a lull. Sure, Haven captures a star system and transforms it into a dangerous lure, much to the chagrin of Honor and her squadron, but the political unrest threatens to revert this progress, and the Socialistic fervor of Cordelia Ransom certainly complicates matters. The point isn’t that Honor is going to a prison planet, or even why this is the case, but that Haven’s long obscured prison must be revealed, and all the implications involved when the Galaxy at large–including the Solarian League–discovers their duplicity.
It’s clear this isn’t just a war of military maneuvers, and that politics play a significant part, and the deeper insight that Weber introduces with his summary of Haven’s social woes is impossible to ignore. Honor’s involvement is a foregone conclusion, and the only real mystery is how she’ll escape. Considering the length of the series at large, having a number of universe-building entries is necessary to maintain ambiance without it turning into a mere transcription of erratic space battles from the perspective of a somewhat empathetic heroine.
It’s an interesting conundrum Weber has introduced this time, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.