Having recently finished the excellent Honor Harrington series, I decided it was high time to peruse David Weber‘s backlog of other titles. The war-related books didn’t really interest me, but In Fury Born snared my attention.
Alicia DeVries a girl who excels at many things, and being the granddaughter of an infamous marine, one of those things is combat. Her sense of Honor and duty are, unsurprisingly for a Weber character, pristine and incorruptible. And that’s really what the core of the book revolves around.
Sure, she spends some time as a marine, then moves up the ranks quickly to become a drop commando as one of the emperor’s elite Imperial Cadre, and even becomes infamous for her success. But it’s her sense of duty that drives her, and for the first half of the book, Weber spends a long time fleshing out her character. It’s like a Harrington novel, replete with back-room shenanigans, long and often boring political maneuvering, and seemed to be Just Another Space War Novel. But I kept remembering the blurb on the back of the book, which promised an AI warship and a creature from the mists of Old Earth’s ancient legends.
Hundreds of pages later, something I really should have expected from Weber by now, everything fell into place. Tisiphone the Fury does exist, and she finds in Alicia a rage unparalleled, coupled with a capacity for destruction honed by technology into something terrible. Alicia’s sense of loss and honor demand retribution, and the corruption running rife through the empire must be purged, pirates slaughtering millions for political ends must be obliterated, even if it means her own demise.
That’s where the real fun starts. After suffering for the first half of the book wondering when it actually got any good, Weber made up for it in spades. Not to say that the first half of the book is bad, just that it wasn’t anything spectacular. After the Fury enters the scene, the reader is brought into the conspiracy, knowing that Alicia isn’t insane, ready to savor her victories after so much wrenching loss. She deserves it, and the second half of the book becomes something of a fulfillment fantasy as all the pent-up potential unleashes itself in one single one-sided campaign.
Alicia, the AI ship, and the Fury absolutely dominate everything in their path. Fleets are demolished, space stations annihilated. Weber installs an Achilles Heel that, left unchecked, could transform Alicia into nothing more than vengeance unleashed. Considering her history of honorable combat, that would be the worst shame, a fall from grace that would immolate the galaxy, all driven by her rage and pain. Yes sir, that’s certainly what I wanted to read.
But, oh the cost of getting there. Weber certainly needed to introduce Alicia properly, and at least one campaign with the Cadre was absolutely required to demonstrate her capability and resolve. But it went on, and on. There were no teasers, no hint at all as to the 180-degree turn the second half of the novel would make, save the foreshadowing in the title. Without the blurb on the back, a reader might think they picked up the wrong book entirely. I found myself checking a couple times to make sure I didn’t grab the wrong novel from my Weber shelf.
So in one way, it’s a typical Weber work: lots of boring introduction followed by an equal amount of gleeful payoff. It’s a good read, but a grueling one.