Review: Ashes of Victory

I think I’ve just given up and decided to attempt and catch up with David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. All the way up. That means I’m currently working on Ashes of Victory, and it’s impossible not to notice the books are getting longer as the series rolls on.

And in this case, it’s not just longer in page-length, but in exposition, political maneuvering, and copious droning. Compared to [Echoes of Honor(, this is almost an unremitting snooze-fest. Echos is one of the most action-packed of the series, so holding every book up to that standard would be immensely unfair, yet writing this a few days after finishing the book, I’m having trouble remembering what actually transpired. It’s like my eyes glazed over and refused to transmit the words to my balking cerebral cortex.

Yet it didn’t have to be this way! This is the long-awaited novel where everything hits the fan. Saint-Just decides to move on his perception of McQueen’s ambition; Haven enters yet another series of regime-swapping antics; Manticore finally launches an offensive against Haven using all the nifty new weapons they’ve developed; Honor hires a linguist to teach the treecats sign language for God’s sake. That’s not even mentioning everyone coming to terms with Honor’s return, the repair of her face, and replacement of the arm she lost in In Enemy Hands. There is a ridiculous amount of material, but it all gets lost in the too-long pacing and tooth-grindingly glacial setup for each minuscule maneuver and implied, contextually-important discussion.

This is the first time I’ve mentally implored for an edited copy of a book, not because of syntactical errors, but due to the sheer amount of unnecessary brain vomit it contains. This is not due to Weber painstakingly describing a room, ship, or battle in exacting detail, but because every single thought and loosely-related tangent of even minor characters is explored like an architectural dig. Pages and pages are devoted to introducing a character, the context of their presence, what they ate for lunch last Tuesday, and what the implications may be for Manticore. I’ve noticed this about Weber occasionally, but this time he was in rare form, and looking back on the previous novels, I have to wonder what changed.

Since I’ve read a bit of War of Honor already, I can safely say he cut back drastically on irrelevant details, so I’ll call this novel a fluke. It’s still good, just a huge departure from the quality of previous entries.