(I actually finished this book a few weeks ago, but have been too lazy to review it.)
War of Honor isn’t David Weber’s latest by any means, but it is to me, who just started the series earlier this year. This, the tenth book in the ongoing thread, isn’t quite the perfect storm we got in Ashes of Victory, but is nevertheless chock full of everything short of Haven’s total subjugation, and a much stronger novel.
What does that mean? Well, Nimitz and Samantha freely use sign language to communicate with practically everyone, and on at least one occasion concerning Hamish’s wife Emily, this is especially important. Why? Because Samantha has bonded with our good Earl White Haven! This happens early enough in the novel that I don’t consider it a spoiler, but it also happens after High Ridge and his disreputable new cabinet launch a smear campaign implying that Honor and Hamish are lovers. Hamish himself has been benched as no longer necessary, since the current government considers the war over, ignoring the animosity between him and the new Lord of Admirality.
Then of course Eloise Pritchart and Thomas Theisman have teamed up spectacularly to turn around Haven’s government. Reinstating the old constitution, even removing the ‘People’ from the Republic of Haven. If only Senator Jason Giancola, a previous member of the government who held together the economy, wasn’t actively sabotaging peace talks to further his own career. This is important because Haven has finally developed and mass-produced a fleet of warships that end Manticore’s dominance of the stars, especially since Janacek and his ilk have systematically dismantled the navy to free funding for their own self-serving projects.
Secondary to these primary events, the Andermani are actively pursuing Silesian territory, putting them in a direct antagonistic stance with Manticore. Presumably this is merely due to the past war with Haven reducing policing of pirates, so they’re simply securing territory, but it almost becomes a full-scale conflict if not for the reassignment of Admiral von Sternhafen with the more sympathetic Admiral Rabenstrange. Even that is almost derailed by political posturing to avoid losing face, a recurring theme witnessed throughout the novel.
It’s this last element that’s most maddening. I’m glossing over a lot of the intrigue and maneuvering, because there’s just so much of it. Unlike the issues I had with Ashes of Victory, there’s very little elucidation wasted on various tangents, but that’s only because everyone and his treecat has a finger in the pie. It seems as if each individual in High Ridge’s government has mutually opposing goals, yet their tacit involvement in his power-grab creates a daytime soap-opera in space. Seriously, I re-read the cover to see if I’d inadvertently obtained an adaptation of All My Children. This has always been a part of the Honorverse, yet never so hilariously evident. I wanted to slap almost everyone in the book pretty much constantly.
Sadly, this could be a relevant observation of politics on Weber’s part. Everyone has an agenda; everyone works to his or her own end; even mutually beneficial plans are often derailed by perceived necessity. And that is the true calamity here: these cartoonish self-serving idiots could be any existing government. Yell at the book all you want, they remain catastrophically stupid until finally and inevitably ousted by yet more backstabbing and intrigue. Things look good at the end of the novel, but we all know that can change in the space of a few pages. Now I need to go back and peruse the anthologies, since they apparently contain significant developments relevant to subsequent entries. Hopefully they’re slightly less political; I need a rest.