Tag Archives: honor harrington

SBR: The Short Victorious War

I have been on a David Weber kick for the last few weeks. The third book in the Honorverse series of novels is almost as interesting to me as a political analysis tool as it is a science fiction novel about one of my favorite heroes.

Setting the Scene

Set a little over 2 millennia from now, the entire series is based off of a war between two star nations that look a significant amount like England and France as I discussed in the review of the first book, On Basilisk Station.

The tension has been built in the two previous books as the People’s Republic of Haven prepares to invade Manticore in order to shore up a failing centralized economy.

This is the scene for the book, and the book is the opening of the war that will continue for over 10 more books afterwards.

In other words, the short victorious war is anything but short or victorious.

And, isn’t that how things go in real life?

The Plot

After we have seen the main character get placed in unique places that require her to engage the enemy as a single ship’s captain, The Short Victorious War begins to introduce a great cast of characters that will come into play throughout the entire series.

Many characters on both sides die, because its a war, and the book sets the scene for the development of Honor’s character as a main plot driver through the next decades of war between Manticore and Haven.

SBR: The Short Victorious War

While I really enjoy the entire science fiction world that David Weber created, The Short Victorious War tends to be something that is a good part of the series, but I would recommend reading other books in the series if you were to choose a standalone read.

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SBR: The Honor of the Queen

One of my favorite science fiction series (read my first book review, On Basilisk Station) is the Honor Harrington book series. In the second book in the Honorverse series (the author has several series based in this sci-fi universe), David Weber introduces a culture on a planet that has an incredibly interesting religious culture that interacts with his cosmopolitan and pluralistic main culture of Manticore.

As an aside, the group originated from Idaho, in many ways the Graysons’ (so named for their planet) feel like home. But, they have developed some interesting theology and culture in the face of a 1000 year fight for survival on a planet that was poisoning them.

One of the best things about David Weber’s writing is how he explores duty and honor, and how people who act honorably often face significant consequences. In this book, he sets up a cold war confrontation between two sects of the religious group who founded the planet. One group was kicked off hundreds of years earlier to live on a better planet. The other group, those who stated on the toxic planet, had to change their philosophy and theology of life from something Amish-like that saw modern technology as a problem to an interesting take of American evangelicalism that was at once both incredibly personal and had much of the form and governmental structure of another religious group, the LDS church.

On the other hand, the people who were on a better planet, had grown like weeds, still thought technology was bad, but were willing to use it in order to destroy Grayson.

Into this mix, you have the two larger players attempting to create treaties and position their countries to be better prepared when the shooting starts.

Forging the Peace

This is where the look at Honor and how she will protect a culture that sees her as incompetent at best or as the root of all evil at worse, because she is a woman. The whole book looks at how to forge a peace between different cultures and when a culture or an individual is not able to forge a peace.

Peace comes when people willingly put down their arms, or when there is no one left to fight. And, this book shows how both sets of people (willing peacemakers and stubborn fighters) can come from the same culture, same religion, and similar racial background. One planet will not rest until the other is destroyed while the other planet will compromise and build relationships with others.

Without going into too much of the plot with spoilers, the book dives into how Honor Harrington uses duty to forge peace between many parties in the book.

Understanding Religion

This book attempts to show interactions between people from multiple religions, including a secular state, two free states (one pluralistic and one with a separation but a virtual monopoly of one religion), and a really weird Presbyterian theocracy. In other words, Honor of the Queen brings some of the ideological fight of the global Cold War into an interesting fusion of western American religious ideas.

SBR: Yea or Nay?

As one of my favorite books to read, because I love to see how pioneers from Idaho have survived, fought, and adapted over a 1000 year period, I still recommend this book as a good novel and as a good read on what it means to live and act from the strength of duty.

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SBR: On Basilisk Station

Her Majesty’s Ship, Fearless, is sent to a backwater posting to enforce smuggling laws and protect Queen Elizabeth’s shipping lanes. While there, the young commander runs afoul of an old superior, uncovers a plot to start a war with the Kingdom, and winds up in a ship-to-ship battle with a much larger and better armed vessel.

If you think I am writing the description of a story set in Elizabethan England describing the battles between the scrappy British navy and Spanish privateers, I think that is what the author wanted.

On Basilisk Station: A Space Seafaring Novel

Much of what we love about the drama of the high seas is included in this novel by David Weber, from the political intrigues that make British drama so interesting to the idea of a ship that seems to be literally held together by the will of a captain.

On Basilisk Station opens a unique sci-fi universe, where faster than light travel is possible by navigated hyperspace, something Weber seems to have researched significantly but is beyond this review.

Setting the Scene

While the queen is indeed named Elizabeth, she is not the ruling monarch of a small island nation on earth, she is the ruling monarch of a small binary system that has 3 inhabitable planets.

Humanity has spread across the galaxy in the last millennia and the largest multi-system nation near Manticore is The People’s Republic of Haven, a hereditary country where most of the citizens are on a Universal Basic Income, called the Dole, and the government has to continually expand to pay for their social safety net.

Because of the physics that Weber creates for the series, space ships that fight in large, 3 dimensional space, tend to actually behave like 18th century sailing ships, so you have a strong, female lead, Commander Honor Harrington, opening the stage for one of my favorite book series.

Lessons Learned

Even though you should read for enjoyment, I often take away more from a good novel than I do from many more serious non-fiction works and how-to type books.

Leadership Requires Full-Spectrum Activity

Commander Harrington is sent to the backwater station the book gets its name from through no fault of her own, but her crew blames her for it. Although she prefers to inspire love and creativity, she has to spend a significant amount of time demanding it because of their own attitudes.

Although she rarely ever raises her voice, she does tend to get very intense. She also does not take excuses or offer them, and her crew learns to believe in themselves when they meet her demands, then they learn to love her as their captain.

Don’t Attempt to Recreate the Wheel

This book opened the main series of 14 novels on Honor Harrington, as well as multiple spin-off series, anthologies, comic books, and more. And there are two basic premises of the book:

  1. Creating a consistent science fiction novel that feels rooted in history.
  2. Introducing a strong heroine who overcomes significant adversity to not only survive but earn the love of her followers.

So often, fantasy and sci-fi novels attempt to do to much. We attempt to create an entirely unique world or just copy the other worlds in our genre. The best writers understand that they have to create something unique and infuse it with as much of their experience and viewpoint of reality as they can.

Don’t Give Up Hope

There is a point in the novel where the crew of Fearless realizes that they are hopelessly out massed and outgunned. But, they keep going.

It is the right thing to do, because they are worried that the ship they are fighting will bring reinforcements if it escapes.

And towards the end of the fight, there is no alternative.

And, the little ship that could does not give up.

To Read or Not?

If you enjoy space-based science fiction, enjoy a unique universe or are interested in strong protagonists, I highly recommend this novel.

David Weber’s On Basilisk Station is a highly engaging and entertaining read.

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