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    Review of WAR OF HONOR by David Weber

    BAEN, October 2002

    The Manticore government, now under the control of the venial Conservative Alliance, has gutted the navy, refused to negotiate seriously with the rebuilding Havenite government, and generally made life for Honor and the man she is falling in love with--Admiral White Haven. When the Havenite Secretary of State decides to doctor official correspondence between Manticore and Haven, the political equation begins to heat dangerously--especially as the Havenites have secretly been developing a new navy based on the principles that Honor introduced into the Manticore navy and that led to the Havenite defeat.

    Most of WAR OF HONOR deals with the political background, both in Haven and Manticore, of the political incompetence that leads to a war that none of the parties really wants. The Conservative Alliance and its coalition allies have essentially no interest in peace because it will mean calling for elections and a reduction in the taxes that fund the programs that allows it to placate its members. Worse, the Manticore government has severely pissed off Grayson, the militaristic planet that has contributed so heavily to a number of Haven defeats over the course of the Honor series. Still, Grayson's loyalties to Honor and White Haven are strong--strong enough that Grayson's navy is assigned to protect Manticore without permission of the Manticore government.

    Given its futuristic setting, WAR OF HONOR relies on a terribly flawed premise. The idea that an official with both the political and military experience of an Eloise Pritchart would allow her Secretary of State to rewrite her messages and never learn about it is absurd. Especially as she knew that the Secretary was a political rival, she would have relied on a combination of encryption (even today's public key encryption allows the reader to verify that the received document is the same as that sent and that it was really sent by the apparent sender) and a trusted personal envoy to ensure that the message got through. Allowing her nation to be plunged into a destructive war without doing so is consistent with the 18th century, but not the future. Too, the brilliant Admiral Theisman's plan involved sending a large part of his navy on a completely unnecessary diversion. Relying on Grayson to do nothing, especially when a large part of its fleet had disappeared, is the kind of mistake that Theisman should never have fallen into.

    Military fiction fans may complain that WAR OF HONOR concentrates its actual battle scenes into a few pages of this 850 (hardback) page opus. I, however, found the political maneuvers to be interesting and entertaining (except as noted in the previous paragraph.) Author David Weber (see more reviews of David Weber novels) spends too much time in backfill dialogue, but WAR OF HONOR is still an entertaining and enjoyable read.

    The C.D. that accompanies this novel is a powerhouse and makes the purchase a bargain. In addition to the e-book text of WAR OF HONOR, the C.D. includes e-book versions of all of the other Honor novels and short story collections to date, as well as about 20 additional novels by various authors including some as recent as 1633 by Weber and Freer (see our review of 1633).

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 11/19/02

    Read BASILISK STATION, the first novel in the Honor Harrington series, for free (from the Free Library)

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