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johnppotts@excite.co.uk (Bristol, England)

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Echoes of Honour (Honorverse)
Echoes of Honour (Honorverse)
by David Weber
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.36

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Honor comes back from the dead!, 27 Sep 2001
After escaping from the clutches of Insec at the end of "In Enemy Hands" only to wind up having to land on Hell, things look pretty bleek for Honor and friends. Stuck on a planet where there's nothing to eat except what they've brought with them, down to one arm and one eye, Honor needs to get hold of a ship that can take them off planet & back to safety. On the upside though, they are on a planet full of people who have every reason to hate the current regime...
Meanwhile, Esther McQueen, the rising star on the Peeps Committee, hatches a plan to regain the initiative for the Havenites with a daring series of raids on several systems - including Basilisk. Fortunately, despite a couple of severe setbacks, the introduction of the "Harrington" class LAC carriers (the space Aircraft Carriers that Honor helped approve before being captured - despite plenty of official opposition) and Admiral White Haven's prompt action prevent the raids turning into a complete disaster.
In fact, for an Honor book there's remarkably little of her in it and those bits where she is are easily the weakest bits. Pretty much all the stuff on Hell (except the take over itself) is rather dull and very far fetched (do they really run a prison planet where the prisoners can roam free with no supervision or security cameras? I know they can't eat without their wardens providing them with food, if that's all they rely on then a well executed ambush could allow the prisoners to get hold of a shuttle - as indeed happens). In a book of over 700 pages, there's rather too much padding for my liking (having just re-read it, it's a much better book if you simply cut out most of the bits on Hell until she gets into space).
Overall, rather like the comment about Wagner's operas - it has it's moments, but some bloody awful quarter hours.


Honor Among Enemies (Honorverse)
Honor Among Enemies (Honorverse)
by David Weber
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honor's back in Mantie uniform & back kickin' ass!, 3 Sep 2001
After spending the last couple of years exiled from the RMN and being "forced" to be an Admiral in the Grayson navy, Honor is at last offered a chance to get back into her (original) uniform as Captain. But the job is in the relative backwater of the Silesian Confederacy running convoy escort in a "Q" Ship (a merchantman with its hold stuffed with additional weapons). And if she succeeds, those who'll gain most will be the Hauptman cartel.
Of course, Honor finds that convoy escort is far from dull as pirate activity is increasing at an alarming rate - not helped by the fact that the Peeps have sent a few of their own ships to make matters worse. And her own crew doesn't exactly help - due to shortages of personnel and the relative unimportance of the area, Honor has to make do with the dregs of the navy.
The title reveals an important theme in the book - just who is an enemy? While Klaus Hauptman (and Reginald Houseman) are responsible for getting her back into RMN uniform, they definitely aren't doing it for Honor's benefit. The Peeps, who really should be Honor's enemy end up helping her (though their "rescue" of Honor's "Helpless merchant ship" doesn't quite go as they planned). Some of her own crew are plotting against her and go as far as plotting murder of some of her officers. Even the Andermanians, while helpful, are presented as a possible future threat. This book also extends Weber's universe beyond that which directly impinges on the conflict between Manticore and Haven. As well as the parallels with 19th Century Britain and France, we now get the Silesian Confederacy (pre-Unification Germany) and the Andermanian Empire (it's would-be Prussian dominator).
Of course, Honor manages to overcome all her enemies and manages to cover herself in glory (again). She even, for once, manages to end the book with fewer enemies than she begins it with. A really action packed book that leaves you wanting more!


Flag in Exile: A Honor Harrington Novel
Flag in Exile: A Honor Harrington Novel
by David Weber
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honor back on form!, 4 July 2001
After going into exile after a little contretemps with Lord Young at the end of the last book, Honor takes up her duties as a Steadholder on Grayson. As Grayson's most experienced officer, she is made a Graysonian Admiral and some unexpected old acquaintances are appointed as her deputies.
But the traditionalists on Grayson, never happy with her appointment in the first place, are plotting to bring down Honor in any way they can - no matter what the cost. When they can't remove her legally, they execute a terrorist outrage to destroy her politically.
Meanwhile, the easy victories in the war with the Havenites have come to an end as the Red Terror (it's not actually referred to as that, but that's clearly what it's based on) cuts a swathe through the Havenite ranks, leaving the rest knowing the high cost of failiure. They've even started making offensive plans of their own - including a plan to bring about a revolt in Massada (Grayson's bitterest enemy) to divert the Manties Navy away from the front.
Of course, Honor overcomes all her enemies. In a frenetic last hundred pages, she faces an attempted assassination, a duel and a naval engagement. This is a great improvement on the previous volume (Fields of Dishonor) as it's much faster paced and, despite there being a significant amount of political fighting and some economic discussion, it's packed with fights of one kind or another.
PS. I also found the afterword rather poignant - this book was written at the time of the Oklahoma bombing and the author expresses his condemnation of those who claim that "the ends justifies the means." As it happens, I was rading it in the week when they finally executed Timothy McVeigh.


The Great Food Gamble
The Great Food Gamble
by John Humphrys
Edition: Paperback

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well argued, shame about the polemics, 3 July 2001
This review is from: The Great Food Gamble (Paperback)
There have been plenty of issues that make people concerned over food in the last few years - Salmonella in eggs, BSE in cattle and the introduction of GM foods. John Humphrys gives a brief overview of how farming has changed since the Second World War from a small scale, largely family run business to a (mostly) intensive factory business, and how this has led to our food being increasingly adulterated with fertilisers, pesticides, hormones and anti-biotics.
Now while there is plenty to get worried about in all this, and John Humphrys does present the risks well, I would have found it a lot more convincing if he hadn't given the impression that he'd really prefer it if farmers were non profit making, horny handed sons of the soil and that any sniff of profit should be ruthlessly eliminated. In this book, there are clear "goodies" and "baddies" - the goodies being the small organic farmers, the "baddies" being the EU, large pharmaceutical companies, supermarkets and the "barley barons" (a group he neither defines nor interviews).
Now there is plenty of well argued science in here. The Chapter on the history of pesticides, and how new pesticides have been introduced as their predecessors have been banned, is enough to make anyone worry and the description of how the increasing monoculture throughout Britain's arable land is allowing the spread of crop diseases (which leads, in turn, to more spraying) is well argued, as is the Chapter on GM, which is surprisingly neutral (if erring on the side of scepticism) on the subject.
Overall a good guide to the farming is practiced throughout Britain today, and if you don't mind the polemics against big business (agricultural, pharmaceutical or retail) it presents a coherent arguement about the quality of our food.


A Civil Campaign (A Miles Vorkosigan adventure)
A Civil Campaign (A Miles Vorkosigan adventure)
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Edition: Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Weddings & a Funeral in Space!, 28 Jun 2001
Decidedly different from most other works in the series, as the acton is all romantic rather than military, this is an amiable enough book, if a little lightweight. As preparations for Gregor's wedding carry on apace, Miles' wooing of Madame Vorsoisson (started in "Komarr") continues, although his method of treating his campaign for her heart like a secret ops mission causes problems, particularly as he tells everyone except his paramour of his intentions... Mark, Miles' brother, returns from Beta colony with a scientist he think will make him rich - and the intention of marrying Kareen Koudelka, much to her parents disgust, although the intervention of Lady Cordelia and a piece of furniture (read it and find out how!) defuses that in about thirty seconds. Even Simon Ilyan and Lady Alys' romance continues apace. And meanwhile, of course, Gregor and Laisa marriage approaches. In fact, the only character who remains resolutely single at throughout the book is Ivan, and even he starts bemoaning the fact that all the single women are disappearing - particularly Lady Dona, although that's another sub-plot.
Admidst all this romantic fluff, there is some serious politicking. As the Komarr affair has been placed under, as Miles puts it, "slit your throat before reading it" secrecy, when rumours abound accusing him of having Lady Vorsoisson's husband bumped off, he's unable to clear himself by accessing the official record. But the intervention of Lady Vorsoisson, some sage advice from his father and the political ineptitude of his enemies mean that the danger is (mostly) averted.
Overall, a fun book, but more an amusing diversion than a continuation of the series.
PS. OK, so there aren't actually four weddings in it, but there are (at least) four potential marriages.


The Short Victorious War (Honor Harrington)
The Short Victorious War (Honor Harrington)
by David Weber
Edition: Paperback

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Balloon finally goes up!, 11 April 2001
At last, the shadow war that had been going on between the Kingdom of Manticore and the Republic of Haven in the last two books (on Basilisk Station & Honour of the Queen) finally breaks into open war. After a series of small scale provocations (violations of air space, blowing up a few orbital facilities and destroying the odd scout ship), the Manties realise that an invasion is imminent and begin to recall all available officers, including the convalescing Honor - and a few of her enemies too. Despite a few misgivings in the admiralty, Honor is handed a plum command, the HMS Nike, flagship of the Royal Manticore Navy.
However, the Manties are heavily outnumbered by the militaristic Havenites, and overconfidence in their technological superiority lead to them making a serious tactical blunder. As a result, Honor finds herself with a small flotilla of ships facing a full scale invasion fleet. But she's not without a few tricks of her own...
This is an exciting, fast paced read, and even manages to find the time for a romance for Honor, (which tankfully, doesn't intrude on the action). But what I like best though about this (and the other Honor books) is that it is set in a realisitic political environment, albeit that the Kingdom of Manticore is rather reminiscent of the British Empire mid 19th Century and the Havenites rather similar to the Roman Republic (with panem et circenses updated to the Dole and mass propaganda), but they do say that history repeats itself.


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