Another anthology in the 'Worlds of Honor.' These are collections of short stories set in the same fictional universe as the popular 'Honor Harrington' series of military science fiction novels.
It probably goes without saying that this is not a jumping on point, but you will doubtless be a regular reader of the series if you are reading this, so that won't be a problem.
The book contains five stories. Two by regular series writer David Weber, and three by guest writers.
The common theme of the volume is beginnings. Thus all the stories are set a bit back in time in the series, and tell how certain things came to be.
First story, 'By the Book' by Charles E. Gannon, runs for one hundred and thirty five pages. It tells how an attempt to stop a hijacking in Earth's solar system leads to an investigation that uncovers a bigger plot. This has a good space action opening, but it's a big on the long side. Sags a little in the middle. And has some rather average characters. But the ending is good and give the reader food for thought.
Second story, 'A Call to Arms', is by Timothy Zahn. It features Travis, a character from a series he is currently co writing with David Weber, and tells of his struggle to prove himself as a naval member. Whilst his ship faces danger. This one is divided into chapters. It runs for ninety four pages. It does rather throw the reader in at the deep end to begin with so it takes a little getting used to. But once it does, a likeable lead and some very good space action make for a good read.
Third story, 'Beauty and the Beast', is by David Weber. This runs for one hundred and fifty two pages. It tells the story of how Honor's parents met and how their first meeting was anything but smooth. It requires some suspension of disbelief thanks to one major plot element, but has some good action and a very memorable ending.
The next one is 'Best Laid Plans', also by David Weber. This is fifty two pages long and tells how Honor and Nimitz first met. When she was eleven. It can't avoid being rather similar in some ways to the story 'a beautiful friendship,' which is from another volume and describes the first meeting between human and treecat. But it writes Honor well as an eleven year old. And the final page contains some fabulous writing which will stay with you for a very long time.
Last is 'Obligated service' by Joelle Presley. This is ninety pages long and tells the story of how Claire Lecroix, one of the first ladies from Grayson to serve in space, managed that. It does contain one bit of strong language. A narrative structure that takes a while to get used to. Only one very brief bit of action. But it's a good character drama with a likeable lead, so it gets you involved.
A solid anthology, and a good read overall for fans of the series.