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This is the 17th of a group of novels set about two thousand years from now in the future which David Weber initially created for his character Honor Harrington. Of these "A Rising Thunder" is the thirteenth novel in which Honor Harrington herself is the most important character. Currently (Summer 2012) there are seventeen full-length novels set in the same universe at the same approximate time, and this does not include a prequel series set only fifteen hundred years in the future and featuring Honor's ancestor Stephanie Harrington.

The preceding book in the series, "Mission of Honor: Honor Harrington, Book 12" concluded with a handshake between Queen Elizabeth of Manticore and President Pritchard of Haven which marked the final end to the series of wars between these two star nations which dominated the first eleven Honor Harrington books.

I refer to "A Rising Thunder" as a bridge novel, however, because it more or less completes the transition or bridge from a "Ms Hornblower in Space" storyline about a conflict between Manticore (clearly inspired by Britain at the time of Nelson) and Haven (an enemy power which has elements inspired by nazi Germany and soviet Russia but is mainly equivalent to Revolutionary/Napoleonic France), to a different story arc in which the sinister Mesan Alignment is trying to manipulate pretty well the whole galaxy into a gigantic series of wars, including one between Manticore and the vast "Solarian Republic."

During the past few books the situation between Manticore and the Solarian Republic, which is the biggest star nation in the galaxy, has been getting worse and worse. The reader knows, but at first most of the characters don't, that they are being manipulated by the sinister "Mesan Alignment." However it was clear before the start of this book, both to the reader and to many characters in the series, that the entire galactic order is in danger of collapsing into war and chaos.

"A Rising Thunder" largely follows on from "Mission of Honor" except that David Weber adds a little more detail about the trip back home from Mesa of two super-spies who discovered in the book "The Torch Of Freedom" an outline of what the Mesans are really up to. This forces the author to recapitulate a couple of scenes from "Mission of Honor" including the final one when Elizabeth shakes Eloise Pritchard's hand.

Six of the "Honorverse" books covering a slightly earlier phase in the story are organised into three linked but distinct sub-series which portrayed unfolding events with the focus on three different perspectives of the galactic situation, but Weber moved away from that approach with "Mission of Honor" and both that book and this one cover the whole picture.

If you have not read any of the Honorverse books and are interested in doing so, do not start with "A rising thunder" as these stories work far better if read in sequence. Start with the first book, which is "On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington)."

As hinted above, the first eleven "Honor Harrington books, despite the futuristic setting, exhibited strong parallels with Nelson's navy. Assumed technology in the stories to this point imposed constraints on space navy officers similar to those which the technology of fighting sail imposed on wet navy officers two hundred years ago. Similarly, the galactic situation in the novels up to the eleventh book. "At All Costs" had marked similarities to the strategic and political situation in Europe at the time of the French revolutionary wars. However, particularly after the gigantic battle at the end of that book which roughly corresponds to Trafalgar, the story has started to go in a wholly different direction.

This divergence applies to both the political diplomatic storyline and to naval technology. For the first few books you could see close parallels for the characters, nations and ship classes with those in C.S. Forester's "Hornblower" series or the real history of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. E.g. Manticore was Britain, Haven was France, Honor Harrington was a mix of Horatio Nelson and Horatio Hornblower, Rob S. Pierre was Robespierre, the Committee of Public Safety was the Committee of Public Safety, "ships of the wall" were ships of the line with superdreadnaughts as first rates, etc, etc. One book, Echoes of Honour (Honorverse) was even an almost exact parallel to the Hornblower book Flying Colours.

However, as the story diverges from that of the Napoleonic wars, so the parallels with 20th century naval warfare or with space battle games like "Starfire" (of which Weber was one of the creators) have become stronger than those with the age of fighting sail. First he brought in Q-Ships, then spaceships which correspond to aircraft and carriers, and a ship type introduced in "Mission of Honor" could be seen as equivalent to submarines.

Before the tensions between Manticore and the Solarian Republic led to actual hostilities, those tensions could be seen as equivalent within Nelson-era parallels as imposing similar strategic considerations on the Manticoran navy that the threat of war with the USA (which, of course, eventually happened as the war of 1812) had on the British Royal Navy prior to 1812. But the Solarian Republic in this story is so much more relatively huge, populous and wealthy relative to Manticore than the infant United States was in 1812 relative to the British Empire, that the Nelson era parallels are no longer helpful.

If you are trying to work out in what order to read the "Honorverse" books, here is a description of the sequence of the first 17 novels. The main sequence of 12 novels prior to this one follows the career of Honor Harrington herself, and consists of

1) On Basilisk Station
2) The Honor of the Queen
3) The Short Victorious War
4) Field of Dishonour
5) Flag in Exile
6) Honor among Enemies
7) In Enemy Hands
8) Echoes of Honor
9) Ashes of Victory
10) War of Honor
11) At All Costs
12) Mission of Honour

I would have considered "A Rising Thunder" to follow in that list because it is the next novel in which Honor Harrington herself is a major character, but David Weber himself apparently does not. The author's website lists only the 12 novels above as the "Honor Harrington" books and then describes all subsequent novels in the same universe including "A rising thunder" as "Honorverse" books. I presume this is because, although she is still a major character, Honor herself does not dominate this book to the extent she does most of the twelve listed above.

The "Torch" or anti-slavery sequence (with Eric Flint as co-author) focusses on the battle for freedom of people who have been held in slavery by "Manpower," which at first is seen as a huge and corrupt company corresponding to the slave trader interests in Britain and America some two hundred years ago. The books with this focus are

(i) Crown of Slaves (set at about the same time as "War of Honor"), and
(ii) Torch of Freedom (set at about the same time as "At All Costs").

The "Shadow" or Talbot Quadrant sequence consists of three books which focus on that area of the Galaxy, and particularly on the rapidly worsening crisis between Honor Harrington's home star nation of Manticore and the Solarian republic. The books to date in this sub-series are

(a) The Shadow of Saganami (overlaps the 1st half of "At All Costs"), and
(b) Storm from the Shadows (overlaps "At All Costs" but starts and finishes later.)
(c) Shadow of Freedom (set at about the same time as this book, "A Rising Thunder")

According to David Weber's website, he is collaborating with Eric Flint to write another Honorverse book which will have a title influenced by Shakespeare's Macbeth: he was originally going to title it "Cauldron of Ghosts" but is now thinking of "Cauldron Boil, Cauldron Bubble."

"Mission of Honor" pulled the threads together again, beginning shortly after the end of "Storm from the Shadows" and taking forward the characters and stories from that book, "At All Costs" and "Torch of Freedom." As explained above, this book then carries the story on after "Mission of Honor."

The most recent book in the Honorverse series as at March 2013, set at about the same time as "A Rising Thunder" (not counting the prequel series) is called "Shadow of Freedom (Honor Harrington)." Before reading this I had assumed from the fact that Baen Books had put Honor Harrington's image on the front cover that it would be the next book about her, but it isn't. As the title infers, this is the third book in the "Shadow" sequence, the main character is Honor's friend Admiral Michelle Henke, and Honor does not appear at all in the book. So it was rather naughty of Baen Books to pur her picture on the cover. Never mind.

I ought for completeness to add that besides the volumes listed above there are several collections in the "Worlds of Honor" series of short stories by Weber and co-authors set in the same universe, and featuring a range of characters, some from the main series of books, others new.

Having mentioned the prequel series I should also explain that one of these short stories was extended to form the first of a new Honorverse series for young adults, with the eponymous novel "A Beautiful Friendship" released in October 2011. It features Stephanie Harrington, a member of an earlier generation of Honor Harrington's family, who lived about 500 years before Honor and was the first human to be "adopted" by a "Treecat," a member of the planet Sphinx's native intelligent species. The Treecats are telepaths among themselves and can read human emotions, and some of them form a lifelong telepathic bond with humans: for example Honor Harrington has been adopted by a treecat called Nimitz.

At the time of updating this review the second book in the prequel series has been published and is called "Fire Season (Star Kingdom)," and this will be followed by "The Treecat wars."

"A Rising Thunder" is slightly shorter than some of the recent books in this series, and a better book for it. Weber has also been working on his tendancy to give far too much detail about the vast size and power of the fleets which his characters are commanding or in which they serve.

The "Mesan Alignment" behind Manpower, who have been moving other characters in the story around like chess pieces for the past few books, began to act more openly with devastating consequences in the last one. But this time they are frantically trying to cover their tracks.

The best way I can think of to give a potentially interested reader a hint to help you decide whether you want to read about these guys, without spoiling the story, is to say that their leader Albrecht Detweiler is what you might get by combining

* Dr Soong from Star Trek Enterprise but without the scruples,

* the rulers of Lois McMaster Bujold's Cetaganda but without the humour, and

* the arch-villian from the James Bond stories, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, without the cat. Honor and some of her friends are the ones with cats - or rather treecats - in this series.

I can recommend this book. My biggest concern about David Weber is that he has so many projects on the go: he says on his own website that

"I have more stories I want to tell than I have time in which to tell them."

He quite rightly adds that this is a better problem than the reverse. At the moment he is working on or considering books in no fewer than eight different series. These are

1) the Honorverse (with sub-series set in various quadrants and different centuries),
2) the Multiverse series which begins with "Hell's Gate" although this one is stalled for the moment while he works on other things,
3) the Bahzell Bahnahkson/War God series in which book four "War Maid's choice" has just come out and there will be at least one more,
4) The Safehold/Nimue Alban series which begins with Off Armageddon Reef); the most recent in this series was "Midst Toil and Tribulation" and the next one will be "Like a mighty army" due September 2013.
5) The Prince Roger/Empire of Man series in which a prequel about the founding of the empire is being considered
6) The Dahak trilogy which he would like to expand to five books by adding a prequel to the currently first book "Mutineer's Moon" and a sequel to the third one, "Heirs of Empire."
7) Dave Weber would also like to write a couple of additional books in the "In Fury Born" universe, and
8) His editor has asked him to consider extending the book "Out of the Dark" to a series.

Wow! That should keep him busy for a few decades!
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on 24 August 2012
First off, 'A Rising Thunder' is not bad. It's not great and I suspect it'll be a much better read in hindsight, but it is somewhat awkward, as it spends so much time trying to tie together all of these separate strands and people together rather than just getting on with it. In turn, this is due to the spectacular quantity of arc-welding that Weber's having to do to bring the originally planned storyline forward by about forty or so years.

The result is a bridging volume, much like the other reviewers have said. It has no real beginning, starting as it does somewhere nebulous in the beginning of the previous book, and it has no real end due to publishing constraints (A Rising Thunder and Shadow Of Freedom were intended to be all one book, but then got split because it all got too long). Hence why I'm reckoning it'll be much better in hindsight, i.e. when the rest of the series is here so we can just merrily read on through it to the next book.

All that being said, the book does have some stand out moments (the Beowulfan speeches before the Chamber of Stars come forcibly to mind, both of which rival Queen Elizabeth's speech at the end of the last book), and fills in a LOT of plot and setting.

My advice to prospective purchasers, if you haven't bought this already, wait for the paperback and the next one to have come out, then read them all at once. (Also, if you were as psyched as I initially was for the second battle of Manticore, remember that the agressors are Solarians and calm down some...)
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on 14 March 2012
I have read all the other books in this series and was looking forward to this one and even ordered it before it was published...

Did it deliver? I was a little concerned with the first couple of chapters which revealed details of actions which were obvious from the last book, but that seems to be the case in most series, however the book picked up and was very enjoyable.

Not as fast paced solid action as some of the early books in the series, but this one is much more complex, I would say you really need to have read the entire series to get the most out of it.

I think David has got the right mix of action v political story in this one, hence the 5*.

The story arches have finally come back together and I'm already looking forward to the next book.
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on 10 March 2012
I think that this is another 'political' - like "Field of Dishonor" - to bridge between more-active stories.
I suspect that Weber is also still mentally 'changing gear'. He commented in an earlier book that he was now trying to achieve his ultimate aim within Honor Harrington's lifespan, instead of leaving the finale to her children; this is to be done by taking up an idea that came from an 'Honorverse' collaborator. As started in "Mission of Honor" he now groups chapters by month (like the 'Safehold' novels); this means that the various threads of the story each advance a little bit at a time in parallel. The mental disconnect this can cause to the reader is best dealt with by reading the whole book (all 450-odd pages) at one sitting. I will admit that I did skip one apparent action sequence during my first reading, because the month-dating showed that it was just a simulation exercise. Once you have the whole picture, you can afford to go back and re-read the bits you want, in whatever order you want, to cement the story in your mind.

It surprised me, when I looked back, that the writing of this series now spans 19 years. It still seems to have some way to go, and this book is as essential and gripping as any, but sufficiently complex to daunt some readers.
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Latest novel in the 'Honor Harrington' series of military science fiction novels. The thirteenth to feature the title character. And there have been those in which she didn't feature, so this makes it the seventeenth book in all.

Thus it's not really a good jumping on point. New readers should go to On Basilisk Station (Honorverse).

Regular ones can read on.

The last book, 'Mission of Honor', saw the ongoing story about the sinister Mesans trying to force war between Manticore and the Solarian league continue, with the start of an alliance between former long time enemies Manticore and Haven.

In the meantime, as this volume starts, the situation between Manticore and the Solarian league continues to steadily escalate. And the latter may not be able to afford to back down.

As former enemies start to become friends, the march to war continues...

Despite being billed as an Honor Harrington novel, she only pops up every so often. And is absent for just over the first hundred pages. Those involve chapters which show the continuing escalation to conflict. Often with new characters. All of whom tend to talk in a very similar style.

And once again, as with other recent books in the series, talking is something they do a lot of. Discussing their situations in great detail.

Despite a quick bit of space action early on this bringing in new characters and the way of talking means it doesn't quite grab from the off. And it's rather ironic that an early chapter begins with a character complaining about things being boring. Because the early chapters are. They simply do not grab. It's very easy to skim the prose when reading them.

Things do perk up when Honor finally appears. But her chapters, despite some interesting developments with the tree cats, do get a bit bogged down in cosy domesticity.


Hang on in there. Because we then build to a major set piece, the end of which you will not see coming. Although there is some clever writing in it which does make you reappraise something that takes place earlier. Then after that, even though it's all conversation and no action, and it's still prose that it's easy to skim, it does start to get more involving. With a real feel of making you want to know what will happen next.

Not a lot of what does actually involves Honor. It's nearly all Solarian politics. But it develops in an interesting way. And although as mentioned all the characters do tend to talk the same, one rather astute Solarian investigator does make an impression in two short appearances.

There is a promise of action come the next volume by the end of this one. Which the series could do with. This one is nearly all set up. But it is at times quite interesting set up. So it may try the patience of long term series fans on occasion, but it should make you want to find what happens next.

Thus not the best of the series by any measure, but a volume that needs to be read.
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on 23 November 2012
Slightly worrying to anyone starting this book is the fact that we get yet another recap of the Solarian League's reaction to the Oyster Bay disaster. In fact, a lot of this feels like a recap as we get repeated instances of members of the Solarian League Navy going "The Manties can't possibly threaten us - we're the Solarian League Navy!", despite the fact that every battle they've faced has been a disaster for them. Overconfidence is one thing when you haven't met the enemy, but when you've already had two Curb Stomp battles, you'd think they'd be a little more circumspect. But no, they launch yet another armada against Manticore that results in over a million casualties.

The main problem is everything is just too easy for our heroes. Not only do the Peeps join the Grand Alliance, which means they can retain a productive capacity (at Bolthole) but even the Mesans don't actually do anything except plot to evacuate before Manticore can arrive. Even when the war was going at the worst for them, at least the Peeps were still presented as a threat - here it seems like the SLN is completely outmatched. Could we have at least one competent Solarian officer to actually use their massive numerical superiority?

I'd heard that DW had had to cut this book for length, which might explain why the ending feels somewhat unresolved. There is a significant fracture within the Solarian League, which is pretty much where it ends. It's more of a set up for the next book, though at least the end is coming into sight (probably).
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on 1 November 2013
I've enjoyed the development of this series, with admiration for the universe David Weber has created. I now feel I've grown to know the core characters very well, and continue to appreciate Weber 's eye for political and military analysis and plot construction. With this book, though, it's clear that there is some crunching of gears as he refocused the narrative away from the Haven Manticore conflict towards the imminent demise of the Solarian League and the war against the Mesan Alignment. I found some of the steps in that dance unconvincing, and part of me wishes he had stuck to his original plan to kill off Honor Harrington at the Battle of Manticore, skip a generation or two and begin a new arc, which would have required less realignment of existing plot. That said, I'm looking forward to the next book.

I also have to confess to becoming a little tired of the over-long political discussions which recapitulate things I already know from different angles, and which slow the movement of the plot to a snail's pace. The action sequences are also, now, formulaic to the extent that Weber is curtailing them - ships heave/writhe/buck as they are stabbed/launched/skewered by laser heads in a manner which starts to feel like cut and paste.

The grand story arc will carry me forward to the next book, but I'm beginning to skim more and more pages of a series which used to grip my attention.
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on 9 March 2012
This book is, perhaps, the last of the books that David Weber says will retell the story from a different perspective. He explains this in an authors note in 'Storm from the Shadows'. Although there isn't much repetition, parts of the first few chapters happened before the end of 'Mission of Honor'.

I was tempted to make the rating four stars, but changed my mind and set it to five; my reasons being that it is difficult to do what david has set out to attempt and in my opinion he does a very good job.

He's trying to tie everything together, and set in place enough back-story/background to allow later occurancies to be both believable and more understandable; at least that is what I feel.

I enjoyed reading the book; it didn't quite satisfy my craving for a Honor Harrington novel, like the rest have done. Indeed, the two books featuring Michelle Henke as the lead were more enjoyable from a pure space-opera perspective, and very good in their own right.

I am however looking forward to seeing how all the threads introduced in the book both develope individually and come together.

I also wondered if David could continue to make the actions of the 'mandarins' from old terra believeable; without giving anything away, he managed it very well as far as I am concerned. The justification for the alliance between Haven and the Star Kingdom/Empire was also well handled; another potential stumbling block I thought.

So whilst you might not enjoy it as much as others, I think after consideration you'll be glad you read it.
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on 4 April 2012
This is a fairly satisfactory HH Series book. I did not give it a 5-star rate mainly because the story is obviously cut in the middle and therefore the book is "short" for my taste. Otherwise a well-written plot which is told coherently and convincingly. I wasn't particularly put off by the longish "look I know you want the battle but you gotta read this stuff first" parts that set the scene for the main event in the book. The fates of the Solarian characters were a bit too obvious for the readers of the whole series now, but I still like the new characters and the emerging political actors. The book's plot holds together nicely with the overall Honor Harrington Series and its general direction. The really good news is that the writer has scored well in terms of a successful bridging of the Havenite conflict and the Solarian one, which means there's a lot of room to keep writing in that direction. All in all I thought it was a good book. You can't be a HH Series reader and skip this one.
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on 10 August 2012
"A Rising Thunder" reads like the unfinished prelude to the grand finale of the "Honor Harrington" saga; not surprisingly, it is the first half of a manuscript Weber has written already chronicling the war between the Solarian League and the Star Empire of Manticore and its allies. While this isn't by far the best in the "Honor Harrington" series, it is not the worst, and is commendable to the extent in which Weber describes Harrington, Queen Elizabeth Winton of Manticore and President Eloise Pritchart of Haven in almost realistic, three-dimensional terms; however, too often, the plot revolves around secondary characters far less compelling than these key protagonists and their closest friends and allies. One major objection I have with Weber's ongoing plotting is in demonstrating how quickly Manticore and Haven transform themselves from deadly enemies to stalwart allies in the face of Solarian League military aggression. Devoted fans of Weber's "Honorverse" will find much worth noting in "A Rising Thunder"; however, those who are seeking the space-opera science fictional equivalent of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series will be disappointed unless they are familiar already with Weber's "Honorverse" novels.
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