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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 January 2010
This story is the fifteenth full length novel in the "Honorverse" group of novels set some 2,000 years in the future. It is the second novel, after "Crown of Slaves (Honorverse)" where the main focus is on the struggle for freedom of the former "genetic slaves" against the slavemasters who operate through a company called "Manpower" but who are now revealed to the reader as being controlled by an organisation known to its inner core as the "Mesan Alignment." Everyone assumes that Manpower is simply a rich and corrupt company of genetic slavers. Unfortunately for the galaxy they are much, much more than that ...

There is a large cast of characters but the main heroes are two unlikely allies whose home planets are at war: the Manticoran super-spy Anton Zilwicki and the Havenite super-spy Victor Cachat.

This book has two simultaneous plots, one of which is a spy story while the other culminates in a space battle.

If you have not read any of the "Honorverse" books and are interested in doing so, do not start with this one: I would recommend starting with the first book in the main Honor Harrington sequence which is "On Basilisk Station (Honorverse)."

The first thirteen Honorverse novels, despite being Space Opera stories set in the far future, had very strong parallels with the story of Nelson's navy up to 1805. The central character of most of these books, Honor Harrington, is a bit like a female mix of Horatio Nelson and Horatio Hornblower. Assumed technology in the stories imposes constraints on space navy officers quite 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 battle of Manticore at the end of "At All Costs (Honorverse)" (which corresponds to Trafalgar) had marked similarities to the strategic and political situation in Europe at the time of the French revolutionary wars.

However, having finished the interesting parts of the battles at sea between the Royal Navy and the French Navy, the story is turning into something completely different. In this book and "Storm from the Shadows (Honorverse)" (SFTS) the reader learns that the genetic slaver company called "Manpower" is merely a front for something far more powerful and dangerous, known to its inner circle as "The Mesan Alignment".

Anyone who has read "War of Honor (Honorverse)" and "At All Costs" (AAC) already knows that "Manpower" has done even worse things than trafficking in slaves: a major part of the story is whether the heroes will succeed in finding proof of what the Mesan Alignment has already done, discovering why they've done it and what they're planning, and surviving to get the information back to Manticore and Haven.

OVERLAP ALERT - The most recent six books in the "Honorverse" describe essentially the same events from three different perspectives. Consequently there are substantial overlaps. In particular, some quite lengthy conversations between the leaders of the Mesan Alignment are repeated verbatim in both this book and SFTS as the Mesans plan their attacks both against Michelle Henke in the Talbott Quadrant and against Torch.

Similarly, the scene on Honor Harrington's flagship in AAC when she gets two very surprising vistors is described here from the perspective of those visitors and this is just one of several scenes from AAC which are repeated in this volume.

Weber tries hard to stop such repetition from spoiling the book, and IMHO largely succeeds. But the other irratating aspect of this to the reader, though it is entirely realistic, is that characters in this book often have to refer in awkward ways to events and systems about which they have incomplete information while those systems are completely familiar to readers of "At All Costs." For exmple, the characters in "Torch of Freedom" have to refer to the Apollo fire control system with expressions like "whatever Lady Harrington used at Lovat".

This worked for me but might not work for all readers. Those who have read SFTS and AAC may find the some of the book repetitive despite Weber's efforts to avoid this. However, those who have not read AAC may find the oblique references to the war Honor Harrington is fighting on another front to be aggravatingly incomplete. If you are planning to read both, I recommend that you tackle "At All Costs" before this one.

I liked the character development in this story. Albrecht Detweiler, the new primary "baddie" introduced in this story and SFTS, is an interesting and complex person for the reader to love to hate, combining as he does some of the characteristics of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (without the cat), Dr Soong from Star Trek Enterprise (without the scruples), and the Emperor of Cetaganda from the Miles Vorkosigan Universe (without the humour.) Other new characters include the matriarch of a decaying space version of Disneyland and the security officer for an evil regime who has the misfortune to develop a conscience.

And BTW, if you like to see the bad guys (and girls) get their comeuppance, you have to read this book to find out what happens to one of the villains of "The Shadow of Saganami (Saganami)."


As hinted at above, the Honor Harrington series (sometimes nicknamed the "Honorverse") has developed two spin-off storylines. Stories set in this Universe fall into three groups, although they link together in a reasonably consistent manner.

There is the main sequence, currently of 11 novels with number 12 on the way, which follow the career of Honor Harrington herself. This main sequence is:

1) On Basilisk Station
2) Honor of the Queen (Honorverse)
3) The Short Victorious War (Honor Harrington)
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 Honor (Honor Harrington), which is set after "Torch of Freedom" and pulls all three perspectives back together again

There are currently four 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.

Some of these are espionage stories: Weber has produced a book called "Crown of Slaves" co-written with Eric Flint, which brings together several of the most prominent spies from the novels and short stories in a novel of intrigue and revolution. This book, "Torch of Freedom" is the sequel to "Crown of Slaves".

And then there is a sort of "Next Generation" sequence, dealing mostly with events in the Talbott Cluster and the relationship between Manticore and the Solarian Republic based on Old Earth. This sequence starts with "The Shadow of Saganami" and follows on with "Storm from the Shadows." and features some younger officers in the Grayson and Manticoran navies such as Helen Zilwicki and Abigail Hearns.
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on 29 November 2009
This book takes the Honorverse story in a new direction, despite Honor only being present for a short time :)

It centre's around Anton Zilwiki (Spymaster for Torch the freed slave planet) and Victor Cachat (Havenite master spy) and what the two of them do to find out who was behind the assassination attenpt in At All Costs (most recent Honor story).

Don't want to give the story away but if you like Dave Webers other work you will almost certainly love this book, especially as the real bad guys get a bit of a bloody nose :)
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on 9 December 2009
Let me start by saying I love David Weber and have 99% of his work. Some I have numerous times as they have fell to pieces from the amount of reading I have devoted to them. unfortunately this will not be one of the ones needing replacing.

The story is well paced and well put together but I could not find myself caring about the majority of the new cast and was just wanting the next mainstream book to come out to get on with the story. All the pieces have been covered in general in other books and the extra detail this imparts does not seem to me to justify this book .

This book fills in a few blanks which may become important later but those blanks don't look enough to me to justify the purchase .

If you have the rest of the Honorverse books buy it , if not either wait for the paperback or give it a miss .

You wont have lost out on a lot if you don't read this
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on 11 May 2015
A lot of background to a large number of interrelated situations is covered in this volume. There are good drama and many opportunities for the high number of characters to cut and thrust their way through the conundrums they encounter. Many succeed for all the wrong reasons which makes the Saga a delight to pursue!! Next one soon, please!!
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If you've not read the Honorverse series of military space opera novels then don't start here. This is a book in the middle of a long series which has built up a lot of back story by now.

Go to On Basilisk Station (Honorverse) instead. That's the book to start with.

Those who are familiar with the Honorverse can read on.

This follows on from earlier book Crown Of Slaves (Honorverse) and sees unlikely allies Victor Cachat and Anton Zikwicki, who were involved in that book, still working together to deal with a plot by the Mesan alliance. Who are out to destroy the former slaveworld of Torch.

Whilst they set out about their mission, other characters have agendas of their own.

And are very interested in spaceships and weapons.

And talk about them.

A lot.

This unfortunately has the same fault as earlier book Storm from the Shadows in that it contains chapter after chapter of people sitting around talking about the situation rather than doing anything.

Occasional incidents do happen but little seems to result from them. And whilst this depicts spying accurately in that it's nothing like a Bond movie, that doesn't make it into something that grabs the attention either.

Thing do perk up in the final third of the book [it's over eight hundred pages so you do have to wade through a lot to get this point] with a good bit of drama and then the real strength of this series: starship battles. But even that feels a little overfamiliar.

As may some of what comes before it, since this series is following certain events from different angles.

Not having read the following book Mission of Honor: Honor Harrington, Book 12 I can't comment on how vital a chapter in the whole story Torch of Freedom is. But I shall be back for Mission of Honor as soon as possible, and shall hope in the meantime that it recaptures the feel of the earlier books in the series, which got me hooked on it in the first place.
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on 29 September 2011
Another detour on the road to the ultimate showdown between Mesa and Manticore, this time featuring the Kingdom of Torch, a colony of ex-slaves (so fanatically anti-Manpower) ruled by the Queen of Manticore's neice, Queen Berry. Unfortunately for Torch, not only is Manpower/Mesa a blood enemy, it also controls the other end of a wormhole that ends at Torch, so Manpower is anxious to snuff out this newly formed Kingdom. Learning of a plot against them, their two top spies, Victor Cachat and Anton Zilwicki (whose Star Nations are back at war with each other) have to try to stop it.

Actually, the whole spy plot is only one thread, but it's easily the strongest, even if it does involve a re-telling of the duo's meeting with Honor Harrington, (which was disappointing, because I'm pretty sure it was a straight cut & paste job from "Mission of Honor" - it would have been nice to see it re-written from Victor Cachat's viewpoint). There's also the whole military thread, where we see the Mesans arming the renegade People's Navy in Exile (former SS men) to wipe out Torch (literally - they intend to make relativistic strikes on the planet with nukes) and they have to rely on an intervention by a Solarian Admiral Rozsak to save them. Oh, and there's a very minor plot about Queen Berry's love life with her Chief of Security.

One of the best points is that it gives us a believable insight into the Mesan Alignment, showing them not just as pure Bond villains but as crusaders who believe that "Utopia Justifies the Means", even if several millions (if not billions) will have to die to achieve it - oh, and the genetic supermen of the Mesan Alpha line will be in charge. We get a view of life on Mesa, not just from the top with the Dettweilers but from other side of the coin with Jack McBryde and Herlander Simoes. When Simoes daughter comes down with Autism, the rulers of Mesa chose to "terminate" this "unproductive genetic line" which leads ultimately to them both attempting to defect to Torch. As a result, there is the "Verdant Green Atrocity", where multiple nukes go off on Mesa, which the Mesans are quick to blame on the Audobon Ballroom (not without justification) and are also quick to assume that Cachat, Zilwicki, Simoes and MacBryde are all killed, which is one hell of an error as some of them get out and bring news of Mesa's plans to Torch (and then on to both Manticore and Haven). This is the pivotal event in the Series (also told in "Mission of Honor") as it causes Manticore and Haven to end their war to unite and fight the Mesans - if only the Solarian League wasn't in the way!
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on 4 October 2014
Great to visit another part of this universe
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on 30 January 2011
Unfortunately this item was never delivered and for some strange reason the post office decided to return it to sender which has happened three times in the past three months.
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