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on 1 July 2010
Lets get the bad out of the way first. This is not the best Honor Harrington by a long way. The complexity and multiple story lines of the Honorverse have really come home to roost - and not in a good way. The major flaw with this book is that in order to tie off lots of interacting plot lines between the main HH series and the 2 spinoff series - Saganami Island and Wages of Sin, events from those 2 series have to be rehashed and take up probably 1/3-1/2 of the book. Anyone who has read Storm from the Shadows or Torch of Freedom will be overfamiliar with much of the background exposition. Certainly Storm from the Shadows and Mission could have been merged and lost a few hundred pages in the process. It also suffers from having far too many characters to track as a result.

Its quite unfortunate - the 300+ pages involving Honor and the core Oyster Bay plot are vintage Weber, the rest drag the score down.

However you can see why Weber was forced into this approach - the Honorverse has become too sprawling and complex, hopefully this is the end of his attempt to introduce a bit more segration into the Main and Sub series. If you read any Weber interviews part of this stems from Weber planning to finish the HH series with a Nelson-like Death for Honor during At All Costs, but deciding not to go ahead thus having to come up with a different way of putting a full stop in this section of the series.

This book is meant to be a closing chapter in the Havenite Wars and to sow the seeds of a new start. The book accomplishes this well with an excellent mix of Diplomacy and Action. In particular the ending of the book - though a kind of cliff hanger is handled very well indeed giving a sense of satisfaction whilst still making the reader eager for the next installment.

It still confirms Weber as at or near the top of the Space Opera tree - just not quite firing on all cylinders. A Weber 3 star review should be considered a 4 star review for most others - his previous high standard affect my overall judgement of him.
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This is the 16th full length novel in the science fiction series set two thousand years in the future which David Weber initially created for his character Honor Harrington. Where the last six books in the series were organised into three linked but distinct sub-series which portrayed unfolding events with the focus on three different perspectives of the developing crisis, Weber appears to have abandoned that approach with "Mission of Honor" and this book covers the whole picture.

Mission of Honor gives you the initial outcomes of the attacks launched but not resolved in "Storm from the Shadows" which gave that book a "cliff-hanger" ending. But only the initial outcomes: it appears that the galactic order is starting to collapse into a catastrophic series of wars and chaos so vast and devastating as to make the wars which dominated the first eleven books look like a vicar's tea party.

This book is more disciplined in style than some of the recent volumes of the series, reminding me of Tom Clancy in the way it jumps between the perspectives of a very large cast while ruthlessly maintaining a clear storyline. Weber appears to be determined to eliminate the large-scale overlaps which were a consequence of the arrangement of the preceding books. He does this by restoring a clear chronological sequence, so that all the events of "Mission of Honor" follow on from the conclusions of all the recent books and you no longer find a battle or conversation which has already been described from the perspective of, say, Honor Harrington described again from the perspective of, say, Michelle Henke.

If you have not read any of these books and are interested in doing so, do not start with this one: these stories work best if read in sequence, so start with the first book, which is "On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington)."

Up to now, despite the futuristic setting, there have been 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, 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 and naval history and to the 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 this book could be seen as equivalent to submarines.

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 15 novels. The main sequence of 11 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

The "Torch" or anti-slavery sequence focusses on the battle for freedom of people who have been held in slavery by "Manpower," which at first appeared to be 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 two books which focus on that area of the Galaxy, and particularly on a rapidly worsening crisis between Honor Harrington's home planet Manticore and the most powerful nation in the galaxy, the Solarian republic. These books 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.)

This latest book, "Mission of Honor" begins shortly after the end of "Storm from the Shadows" and takes forward the characters and stories from that book, "At All Costs" and "Torch of Freedom."

As a sort of position check, David Weber builds into "Mission of Honor" at least a cameo mention of almost every major character in all six of the previous books, including those who were killed in those books. Those who are still alive at the start of this book get at least one scene from their perspective, telling you what they are up to at the time of this book, and whether they survive it (some don't.) The major characters who died in the last few books also get a mention which covers how they died: for example through having a ship named after them or because surviving characters who were close to them discuss or remember them.

The next book in the Honor Harrington series after "Mission of Honor" will be called "A Rising Thunder" and is due for release in 2012. Weber says that he is about half way through his origanal storyline and expects another five to ten books in the series - but he adds that it was originally expected to take eight books and has already taken fifteen so "It's entirely possible that I may be just a bit off."

Having listed the other "Honorverse" books I ought for completeness to add that 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. One of these short stories has just been 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.

"Mission of Honor" is slightly shorter than some of the recent books in this series, and is probably a better book for it. I noticed the humour a bit more than in most of David Weber's books - for example, at one point a character is seen to be reading a book about the psychic detective "Garrett Randall" by the author "Darcy Lord" (If you don't get the joke, look up Murder and Magic.)

The "Mesan Alignment" behind Manpower, who have been moving other characters in the story around like chess pieces for the past few books, begin to act more openly with devastating consequences in this book. We already knew that the Mesans will accept the deaths of billions to create what they see as a better future for humanity, and in this book Weber begins to give us an idea of what that means.

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 (Link:Star Trek - Enterprise - Series 4 - Complete (Slimline Edition) [DVD]) 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 with four major series already on the go (The Honorverse, the Multiverse series which begins with Hell's Gate (Multiverse I), the Bahzell Bahnahkson/War God series in which at least two more novels are expected, and the Safehold/Nimue Alban series which begins with Off Armageddon Reef), not mention the odd additional stand alone book like Out of the Dark coming out, and a couple more sequels or prequels to the "Mutineer's Moon" trilogy and "In Fury Born" books, he's in real danger of biting off more than he can chew!
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on 14 March 2012
Weber's long series of books set in the "Honorverse" is thoroughly enjoyable if you like "military science fiction". That is, if you like mind-cheese with lots of stuff blowing up. Unlike most other authors in this sub-genre, Weber even manages to make his characters believable and sympathetic, to sometimes have realistic conversations and motivations. And the universe he creates is, on the whole, consistent.

The series went through a bad patch a few books back where there was lots of "jaw jaw" and very little of the "war war" that made the series so exciting. But I'm pleased to say that with the previous installment (At All Costs) and this one, he's back on form.

I have three criticisms. The first is that the books will make little sense unless you've read the previous installments. That's fair enough. Authors writing series have to strike a balance between making later works accessible to newcomers and annoying their established customers with repeated material. In a short series, a bit of repetition won't do any harm, but in this one - 12 books so far, with at least two more in the pipeline and quite probably more to come - it would be actively harmful.

The second is related to the first, but is, I think, rather more important. There are several spin-off series, also set in the same universe, which some readers may not have bothered with. Unfortunately one of them, the "Wages of Sin" series, turns out to be of vital importance, and the "Saganami Island" series is also of some relevance to this book and, to a lesser extent, to the previous one. Keeping track not only of a long main series with several parallel interacting plot threads (but at least they evolve alongside each other in a single series) but also of at least one and potentially several other series at the same time is hard. It's worth doing, but hard.

And finally, remember how I said that the universe Weber has created is mostly consistent? The big economic inconsistency is beginning to bite, hard. He knows it - he even has some characters talk about how it makes no sense. He tries to justify it as being a front for a huge conspiracy, but huge conspiracies just don't work. The one he's written involves literally millions of people, at least thousands of whom are scattered all over the place amongst other polities and societies, and they're actually multi-generational sleeper agents. He expects us to believe that the children of sleeper agents will be content to be brought up as normal people (you can't trust young children with such secrets, after all), to form friendships, perhaps fall in love with members of the host society, and, when you inform them of their family's hidden role for them to just accept it. Even if somehow most of them held it together, all it would take would be for a handful to blow the whistle and, given how many there are, this must happen - and yet it doesn't for hundreds of years, not until narrative imperative compels it. I can ignore this, I read lots of sci-fi, much of it in the "bad but entertaining" mould, and so my suspension of disbelief muscle gets a regular workout. But even so, it is irritating.

Those last two niggles, plus the entire series's utter lack of anything approaching literary value means it gets only three stars. I recommend it for those who are already Honorverse fans (not that there's much point in recommending it as you'll all buy it anyway) and I recommend the Honorverse as a whole to all sci-fi fans, but I have to insist that you read the books in order. Specifically, in publication order, so that you get the other series at the right time.
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on 16 July 2016
I suspect that if this had been the first volume of this series I had read I would stop there - I have spent a lot longer between these books recently. But as I've already read at least ten before I will doubtless hang on till the end. It isn't as if it were badly written, after all, just going on a bit.
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on 13 August 2012
I am addicted to David Weber's Honor Harrington series. I have read them all. Once you start reading one of his books you are transformed instantly into the future as well as to the 19th century since he transformed that period with it's morals, ethics etc into the future with one exception, the role of women. It's a great idea if you do not think to hard about the fact that kings and queens are the rulers of the future and not common people.

This was a real brick of a book. 800+ pages. And still it was just foreplay to the real action that will probably take place in the next book. Reading 800+ pages and in the end realizing that you will not get to the main event is a little frustrating. I can understand those who stated that you could have reduced this book by 200-400 pages without loosing anything from the story. Weber has really spent a lot of his efforts into creating the right situation for the next book. On the other hand, all this foreplay is well written and even if you get a little frustrated over not getting to the main event you are entertained along the way.

The Problem with reading this huge work is that you are forced to read about a lot of events and people that you meet so many years ago in previous books and that you today have a hard time remembering. Personally I was a little annoyed over finding the appendix with the list of persons in the book in the end instead of in the beginning so that I could use it during reading and not finding it once I was done.

But anyway, this is a classic Honor Harrington story and I look forward to reading the next one.
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on 20 June 2014
I have read all of the honor books but I only bought the last two second hand as they were becoming too talky. This book had around 300 pages of great action, the David Weber of old. Unfortunately the other 500 pages were mind numbing. I skimmed at least 200 pages and missed nothing as far as I can see. Everything is over explained again and again. Sadly, many writers are going this way, to make sure presumably, that the readers don't miss anything. The vast majority of readers are capable of reading between the lines and do not need this treatment. I hope that David Weber will return to his old tight prose and that the next book will be better, and shorter.
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on 9 January 2013
What more needs to be said? It's an excelent read. It does tend to bog down in places with too much description and background, as is normal for David Weber, but it still leaves you wanting more. The ending, not giving much away, does leave you hanging, wanting to just turn the page and continue with the story line. Recomended.
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on 19 September 2010
Since discovering David Weber's books on a random visit to a bookshop in Canada about 8 years ago I have devoured everything he's written in the Honor Harrington universe, Prince Roger series and the rest of his SciFi books. What I liked so much about Weber was his excellent plotting, his clear story arcs, his brilliant characterisation and his enjoyable writing.

I've noticed in his last few books that something seems to be going wrong and nowhere is this better illustrated than in this book. The author seems to be consistently much more interested in telling the side stories in long, and often tedious detail, than in focusing on the main characters and story, and hence his books are growing longer and longer.

When I picked up this book. I thought "great, a welcome return to form". At "only" 584 pages it's one of the shorter ones that Weber has written recently and I was looking forward to a return to the tautly written and plotted books that made Weber such a fantastic author. Unfortunately we don't get that here.

Oh, we get flashes of it. There are welcome returns from several characters featured in previous books but again there is much tedious recapping of side arcs and overall too many side characters introduced, with too much detail on them, and almost total neglect of the core characters that have made this a great series.

Apparently Weber had meant to kill off Honor in At All Costs and, while I love the character, maybe it would have been better if he had. While previous books have featured brilliant and moving descriptions of her feelings and emotional state, this book is almost devoid of any focus on her at all, particularly at the end of the book when a number of key events occur which should have a major impact on her emotions.

Without wanting to give spoilers away one character dies who really should have got more of a send off. This character is an important recurring character who I'm sure many of us loved and who seems to be killed off for no reason. And to add insult to injury there is almost no mention of impact of the character's death on Honor.

The novel reads very much like the first 350 pages were a labour of love and the last 200-odd were rushed out to meet a print deadline. Another alternative is that Weber has gotten tired of writing about Honor and was keen to go onto other things (if that's the case, if you could find a moment to sit down with John Ringo and write a Prince Roger sequel, that would be great!).

As a number of reviewers have said on this site, a 3 star rating for Weber would still be a 4 star for someone else and I agree with that. This is still a reasonable book but compared to most of his other books in the Honorverse it is a disappointment.
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on 14 July 2011
Not the best in the series, primarily because it concentrates more on politics than action. The arc welding between the various sub-series doesn't help - if you haven't read the "Torch of Freedom" or "Shadow" sub series (which I haven't) then you're left wondering what's been happening; if you have then I guess it's covering old ground.

The other problem is that I simply don't believe the politics of the Solarian League. Mr Weber seems to have come up with a polity that is a weird aglomeration of the political structure of the EU (corporatist, not very democratic) with the Russian military (huge but fairly primitve) about to undergo a civil war over slavery (US in the 19th century). As a result of Countess Gold Peake's (Michelle Henke) actions in the Talbot Cluster, they decide to stamp down on the "neobarb" Empire of Manticore - and are thoroughly stomped by Manticore's much more advanced forces. Their response is not to find out how the hell the Manties achieved their victory (though one character does consider how it might have been achieved to come up with a completely erroneous theory for why it couldn't happen again - deliberate misinformation on the part of the real "Big Bad", Manpower), but to simply throw more ships at them until Manticore submits. That's a Zapp Brannigan strategy ("Throw ships at them until the wreckage chokes their gun barrels!") that no even vaguely responsive government could ever pursue - given it involves sending millions of soldiers to their deaths on Manticorean missiles, they'd mutiny long before you won. Of course, that's pretty much what Manpower/Mesa is counting on (they intend to forment a civil war to set up their version of the Confederacy out of the Ashes of the League) but you'd think somebody in the League would think about the consequences of such a bone headed strategy. And I have trouble believing in Manpower/Mesa too - they're a race of genetically engineered supermen who are sure they can win, yet it doesn't occur to their leader that a gang of Bond Supervillains are scarcely going to be the most cohesive force once it's clear that he intends to rule for a century and has his clone sons set up to succeed him. Set against that, I did actually believe the Havenite politics - there's a wonderful scene where Honor turns up on Haven with the Eigth Fleet and comms President Pritchard to say she's like a word, followed by a game of one-upmanship (I'd say dick measuring if either was a guy!) where they casually mention the names of those around them.

And no Honor novel would be complete without the death of somebody close to her. Operation Oyster Bay (although the name is chosen to suggest Pearl Harbour, it's actually closer to 9/11, given the millions of civilian deaths) results in the death of Andrew LaFollet, who dies protecting Honor's son (Honor considers it's a tragic irony that she reassigned him precisely because it was less dangerous on Sphinx, but that it was probably how he would have chosen to die).

As for the road ahead - it's clearly going to come down to the new Haven/Manticore Alliance against the Solarian League until they can find the true villains (Mesa/Manpower), who they now know are behind just about everything that's happened for the past ten novels. Who will win? Well, you never bet against the woman with her name in the title...
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Latest entry in the Honor Harrington series of military science fiction.

Not read one before? Don't read this. Go and try On Basilisk Station (Honorverse) instead. The first in the series. Because this is the twelfth [and that doesn't include some supporting novels in the count] and it makes no concession to new readers.

If you've followed the series regularly, then read on.

After two books Storm from the Shadows and Torch Of Freedom (Honor Harrington) that showed a slow build up to war between Manticore and the Solarian League, and which were full of chapter after chapter of people talking and having meetings with seemingly very little happening, this one would appear at first glance to be more of the same.

It runs for just over eight hundred and thirty and is divided into forty five chapters and several parts.

And the title character doesn't actually appear in too much of it.

That's because, as with those two previous books, escalating hostilities continue. And the villains of the piece continue to work on their plans. Which are involved and have been going on for a while.

And also as with those books, that involves a lot of scenes of characters talking and holding meetings.

So you might get frustrated in the first three hundred pages, which are mostly like that. And yet at points, especially when Honor takes centre stage as she engages in a tricky diplomatic mission, things do start to feel as if they are going somewhere.

They then do. In the middle of the book. Thanks to two big set pieces. The second of which is incredibly dramatic and doesn't pull any punches and should have you desperately turning the pages to find what will happen next.

And the aftermath to both of them.

More talking and meetings follow. But these are pretty involving. Because now you can see exactly where things are going. And there's the promise of action a plenty to come.

For that, you'll have to wait for the next book in the series. If you were frustrated by those last two books then you will find points in this one that will make you feel the same way. But you'll also find points that will make you desperate to know what is going to happen next.

So this is a slight upturn for the series ater it hit a bit of a dip. And hopefully the next volume should be even better.
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