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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