Honor Harrington

After being on my read-eventually list for years, I finally got around to reading David Weber‘s Honor Harrington books.  I have now read five of the first six books (haven’t read #5 yet) and am about 100 pages into the seventh book.  They are exceedingly well written and I am hooked.  Weber has a complex social and technological background for his books, and three-dimensional characters.

Honor Harrington, the heroine of the “Honorverse,” is a naval officer for the Star Kingdom of Manticore.  She is human, but a “genie,” i.e., descended from genetically engineered ancestors to better survive living on a planet with slighter higher gravity than Manticore or Old Earth.  Honor is a feature of her character as well as her name: she is intelligent, brave, loyal, patriotic, with a strong sense of duty and justice.

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As a child, Honor was adopted by a treecat, a six-legged creature from her home planet, Sphinx.  She shares an empathic bond with her ‘cat, Nimitz.  Honor believes (correctly) that treecats are far more intelligent than most people give them credit for.  Treecat adoptions are respected in the Star Kingdom of Manticore.  Seven of the last nine monarchs, including the current Queen Elizabeth III, have been adopted by ‘cats.  Therefore, Nimitz accompanies her on her vessels and even attended the academy with her.

David Weber limits the profanity in these books.  Although there is some swearing, including occasional use of a certain four-letter word that rhymes with duck, it is limited to situations and characters where such vocabulary is actually in character.  Unlike the late Tom Clancy, he doesn’t feel the need to drop F-bombs like confetti.

My only complaint with the books thus far is that the Honorverse has certain similarities with the Albion Empire of my own “Captain’s Claim.”  This is not unusual, not even unpredictable.  Weber and I both read the Horatio Hornblower books when we were younger — he even dedicates the first book of the series to C. S. Forester and has Honor reading one of the Hornblower books as pleasure reading in one of the later books.  Both of us watched the Star Wars series of movies, as well as old movies like The Sea Hawk and goodness knows how many other books, TV shows, and movies with space empires.  Elizabeth Moon and Lois McMaster Bujold have also written SF books where  the hero serves in the starfleet of a space empire with a very formal society.  I’m just not looking forward to being accused of copycatting from Mr. Weber, when I’ve been working on Captain’s Claim, off and on, since 1996.

So far I’ve read the first four books in the series, the sixth book, and I’ve started on the seventh.  I’ve been ignoring both housework and ghostwriting in favor of reading these books; they’re hard to put down.  If you like military SF, give David Weber’s Honor Harrington books a try.

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If you like strong women in a western setting, try Juliette Douglas’ Freckled Venom series.

And if you want to buy my western e-book, Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid, I won’t complain.

[Feature Image Galaxy M101: Image Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; IR & UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI]

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5 thoughts on “Honor Harrington

  1. The library used book sale had The Honor of the Queen, The Short Victorious War, Field of Dishonor, Honor Among Enemies, In Enemy Hands, At All Costs, and Crown of Slaves. I loved the first two books so much that I bought On Basilisk Station at the Booksellers at Laurelwood’s going out of business sale. (It’s a sad thing when a bookstore dies.) As soon as I finish the ones I have, I plan to look for the ones the library used book sale didn’t have.

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    • That makes sense.

      I’d recommend not reading the last two of those until you’ve read Echoes of Honor and Ashes of Victory, as At All Costs jumps quite a bit in story-time from In Enemy Hands. Crown of Slaves, while enjoyable on its own, is really best if you’ve read the anthologies: Changer of Worlds and Service of the Sword first, and definitely should only be read after Ashes of Victory. Unlike the first handful of books the later ones really do, to varying degrees, depend on a lot of what came before to be maximally enjoyable.

      War of Honor can effectively be skipped and a short review of what occurred in it is good enough. It’s actually a fairly weak book that I found very difficult to slog through, so…you may end up wanting to go back and read it after some of the others, but unlike the ones I mention above, you don’t really need to have read it before reading At All Costs or Crown of Slaves.

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  2. I’ll second MannyOKelly’s advice. Especially as you get into the later books, things build on earlier books, so I’d highly recommend going back and picking up Flag before you get much farther down the line, and reading Echoes and Ashes before starting At All Costs.

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