STARS AT WAR II Hardcover – Jul 1 2005
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About the Author
David Weber is the science fiction phenomenon of the decade. His popular Honor Harrington novels (such as the New York Times bestseller Ashes of Victory) can't come out fast enough for his devoted readers. His latest Honor Harrington novel for Baen is War of Honor, tenth in the series. Steve White completed a tour of duty in Vietnam as a Naval officer. His SF adventure trilogy for Baen comprising The Disinherited, Legacy, and Debt of Ages was highly successful, as was Prince of Sunset, and its sequel Emperor of Dawn. With David Weber, he has collaborated on Insurrection, Crusade, and In Death Ground, earlier novel in the same series as The Shiva Option.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The two included books are THE SHIVA OPTION and INSURECTION. Reviews of each appear below.
THE SHIVA OPTION
THE SHIVA OPTION conludes the story begun in IN DEATH GROUND. The story and the options are just as horrific and the consequences are just as bad.
Humanity and its allies face a war to the end with a race that will either eat every race it comes across or die trying. They cannot be negotiated with. They can either be killed or allowed to win. Killing them is not easy because they don't care about their own casualties. They have only a hunger and nothing can assuage it.
The space battles are well though out as is the strategy presented. They should appeal to fans of space battle. Like the predecessor, however, the real story concerns the hard choices of the leaders.
This is not a fun book to read but it is interesting and worthwhile. It also leaves open the possibility that more bugs will appear in later volumes.
Insurrection takes place in the same universe as IN DEATH GROUND and THE SHIVA OPTION about a generation after the events of the latter. Humanity has been at peace but that doesn't stop nasty politicians from trying to do nasty things to people. Finally, a time comes when the people will take it no more and the result is civil war.
This book makes clear that there are honorable people on both sides of the conflict but the horrors of war are such that innocents are bound to suffer. Like the other books of this series, the action sequences are well though out and well written but the main lessons come from choices faced by the protagonists. Weber and White are good at writing about space battle. They are even better at writing about political issues and human choices.
"Insurrection". Several generations have passed since the Fourth Interstellar War against the Bugs (see The Shiva Option). The central Corporate Worlds of the Terran Federation refuse to relinquish their war powers though the hostilities are over. They control everything while the Fringe Worlds pay the price. However that is not enough for the avaricious leaders of the Corporate Worlds as they want more power. To expedite matters by causing chaos in the Fringe Worlds, a Corporate World agent assassinates Fringe Worlds leader Fionna MacTaggart. Rebellion explodes on Fionna's home planet. The Terran Federation Navy arrives to put down the revolt by force but instead the crews mutiny refusing to kill fellow citizens; soon rebellion spreads across the Federation leaving the Federation reeling near death.
These are two reprints of early 1990s space operas combined into one book. "The Shiva Option" remains one of the most exciting thought provoking thrillers of the past two decades. "Insurrection" is also a well written action thriller as a domino effect leads the Terran Federation on the brink of a supernova, but does not contain the cerebral punch of "The Shiva Option" because much of the cast are throwaways.
Obviously, if you haven't read the "Shiva Option" or "Insurrection" this is a "must get" book, since both stories handle interstellar war with detail and finesse.
The Shiva Option (2002) is a continuation of the events described within In Death Ground. This duology describes a war similar in many ways to the Pacific theater of World War II. The enemy has the worst aspects of the Japanese military, but exaggerated to the ultimate degree. IDG has the desperate battles prior to Midway and the Coral Sea and TSO has the grinding battles after that, successively retaking island after island until finally Okinawa falls.
The Divine Wind is prominent in this book, but the amphibious assaults and ground combat of that war are mostly eliminated by the Shiva Option. Considering that the defensive phase of war in the Pacific took only a few months, yet the offensive phase took four and half years, it is obvious why this book is so long. If the enemy can be stopped, it most often must be done quickly or not at all; defeating the enemy, however, is long and hard.
The prologue occurs shortly after the failure of Operation Pesthouse. Fleeing the Bugs, Survey Fleet 19 encounters a new set of sentient beings, the Star Union of Crucis, who have already had violent contact with the Bugs. This new group joins with SF19 to destroy the pursuing Bug fleet and then both withdraw to the Star Union.
Meanwhile, back at Alpha Centauri, the Joint Chiefs of the Grand Fleet, and their staffs, meet to discuss strategy now that the Bugs have ended their current offensives. Naval Intelligence reports that a new class of warships, designated Monitors and even larger than superdreadnoughts, has been deployed by the Bugs. They also state that analysis of the Bug artifacts has shown five distinctly different construction techniques, probably indicating five separate manufacturing centers, designated as Home Hives. Moreover, the initial Bug contact was probably with Home Hive Five.
The remainder of the novel is a series of strategic offensives against the Home Hives. Like its prequel, this volume is full of spatial warfare. It also includes several nuclear bombardments of enemy planets -- the Shiva Option -- and one planetary assault with subsequent ground combat.
The Arachnid civilization in Starfire owes a lot to the Bugs in Heinlein's Starship Troopers, but the approach in this series is entirely different and much wider in scope. These novels concentrate primarily on naval combat and equipment; the only use of armored combat suits is by the Telikans in the above mentioned planetary assault.
Insurrection (1990) begins several generations after the Fourth Interstellar War against the Bugs. The Legislative Assembly of the Terran Federation has long been dominated by the Corporate Worlds at the expense of the Fringe Worlds. Now the Corporate Worlds have devised a plan to reapportion the Assembly by merging with the Orion Khanate, thereby reducing the Fringe World power base.
They are frustrated at the last moment by bad publicity generated when Oskar Dieter, a Corporate World leader, personally insults Fionna MacTaggart, leader of the Fringe Worlders. However, the leader of the Corporate World delegation, Simon Taliaferro, plots to assassinate Fionna in order to throw the Fringe Worlders into a fury so that they will resign from the Assembly. His plot works as planned, but the consequences are more that he reckoned with.
Terran Federation Navy Task Force 17 moves against Beaufort, Fionna's home planet, as a show of force, but it moves too slowly and the insurrection has started before it arrives. Admiral Forsythe is advised to go slowly and negotiate with the rebels, but refuses and plans to fire on opposed ships if necessary. This triggers a mutiny, with the Fringe Worlders taking or destroying all TF17 ships.
As the word is spread, other ships mutiny and flee to the Fringe Worlds. Tenth Cruiser Squadron is too far within the Federation to flee, so takes the desperate gamble of raiding Galloway's World to destroy the largest Federation shipyards. Overall, the Federation loses approximately half of Battle Fleet, about 80 percent of the Frontier Fleet, and most of their shipbuilding capability for at least 6 months. This bad news forces the fall of the current government and brings Oskar Dieter to power as prime minister.
This story is based on the political and economic situation between the British Empire and its American colonies prior to the Revolution. As with that situation, the Fringe Worlds are being economically exploited by the Federation mercantile class with the assistance of the Legislative Assembly. While Simon Taliaferro is not a king, he is just as mad as King George and just as dangerous to his own long-term interests. The ensuing military actions in this story are naval rather than military, but otherwise the results are much the same. Since the Khanate basically remains neutral, this story is greatly simplified compared to the Revolution by the lack of other major powers.
Von Clausewitz's On War is quoted several times in this book. The story reminds me of another axiom: "War is an extension of politics by other means". Politicians should be careful what they ask for; they may get it . . . and choke on it.
This book is recommended for all Weber & White fans and anyone who enjoys tales of realpolitik, naval combat, and politician bashing -- i.e., Heinlein fans -- and inside jokes (think Operation Bughouse).
-Arthur W. Jordin
The Shiva Option picks up where In Death Ground (the second novel in Stars at War) leaves off, the Grand Alliance and the Bugs at a standoff, both licking wounds and trying to regroup. It is intense, unrelenting, and filled with incredible battles. Though the final conqueror is probably easily anticipated by most readers, the "how" of the journey they take is intense and full of twists and turns. It is definitely hard to put down.
Insurrection takes place several hundred years after the war with the Bugs, and basically follows as the fringe worlds separate from the Terran Federation. Interestingly enough, this novel, unlike the first in the book, actually brings you down to focus more on individuals, as opposed to how The Shiva Option focuses more on the war and what it is costing to win or lose.
Overall this is an excellent book. It is huge - finishing at almost 1040 pages! But well worth it. And when it is all said and done you'll be asking for more!