I've been a W.E.B. Griffin fan for almost a decade now, which means I've been waiting impatiently for quite a while for each new release in each and every series that Griffin has written. Unfortunately, I've found a few of his recent novels a bit lacking compared to his previous works. In particular, I found it painful to read through his previously recent book "The Outlaws" (Dec. 2010) which I gave 2 stars. I know that sentiment is shared by other Griffan fans and is also reflected by the average 2.5 star Amazon ratings of his recent books versus 3.5-4+ ratings of older works (out of 75+ reviews per book).
I'm glad to say that this book is a definite improvement on some of his lower quality recent works! It's not one of his best, but for me, it was definitely an acceptable and fun read.
This book flows smoothly from start to finish. I was originally going to wait, but ended up purchasing an electronic version of the book on a whim a bit past midnight. A few hours - and one book - later, I finally looked up from my reader to see the first signs of daylight appear outside my window.
--- Flows well. - While reading it, I don't have an urge to skip entire parts. The writing flows smoothly and makes you interested in wanting to turn each page as quickly as possible so you can find out what's next. For me, "The Outlaws" was a book that didn't flow well and which I wanted to skip whole sections, only to force myself to read it hoping that it would get better (hint: it didn't). That thankfully was not a problem with this book.
--- Limited / Tightly Focused Story - The story and plot is a lot more focused compared to previous books in this series. It almost seems (or is) linear in terms of what happens and what is being told. In previous books you'd have different sides, action happening simultaneously in different regions, etc. In this novel, it's almost entirely one side and following a group of people in a linear fashion. You get a much more limited view and much more limited action. There's also no major twists or mysteries.
--- Limited Characters Involved - This novel primarily focuses on a handful of characters with a small supporting cast. True, most stories only have a few main characters, but compared to previous novels in the Honor Bound series, the amount of character involvement diversity is a lot smaller. I guess one way to explain the difference is that in previous novels you might get at least a few pages (if not dozens) on the action or words of minor characters. In this novel, you'd get sentences instead (if at all).
--- Too short! - Ok, this might just be the age-old problem where the fan just wants more and more. And yes, that is definitely a factor. However, let's do a strict page count comparison using Amazon's hardcover page count figures. This book "Victory & Honor" has a page count of 320 pages. Compare that to "The Outlaws" in Dec. 2010 with 432 pages (although I'd take 320 good pages over 432 mediocre pages any day!). Further compare that to 464 pages in "The Vigilantes" in Aug. 2010 or 496 pages in "The Honor of Spies" or 528 pages in "The Hunters"... I think you get the picture. This book is 100 pages (1/3rd the current length!) shorter than recent releases and nearly 200 pages (2/3rds the current length!) shorter than older releases, which probably makes this one of the shortest works released by W.E.B. Griffin that was part of his main series.
While upon reflection I felt that there were elements of this book that were lacking, it is indisputably a huge improvement on recent books of Griffin's like "The Outlaws". Was I disappointed in the limited scope of the novel? Yes. Do I think Griffin could have done a better job or that his previous works are better? Yes. However, did I also enjoy myself while I was reading this novel? Yes.
For me, I read works by authors like W.E.B. Griffin for casual pleasure. If I have a good time while reading it and am smiling while I reflect upon it right after, I'm happy. To be honest, it was only while writing this review that I fully grasped the parts of the book that I felt were lacking as they were not issues or concerns while I was reading. Hence, despite its shortcomings, I gave it 4 stars.
DO NOT GET THIS BOOK:
If this will be your first W.E.B. Griffin book or your first book in the Honor Bound series, I strongly suggest you get one of his earlier works. It's probably best if you start out at the beginning of a series (both because all those books are great, but also because it'd give you a chronological progression of events as you inevitably acquire more of his works from that series).
If you're looking for a book with hidden meanings, multiple twists, and a complex plot, don't get this book.
GET THIS BOOK:
If you're a long time Griffan fan (I guess we'd get his book anyways no matter what!), if you've read previous books in the Honor Bound series and want to find out what happens to the characters, or if you have some time and just want a very casual straight-forward read.