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on September 6, 2003
There were parts of this book that were great and there were parts that dragged on for no reason except to bore the reader to death. This is the first book in the series that wasn't excellent (the next one isn't too hot either.)
Let me clear the air on what I liked and what I didn't. I like Honor and think she has been so far a great character. I don't like how every single person in the book idolizes her and thinks she is the best thing that has happens since space travel. She is coddled constantly and she acts as though it is her due. Also I am getting tired of Grayson. There is an entire universe to explore in these books and it always comes back to how special this planet is, how hard their people work compared to everyone else, how tough they are and how smart they are. Enough already Weber. We get it.
I do like how the Peeps are in this one a bit more and the political side of the war for them is explored in greater detail. (even though half the peeps seems to be starstruck by Honor as well and in love with her.....) The battles were also well done. I am going to read the 9th book Ashes of Victory and I seriously hope it is better that 7 and 8 and goes back to earlier themes and not this Honor can do no wrong theme that is currently bogging this series down.
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Ok, Mr. Weber, you've thrown me a curve. What makes it frustrating is that the curve is one of those things that's so obvious in retrospect that you want to kick yourself in the forehead (not easy to do :-) Honor's skill, courage and luck had to meet its match sooner or later, and similarly, the Peeps sooner or later had to get the upper hand. Military campaigns of this length are *never* one-sided, after all.
I'm glad to see the contrast between the Peep 'regular Navy' officers, and the State Security thugs. It seems obvious that StateSec's goons are cast in the same spiritual mould as Hitler's SS (even the initials...) I grant that the purpose and political requirements of StateSec do not require naval expertise of the highest calibre, but I found their personnel to be just a little too 'dumb Imperial stormtrooper'-like for my taste. On the other hand, they *were* up against Chief Harkness, a personage whom even the RMN, not to mention the Marines, has had trouble dealing with on occasion.
My biggest single complaint is that this book, much like Lucas's "Empire Strikes Back" sort of leaves you hanging at the end. The general feeling I got was "So our heroes are OK for the moment, but..." Nevertheless, an excellent read, and I'm waiting with bated breath for the eight volume to come out. Keep writing, Mr. Weber!
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on January 27, 2004
After the superb 'On Basilisk Station,' 'In Enemy Hands' is my favorite HH novel. As the war starts turning in Manticore's favor, Honor is captured by recurring Peep admiral Lester Tourville. Cordelia Ransom, Citizen Committeewoman for Public Information, takes Honor aboard her flagship and announces that Honor will be executed for the events of OBS (remember, she was tried in absentia in the PRH). The rest of the story follows our heroes (including old series favs like McKeon, Venizelos, Tremaine, and Harkness) and Honor aboard Ransom's battlecruiser as it voyages to the secret Peep prison known as Hell... and Honor's appointment with the gallows. A good deal of the story is in character interaction, showing how the various members of Honor's crew (and Honor herself) deal with the brutality of their State Security (SS--get it?) captors. There is, though, quite the battle in the end, by far my favorite action sequence in an HH book. Longtime fans might shed a few tears as some old friends don't make it out alive, but the experience is definitely rewarding. This book ends in something of a cliffhanger, so you'll want the next one, 'Echoes of Honor,' on-hand as soon as you finish!
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on October 15, 2002
If you have read the previous novels, then you get the score. Honor Harrington is back in action leading a multi-national force, as the war with the Peoples Republic of Haven heats up. Honor is joined by some of her old friends from previous novels, namely Scotty Tremaine, Alistair Mckenon, and good ole' Harkness.
Reading about these wonderful characters again is a real treat.
Reading about Honor Harrington Super Woman, is getting to be a real pain.
In the beginning of this book, we see the Royal Manticoran Navy gearing up for a major offensive against the PRH. We get an inside look into further "Peep" politics, and future RMN weapons.
We also get a page after page of dialogue and character insights about Honor Harrington. From these insights we learn this about Honor Harrington. Since Basilisk Station Honor is the second highest ranking officer in the Grayson Navy (second most powerful fleet in the Manticoran Alliance). She is the most important political figure on Grayson. She is also a brilliant tactical officer (then again we already knew that), and something of a genius with strategic warfare since in Flag in Exile, after surviving a pinance crash and people trying to kill her she then has a sword fight with a master of the blade (and wins of course). After all that she then commands a small yet powerful fleet of Grayson ships to defeat a PRH fleet almost three times it's size. She does this with 1 hour of sleep mind you. Honor is the greatest martial artist in the RMN, and possibly the strongest and tallest human to ever exit. Then there is here knowledge about treecats, she apparently knows more about these creatures than any other person in the galaxy. And to top it all off she is quite beautiful (though she thinks she is ugly).
That in a nutshell is Honor Harrington. She is hot, she is tough, she can do everything anyone else can, only 4 times better. And everyone loves her for it because she is "modest".
Webster continues to write with that style for adventure, and while I rather liked Harrington in the outset, she is becomming a real trial to read. The woman can basically do anything to perfection and it's getting pretty darn annoying. Anytime someone mentions Harrington in the book, they go into almost a paragraph about how awesome she is. I have no real problem with that, but tone it down. I don't need to have every character in the universe go on and on about how great she is.
What is probably worst, is that she will often talk about how great she is. But will do so in a modest way and never out loud.
It's tiresome. I would love for nothing else than for another RMN female captain come up and kick the ...out of her then toss that damn 'cat Nimitz out of an airlock.
I don't mind her being good at being a captain, or being able to fight. But when she is beating the ... out of Marines, out thinking admirals, enough is enough.
This book is more of the same, with the exception of the cliffhanger ending.
Aside from Honor, the book is great. Good plot, and great action. And if you love Chief Harkness, you will love this book.
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on December 21, 2003
Many people have complained that Weber is becoming increasingly annoying in the way he describes HH. Yes she seems to be Superwoman but she has quite a few flaws - the biggest of which is the moving element of this book's plot. She can't put herself first and that is why she runs away from Hamish and straight into the Peep's hands. We've always known about her temper is a source of weakness (as well as strength). She can't sing to save her life, she grew up thinking she was ugly (something that's very hard to get over even in adulthood) and she suck's at math. She might have lesser flaws than someone else but she has the advantages to go with them. Charisma, discipline, single minded determination, love for her work and a great deal of intelligence. People worship movie stars these days for far, far less - Can you blame a planet like Grayson for worshipping her.
This book was good, particularly because it shows that Honor is human. She's imprisoned and humiliated by SS troops that everybody says are to stupid to live. But remember what their job is - They're not supposed to fight the enemy outside, they're supposed to prevent the navy from launching "another" coup. Remember also that Weber has forever told us that the Peep education system sucks, so if you're going to recruit from the Dolist ranks watch dogs for the navy this is the best you can do.
My favorite part of this book is the point where Honor is removed from the action which allows her people to take the center stage for a change (like Harkness and Alastair). It also provides us with a better look into the enemy and it's officers. We learn things about the relationship between The Navy and the SS. We finally get to meet Cordelia Ransom and we revel at her untimely demise. And finally it sets the stage for future stories. This is a good book.
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on September 27, 2002
Weber had a couple of good books in him (<b>STRONGLY</b> recommend <i>On Basilisk Station</i>) that got pretty close to the Hornblower average... and then we have his later work. I have two major quarrels with his later novels. One, that silly tree-cat is getting more and more human and telepathic in each subsequent book and pretty soon, I expect Nimitz to be channelling the ghost of his namesake and directly advising Honor on naval strategy. Second, Honor is becoming darn near omnipotent and each and every Manticoran can whip ten times his/her weight in Peeps. If its Harkness, its 20 times. If its Harrington, 100 times. Literally. She's a heavy worlder and can beat anyone but the Fleet Champion in Butt Kicking... wait, she does beat him as well, doesn't she?
See, Weber, what makes the Hornblower books classics is that he was not a superman, unlike Superwoman Harrington in your later ones. And what is this fascination with her "contralto" voice and great looks (obvious to everyone else but her)?
And lets lay off the too obvious symbolism: for crying out loud, State Security. The 'good' naval regulars and the evil but incredibly stupid SS goons? We can't figure out for ourselves what is going on? Who the bad guys are? Stupid attempts to be clever are yet one more indicator of bad writing and a mediocre talent.
BTW, to those readers who think that the Peeps are supposed to be Nazi Germany, they aren't. In spite of the "SS" stupidities, the Peeps are the Soviets (with a bit of French 'Revolutionary Terror' thrown in) not the Nazis. The political commisars (although the Nazis also used them, they were nowhere as important as in the old Soviet system), the SS goons behavior, the overly regimented tactical doctrines, the low technological competence levels of Peep/SS troops, etc. Weber was just smart enough to come up with "State Security" to show to less intelligent readers who the bad guys are but obviously couldn't come up with something for KGB or NKVD.
I still buy the books--used--since they are better than most of the junk out there but Forester (or even Pournelle) he aint.
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on September 17, 2000
My second Honour Harrington novel, which now has me firmly resolved to go back to the beginning and start from the first to catch up. There is a sense of dramatic irony which Weber takes full advantage of. We know from the back-cover description that Honour gets captured; it is what the novel is about after all. So as certain decisions take her closer to that end, it makes you scream "look out behind you" with a sense of exciting anticipation: "how is Honour going to get out of this one?" Action, character and plot are all handled excellently: background and motivation dealt with in an intelligent manner rather than two-dimensionally. Generally the novel goes off in new directions, away from pure space-battles of the last few novels. I can see further diversions ahead as the novels continue (as they must, please as this novel ended on a great 'to be continued...'). Recommended SF action. One note on quality: my edition fell apart during reading. Perhaps this is a one-off, but I'm going to read the next book very carefully.
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on December 5, 1999
Honor is in command of a joint Manticoran Graysonian squadron when it is intercepted by an unusually well commanded Peep squadron. Despite her best efforts, Honor's ship is forced to surrender to the Peeps and she is placed in custody of the commanding officer who is quite preparedto accept her parole. Unfortunately, his political officer is of another mind and forces the commander to transfer Honor to 'Civilian' imprisonment where she is forced to endure all forms of degradation. Finally handed over to the Peeps head of publicity - a cold hearted woman by the name of Cordelia Ransome, she is tortured even more and her 'cat Nimitz finds himself the target of Ransome's ire. When all seems bleakest, help is offered from an apparent renegade and the Manticorans find themselves free to escape. Only trouble is that the only place they can go is their destination; the Peep's most secret prison planet!
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on August 29, 1998
Here it is! The next in the exciting Honor Harrington series! Honor's orders take her into an ambush where she is outnumbered, outgunned, and unable to run, she has two options: see the people under her command die in a hopeless battle...or surrender them - and herself - to the Peeps. At least the People's Navy promises to treat their prisoners honorably. Honor finds herself bound for a prison planet aptly named "Hell"...and her scheduled execution. She is put into solitary confinement, separated from her officers and her treecat Nimitz, and subjected to systematic humiliation by her gaolers. Her future has become both bleak and short. Yet bad as things look, they're about to get worse...for the Peeps.
***I believe David Weber may be the master of sci-fi, military, and technical writing!***
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on January 8, 1999
A good read if you are already into the series, but not the book to sell you on the series.
The parallels between this series and the Hornblower series are deliberate, although Honor leans more toward the main character of Perils of Pauline than H. Hornblower. But Honor is as tough as sharkskin and as cagey as a Sackett when it comes to taking punishment and maneuvering her opponents into acts that will ruin their day.
David Weber has clearly used the conflicts between England and France in the 18th and 19th centuries as the outline for this series. But that's all right! He does it quite well and the series is internally consistent. Mr. Weber is doing us a great service in continuing this series. We can do no less than buy his books to reward him.
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