Just a note: It’s clear from Weber’s introduction to this book that he’s aware of the various problems noted in reviews of his recent books–especially Honor’s apparent immortality and the tale’s apparently uncontrollable sprawl, both of which I’ve complained about. Perhaps he’ll get things under control.
New review on June 2010 reread:
I’ve downgraded my rating slightly. This is the weakest book in the series. Roughly 250 of the first 400 pages of this book are a rehash of the backstory, and are really quite tiresome. Moreover, the characters in the new Mesan Alignment story line are weakly drawn. And it’s quite common in this novel for a character’s attention to wander in mid-conversation so Weber can fill in the backstory; three pages later we snap back to the current reality. All of this makes for rather heavy reading.
Finally we get to the new story, and things improve. Like most Weber stories, the characters and situations are well-realized, and it’s clear that (in Weber’s mind) we’re into the new mainline for the Manticore stories. I really like this stuff, but the high tax at the beginning is quite off-putting.
And a curiosity: One of the main-but-short-lived characters in this story is Admiral Josef Byng of the Solarian Navy, on assignment to the Office of Frontier Security. (Byng, by the way, is portrayed far more sympathetically than any of the Mesans, even though he’s the book’s clearest villain.) It’s really unlikely that Weber doesn’t know that an Admiral Byng played an important role in the history of the real Royal Navy, so it’s oddly annoying that he’d use such a distracting name.
This review was originally published on LibraryThing.