This book was fantastic, really I could leave it at that but I won't of course. I read the first ten books in this series...moreWARNING SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!
This book was fantastic, really I could leave it at that but I won't of course. I read the first ten books in this series a while ago...well not all at once, I read books 7-10 (with books 7-9 being re-reads) when I started college and then studying got in the way. Now I have a little more time now that most of my pre-req's (read useless classes) are out of the way and have decided to start from ground zero and work my way up to the current time in the series. (Which with my habit of reading 5-7 books at a time will take me till 2014...) 'The Honor of the Queen' was a book I read way back in my Junior year of high school when I first discovered Honor Harrington back in 1997. I instantly fell in love with the series because of book two, I read it again back in 2004 when I started re-reading the series again only to get sidetracked after book 6, I loved it even more then. Now, eight years later and with my own writing coming along as well as my maturity as a thinker, I can honestly say that this book has gotten better with age. Seriously.
War between the 'People's' Republic of Haven and the Star Kingdom of Manticore is coming, the diplomats can't stop it no matter how hard they try. As a consequence both sides seek alliances amongst the un-aligned powers in their district of the known galaxy. Neither the People's Republic nor the Star Kingdom are exactly excited about the prospects with war against each other, and I think this is where Weber earns a star in my book. having read up to book 10 I can say that Weber has a bad habit later in the series of being a little too black and white as comes to his characters, the good guys are too good the bad guys too bad etc...he doesn't make that mistake in this one. The People's Republic respects, albeit grudgingly, the Star Kingdom and vice-versa and neither sides military is anxious about getting into a killing contest. But they all know it's going down at some point. Enter the Endicott and Yeltsin systems and the planets Masada and Grayson respectively. Both were founded by colonists from Earth who hailed from the Mid-West US and who were Christian separatists who viewed modern society as evil and sought to find a low tech utopia to escape too...it failed. The planet Grayson was settled first and its atmosphere (with a high metal content) literally tried to kill the colonists, and mostly succeeded. Then a theological dispute devolved into open war between two factions with both sides calling each other 'Apostate' and 'Heretic' (gee, sounds like Church) and having a rousing old time killing each other in batch numbers. Eventually the forces of 'The Church of Humanity Unchained' (the good guys) defeated 'The Faithful' (the bad guys) and exiled them to the planet Masada in the neighboring star system Endicott. Only one catch, Masada WAS the paradise the original colonists had been dreaming of with awesome climates capable of sustaining life nearly all across the globe as well as tremendously high crop yields. Talk about irony. Oh, and the Masadan's vowed to return and wipe the Grayson's off the galactic map. Enter Honor Harrington and her new Heavy Cruiser 'Fearless' as part of a diplomatic/military mission to bring Grayson into the Manticoran Alliance. Enter Alfredo Yu and Thomas Theisman of the People's Republic Navy to bring Masada into an Havenit Alliance, as well as Yu's Battle Cruiser the 'Saladin'. (NOTE: Heavy Cruisers are smaller than Battle Cruisers) Only both teams have a serious problem: they're dealing with religious people who are stuck in a Medival mode of thought. The people of Grayson have advanced tremendously in the past few centuries, they've rediscovered space travel and have even built a small yet efficient navy (though it can't really cross the stars except to Endicott) and their technology while less advanced then either Havens or Manticores is quite good and showcases that genetic Yankee ingenuity of its citizens. They have orbital farms, factories and shipyards as well as fission power stations, all to power the domed citys and habitats below...domed because the world still tries to kill people who live there. But the problem with all of this is that many of the Manticorans, including Honor, are women. Now to us this isn't a big deal nor should it be, a woman after all can do pretty much anything a man can do and both the People's Republic and Manticore have women in the highest positions of authority and sexism in both states is a laughable notion. Same with racism and religious discrimination. However the same can not be said of Grayson. Oh they're not racist, but they are sexist...extremely so. And Masada is even worse. Tensions mount and Honor even leaves with 'Fearless' on a convoy escort run to avoid dealing with the Graysons any further...right when Masada and their Haven allies launch Operation Jericho, they're bid to conquer Grayson. The Grayson and Manticorna naval forces must unite (sans Honor) under Manticoran Admiral and head of the mission Raoul Courvosier to stop the Masadan's with their 'loaned' People's Navy vessels in support. The result is a massacre although the Masadans are stopped. Honor returns only to find out that Admiral Courvosier, an old friend and like a second father, died in the fighting and that now she is the senior officer in charge. Except, the Grayson's don't want to follower her orders because she's a woman and it takes Honor meeting with the Grayson leader (Called Protector of the Faith or simply Protector) and then personally foiling an assasination attempt (Operation Maccabeus) of the Protector for the Graysons to come around. Meanwhile both Yu and Theisman of the People's Republic come to the right conclusion that the Masadans are mentally unstable as well as downright mad and decide to pull out of the mission, the People's diplomatic envoy agrees and tries to cover long enough for both Theisman in the PNS 'Breslau' and Yu in the PNS 'Saladin' to withdraw back to People's space. Unfortunately fate intervenes in both cases. Yu is overall head of the People's mission and he is horrified to discover that the Masadans have decided to literally nuke the Graysons out of existence. The bad guys the People's Republic might be but Weber shows all of the People's Republic characters in this book in a good light and though they're the 'bad guys' they do NOT make war on civilians. Yu then finds out that the Masadans aboard his shape are goint to launch an operation to seize his vessel out from under him, forcing him and some of his crew to fight through the ship (one of the coolest scenes in the book actually, showcases the People's Marines as badasses too) to escape. Theisman and the PNS 'Breslau' are stuck monitoring Blackbird base, a Masadan outpost secretly constructed in the Yeltsin system on the moon orbiting an outer system gas giant. Blackbird gets trashed by the Manticoran/Grayson forces and Theisman has no choice but to defend himself, and showcases that although the Manticorans DO have a defeinite technological advantage (damn that capitalist free market system) the Manticorans do not own the market on competent officers. Theisman kicks ass, period. But even so he is forced to surrender. On Balckbird itself Honor uncovers the horrible truth that the Masadans had been torturing Manticoran POW's...especially the woman, using them as sex slaves. She almost kills some of the Masadan POW's until the Graysons assure her that after a VERY fair trial, they will be hanged as criminals in both a military and a religious court. Then the worse news comes. Theisman kicked so much tail that a third of the remaining Manticoran naval task force (shot to pieces anyway by now) must run home to Manticore both to repair but also to bring in reinforcements. And that's when the 'Saladin' returns. Crewed by Masadans who are unfamiliar with modern technology they still fight one of the most epic ship on ship encounters in science fiction. Weber did an excellent job here. None of the Havenites (or 'Peeps' as the Manticorans call them) are heartless, evil types. They're all, actually, good people simply doing a job. Yu especially is a great character. He's a self made man (which Weber can't help but to do some political preaching here going into the dangers of an overly communal way of life that engenders little loyalty to a state especially from extraordinary individuals like Yu who are self made and can rise on their own initiative, something that to a Communist/Socialist state like the 'People's' Republic makes Yu a danger to his own side) and as such he feels little loyalty to a system desigend to keep people dependant on the machine. He will be ehard of again in this series as one of the main characters later on. Thiesman will as well, on an even higher level than Yu. Both men are and will be portrayed as honorable, brilliant and even interesting. And Weber should have kept that trend going, instead he has a bad habit of making his politics too black and white, my only complaint. Overall this is still my favorite book of the series, matched only by books 5 (Flag in Exile) and 10 (War of Honor) and I highly reccomend it to anyone. Great sci-fi.(less)
This is, as usual, another fine book by Dennis Showalter. Frederick the Great's story is told well in this book, warts and all. Showalter does tell mor...moreThis is, as usual, another fine book by Dennis Showalter. Frederick the Great's story is told well in this book, warts and all. Showalter does tell more than just the military aspect of this story, he also delves into the social, economic and cultural aspects of well but the focus is the military side. If you want to know why Frederick is still considered one of history's greatest generals, read this book. Too bad there weren't more works written on the military history of the 18th century...(less)
Over a month ago I decided that since this series has grown tremendously (what with two spin-off side stories that tie into the whole as well as five...moreOver a month ago I decided that since this series has grown tremendously (what with two spin-off side stories that tie into the whole as well as five short story anthology books as well as three published 'main line' novels I haven't read yet...) that I would go back to the start and re-read the entire series. Thus far it is better than it was several years ago when I read the first six books the second time. Third time is either the charm or this story is really that good. I prefer the latter. I had also stated that books II (The Honor of the Queen), V (Flag in Exile) and X (War of Honor...the last one I read)were the best ones of the series. Now I have to add book III 'The Short Victorious War.' This is the book where the waiting and the power play's between the 'People's' Republic of Haven and the Star Kingdom of Manticore and her Alliance comes to a head in the largest shooting war in galactic history. The People's Republic if Haven is a state in free fall. Her elites, the 'Legislaturalists' are losing their grip on power largely because the bottom has finally and truly fallen out of the Socialist economy. The 'Proles' are no longer able to sustain themselves by living off the Dole. And the government can no longer provide for the Dole as well as National Security combined. So the proles begin to revolt. Civil strife begins to tear the People's Republic from the inside out. The People's Navy (and assumed the rest of the Military) is suffering from the effects of the 'Democratized Educational System' which doesn't really do much in the way of educating much of anybody any longer. As the Navy rapes foreign sovereign systems of their economies to provide for the Dole, so the Navy must start to think of raping their conquests for trained personnel as well. As a result the efficiency and combat effectiveness of the People's Armed Forces as well as their technology base suffers greatly. Enter Robert S. Pierre (yes, a play on Robespierre of the French Revolution) and his Committee of Public Safety; an organization hidden within an organization that is waiting for the Legislaturalist government to do something stupid (which Pierre predicts spot on by the way) in order for them to stage a coup and take over Haven's government. In Manticore and their Alliance the tension is ratcheted up as the People's Military's 'Operation Argus' (an intelligence gathering operation inside Alliance space) has Manticoran and Allaince senior officers worrying over what will come next. A series of deadly incidents slowly is bringing the two states to the brink of a war that neither sides Military personnel actually want. But war occurs anyway...Haven wanted a 'Short and Victorious War' to boost the support and morale of the civilian population while providing fresh plunder to translate into Dole payouts. What they got was anything but short or victorious. Playing directly into the hands of Mr. Pierre. The title for the book is a quote from the an officer of the Czarist Court of Nicholas II shortly before the Russo-Japanese War. This particular officer asserted that what Russia needed was a 'short, victorious war' to unite the peasants back under Imperial rule. Instead they got a long, bloody defeat at the hands of the Japanese. Weber does very well here in this book, his villains have a certain sense of nobility all of their won as well as a purpose that is actually not selfish. (As the series progresses Weber drops this habit and begins to write characters that too often come close to becoming black and white cut outs) The officer's of the People's Military are (mostly) made out to be competent people doing their job to the best of their abilities while much of the lack of professionalism and inner tension comes form the Manticoran Military officers. (Pavel Young...enough said) And as always there is Honor Harrington, once again she too emerges from the fire, unscathed but formed ever so slightly into the greatness she will one day become. Very good read.If you like strong female characters (there are several, from both sides), realistic technology and science, military action and simply a good story then read this series.(less)
This review also covers the previous volume: 'Crisis in the Snows.'
The authors' two volume treatise on the 1807 Polish campaign is, in my opinion, a m...moreThis review also covers the previous volume: 'Crisis in the Snows.'
The authors' two volume treatise on the 1807 Polish campaign is, in my opinion, a masterpiece of military history. Easily these two books are among the finest works on the Napoleonic Wars I've ever read. Napoleon's conquest of Prussia left him in a state of war with the Czar's Empire. The first phase of Napoleon's campaign ended in the tactical defeat at the bloody Battle of Eylau in February 1807. There the Russians clobbered La Grande' Armee' and handed Napoleon his first setback. Book II (this one) opens with the aftermath of Eylau and Napoleon's recuperation. The periphery campaigns, especially the siege of Danzig, ended well for the French forces and ultimately, despite some very tough fighting and a few setbacks, Napoleon defeated the Russians at the Battle of Friedland and forced Czar Alexander into a peace. These books are wonderful and despite a few spelling errors and typos they are a great read.(less)
Good book. Covers a little known aspect of the Civil War. Also isn't shy of exposing some little known facts about the era and area (Louisiana, Texas...moreGood book. Covers a little known aspect of the Civil War. Also isn't shy of exposing some little known facts about the era and area (Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas) in general: African American Confederate soldiers (volunteers not always slaves), African American slaveholders, the abuse given to African American troops in the Union Army by their White officers. (Common in some unlucky units.) The endemic White Supremacist feelings rampant on both sides, the awful corruption within the Union political and military establishments. If you're well read on the war, none of this should come as a surprise especially if you read both viewpoints on the war (the Idealistic James McPherson side as well as the Libertarian side. Both sides have their points, and as always the truth is usually in the middle).
As for the main narrative it is good. Mitcham does a good job setting the stage and showing both sides adequately although the star of the show so to speak is Confederate General Richard Taylor who wages one of the most brilliant campaigns in American military history and literally routes a much, much larger combined Union Army/Navy force.
If you've not read anything on the campaign give this book a shot. It serves as a good companion to Gary Joiner's 'Through the Howling Wilderness.' But be forewarned: this period of the war saw things as having become very ugly. Atrocities were common on both sides and the fighting was particularly vicious.
I hesitated to give this book a five star review; not due to any inaccuracy on the behalf of the author or the writing style being dry. My only reason...moreI hesitated to give this book a five star review; not due to any inaccuracy on the behalf of the author or the writing style being dry. My only reason was that the book was brief at 207 pages of main text and for a topic of such magnitude I felt it should have been longer. However, as a primer for anyone wanting to know the role of the Waffen-SS in the decisive Battle for Normandy I would steer everyone to this book before reading Michael Reynolds' works. The author himself served in the Canadian Army as an officer and he brings much military expertise to his tale, something that is comforting when one reads Military History as oft times it is face palmingly annoying to read a historian who knows nothing about Military life or principles writing about the military. And since John English is himself Canadian he highlights the role of the Canadians in the Battle of Normandy and their incredibly bloody affairs with the Waffen-SS. This was a huge draw for me as there is not too much available that highlights the role that Canada played in the Second World War and certainly they were very tough and good soldiers, as this book attests. The book starts with a brief overview of the creation of the Waffen-SS (which was the armed arm of Hitler's politically ideological bodyguard unit that was originally designed to protect Hitler against the Sturmabteilung (SA)) The author then takes us to the Eastern Front where the Waffen-SS received their baptism of fire...and their barbarous nature was born. English points out that this was largely due to the original batch of soldiers and junior officers being dredged up from the ranks of guards of the Death Camps. The Waffen-SS fought with a nihilism that would make medieval Christian warriors cringe in fright. In almost every encounter with Soviet civilians the Waffen-SS left behind piles of corpses and established themselves as the ideological spear-tip of Hitler's racist empire. Even though the Wehrmacht was itself implicit in many such crimes, even they were disgusted by the barbaric behavior of the Waffen-SS and were quite critical of the fighting abilities of these 'political soldiers'. The Waffen-SS tended to fight with far more zeal then common sense and took horrendous losses as a consequence. This would be a symptom that the Waffen-SS would bring with them to the blood soaked battlefields of Normandy. English points out early on in his work that during the Battle for Normandy and the War on the Western Front in general, both sides (Allies and Germans) were responsible for war crimes, however he points out that most of these were in the heat of passion, revenge killings of prisoners taken while fighting still raged to avenge the loss of comrades. Both sides did this frequently he points out, however the Allies and the Americans in particular viewed the Wehrmacht almost as gentleman soldiers (the 2nd Panzer Division from Vienna Austria which fought primarily the Americans had the reputation for being 'gentleman warriors' amongst the Americans and there was little fear of Americans being harmed if they were taken prisoner by that unit) however, the exact opposite was true in regards to the Waffen-SS. While English points out that some Waffen-SS units did behave themselves (usually because, he points out, they had a former Wehrmacht officer in charge of them who held a tight reign of discipline over the men) most did not. The Canadians especially seemed to be the targets of SS hatred as hundreds of their men who had been taken prisoner during the course of the fighting were murdered. (The Canadians had a fearsome reputation amongst the German military establishment that dated back to WWI which filtered down to the leadership of the Waffen-SS) Needless to say Henry Crear in charge of the Canadian forces in Normandy gave out orders to warn his men that 'surrendering to the SS invited death.' As for their fighting abilities go, however, English has nothing but praise for the Waffen-SS. Granted, it helped that their equipment was universally better than that which the Allies used but even so they fought with a skill that sorely tested the Allies whenever they were met. And often their skill met battlefield victory. The bloodiest day in Canadian military history was Operation Spring, an attempt to break through the German lines and break their grip on Normandy. The Waffen-SS shot the Canadians to pieces and even pushed them back beyond their starting line in several places before the day was over. Needless to say, 'Spring' was a disaster as were many encounters with the Waffen-SS. And the Waffen-SS (and the Germans in general) fought outnumbered, over matched in firepower and with no air support. That's how good those fanatics really were. He does point out though the rude awakening the Waffen-SS received when they realized that even though the Allies were all green and un-seasoned troops, they fought better than the Soviets and where Soviet troops would collapse into route and allow the Germans to slaughter them, the Allies would simply form a circle and fight on despite the odds. That's the hallmark of a good soldier. Overall the book is very good and is highly recommended to anyone who wants to know just how damned tough it was to win the Battle of Normandy. Even at the very end, when the Allies were closing the massive jaws around the Germans trapped in the Falaise Pocket, the Waffen-SS, despite having been hammered time after time, rallied for one more desperate offensive to break into the pocket and hold the jaws open long enough to allow a huge portion of the trapped German forces to escape to fight another day. It was one of the most remarkable exploits in military history and of the Second World War certainly. But to paraphrase the author: "It is still beyond reasoning why these men fought so heroically for a cause that God Himself had long ago abandoned." (less)