I've now reached that place in this series where I am reading this one for the first time. I can honestly say that this is...moreAt All Costs by David Weber
I've now reached that place in this series where I am reading this one for the first time. I can honestly say that this is another of those turning points. Where the previous book War of Honor was long with few significant space battles, this book still has a lot of world building exposition pertaining to the arms race and the political intrigue, but I think David Weber wisely put a fair amount of action and space conflicts.
This book also is the first book to make it very clear that the message David means to send is that war is hell and no matter how hard the characters try to avoid it something or someone conspires to throw them directly into it and each character is now doing their duty on either side of the fight while resisting the whole process.
But when all is said and done when the battle arrives it is no holds barred and pulling out all the stops for either side to do their best. Still, because of all the time spent on building the readers knowledge of the armament being used on both sides with the bulk of description heavy toward Manticore it sometimes seems a foregone conclusion who will win and the true score card is the one that keeps track of which of Honor's friends will not come home from battle.
The Solar League plays heavy in things this time, though it appears they have had their hand in things from the beginning. So if it was hard enough to keep up with all the intrigue in Haven and Manticore now we add the Solar League and it's a real mess keeping up.
Once again and always I advise starting at the beginning of this series and work your way up the numbers to acclimate to David's style of writing and the Long Story that he creates. Although I will say this much if you want to start close to the end this one has the most coherent storyline to update the new reader to what's been happening and the best examples of the space conflicts David does so well. It's the best of most worlds and also contains all the juicy details about Honor Harrington and how she becomes Honor Alexander-Harrington.
The story begins where War of Honor left off. Haven has struck back into war from the belief that Manticore has been negotiating in bad faith, though the reader knows better from what we do know of what happened in that book. Now Haven's government and military must deal with the truth as it begins to unfold. The realization that they have dug themselves in deep because events have managed to isolate them from any probable chance of reinstating negotiations.
They still try but there are forces out there conspiring to make sure that negotiations never happen so the war must go on while the balance shifts back and forth with bold moves from both sides causing the enemy all sorts of trouble. Finally things escalate to a point where the ambitions of both sides have grown in proportion to the increasing deadliness of the arms. When everything hits the fan there will be no way to avoid mass casualties.
David Weber weaves a convincing story where no one can be the winner and no one can back down. Though some times gruelingly long this one continues the story begun in War of Honor and it looks as though it will continue into the Mission of Honor. Racking up a total of over 2400 pages of Honor Harrington history.
I recommend this to all fans of Honor Harrington and those who like SFF with political intrigue and suspense and some awesome world building.
Fortunately the next novel is available so when you get to the end and want to know more; you can just swing right into Mission of Honor. Good Reading to you.
Mission of Honor (Honor Harrington Series #12) by David Weber
This piece is the crowning of a three book arc that leads into the next arc of stories in...moreMission of Honor (Honor Harrington Series #12) by David Weber
This piece is the crowning of a three book arc that leads into the next arc of stories in the never-ending story of Honor Harrington. David apparently had originally meant to kill off this main character somewhere along the line but she's a bit more stubborn than that and just like all Manticorans - they don't 'run scared' worth a damn.
There is a lot to love about this book as long as you are okay with all the political and military procedural exposition. It looks like the focus is on a new set of bad guys so that all our hero's on both the Manticore and Haven fronts will get a break if they can just piece together a bit of peace between them.
We have in this book a parallel to the Pearl Harbor in a lot of life lost to a sneak attack. There is on awesome piece where David Weber focuses on Hamish as he observes Honor for the first time ever he gets to see the Salamander. It leaves him both chilled and in awe but you have to read it. I'd worry about it being a spoiler but its the inside page blurb piece in my book.
We get to see Michelle Henke in action again and she is almost a good at this stuff as Honor, but she admittedly doesn't have the cool detachment that is evident in the Salamander.
So of the last three novels this one and the previous are real gems though the one before them is a bit of a speed-bump at the beginning. Overall the three make a nice set and can be considered some of David Weber's best or hardest to get through depending on what the reader is looking for. I love characters over the procedure and exposition but I have to admit that David has won me over to his way of thinking for these books.
Yet another set the reader can love or hate or love to hate.
Great SFF for fans of the Military Political intrigue and procedure.
When the editors away the author will play-but I think he deserves the chance.
Stormdancer (The Lotus War Book One) by Jay Kristoff
This book is marketed as Japanese Steam-Punk and that alone is intriguing. I have often heard peop...moreStormdancer (The Lotus War Book One) by Jay Kristoff
This book is marketed as Japanese Steam-Punk and that alone is intriguing. I have often heard people ask if there were other steam-punk novels than those centered on Great Britain and the European nations. This seems almost designed to fit that bill and for that reason it stood as part of the reason I waited before reading this. I always read the reviews along with a sampling of the beginning and I particularly pay attention to the bad reviews. Bad reviews range most generally between short and not very informative to a few sentences that leave me puzzled. This one for some reason garnered a few lengthy almost vindictive reviews and after reading those I decided to let it sit till I had a moment to read it with a more open mind. That moment came and I'm glad I waited because: although there are some rather suspect style decisions in the author's approach, there is a rather entertaining and thought provoking plot sandwiched between all the world building. I give Jay Kristoff high marks for that, but there were some puzzling things that I'd like to mention.
First of all this is not Japanese Steam-punk. At best it is Shima Imperium Steam-punk. It's an alternate reality and though(by the maps supplied) it manages to be central to what we consider Japan; it is an Imperium that seems to extend much farther than that and is the dominant Kingdom on this alternate planet. I for one do not have a problem with that setup and the anachronisms that appear throughout when trying to compare this to our world. In fact; even though I have not yet become an expert on Steam-punk, I believe one qualifier is that the story will contain some anachronisms. I will, though, make the observation that there are certain efforts by Jay Kristoff to legitimatize the Japanese setting through the use of certain words. Some of these are in the dialogue and do seem to become a bit annoying; though I found I was annoyed by different reasons than some readers. I felt like it was just a bad style choice.
What I mean by that is that the author chose to have the characters speaking English and my thought is that when that is done it might be prudent to avoid certain expressions like; it's only one word ; or it's two simple syllables. But personally that wasn't at all that annoying because the meaning comes through anyway. I'm looking more at other novels where the characters language is not English but they speak English. Usually if the author chooses to have them momentarily speak their language natively it is for entire phrases and sometimes they even append a translation. Sometimes they don't translate and I think they think it's just fun to make you look it up. Not that often have I seen single words singled out to consistently replace single common words and that's what happens here in the dialogue. The words Hai, Sama, and Aiya are placed in the dialogue almost as though they are a reminder for the writer that this characters are pseudo Japanese or worse yet that he thinks that the reader will forget that fact. For the record I got that notion in the first couple of pages and never needed any prompts to continue the illusion. I could not find any valid justification for not using the English equivalents to these words. That's just me though.
The next complaint I have is the decision to make the story drag until about 24% of the way through somewhere about 11 chapters and 78 pages the world building comes to a grinding halt and we finally see character development. Up until this point we have a very young Yukiko who acts well beyond her age but is being defined in a rather stiff manner and we only occasionally see flashbacks that explain possibly why she acts so mature. It is not until this 11th chapter that we get a closer look at her and her father and their relationship and how his drive to capture the Arashitora coupled with his strange sense of honor and loyalty to the Shogun can easily eclipse even his love and compassion for his daughter. And we see how despite her love and sense of honor and loyalty to her father she is still at best the rebellious teen who is trying to reconcile her own sense of values against those being imposed upon her while respectfully remaining a dutiful daughter. This coupled with the discovery that the Arashitora are still alive and they have an opportunity to capture it all conspire to put their relationship to task. Despite the intense action in the scene this is a highly emotionally charged scene that defines the entire book. I'm just amazed that there are a large number of people who make it this far.
From this point forward the last three quarters of the novel make this worth reading.
This is where the story began for me and when I go back I can find nothing in the previous ten chapters that are essential to driving the story. What little bit of world building that might be necessary and the back-story could have been fitted in anywhere inside what remains and there honestly is a whole lot of world building that seems to be trying to establish the Japanese connection that I found unnecessary to this story. Terms such as shakuhachi flute, yakuza, split-toed tabi socks, kimonos and an infinite array of others that seem mostly to be trying to create validation for a setting that is, at best, a caricature to that setting. The incessant nonstop world building in this case might be the reason some people have such fierce objection to the misuse of a few words. For me it was fortunate that I ignored the glossary at the end and mentally inserted my own best guess to the English word that should have been there: and moved on.
One of the strongest things I judge a novel on is whether it entertains me and this book did despite how long it took to get there. I do think it could have been better if the author could have stepped back and realized that he needed to create the alternate world he was writing about; as opposed to the flimsy caricature of a world he ended up with. Good world building is when the author builds a world that is consistent within itself and I think that this is that. I also think it's more difficult to see this because of having to look around the extra hand-waving with pseudo historic references that seem mostly unnecessary to driving the plot forward.
I would recommend this to SFF fans and lovers of Steam-punk with the caveat that the reader should not expect historic and cultural accuracy. And I give it high marks but could have given it the top rating if there had been some balance in the world building.