Annette's Reviews > At All Costs

At All Costs by David Weber
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Jun 08, 2011

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bookshelves: sci-fi
Read in June, 2011

Somehow after reading several Neal Stephenson novels, Weber's verbosity has become More irritating, not less. Stephenson's critics complain that he needs a good, strong, editor, but after reading the Quicksilver series I really don't know what I'd cut. On the other hand, it would be simplicity itself to scale back a Harrington novel by 30% or more. Seriously, do we Really need a blow-by-blow on a signed treecat conversation?!
The other traditional complaints apply as well: Harrington is more than a little too perfect, to the point of a more than occasional wince from the reader, and a good number of the characters are just too good to be true as well - too honorable, too honest, too understanding...
And yet, after I waded through the first 50 or 75 pages, I was hooked and kept reading eagerly all the way through the Battle of Manticore. And I just placed holds on a couple other anthologies in the series so I could figure out what actually happened on Torch / Verdant Vista.

(Which, of course, brings me to another complaint. The Honorverse has fractured considerably by this point, and simply reading all of the books in the Honor series itself is going to leave a reader in the dark about a few minor (or not so minor) points. It'd been a year since I read the Honor book before this one, and I spent a long time wondering if I'd simply forgotten a whole series of plot points. Turns out I hadn't: they're covered in spin-off series. But even reading through the Honorverse Wiki doesn't entirely simplify the task of figuring out in which order to read everything... I think the books themselves need to be published with a good, solid "key.")

But for all these complaints, the plot is Really quite good. It takes a good author to make you care almost as much about an "enemy" character's death as one of the "good guys," and it really is fascinating to see how two relatively honorable, non-evil societies can find themselves battling to the death even though (almost) no-one actually wanted it.
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