Honor of the Queen is the second of the Honor Harrington series, picking up where the last book left off (Captain Harrington assigned a new task, essentially that of protecting a planet and a diplomatic mission). The story itself is entertaining as military-SF and I recommend the book -- not, I should clarify, because David Weber writes great pose but because he tells an engaging story. The series is popcorn fiction at its best, if you know what I mean.
Allyson Johnson narrates the second book much as she did the first, so if you enjoyed the first you'll no doubt enjoy the second. For my own part though ... I have to say that I enjoy Allyson Johnson's "normal voice" reading fine -- she has a pleasant tone, clear diction, and an engaging style. Her character voices, however, I struggle with. In my opinion, she reads most of her characters with an overly expressive emotional range, and with the same affected style where she pauses mid-dialog in almost every conversation (as if none of her characters never think through what they say before they say it). To my ear the voices just do not come sound military or even particularly competent at times. I'm not sure the fault is entirely Allyson Johnson's -- some of Weber's dialog is pretty bad -- but oh how I notice the badness so much more listening to this reading than I do reading the book myself!
Anyway, if you are a Weber fan, you are going to buy it anyway, right? I mean, what choice do you have :) If you are not a Weber fan, I recommend that you read his first Book (On Basilisk Station) before listening to the audio, if that's an option for you. And hey, tastes vary -- you may even love Allyson Johnson's narration. Many do.
After finishing this I have to repeat what I said about book 1. The lack of fun and character relationship renders the novel quite plain. The plot is all about bald action with only a few twists here and there. The character relationships are too straightforward. The novel is missing spice and adventure, the thrill, it feels plain. Narrator is quite ok and certainly makes effort to render the novel more interesting.
I would like to LOVE this series but the narrator is not very good at this type of narration. She makes the battle scenes boring and reminds me of a newscastor rather than an actor. She would probably be perfect for some other type of series but this is sci-fi with tech heavy dialogue and intricate descriptions of battle in space. She also seems flat and emotionless during romantic moments, tragic moments and periods of self reflection. The stories come off as one dimensional and at first I thought the problem was with the writer. but, sorry, no. It's the reader. Compare her narration with those of the "Lost Fleet" narrator and see what I'm getting at.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Though she???s a woman and not a diplomat, Honor Harrington, the highly competent and well-respected Manticoran Navy Captain, has been assigned a diplomatic mission to a planet run by a patriarchal religious cult. Why would the Manticorans send an aggressive woman with no diplomatic skills on this type of mission? There???s only one possible reason: to try to make The Honor of the Queen more interesting...
I wasn???t thrilled with On Basilisk Station, the first book in the Honor Harrington series, because there was too much exposition about military tactics and spaceship dynamics and Honor was too perfect and seemed cold and distant. I decided to read The Honor of the Queen because I already had purchased it in audio and I was hoping Honor would be more relatable as we got to know her better. Actually, she does seem more human, going on an almost murderous rampage at one point and becoming teary-eyed at another. Weber begins to make it clear that Honor has emotions, but we rarely see them and she???s such a Mary Sue that it???s difficult to feel comfortable with her. Even her homicidal rampage was more righteous than reckless.
But my biggest issue with the Honor Harrington series is that the plots so far (I???ve read only the first two books), though exciting at times (e.g., the big space battles at the ends) are constantly being interrupted by dull exposition about base and closing velocities, acceleration rates, missile weights, engagement times, energy ranges, magazine sizes, projected courses, etc.
This material does not have to be dull. As I read, I kept comparing it to Patrick O???Brien???s Aubrey/Maturin (Master and Commander) novels which have analogous plots (just at sea instead of in space). Those books contain a lot of information about warships and naval tactics, but they are immensely entertaining because the protagonists are real people with interests, hobbies, relationships, problems and faults.
To be fair to David Weber, it is certainly possible that my disappointment is partially caused by Allyson Johnson???s narration of the audiobooks. Her voices are pleasant, but she uses little inflection. I downloaded a free print copy of The Honor of the Queen at the Baen Free Library and read several pages that I thought were dull in the audio version. They were better in my head than they were on audio, but I still found myself skimming over some of the exposition (which is difficult to do with an audiobook). I???m not sure that any narrator is skilled enough to make The Honor of the Queen exciting for me or to get me past the glaring problem with the premise of Honor being sent as a diplomat to a misogynist society.
I think I???m finished with Honor Harrington, which is too bad because I spent one of my Audible credits on the third book.
I'll read anything, fiction, nonfiction, sci fi, mystery, young adult, even a romance if it is well written.
The story is a little heavy in technical descriptions and battle detail for my taste. The narrator's various accents are very strange, but they are consistent. The story is good and is what kept me going through the first three of the series, but I was disappointed by the somewhat flat handling of character interactons and motivations.
Best: the story
Least: the narration
The narrator has an odd way of emphasizing too many words. So that there seem to be quotation marks around phrases - not required by the storyline.
The voice chosen for the lead character sounds like a petulant teen. The narrator's own baseline voice would have been a better choice. Captains don't whine.
Read it in print and return the audiobook.
Narration can make or break an audiobook. American narrators often have an odd inflection, that I don't hear in narrators from the UK. It's as if they think it has to be "really serious."
The book is only saved by an exciting space-ship battle at the end. The rest of the time, the heroine does dumb stuff. The rabid patriarchal planet doesn't like women in command, so she runs off in a huff, allowing the rest of the navy to get clobbered. There is some satisfactory revenge as she wins the next space battle and there is real human pathos as she liberates some POW's but then she goes off half-cocked when she finds they've been killed or raped. Weber could've found a more inventive form of revenge. She saves the life of the patriarchal leader, leaving her with physical disabilities, but the leaders had already been pretty much convinced to accept women by then. If we had half star rating, I'd have given this only 2&1/2, not 3 stars.
The interaction between Honor and the crew. She was facing some difficult choices, and like any commander, some were life threatening. She chose to commit her forces, even though success was not guaranteed.
When she had to commit a ship to the fight, when she knew it may be destroyed, but it was necessary for mission success.
When she was awarded controll over one of the agro domains.
This is an interesting take on what it would be like to serve in a space Navy. This is the second, and hearing the first may be helpful, but I had trouble keeping up with where we were and if the enemy was speaking, or not. Suggest you keep a list of characters as you go. The performance was good, but not great. The voice was picked for the heroine, but it didn't morph well into the other characters' personnas. Lots of death and blood and space battles, with redeeming honor.
Enjoyed it, but don't think I will get the rest of the series.
Miscast. Clarity. Misplaced emphasis. That's four.
I liked the feminist twist to a sci fy story. If you like excellent description of combat between battleships, you'll like this book. The star ships maneuver like sailboats at light speed in a vast three dimensional ocean. Cool, but not really my thing.