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.
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.
Every character talks the same. I don't mean the narrator, I mean the dialog. Everyone across the known galaxy, no matter what planet they are from, use the same words and talk in the same way.
People say "Indeed, it is!" and "I see" all the time. This really drives me nuts. I mean if one character liked to say stuff like this, I'd get it, but everyone, even the backwards folks from obscure planets talk like this.
And everyone feels the need to clarify everything they say constantly, in the event that there is a small risk, and by risk I specifically mean a possible communication breakdown, that you might misunderstand, and/or accidentally misconstrue, misinterpret, or otherwise not quite correctly comprehend the intended meaning of what they are trying to tell you.
Yeah, that's how characters talk. It's like a book about robot space laywers. They almost all talk the same, and very few characters stand out with any kind of personality other than some obvious background traits that seem to have no effect on how they act or behave, like : 'this guy is good with a plasma gun' or 'this guy used to be a smuggler'
No. I mean, the plot was ok, but that was about it.
She's ok. I had no problems with the narration.
It's a plot, with robotic characters plugged in. The plot was ok.
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 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.
The protagonist is a female captain in the royal navy of her planet Manacor ( wasn't that the name of an evil company, in the TV series "Angel," who made super soldiers of children and put bar codes on their necks?) Anyway, Honor battles her way out of impossible situations directly or indirectly against the socialist planet "Haven." The two planetary systems vie for territory in the form of other inhabited planets.
In this particular book Honor comes up against two planets where the men totally subjugate the women. So Honor has to save a planet for people who won't accept her against an even more fanatical planet.
Sometimes there is a phrase in a book that really kicks one out of the books and causes one to think about the phrase thus not listening to the book. Honor, the protagonist, periodically folds her "arms under her breasts." I am a woman and I can't figure out how to do that. I can hod my arms under my breasts but fold them? No. Perhaps Honor has extra long upper arms or maybe her breasts are extra high and perky, up closer to her shoulders... Well the men in the book only fold their arms but Honor has to fold hers under her breasts. Well, I thought maybe someone would have given the author a clue but again in the second book still has Honor doing it again while men merely fold their arms.
Okay, David Weber's series is feminist and for that I applaud him but it is written for teenage boys. Lots of action. I guess teenage boys do need to learn that women are created equal.