The Great Honor Harrington Read Along is a read along led by me with critical analysis and SPOILER FILLED looks at the Honor Harrington series and related works by David Weber and collaborators. I’ve read the whole main series and the overwhelming majority of the offshoots, but some of these will still be first time reads. However, spoilers will be abundant throughout these posts, including for much later books in the series.
The Short Victorious War by David Weber
Honor gets the Nike! This is an honor that’s played up in this book and we’ll hear about it later in the series, too. It’s a fun way to kick off the novel, and MacGuiness getting a bigger role in this novel too. It’s kind of interesting how much he grows on me and I wonder if he gets bigger roles in later books or if I just enjoy that he cares about Honor. This is my third or fourth time through them all, so a lot of it is pretty mashed up in my head.
Speaking of characters who loom large later, Nimitz remains effectively silent here. There’s some scenes of him being playful, and Honor picks up a little bit on emotions from others through him, but he’s largely a nonfactor, dispensing the occasional hiss from her shoulder. In The Honor of the Queen, he got some major action scenes, but here he remains effectively shoulder ornamentation.
Michelle Henke is introduced, and longtime readers of the series know what a major character she is. She gets her own place in later offshoot books, too. I believe she’s one of the first black characters we encounter in the series, as well. It gives Weber the chance to talk about the disapora from Old Earth and how it played out a little bit, and some of that backstory is quite important later, of course. Anyway, for now we see her as a steadfast friend of Honor.
Joe Webster, who served with Honor before, shows up only to make a great defense of Honor as a damned fine captain, and it certainly leaves an impression on Sarnow. As a reader, I’m sitting there like “Yeah, I’m proud of Honor, too!” I love this scene from chapter 6.
Tankersley–oh no. I honestly kind of forgot about him. I mean not forgot forgot, but in the sense of kind of blurring the painful memory out. The first time I read the series I was totally devastated. Weber sets up Honor as a kind of awkward woman who doesn’t realize how beautiful she is, and whose hesitancy is at least somewhat tied into Pavel Young’s awful attempted rape (more on that later). To have her fall in love is a great thing to see, and Henke’s beauty tips are awesome. The whole ship apparently knowing about Honor’s special Tankersley time is a tad awkward, but I wonder how true to life on board a ship like that it’d be. I imagine it’d be difficult to keep secret. Henke’s beauty tips scene in chapter 12 is a wonderfully domestic setting in a series that doesn’t get a lot of them. While Weber doesn’t go through the details of cosmetics that he does with weaponry, it was a nice character building aside.
The Havenites’ increasing incursions being kind of unexplainable for a bit is a good way to foreshadow the later big revelation of their use of sensor platforms. As Haven and Manticore keep up an arms race going forward, it’s fun to see how they innovate with different technology to try to throw each other off. We also get yet another hint about the Solerian League being a thing. When I read the books the first time, I definitely wrote that off as mostly unnecessary fluff to show the universe was bigger. Little did I realize how important it’d be. It’s nice to know Weber was seeding it this early in the series.
Speaking of Haven, the coup at the top is something I thought I recalled taking a lot longer than it does here. It kind of surprised me how quickly it happened from the conspirators meeting in secret to boom the navy blows away the Legislaturists. I’ll be curious to see if I remembered wrong or if there’s more going on with this whole thing than I recalled.
Finally, we need to talk about the battle scenes. Here, they’re a bit few and far between. There “big showdown” type battle is mostly because of a gaffe by Parker, but is cleaned up off stage. It’s not a bad way to do things, but after all the buildup it feels maybe a bit like a letdown to not see quite as much ship-to-ship blowing up as expected. That might just be me, though. And, to be fair, we did get a pretty hefty page count worth of battles towards the end, as we watched a series of traps get set off on the Havenites and then Young flee like the dog that he is.
Young… yeah, he’s the worst. I forgot that we witness his attempted rape of Honor from his viewpoint in this book and it’s bad. It’s not super graphic, but there’s enough there to make it a rough scene and cement Young as among the most hated characters on my list.
The final scene, in which we learn from Parker that Young has been sent to Manticore to face a court martial for cowardice in the face of the enemy, is super satisfying. One might say that I “bared my teeth” in my smile as I read it again. Can we talk briefly about Weber’s penchant for using the same types of phrases over and over? Baring teeth in a smile is one of these recurring themes in most of Weber’s corpus as I recall. What others do you remember? Do you like/hate them? They remind me personally of “tugging braids” in the Wheel of Time, and it’s almost a comforting thing at this point: ah yes, this is what people in this world do.
How about you? What did you think of the book? What were your highlights? Leave a comment and let’s discuss it more!
The Great Honor Harrington Read Along– Follow along as I read through and review all the books and offshoots in this series!
Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!