Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Storm From The Shadows

I've got a crick in my neck which is somewhat painful. Must be from reading David Weber's Storm From The Shadows.

This one thousand page tome takes place in conjunction with At All Costs and Torch of Freedom (which I haven't read yet, since it's still in hardback). The spiel:

Rear Admiral Michelle Henke was commanding one of the ships in a force led by Honor Harrington in an all-out space battle. The odds were against the Star Kingdom forces, and they had to run. But Michelle's ship was crippled, and had to be destroyed to prevent superior Manticoran technology from falling into Havenite hands, and she and her surviving crew were taken prisoner. Much to her surprise, she was repatriated to Manticore, carrying a request for a summit conference between the leaders of the two sides which might end the war. But a condition of her return was that she gave her parole not to fight against the forces of the Republic of Haven until she had been officially exchanged for a Havenite prisoner of war, so she was given a command far away from the war's battle lines. What she didn't realize was that she would find herself on a collision course, not with a hostile government, but with the interstellar syndicate of criminals known as Manpower. And Manpower had its own plans for eliminating Manticore as a possible threat to its lucrative slave trade - deadly plans which remain hidden in the shadows.

Now then. This actually sounds more exciting than it is. That's not to say the book doesn't build into a military confrontation with explosions and stuff, it's more that the book deals with political machinations and 'what ifs'. It's also not a book people should read without having read the series.

My biggest bug-bear with the book is how much could have, and should have been edited out. There is way too much reiteration of events and conversations and motivations. And for those people who have to wait for paperbacks, there was a bit of 'what the...?' for me.

Having three strands to a series is not good for me, and I do love this series, I'm just not all that interested in politics (hah!) even as those politics are integral to the series.

I could also replace one character with another and they sound the same. Woe. Is there such a thing as too many characters? This is a galaxy-wide, epic space opera and the thought of an author (or two: Eric Flint co-writes the Crown of Slaves, Torch of Freedom part) coming up with individual voices for hundreds of characters - even secondary characters - must be a daunting task. But now, we have the vast Solarian League involved.

Weber has done an excellent job of compartmentalizing the various star nations and the characters within with their various 'must have this type of personality'. However, this deep into the series, I don't think we need the justifications or the endless infodumps of the who, the how and the why for technology or a character's attitude - we can, mostly, take it as given; especially after so many books.

Regardless of my nitpickery - and I could go on - the book neatly ends with a suitably ominous scenario. And for those who know their military history and can see the parallels in the story, a suitably clever solution.

Storm From The Shadows is out now from Baen; Mission of Honor is available as an E-ARC and will be published in hardback (damn their eyes) in July.

No comments: