David Weber – The Honor Of The Queen

I continue my journey into military science fiction with The Honor Of The Queen (1993) by David Weber, the second novel of his Honor Harrington series. Like it’s predecessor the novel contains a fairly standalone story, taking place a few years after the events in On Basilisk Station. As the characters are part of a space navy they get reassigned frequently, which means few characters remain. Obviously the main character, Honor Harrington, is the one we do follow throughout the series.

A new setting and many new characters allow an author to show certain skill in defining and portraying them. Unfortunately Weber does a half-hearted job and only some characters get some deepening. Unlike the previous novel, this story quickly goes into action mode and a lot of space is taken up by space battles, allowing little room for characterization.

It doesn’t help that Weber stays on familiar ground. The new setting that provides the conflicts is nothing peculiar or original. It is one of the general weaknesses of the series until now that most of the planets and cultures, for as far as Weber spends time on them, are based on western culture. On Basilisk Station still had a primitive alien race that provided some weirdness. None of such are to be found in this novel.

The story itself, mainly focused on the space conflicts, is done well. Weber provides sufficient variation so that not everything takes place aboard a space ship in a military environment. He gives the main character some setbacks to overcome, although he provides a twist that make things easier for her, while the greater challenge would have been more interesting. Even so, doing so might have endangered the desired outcome of the story, so one could call it acceptable.

Weber writes an easily accessible story. There are some technical naval details which show efforts on developing these elements of the story, making it a bit harder SF. Luckily he doesn’t spend too much time on it. The story moves at a good pace and is engaging enough to make the novel a page turner. In the end, however, the novel lacks some originality and characterization, making it a lesser novel than the first on several accounts. Nevertheless he shows the willingness to make some tough choices. This inclines me to expect he will be able to do more and improve later in the series. I’m not really hooked yet, but there is a clear sign the larger plot will start coming into play eventually, making the first novels more of an introductory kind. Thus I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

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