David Weber – Flag In Exile

Flag In Exile (1995) is the fifth book in the Honor Harrington series, a military science fiction by David Weber.  While the novel continues the story in the previous novel Field Of Dishonor, it is readable as a standalone book. A main change within the plot is that the greater conflict, a.k.a. war, of the series has now commenced in full. At the same time the main character seems to be sidelined, both mentally as politically. Fortunately her chosen location provides her the means to return into the game.

Flag In Exile mixes planetary events with activities in outer space. In that sense it is more like the first novel of the series, On Basilisk Station. Differences are that there is not as much action and the pace is somewhat lower.  Much is focused on the grand finale so it takes some reading before the story goes all out.

The main character has undergone some heavy ordeals in the previous novel and still suffers from it in this one. To Weber the main character is his heroine so whatever still plagues her does not inflict as heavy troubles as it could have been. As usual he remains somewhat lenient on her. The drama isn’t taken as far as it could have been. Of course one can attribute it to the strong will and character of the main character to be able to overcome her hurdles so quickly. This prevents heavier drama to follow as the main character keeps it under control. Weber does show the vulnerability caused by earlier experiences is still there.  As said in previous reviews, the way Weber portrays the main character is not a flaw and that he doesn’t take the drama further isn’t either. I mainly mention them because they are obvious paths that could have been taken in the story. Weber limits the heavy drama to a few and keeps the others at bay. Describing these choices reflect how the story is set up so you know what you will get.

The story itself is engaging, although one some parts it remains rather mundane for a science fiction novel. Weber doesn’t cover much ground that is original or extending or crossing boundaries. He stays within the familiar limits of the genre. His only original contribution is on space travel and space ships which has been well developed. The main focus lies on space warfare so he chooses not to spend too much time on details that are not related to it. The question that remains with me is if he puts his focus where his strengths are or that he could have developed the non-space warfare elements in a better way. That would certainly have improved the overall standing of the series. Now it remains rather mainstream, however well written and structured the space warfare is.

With Flag In Exile Weber keeps a certain level of quality after the good Field Of Dishonor. Among the novels until now it is about average in quality which is a positive thing as the novels keep me reading on. Turning the pages comes easily and that is always a good thing.


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