David Weber – Honor Among Enemies

Honor Among Enemies (1996) is the sixth installment in the Honor Harrington series, a military science fiction by David Weber. The hard job when writing a subgenre novel within a genre is avoiding repetition. Finding a way to vary the story is done by giving the main character sufficient ups and downs that she, in this case, is moved in different ways and gets confronted with situations that otherwise would not have been encountered.

David Weber had sidetracked his main character in the previous novel, now on the way back he sidetracks her a bit more, exploring another part of the universe the story takes place in. The mission is different, the resources more limited than ever and the environment is rather hostile. That is how it seems. However, familiar characters rush to the main characters’ support so that the limitation in resources can be compensated. And the hostile environment? Not as much as it appears. Before long it’s business as usual and true danger doesn’t fall through. Weber adds in some minor storylines to spice things up, but they are quite predictable. In my head I had some interesting scenario’s but I didn’t see anything coming close except for one sequence that turned out to be just a game of power play that didn’t go all out. It is something I’m starting to expect from Weber by now. He doesn’t want to hurt his characters too much. It’s okay not to do so. It is just that he opens a broad window of opportunities that I don’t see that often in other stories and my expectations start rising high in anticipation. And then he hardly makes any use of it. It’s a choice and it could take the story development in far dramatic directions. These choices are why this series doesn’t manage to really rise above the mainstream. Not all of his novels have this, I need to add. It is this particular novel in which he takes his story to a new and different environment where it is made possible.

One other thing that I’ve started to notice after reading six novels within a fairly short space of time is that most of the different character rather talk much of the same. I know these books have been written rather quickly within a short span of years. It is just that as a writer one of the fun things in writing should be varying the way characters talk and behave to give them more body and character. I’m beginning to miss this, especially as the main character is joined with friends from the past which makes the interaction too easygoing and the stiff military speech is slackened a lot which drains the variation even more. One of Weber’s key phrases that stands out is “At any rate”, which is used by virtually any character. Weber also introduces another nickname which comes out of nowhere and simply does not work for me. I won’t make a real verdict on it.

Besides these complaints of mine the story is entertaining enough and a fun read, flipping the pages easily. It is of a lower quality than the previous two novels so Weber rather returns to his minimum quality level and this novel certainly doesn’t add much to it. In the changed setting of the novel he rather sticks in familiar territory. The people encountered are not that much different than what the main character is familiar with. The culture is pretty much the same and all the rest is rather interchangeable. The series seems to be slowly amassing missed opportunities. Perhaps it is that the previous two novels were so much better that I’m complaining more than before. I know I am usually rather critical even when I enjoyed a novel and finished it within a short amount of time. I can only assume it has been a slow build-up which has reached its peak. For the series itself the novel is not the weakest and they are all not that far off from each other in actual quality. I am also not done with the series. There are more novels and I will pick them up eventually. I just bumped into my comment after reading the first novel that one shouldn’t read too many of them and keep some intervals between them to wear them off.

 

 

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