Review of Mission of Honor by David Weber (HH 12)

I am a vivid fan of David Weber and the Honor Harrington universe so it was with great expectations and anticipation that I received my new Honor Harrington novel. In honor of the moment I poured me some single malt whiskey, took a piece of knäckebröd and sat down in my favorite reading chair and started to read. This is my review.

Title: Mission of Honor
Series: Honor Harrington book 12
Author: David Weber
Genre: Military Science Fiction | Space Opera
Cover art: David Mattingly
Hardback: 608 pages
Publisher: Baen, July 2010
Copy: bought by me
Excerpts: Snippet 1-60

Order from: Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

The Star Kingdom of Manticore and the Republic of Haven have been enemies for Honor Harrington’s entire life, and she has paid a price for the victories she’s achieved in that conflict. And now the unstoppable juggernaut of the mighty Solarian League is on a collision course with Manticore. The millions who have already died may have been only a foretaste of the billions of casualties just over the horizon, and Honor sees it coming.

She’s prepared to do anything, risk anything, to stop it, and she has a plan that may finally bring an end to the Havenite Wars and give even the Solarian League pause. But there are things not even Honor knows about. There are forces in play, hidden enemies in motion, all converging on the Star Kingdom of Manticore to crush the very life out of it, and Honor’s worst nightmares fall short of the oncoming reality.

But Manticore’s enemies may not have thought of everything after all. Because if everything Honor Harrington loves is going down to destruction, it won’t be going alone.

Information

Mission of Honor starts some time after At All Costs and Storm from the Shadows. Torch of Freedom starts more than a year before but runs parallel with MoH up until a month before it ends. The main focus is on Honor Alexander-Harrington – The Salamander, the war hero that saved Manticore’s home system in a devastating battle at the end of At All Costs, but there are other principal characters like Michelle Henke, Hamish Alexander-Harrington and Eloise Pritchart.

  • The book is dedicated to  Sharon and David’s children Megan, Morgan, and Michael Paul.
  • Please note that the real cover has Honor using her right hand to salute as she should and she also looks more concerned and distraught (but none of the online stores have the right cover).
  • There is an appendix with Character descriptions at the end of the book (16 pages) but I never used it.
  • The books comes with a CD containing most of David Weber’s works in different formats.

World Building

The small but rich and growing Star Empire of Manticore is a tool to be used in a century old conspiracy by the genetic supremacist Mesa Alignment. First they provoked a war with Haven and now they are about to do the same with the Solarian League. David is a great world builder and Mission of Honor is riddled with great pieces of information concerning the Solarian League and the Mesa Alignment.

You should read the other books in the Honor Harrington universe to really enjoy and understand what is going on in this book. Even though there is a lot of world building going on here most of it is built on what you already know if you read the previous books.

The Plot

The Star Empire of Manticore has a technological advantage that allows them to ‘win’ against Haven when MoH starts. The Solarian League Navy (SLN) is way behind both Manticore and Haven on missile technology as proven on New Tuscany.

Admiral Michelle Henke, Honors friend and the fifth in line for the throne is in command of the defenses at the Talbot Cluster. Mesa’s machinations behind the scene have set SLN Task Force 496 under the command of Battle Fleet Admiral Crandall bearing down on Henke with 71 ships-of-the-wall. She has only battle cruisers and superior technology to defend against them, but she is outnumbered more than ten to one.

On the other side Honor sets out to make peace with Haven something that might not be so easy after years of fighting, mistrust after what they have done to each other and with short sighted politicians with their own agendas.

Unknown to the others Mesa has launched a sneak attack against Manticore and Grayson called Oyster Bay that is about to go down in a few weeks.

The book also covers the media war especially the fall out from those nukes on Mesa.

In short the action is one battle and one sneak attack. Both battles where on the short side even if the preludes took their time. Michelle’s psych tactics was quite entertaining to read while Oyster Bay was quite chilling.

The ending is emotionally satisfying and leaves a strategic cliffhanger for the next book.

Characterization

I love to read about Honor and Nimitz but I am also happy there are others that take up the hat for the smaller actions we have come to love. Michelle Henke is a fully well developed protagonist in herself.

Weber uses a lot of small scenes with different characters to present background or explanations. There are evacuation training on the space station, different characters from the Hexpuma reporting for duty at their new jobs, the junior officers’ dining club and many more to make this a vivid and living story. The sheer number of character might be daunting for new readers but the feeling of all those settings coming to life and matter worked for me.

My View

I expected this novel and Mesa’s sneak attack to be the Pearl Harbor of Manticor and I can’s say it disappointed in that respect. But Elizabeth’s talk to the people reminded me of Churchill’s. With Oyster Bay the Treecats realizes the threat they are under. I wonder if Mesa realizes the effects of a race of Treecats going to war?

This is a monumental book in the Honorverse, this ends the original storyline with Haven and starts a new darker one with the Alignment as antagonist.

Now we will probably see one or two more books in the Honorverse before the next main book, which ought to be earliest at the end of 2011 and that’s a long time to wait.

I give it and the series a strong recommendation if you like military space opera.

More information

  • grega_g

    MOH starts right after Storm from the Shadows, but it runs almost parallel to Torch of Freedom timeline.
    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorverse for details.

  • grega_g

    MOH starts right after Storm from the Shadows, but it runs almost parallel to Torch of Freedom timeline.
    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorverse for details.

  • ove

    Hi grega_a,
    Thanks for pointing that out.

  • ove

    Hi grega_a,
    Thanks for pointing that out.

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  • grega_g

    Hi Ove,

    First let me tell you I started reading your blog about 2 weeks ago. At that time I went over all 100+ pages, and I must say it covers my book and TV interests very well. The reviews are useful and to the point, so cybermage soon found its way into my short list of blogs I check (almost) every day. As a developer (C#/.net) myself, I wouldn’t mind a few more posts about programming, but that’s OK, we have specialized blogs for that.

    I became David Weber fan last summer, when I first started reading Honor Harrington books. MOH is the first book in the series I had to wait for and, considering the cliffhangers (Battle of Manticore, Oyster Bay), the anticipation was high. I was actually nervous when I downloaded it and started my ereader.

    All in all, it was a good read. Maybe a little shorter than last ones, but it concluded a big storyline to my satisfaction and the attack on Manticore was the toughest chapter I ever read. I took 3 breaks with that one. It was like first reading of War of Honor, condensed and intensified a few times.

    You mentioned Oyster Bay as Manticor’s Pearl Harbor: the comparison is obvious and at the first glance correct, but DW says no and explains (at length) here: http://forums.davidweber.net/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=536.

    keep up the good blogging
    Gregor

  • grega_g

    Hi Ove,

    First let me tell you I started reading your blog about 2 weeks ago. At that time I went over all 100+ pages, and I must say it covers my book and TV interests very well. The reviews are useful and to the point, so cybermage soon found its way into my short list of blogs I check (almost) every day. As a developer (C#/.net) myself, I wouldn’t mind a few more posts about programming, but that’s OK, we have specialized blogs for that.

    I became David Weber fan last summer, when I first started reading Honor Harrington books. MOH is the first book in the series I had to wait for and, considering the cliffhangers (Battle of Manticore, Oyster Bay), the anticipation was high. I was actually nervous when I downloaded it and started my ereader.

    All in all, it was a good read. Maybe a little shorter than last ones, but it concluded a big storyline to my satisfaction and the attack on Manticore was the toughest chapter I ever read. I took 3 breaks with that one. It was like first reading of War of Honor, condensed and intensified a few times.

    You mentioned Oyster Bay as Manticor’s Pearl Harbor: the comparison is obvious and at the first glance correct, but DW says no and explains (at length) here: http://forums.davidweber.net/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=536.

    keep up the good blogging
    Gregor

  • Franky Dickson

    Does she still have that stupid cat on her shoulder? I’d like to like these books, but that bloody cat is just too far out there

  • Franky Dickson

    Does she still have that stupid cat on her shoulder? I’d like to like these books, but that bloody cat is just too far out there

  • Ove

    Hi Grega_g,

    Thanks for the praise.

    What David says is correct, however that was not what I was thinking of, what is happening in Oyster Bay will also have an effect on the surviving populace of Manticor, there is outrage and the whole population will now put their uttermost effort into the war (something that is indicated in Elizabeth’s speech). Something they haven’t been doing before (ref the former government).

    The damage from Oyster Bay is however greater than Perl Harbor is, so the time and effort to fix it is greater. But what I was mainly thinking about was the effect it has on increasing the support for the war effort by the general population..

    If I am to speculate further then Oyster Bay worked as the British (Mantocore) being the target for a Pearl Harbor attack which turns the US (Haven) into the war.

    The comparison doesn’t hold 100% but there are similarities between the sneak attacks of PH and OB that I would say support the comparison on those grounds.

  • Ove

    Hi Grega_g,

    Thanks for the praise.

    What David says is correct, however that was not what I was thinking of, what is happening in Oyster Bay will also have an effect on the surviving populace of Manticor, there is outrage and the whole population will now put their uttermost effort into the war (something that is indicated in Elizabeth’s speech). Something they haven’t been doing before (ref the former government).

    The damage from Oyster Bay is however greater than Perl Harbor is, so the time and effort to fix it is greater. But what I was mainly thinking about was the effect it has on increasing the support for the war effort by the general population..

    If I am to speculate further then Oyster Bay worked as the British (Mantocore) being the target for a Pearl Harbor attack which turns the US (Haven) into the war.

    The comparison doesn’t hold 100% but there are similarities between the sneak attacks of PH and OB that I would say support the comparison on those grounds.

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