by David Weber Book : CD for computer : Fiction
Honor Becomes a Diplomat   (2010-07-22)
Weber, David ~ Mission of Honor ~ Baen, 2010 ~ 43 chapters, detailed list of characters, 584 pages ~ Audience: adults, some teens ~ Rating: very good.
“Any dictionary editor stymied for an illustration of the word ‘paralyzed’ would have pounced on him in an instant. In fact, a disinterested observer might have wondered if Innokentiy Arsenovic Kolokoltsov, the Solarian League’s Permanent Senior Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, was even breathing as he stared a the images on his display.”
Honor Harrington is on a mission of honor to begin peace negotiations between Manticore and the Republic of Haven.
This is the twelfth Honor Harrington book and follows War of Honor. At least three of the Honorverse volumes, Crown of Slaves, Torch of Freedom and Storm from the Shadows are important for understanding major plot elements
Manticore has “won” this recent war with Haven, but the war was unexpected and quite a severe challenge. More recently, an unexpected series of mysterious attacks from an unknown opponent destroyed much of the infrastructure that guaranteed Manticore’s military supremacy. In the background, the Solar League is preparing to give “neobarb” Manticore a lesson with an invasion fleet.
In recent years, Weber has devoted more of his stories to the political/economic/social aspects that create military threats and military action. This means that while there are two notable space battles in Mission, the story is really about bureaucracy, personalities, and interactions between major characters. Obviously, this approach provides an appealing context and explanation for military action and creates a fuller story. However, those who prefer the shipboard interactions and more detail about combat specifics may be disappointed in what may be seen as political history and perhaps too much background.
The settings, Manticore, Haven, Solar League, and even Mesa, are familiar ones although we learn more details about each, especially their strengths and weaknesses.
I suspect that one might well label Mission as social [social institutions] space opera.
Honor arrives unannounced at Haven, supported by a large fleet, to seek to develop peace negotiations. The Haven government is certainly interested, but has many doubts.
Mesa, pleased by its highly successful attack against Manticore, moves ahead with the next step in its plan to replace the Solar League as THE power in the galaxy.
The Solar League, still not accepting Manticore as a powerful military force, decides to teach Manticore a lesson although with an older and much less technologically enhanced fleet.
1. Honor is the major character as the leader of the diplomatic mission.
2. Other Manticore naval officers appear, some quite familiar, appear in both battle planning and the battles themselves.
3. Pritchard is Haven’s President and she is, as are others in Haven's delegation, well-developed. She is a notable and powerful presence.
4. As expected in a story with such a wide scope, there are many important characters. While some are stereotypical, especially the Solar League military, most are nicely developed and clearly described.
As is often true of Baen books, Mission includes a Baen CD-ROM Library Honorverse disk.
Print is dark and clear. Reading is comfortable with reasonable white space. See through is worse than average. Binding is satisfactory and pages stay flat. Jacket art by David Mattingly shows Honor with a battle scene in the background. Quite well done.
A map showing the major planets involved in the story would certainly help the reader to understand spatial relationships.
Weber, and Honor Harrington, has received considerable praise since On Basilisk Station [still a favorite of mine]. This series has become an automatic selection for virtually every SF collection. However, the detailed constructions of political/governmental actions or inactions may not have the same reader appeal that Basilisk or Path of the Fury did.
Having said that, Weber is most persuasive in this descriptions/discussions of the social context behind military action. He clearly has a point of view, but it works well with the plot and the characters and seems reasonable to this reader.
While Mission includes some action, it is mainly a stage setting volume for what happens next. I must say that the details Weber has created to allow for a story with such depth is incredible. He has become a de facto historian with considerable depth and skill.
The story ending is a good one and clearly sets the stage for a more action-oriented sequel, perhaps several.
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