by David Weber Book : Fiction
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The Honorverse Expands   (2009-06-21)
Weber, David ~ Storm From The Shadows ~ Baen, 2009 ~ 732 pages ~ adults, some teens.
"'Talk to me, John!' Rear Admiral Michelle Henke's husky contralto came sharp and crisp as the information on her repeater tactical display shifted catastrophically."
Weber has completed eleven Honor Harrington novels and three set in the Honorverse where Honor is present but is a mostly minor character with the focus elsewhere. Storm is the most recent Honorverse story with Shadow of Saganami the next most recent. These naval stories [my favorite is still On Basilisk Station], feature an emphasis on strategy and tactics with considerable explanation/description of the weapons and how they work. Character building is also a notable strength, including interactions between crew members, especially the leadership on both sides. Throughout, but receiving more attention in the more recent stories, is an emphasis on the political/economic/culture of those involved inside the Star Kingdom of Manticore, its allies, and its opponents.
In Storm From the Shadows, the major character is Michelle [Mike] Henke who is also Countess of Gold Peak and Cousin of the Queen of Manticore. She is also a very talented and intelligent navel officer with considerable political experience. This seems to be a stage-setting volume. While the war between Manticore and the Republic of Haven seems to be rapidly moving toward a Manticore victory, it is not wholly certain. A peace conference is halted after two assassinations blamed upon Haven so that war heats up. At the same time, the possibility of war with the all powerful Solarian League is a small but potentially overwhelming prospect. And, in the shadow, Manticore faces a devious and skilled enemy that it knows little about.
In this volume, the focus is on an unexpected navel encounter with Solarian Office of Frontier Security supported warships on Monica in an area of space which is just becoming part of the Star Kingdom. Most of the story looks at what is happening in this "cluster" and the possible beginning of military conflict with the Solarians. Henke is involved in both a variety of political issues and in essential navel decisions. With the exception of an early campaign, she is not involved in a major space battle. Still, she clearly has "Honor" abilities to make difficult decisions and take advantage of enemy weaknesses. Weber spends considerable content on the various political issues involved in decision-making on both sides. That adds depth to the larger story but reduces the amount of action that some readers will miss. This volume ends with two major cliff-hangers or perhaps three:  will the League go to war with Manticore and how could Manticore prevail?  Must Manticore continue to fight Haven? and  Can Manticore identify and attack the unexpected campaign from Mesa?
Jacket art by David Mattingly shows Henke on the bridge with a larger image of her in the background view window showing a space battle. This continues cover art familiar to the readers although I felt that the second, larger Henke image was not needed and that the layout was crowded. Still, there's no doubt what kind of book this is. Print is dark for easy reading and white space is adequate. The back matter includes seven clear, helpful diagrams for missile technology and battle cruisers. There is also a comprehensive list of characters.This reader would have appreciated a star map or two to make the strategic and tactical issues clearer.
Given his popularity as the leading author of military [naval?] SF or space opera, any of these works should be an automatic selection. Since Storm begins at least a two or three volume series, it is even more important to insure that this and the following volumes are available for eager readers.
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