Convince me to read the Honor Harrington novels.

In which Dopers convince me to read the Honor Harrington novels. Really, it’s not hard.

Don’t read them.

Okay, remember that scene in Return of the King, when the defenders of Gondor, barely holding the line against Sauron, see the black ships sailing towards them, and think that it’s Sauron’s forces from the South, come to join the siege? And they all despair, because there’s no way they can hold against a second army - until the lead ship raises the flag of Gondor, and they realize that the ships are carrying Aragorn and the rest of the Gondorian army?

David Webber puts at least one scene like that in every book he writes.

He’s also good at writing really, really despicable characters, and then giving them exactly the sort of comeupence they deserve.

It’s not great literature, and sometimes the prose comes across as a little wooden, but no one beats Webber at writing stand-up-and-cheer scenes.

It is Horatio Hornblower, or Patrick O Brien’s series put into space. I am reading a book on Trafalger right now, and I keep on hitting parts and thinking “Shit - Weber stole that too!”

Which I love.

Great space battles, some OK character development. Some bad guys are only bad, others turn into pretty good enemies who also develop and have a deeper meaning.

I like all of his stuff, great reading, and great moments of “All RIGHT!” in there.

Well, I’m not much one for saying “you should read this”, but I am one for giving people the information they need to make that decision on their own.

Weber’s pretty good about his science. There are several indistinguishable-from-magic technologies, of course (most notably the FTL, the reactionless starship drives, and the artificial gravity), but even those have established rules that they follow. And he understands relativity better than Heinlein ever did (even though he throws parts of it out).

It seems to me that he pays a similar amount of attention to details on the military matters, but I’ve never been in the military, so don’t take my word on that.

The lead is pretty much the definition of “strong female character”, if that’s to your liking.

The battles have great action in them.

Treecats. Sapient telempathic aliens with a uniquely feline worldview. Though they don’t really get the full credit they deserve in the earlier parts of the series (at least partly because they’re trying to keep their true level of intelligence hidden from most humans).

Actions have real consequences: Sure, Honor succeeds against enormous odds, but she also gets her ass (and the ass of her ships) kicked in the process. Nor is it just faceless redshirts that die in battle: (Almost) anyone is fair game, including major characters and close friends, and Honor has to deal with that.

Honor gets to be a bit Mary Sue-ish as the series goes on. This is at least partly justified, since the reason she gets books written about her in the first place is that she’s the greatest military leader in the history of the Star Kingdom of Manticore. But it still comes across a bit thick at times.

The series is a dozen books long, and still hasn’t finished. The main series is starting to drag a bit, though there are a couple of side series branching off of it that are looking good so far (but which wouldn’t be as good if you just started with those).

The latter part of the series is starting to get rather soap opera-ish.

Oh, one other for the “pro” column: The antagonists and villains are well thought out and characterized. They all have reasonable reasons for what they do, and in most cases, those reasons aren’t just “I’m evil, muahahaha”. Nor are all of the antagonists villains, or vice-versa.

I said convince me to read the books, not soemone else. :slight_smile:

Nimitz. You need no other reason.

Read the first 4 or 5 anyway. After that there wasn’t enough space warfare to keep my interest. They are available free online, in case you didn’t already know.

Did nobody mention you could get On Basilisk Station, the first book of the series as a free ebook from in pretty much every NON DRM format?

Nope , we held a vote and you have been blackballed from joining the honorverse.


I already know that. I don’t do ebooks, though. There is a sacred story that explains why.

Actually Miller described the book version, not the movie version. Are you saying you hate Tolkein?

I assumed he was talking about the movie, on account of not actually reading the majority of the post. Silly of me, I know.

I refuse to read any series that contains a character named “Rob S. Pierre”.

Well, yes, Weber really wants to be writing Napoleonic War novels - and he probably would be, if there were a market for them that hadn’t already been filled entirely.

But I’ll say this for him, and I think it’s a tremendously redeeming quality: He writes smart people quite well. Even the villains - both when planning dastardly deeds or actively engaged in battle, the villains (and the good guys, for that matter) act like rational, intelligent people trying hard to think their way out of bad situations. And they fight, often, against the “fog of war” - characters act from ignorance of things that they should be ignorant of, given the plot to date.

The side-effect of all this is that, while Weber does a good job of showing his characters are nuanced and thoughtful strategists, it also leads to tons of thinly-veiled infodump. There’s a reason Weber’s never won a Hugo or Nebula, despite a level of sheer profligacy that puts many more distinguished writers in the shade. The man’s a pulp novelist - but a good one.

BTW, a word of warning - the paperbacks are very cheaply printed, or at least they were when I was a kid. I used to get the ink smeared all over the place whenever I bought a new one. :slight_smile:

Yeah, there are a couple of real groaners like that. Particularly when you factor in how closely his life parallels the original Robespierre, and the fact that nobody in this universe (including the characters who are specifically described as pre-space history buffs) ever notices the similarities bugged the crap out of me. I also had trouble swallowing the Samurai Space Mormons. I mean, I was okay with Space Mormons in general, but the book where they introduce the fact that the Space Mormons have historically settled their differences with sword duels based on a martial art they developed from watching old copies of The Seven Samurai over and over was a bit over the top. Also, from the ancillary novels, the whole history behind the naming of the planet Maytag makes me stabby.

But all that is more than made up for by stuff like the escape from Cordelia Ransom’s prison ship, or the First Battle of Yeltsin’s Star.

My revenge for this slight will be long, subtle, and utterly devastating.

Fool of a Took!

I was criticizing myself, not thee!

That was laying it on a bit thick. The whole series is, by design, a mix and match of historical events and battles, but Weber is usually more subtle (except with Queen Elizabeth of Manticore).

It is reasonably hard SF, by which I mean the impossible technology is based on discoveries that had not yet be ruled out (I can grandfather in the need for gravity to propagate faster than light since it was still in question when he wrote that). I like the style and pacing. All the characters grow, and all the characters are in peril.

Weber may have become a little to attached to Honor and she has become a bit unlikely, but the development usually makes sense in context. In the first book she merely a highly competent ship captain. She makes mistakes, and has flaws. As the books progress she is shown learning and being taught by more experienced Navel officers. She doesn’t leap from commander of a light cruiser to fleet admiral instantaneously. The most improbable part of the books is just how often she is present for critical events. Even there, she isn’t present for all of them.

Starting with the second book there is also a pattern of having to keep reaching for new technical marvels to keep things going, but it makes sense in the context of the first real war between major navies in centuries. On the plus side, Weber is also pretty good about developing the tactical consequences of weapons developments. Like some other harder SF, the technology becomes almost another character, and Weber does a better job than many of developing that character. But, if you are like my mother, and don’t care about how the missiles/ship engines/etc. work, what their limits are and how that effects tactical choices, these books are not for you.

No, the slight was not reading my whole post and assuming I was talking about the movie, not the book.

And now, for making me explain this, I will add extra vengeance, and a 23.5% increase in devastation. The subtly, unfortunately, was already maxed out.