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It's hard to give peace a chance when the other side regards war as the necessary prelude to conquest, and a sneak attack as the best means to that end. That's why the Kingdom of Manticore needs allies against the so-called "Republic" of Haven--and the planet Grayson is just the right strategic place to make a very good ally indeed. But Her Majesty's Foreign Office had overlooked a "minor cultural difference" when they chose Honor Harrington to carry the flag: women on the planet Grayson are without rank or rights and Honor's very presence is an intolerable affront to every male on the planet.
At first Honor doesn't take it personally; where she comes from, gender discrimination is barely a historical memory, right up there in significance with fear of the left-handed. But in time such treatment as she receives from the Graysonites does become wearing, and Honor would withdraw if she could--but then Grayson's fratricidal sister planet attacks without warning and she must stay and prevail, not just for Honor's honor, but for her sovereign, for The Honor of the Queen.
Review by Travis Starnes
This second book in the series has a lot right going for it and is a solid follow up to ‘On Basilisk Station’. While Honor of the Queen falls a little short of its progenitor, it is still a solid read. I enjoy military fiction, whether contemporary or sci-fi, when it is well done; and ‘On Basilisk Station’ was done well. This story is a bit less straight forward and has more drama attached to it with long standing personal relationships joining the butting head version of personal relationships initially seen in the previous installment.
Honor, who is still a little one dimensional, continues to be the strong, hyper-capable commander that Weber seems to prefer. The white hat wearing do no wrong type of character sometimes seen in military fiction can get a bit tedious so the fact that he allows her a small misstep is nice to see. There is a nice stack of returning secondary characters, the ensemble cast being the life blood of an effective sci-fi series, generally continue to be enjoyable and I was happy to see Alistair back. The addition of the Graysons and Masadans added a different point of view then we usually see in this type of story but the real star of the secondary characters was the father figure of Courvosier. His presence adds a vulnerability that Honor did not have in the previous books.
Unfortunately, Weber mitigates the good points of his supporting cast some by making an enemy even more intractable and stubborn then the previous book in the form of the Masadans. Their evil is a little too extreme for me, and I would much rather see some shade of gray in the actions and responses. There is a bad habit for both sci-fi and military fiction writers to have pure black hat bad guys, maybe to help show the hero in a better light or make it easier to accept their eventual end. Whichever the case may be, while it is fine to have really evil characters in a book there is a limit. If they are so evil that their actions seem insane, especially when it is more than a single character, it becomes harder to maintain the necessary suspension of disbelief. This less than subtle approach to bad guys is not helped when incompetent allies and superiors are thrown into the mix. While one or the other might be interesting, and you do want the underdog to come from behind against great odds, it at times feels like there is a little too much of both stacked against Honor.
The story itself is good, well-paced with satisfying battle scenes. The ground combat scenes are a bit weak but that is to be expected as Weber is clearly more comfortable with the strategic nature of distant space combat. Not that it was bad, the “surprise” moment near the end with Nimitz and Honor was very enjoyable to read and kept me at the edge of my seat. But later with the marines I found myself a bit confused about what was going on where and the layout of events. A benefit from this being a follow up novel set in one universe is that there is less time spent with detailed and tedious explanations of tech. While there is still a significant amount of time spent with one character giving long explanations to another that would seem out of place anywhere but in a novel, the characters remain fun to follow.
The dialoged remains solid and as so often happens with a Weber novel I find myself rooting for Honor when she is on top and feeling despair when she is knocked down. All of my earlier complaints about characterization aside, Weber did his job.
Overall, this is an excellent read and one I recommend to fans of the series or any fan of military fiction.