Review | The Short Victorious War by David Weber (Baen)

Title: The Short Victorious War
Author: David Weber
Publisher: Baen
Format: Paperback
Release Date: August 2002

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The families who rule the People's Republic of Haven are in trouble. The treasury's empty, the Proles are restless, and civil war is imminent.

But the ruling class knows what they need to keep in power: a "short victorious war" to unite the people and fill the treasury once more. It's a card they've played often in the last half-century, always successfully, and all that stands in their way is the Star Kingdom of Manticore and its threadbare allies: enemies in the past who have always backed down.

Only this time the Peeps face something different. This time they're up against Captain Honor Harrington and a Royal Manticoran Navy that's prepared to give them a war that's far from short—or victorious.
Here I am on to the third book in the Honor Harrington Series, The Short Victorious War. The first two books, On Basilisk Station and The Honor of the Queen, were instant favourites of mine and made the series (one that runs to over 20 volumes including the anthologies and spin-offs) a must-read for me. David Weber had created a vivid and thoroughly realised setting and I was wondering how events would play out in this third offering, hoping they would live up to my expectations...

After the events of The Honor of the Queen, Honor Harrington has been on sabbatical while her face is reconstructed, a procedure that has taken close to a year to finally complete and heal. Back on her home planet of Sphinx, Honor is passing the time relaxing and enjoying herself, that is until her new orders come in giving her command of a new ship. This is not just any new ship, but the Nike, the one ship that everyone wants, and her position as its captain shows just how much faith those in command have in her.

Under the direct command of Admiral Sarnow and acting as his flagship, the Nike, her captain and crew take delivery of the new-build and make their way to Hancock Station to join the task force there. But there is a problem with one of her reactors that requires a complete re-fit when they reach there, leaving the crew dockside while the repairs take place. And then the People's Republic of Haven start their strange visits into Manticoran space, visits that build and build until it is clear they are trying to goad the Manticoran Navy into battle...

The Short Victorious War starts with all the right ingredients - Honor Harrington is back to full health, given command of the brand new Nike with a new exec that she knows all too well, her best friend from Saganami Island, Mike Henke, and assigned to a new fleet as Admiral Sarnow's flagship. Once at Hancock Station Honor once again meets Paul Tankersley, Pavel Young's old exec and one of Henke's relatives. Things fall into place and what starts as a friendship becomes something more. But then there is the problem of Nike's reactor that needs to be completely replaced and forces the ship to stay in dock until work is complete. Honor herself has not been invited to any of the meetings by Admiral Parks, the one in overall charge of all divisions at Hancock Station, a snub that Nike's crew and her Admiral are all too aware of. With all of this going on it becomes clear that PRH are planning attacks and Admiral Parks splits all forces to take up places in other systems to help defence, but leaves Hancock Station woefully under prepared for an attack.

The Short Victorious War yet again expands the setting David Weber has created, showing us a little more of the wider galaxy and, more specifically, a much closer look at the People's Republic of Haven. It's nice to finally see more about them and what exactly they're up to, and even better that it's a solid part of the story. While the Royal Manticoran Navy are the main focus (at least Honor's fleet, anyway) having the sections looking at the PRH really does raise the novel and gives a good look at the bigger picture, not just what Honor Harrington sees.

The characters once again shine through, and with honour meeting and becoming involved with Paul Tankersley, it's a nice change from the strictly duty-bound Honor we've known from the previous books. Speaking of Paul, I wasn't quite sure how to take him at first, but he grew nicely on me and by the end of the novel he was cemented as a firm favourite of mine. Mike Henke is also another new character I very much enjoyed, she's a great addition to the cast and the scenes with her and Honor work incredibly well. Mac, Honor's steward, is back again and, while still in the background, the little things he does gives him a personality I like, and one that cares very much for Honor. I even enjoyed the scenes with the incredibly arrogant and totally slimy Pavel Young, but seeing his constant anger, rage and disgust at Honor did start to grow a little tiresome, but it worked within his character.

The Short Victorious War did everything it needed to do - it moves the story onward while adding more depth and information to the setting. While there are a couple of ends tied up it feels very much like the first part of an epic war story. It'll be very interesting to see where it goes from here, and I can't wait for the ride!

RobB  – (14 September 2011 at 14:59)  

I've got to catch up with you on this series Mark. I've only read the first, but have books 2-4 on the TBR pile.

Still curious to know what you think about Weber's Safehold books.

Mark  – (14 September 2011 at 15:15)  

Rob, the first three boks are fairly similar but each is good within its own right. The fourth book is just awesome though, a change of pace with a more personal story and no space battles. I'm at the stage where I'm trying not to read them too quickly so I can savour them!

I think I tried the first Safehold book a while back, and I enjoyed the beginning with the desperate escape to the new planet, but I think it turned into a much more fantasy-like story from there. I'm not sure why I didn't read more, but I certainly want to after enjoying the Honorverse books so much :)

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