The Honor of the Queen by David Weber

The Honor of the Queen is the second book by David Weber featuring Honor Harrington, Captain in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy of Manticore. The first book, On Basilisk Station, was one I very much enjoyed when I read it a few months ago and with the series running to over a dozen books to date, plus side novels, I was very interested to see where the story would go from the end on that first novel. I’ve made the mistake in the past of letting more time than optimal pass between series instalments, especially those that are already in the shops, and it was not a mistake I planned to do with the Honorverse. Thankfully so too, On Basilisk Station was fresh enough in my mind for me to thoroughly get drawn in with the characters once again!

the-honor-of-the-queenWith her new cruiser, Fearless, Honor Harrington is assigned to a diplomatic mission to Grayson, a planet of strategic importance to both Manticore and the People’s Republic of Haven due to its location relative to each of their borders. Grayson and its neighbouring system Masada have a long and tumultuous past, both religious although the latter was so extreme that they were cast out from Grayson, and the wars have been fought ever since with Masada intent on reclaiming what they believe to be their right: the planet Grayson. But the inhabitants of Grayson are no less fierce in their beliefs, mainly that a woman’s place is not in public, and especially not in the military. With Honor the leading military officer on this mission the political figures from Manticore have a lot of prejudice to overcome…
After I read On Basilisk Station I thought David Weber had created an excellent setting for a story, it was rich, varied and held a lot of potential. The Honor of the Queen took that initial seed planted in the first book and expanded it greatly, showing just how vast it is and how much more there was to the Kingdom of Manticore and the People’s Republic of Haven. Without a doubt the setting is the strongest aspect of The Honor of the Queen simply because of how well Weber has detailed everything within. It’s quite outstanding and shows just what can be done with some good world building.
But world building isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of a novel, there has to be substance to the characters and story. Fortunately Weber hits the mark again on both those counts. The story is intricate, detailed and full of surprises, the characters unique, likeable and interesting. So, an all around thumbs up!
One of the main focuses in The Honor of the Queen is the distinct religious views held by both Grayson and Masada. While Honor is only in the Grayson system we do see the fanatical views of the Masadan’s through various points of view throughout the story. As for Grayson, it’s interesting to see just how varied the response is to Honor, from the leader of Grayson who was educated off-planet and is nowhere near as bad as the rest of the population, to the regular members of the Grayson military and the way they treat all female members of the Manticoran Navy. This leads to some interesting situations, but Weber manages to handle it rather well. When everything finally hits the fan some of the mentalities on show do change, but it’s interesting to see how they do so and the effect it has on the planet as a whole. There is also the other side of the coin, the Masadan’s. These are people that are so fanatical that nothing stops them doing what they believe to be right, and this results in some emotional and hard-hitting scenes. This whole issue could have been dealt with with a heavy hand, but Weber manages to convey everything well, he makes it relatable from most sides and the advancement of the story is handled well.
As for the characters, we’ve once again got an excellent lead with Honor Harrington, but also her colleagues and subordinates start to shine through. The people of Grayson are interesting, the Masadan’s equally so as the bad guys, but even the officers from the People’s Republic of Haven that we meet are not as totally despicable as I was expecting. There’s a good range here and all work well together, enough that I found myself being carried along with the story yet again.
It’s fair to say that after The Honor of the Queen I’ll be picking up the next Honor Harrington book pretty soon. In fact, I plan on getting up to date with the series by the release of A Rising Thunder in March of next year. As you read this I’ve already finished the third book in the series, so that leaves me with 13 more to read to get up to speed. Very, very doable!

3 thoughts on “The Honor of the Queen by David Weber”

  1. You're actually a bit wrong about there only being 16 books out right now with just "A Rising Thunder" to go, because there are also 5 anthologies and a forthcoming "young adult" novel ("A Beautiful Friendship" – out October 11 in UK) that actually expanded a story from the very first novella.

    I would say that you could skip the anthologies, but I like them for several reasons: 1) more Honorverse! 2) more character background, especially those mentioned in the novels (for instance, we get to see at least two stories with a young Honor) 3) the genesis of the 2 of the spinoff novels is actually in one of Eric Flint's stories, as David Weber liked it so much he included the character (hence the Weber/Flint spinoffs, though the character shows up in other books now, too).

    I actually did a big reread/read of the Honorverse books earlier this year since I had kinda drifted away from Weber for a while, but got back into him with the Safehold books. The last 5-6 Honorverse books I hadn't read at all, so instead of jumping in after 6+ years away, I reread the whole thing.

    I ended up reading the novels and the anthologies in publication order (Novels #1-7, anthology #1, novel #8, anthology #2, novel #9, anthology #3, novel #10, anthology #4, Crown of Slaves, Shadow of Saganami, At All Costs, Storm from the Shadows, Torch of Freedom, Mission of Honor, and then In Fire Forged), and I found it to be a pretty good order, especially having the short stories/novellas as background for some of the later works.

    Your mileage (kilometrage?) may vary!

  2. Thanks David – you're right that I missed the anthologies and the upcoming YA novel off the list! I'll definitely be reading A Beautiful Friendship, and with your suggestion of reading order for the anthologies I may very well include them in the schedule!

    More books to read :)

  3. I recently read Storm form the Shadows and Torch of Freedom after a long break. I still have Mission of Honor at home unread, and I am thinking when to read it so I do not have too long a wait after the cliffhanger I heard about at the end of Mission of Honor.

    I also read all the anthologies and I will probably re-read the whole series in order and in a shorter time period than so far (I think I read the first book 5 to 6 years ago).

    The later books get less action and more political. Some people did not like that but for me that can be as fascinating as the action scenes. The Ring of Fire series by Eric Flint took a similar route, also to the disappointment of quite a few old fans.

    And talking about Eric Flint, I really like the character Flint created a lot.

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