October 16, 2005

The Shadow of Saganami, by David Weber

This is the second in Weber's extended "Honorverse" series; being solely authored by Weber himself, it follows the pattern set by his previous few solo outings, to wit: a {ship, squadron, ...} of the Manticoran Space Navy is sent to a {system, cluster, star-nation, ...} to deal with some {mystery, crisis, situation, ...}. The main plot follows the {ship, squadron, ...} as they go about their business, one facet of which is usually to determine just what's going on. Meanwhile, we witness lots of meetings between other players on both sides where Weber explains to us just what's going on, so we know what kind of trials our gallant sailors will encounter. The volume naturally ends with some kind of naval engagement in which our heroes come out on top, bloody but unbowed.

That said, I enjoyed The Shadow of Saganami rather more than the most recent Honor Harrington novel, though (as it lacked Eric Flint's, um..., colorful imagination) not so much as Crown of Slaves.

Chronologically, The Shadow of Saganami is the latest view of the greater series, following shortly after Crown of Slaves. HMS Hexapuma, a new Saganami-class heavy cruiser, is sent to the Talbott Cluster, a vast expense of poor-to-destitute planets at the terminus of the most recently discovered member of Manticore's wormhole junction. The cluster as a whole has requested annexation by the Star-Kingdom of Manticore, and the details are currently being hammered out; Hexapuma has been sent to show the flag and to patrol what may soon be Manticoran territory.

The Talbott Cluster is on the far side of the Solarian League from Manticore, in a region where Manticoran ships would never go if it weren't for the new wormhole. And there are a number of folks who aren't happy about the possibility of increased Manticoran presence, notably the Solarian League's Office of Frontier Security (which enslaves entire planets under the guise of protecting them) and genetic slaver's Manpower United.

As with Crown of Slaves, The Shadow of Saganami looks like old home week. Helen Zilwicki, daughter of Anton Zilwicki and sister of Berry, is on board Hexapuma on her middie cruise. Also present are a couple of Engineering officers from Honor Among Enemies, and the provisional governor of the Talbott Cluster is Estelle Matsuko, whom we first met On Basilisk Station.

All in all, I liked the book; but Weber needs to stifle a few of the talking heads and give us a little more action. A few less words would be nice, too.

Posted by Will Duquette at October 16, 2005 06:15 PM