December 2005


I am The Cyberwolfe and these are my ramblings. All original content is protected under a Creative Commons license - always ask first.
Creative Commons License

Book Report: At All Costs

David Weber started a series of books many years ago based on the life and career of one Honor Harrington, in what later become known as the “Honorverse”. The title character starts out as a Captain in the Royal Manticoran Navy, and the series itself is best described as “hard military sci-fi”.

Thankfully, the author takes pains to understand that not all of his readers may truly appreciate the extent of his math skills, and puts the hardest part of the science in easily spotted paragraphs that can be basically ignored, allowing the reader to concentrate on the story elements and character interaction.

In what appears to be the final book of the series, At All Costs centers on the events following the Republic of Haven’s resumption of the war between itself and the Manticoran Alliance. Haven begins to suspect that they have been manipulated by one of their own politicians into resuming the war, and are desperately trying to find a way out of it while at the same time persuing the conflict.

Meanwhile, back on Manticore, they’ve managed to kick the High Ridge government out and are working towards putting another kick-ass fleet together – with Admiral Honor Harrington at the helm, of course.

Considering the vast distances involved in this sort of interstellar conflict, there is ample time for a few sub-plots to crop up or carry over from previous installments. This book also references events that have taken place in other ‘sidebar’ books, so if you haven’t read every book out in the “Honorverse”, you may have to muddle along in some parts. It doesn’t really affect the total book, but it does leave you wondering on occasion. As another good point, Baen Books included another CD with the rest of the series. So if you don’t mind reading on your computer, you can go back and catch up on any books you missed.

Other points, both good and bad (and spoiler warning):

As is bound to happen in a series of this scope, there are many characters to keep track of, and Weber helps out by printing a Cast Appendix in the back for quick reference. Handy in a few spots, lemme tell ya.

Characterization is good and consistent throughout the series. While there are some instances where characters begin to all sound the same, it isn’t as bad as it could have been as evidenced by the later half of David Eddings’ work.

The author truly has an understanding of how military action in space could play out. He plays a bit with some of the science, but he has to in order to make the concepts work. Without such things as the Wormholes to reduce travel time, the series would have to have been a hereditary one, as the main character could not possibly live long enough (even with the Prolong medical technology) to see the whole thing through. Even with that, however, the author has pretty much dropped any sort of strict date-keeping in this book.

Weber definitely has a knack for getting you wrapped up in the story and getting an emotional investment out of the reader. Unfortunately, some of this ends up being perfect fodder for a space-based soap opera. He spends a large amount of time sorting out Harrington’s personal life in this book, and those with a strict dogma of “one man, one woman” relationships won’t like the outcome. Deal with it.

In conclusion, it was a good read, to the point where I stayed up late enough to fall asleep reading it on at least two occasions. Weber almost completely wraps up the main storylines, and puts Honor to rest for a while. Honor gets pregnant, gets married, gets shot to shit and survives to kick Haven’s ass once and for all.

Ok, he doesn’t say at the end that peace breaks out or anything, but with 90% of Haven’s active fleet destroyed and about a third of it’s surviving military personnel as POW’s, there’s not much wiggle room. Weber does leave things wide-open for other people to continue franchising the universe, as there is still Mesa and the Manpower people left out there to deal with, so don’t fear it will be a complete end.

Comments are closed.