Though she’s a woman and not a diplomat, Honor Harrington, the highly competent and well-respected Manticoran Navy Captain, has been assigned a diplomatic mission to a planet run by a patriarchal religious cult. Why would the Manticorans send an aggressive woman with no diplomatic skills on this type of mission? There’s only one possible reason: to try to make The Honor of the Queen more interesting…
I wasn’t thrilled with On Basilisk Station, the first book in the Honor Harrington series, because there was too much exposition about military tactics and spaceship dynamics and Honor was too perfect and seemed cold and distant. I decided to read The Honor of the Queen because I already had purchased it in audio and I was hoping Honor would be more relatable as we got to know her better. Actually, she does seem more human, going on an almost murderous rampage at one point and becoming teary-eyed at another. Weber begins to make it clear that Honor has emotions, but we rarely see them and she’s such a Mary Sue that it’s difficult to feel comfortable with her. Even her homicidal rampage was more righteous than reckless.
But my biggest issue with the Honor Harrington series is that the plots so far (I’ve read only the first two books), though exciting at times (e.g., the big space battles at the ends) are constantly being interrupted by dull exposition about base and closing velocities, acceleration rates, missile weights, engagement times, energy ranges, magazine sizes, projected courses, etc.
This material does not have to be dull. As I read, I kept comparing it to Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin (Master and Commander) novels which have analogous plots (just at sea instead of in space). Those books contain a lot of information about warships and naval tactics, but they are immensely entertaining because the protagonists are real people with interests, hobbies, relationships, problems and faults.
To be fair to David Weber, it is certainly possible that my disappointment is partially caused by Allyson Johnson’s narration of the audiobooks. Her voices are pleasant, but she uses little inflection. I downloaded a free print copy of The Honor of the Queen at the Baen Free Library and read several pages that I thought were dull in the audio version. They were better in my head than they were on audio, but I still found myself skimming over some of the exposition (which is difficult to do with an audiobook). I’m not sure that any narrator is skilled enough to make The Honor of the Queen exciting for me or to get me past the glaring problem with the premise of Honor being sent as a diplomat to a misogynist society.
I think I’m finished with Honor Harrington, which is too bad because I spent one of my Audible credits on the third book.