|War of Honor|
|pages||869 + CD-ROM|
|summary||Essential for fans of Honor Harrington. Sometimes turgid and complex political sci-fi. CD-ROM worth the cover price by itself.|
War of Honor is the tenth full novel in David Weber's Honor Harrington series, and thirteenth book (there being three collections of stories set in the so-called "Honorverse"). For those of you that have read the earlier novels, this is more of the same, though Honor herself figures perhaps somewhat less prominently in it than in previous novels. It's got Weber's usual rich and detailed plot, along with Weber's occassionally turgid and expository writing.
One thing that makes this novel different from the others is that Weber has fully incorporated characters and plot lines from the short stories set in the "Honorverse" but penned by other authors. Earlier novels had made allusions to some of Weber's own short stories, but none had integrated another author's work to the extent that War of Honor does. Of course, this does nothing to simplify the plot or reduce the expository interludes (Weber includes enough explanation so that you can follow the plot without having read the prior short story). It does add to the flavor though, and helps keep Weber from simply retreading old ground.
Discussion of the plot, even aside from spoiler concerns, is well-nigh impossible. There's simply too much that happens. This isn't a book that could be a film - it's a mini-series, even without the prior nine novels. War of Honor is not a light and fluffy read. It's a good two hundred pages longer than the previous novel (Ashes of Victory) and doesn't have some of the breezy, happy passages of its predecessor. In fact, you might want to take a break halfway through - I did, with a complete novel in a much lighter vein (bad pun - it was an Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel). Suffice it to say that Weber knows how to write the next installment in a series: this one resolves enough threads to make it satisfying and opens enough new ones that readers will continue to scream for the next novel.
What Slashdotters are most familiar with, though, is the CD-ROM that's been discussed here before. And it's a nice one, to be sure. While the books on the CD themselves are available at Baen's Free Library, the CD contains more.
One of the most wonderful resources is the art gallery: the covers of the most recent editions of the Honor Harrington books as jpg images, all at 800x1200 pixel resolution or greater. Not scans of the covers but images of the original art, without the title graphics or anything else. I predict some very nice wallpapers coming soon to a site near you.
The CD-ROM also has other lovely tidbits, such as audio selections from several novels and MP3s of songs from the group Echo's Children. So even if you haven't caught this filk group at a sci-fi con, you still get their songs and lyrics based on events in the Harrington novels.
And all of this is on top of all the books on the CD-ROM. All ten Harrington novels, and yes, that includes War of Honor itself. All three collections of Harrington stories. And twenty five (not the previously-reported twenty two) other books, from the likes of David Drake, Eric Flint, Dave Freer, Mercedes Lackey, Keith Laumer, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, John Ringo, and James H. Schmitz. No encryption. No copy protection. In several formats each, including HTML, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket, Rocket, and RTF files.
Put it all together in one no-download place and the CD-ROM is arguably worth the price of the hardcover book all by itself. Certainly, no new release CD-ROM sold by itself is going to sell for much less than US$26 (the cost of the book).
I'm of course reminded of Tim O'Reilly's (and many others) numerous comments to the effect that obscurity is a bigger problem for publishers than piracy. Jim Baen evidently agrees. He's just put the full text of a brand new flagship property (another bad pun, I'm sorry) in the clear. The disk even says you can copy it. Stamped right on the disk: "This disk and its contents may be copied and shared but NOT sold." Even the copyright notice says "All commercial rights reserved." Not "All rights reserved."
Given the popularity of the Honor Harrington series over all, it's just possible that this novel will make the NY Times (free reg, blah blah :-) best sellers list. And if it did, with its entire text freely and legally available on the net, wouldn't that be an interesting place for publishing to be?
You can purchase War of Honor from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.