Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Beginnings" By David Weber

This book is part of a collection of books lovingly called the Honorverse because the first books started by following Honor Harrington, an officer of the Royal Manticoran Navy. I have read nearly all the Honorverse books, but this is the first one since we started the blog. 

Summary: First, a summary of the Honorverse novels, since this book is part of a series. In the year 2103, humanity began colonizing other star systems. The process was slow at first, but with new hyperspace technologies it became possible to travel faster than light and the number of colonies soared into the thousands. In the year 1416 Post Diaspora, humanity colonized the Manticore star system, where Honor Harrington eventually is born and becomes an officer. Most of the books are dedicated to her adventures commanding starships in battle against enemy star nations, pirates, terrorists and incompetence. There are also three spin-off series based on cool characters that are introduced in the main series, but only briefly cross paths with Honor Harrington, one of these series is co authored with Eric Flint. There is one more series called Worlds of Honor, which are collections of short stories which take place in the Honorverse, but do not fit in one of the established series for some reason or other. Typically they are about side characters, or take place a long time ago or just do not fit in the story arch. Also, Weber invites other authors to write short stories for the anthologies.

"Beginnings" is the sixth anthology and includes five stories, two by Weber himself, and one from each of the following: Charles E. Gannon, Timothy Zahn and Joelle Presby. The first story is about a ship captain on Earth, shortly after the Diaspora, investigating a merchant vessel taken by pirates. He navigates the harsh politics of a world torn between its desire to explore and its desire to keep everyone under control while he finds the masterminds behind the crime. The second story takes place in space around the young star nation of Manticore, before Harrington's time. The star nation has experienced an extended peace-time and a mysterious enemy wants to take advantage of the lull in military spending. The vulnerable nation is attacked and the Royal Manticoran Navy struggles to fend it off. In the third story, Allison Chou and Alfred Harrington meet at the university and undergo quite the adventure before eventually becoming Honor's parents. The fourth story is a glimpse into the childhood of Honor Harrington as she wanders around the dangerous forests of her home planet and has a fateful encounter with some treecats. And the last story follows one of the first female officers in the Grayson Space Navy as she navigates uncharted territory.

What I Liked: Being a huge fan of the Honorverse, I love these little stories as they provide insight into events that are hinted at in the books, but never explained. It's like the saying about New York, “There are 8,000,000 Million Stories in The Naked City”. Well, these anthologies are a great opportunity to see bits and pieces of the other stories on the fringe of the main story line.

What I Didn't Like: These are short stories, and there is a chance Weber will never expand on your particular favorite. And in the anthology you end up jumping from story to story that you come out of the reading groove more than usual, but that is true will all short stories. It's also strange to have four different writing styles in one book. They emphasize different politics, technologies and conventions, which can be off balancing.

Rating: Must read. The Honorverse universe is the best setting for a book.

Also Read By This Author: 
Main Honor Harrington series: On Basilisk Station, The Honor of the Queen, The Short Victorious War, Field of Dishonor, Flag in Exile, Honor Among Enemies, In Enemy Hands, Echoes of Honor, Ashes of Victory, War of Honor, At All Costs, Mission of Honor, A Rising Thunder, Shadow of Freedom
Crown of Slaves series: Crown of Slaves, Torch of Freedom
Saganami Island series: The Shadow of Saganami, Storm from the Shadows
Star Kingdom series: A Beautiful Friendship
Anthologies: More Than Honor, Worlds of Honor, Changer of Worlds, The Service of the Sword, In Fire Forged

Reviewed By: Nick

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