Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Cauldron of Ghosts" by David Weber and Eric Flint

We I have been reading the Honor Harrington series for years now, always anticipating the next book. I have already reviewed one book and gave a summary of the series then.  

Summary: This book is part of the Honorverse, but does not follow Honor Harrington herself. Instead, it follows Victor Cachat (of the star nation of Haven) and Anton Zilwicki (of the star empire of Manticore) as they carry out a huge mission against the Mesan Alignment. In this spin-off Honorverse series, Victor and Anton have been working together professionally for many years, despite being from different nations. They are united in the common cause of ending genetic slavery, a crime committed most extensively by the corporate rulers of the planet Mesa. In previous books, these special agents uncovered a centuries-old plot being carried out by a secret organization called the Alignment. Deciding that time was critical, Victor and Anton pull together an elite team of agents to bring to the planet Mesa and gather more intelligence regarding the Alignment's future plans. To carry out their mission, Victor uses the criminal networks that arose out of the seccy population, a class of disenfranchised descendants of freed slaves. Things move quickly as everyone tries to get ahead of everyone else.

What I Liked: This is classic Honorverse material. Everything is high stakes, intergalactic combat. I love the Victor/Anton story arch because it is heavy on spy games and politics. They are a pair of master spies, always at the top of their game and it is fun to see that in action.

What I Didn't Like: So, there are two things to keep in mind regarding this book and a few others in the series.

Firstly, there are multiple authors. Weber is the primary author and plays a hand in all the stories. He gets credit on all the books and it is his brain-child. Flint is the secondary author and is the custodian of Victor Cachat. Flint clearly writes a lot of the book when Victor is involved and Weber takes a backseat. I love Weber's writing style, but I am not as big a fan of Flint. He loves to hurry things along, while Weber is content to let the plot unfold gracefully. In this book, a lot happens and it happens very quickly. I let it slide because I love the series, but it makes it hard to suspend disbelief.

Secondly, I am the kind of reader who goes slow and sees each word. I know, I should learn to speed-read or something, but I like the way I read and I notice things most people miss. Having said this, I have noticed that early Honorverse books had few typos. The publishers clearly spent the time proofreading the books before printing and cleared up the mistakes. At some point, I suspect they stopped proofing. The typos increased in frequency and impact. For example, this book has a scene repeat, and the two versions cannot be reconciled on multiple points. It suggests no one proofed the final draft and that bothers me.

Rating: This is not the best book in the series, but I highly recommend the whole series, including this volume.

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, Beginnings

Reviewed by: Nick

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