This review is directed at the second book of the series, The Honor of the Queen
. It was a disappointment. I enjoyed the first book, Basilisk Station
— as another reviewer notes, it's not high literature, but it's fun. In Basilisk
, Honor Harrington was a strong, proactive leader, always ready to spring into action with a clever plan. In this sequel, however, she is a thoroughly unconvincing hero who makes silly, costly mistakes and then spends ages moping about them while the audience is heavy-handedly invited to sympathise with her. Of course Harrington triumphs in the end, but it feels less like her winning, and more like her enemies losing
— the villains of the book are carrying a planet-sized Idiot Ball
Some of the villains are well-written and sympathetic — the Havenite officers, who carry the other villains, the backward (and truly evil) Masadans like the mother of all Loads
. But the Havenites are a bit too
sympathetic — by the end of the book the impression is that they are actually smarter and better
than Harrington, and that they deserved
to win. They are simply too weighed down by allies who practically hand
the victory to Harrington — again and again.
, Harrington triumphed against the odds because she was smart and tough and competent. In this book, her Havenite enemies are the smart and competent ones, and Harrington triumphs only because the odds are stacked in her
The other conflict in the book is between Harrington and her own allies, the extremely sexist Grayson culture. This could have been a very
interesting aspect of the plot — but the author really
wants us to like
the Graysons. Thus, much of the friction happens behind the scenes, with the reader hearing about it second-hand. All the Grayson characters we actually get to know in any detail happen, of course, to be very open-minded, practically eager to realise their error of their ways and accept women as equals. All the really sexist Graysons are flat background characters we barely see. What could have been a very interesting conflict ends up being unconvincing.
In short, this book has unconvincing characters, an unconvincing plot, and a hero you don't want to root for. It made me unsure whether I want to continue with the series.