1 July 2016

The Rabbit Hole: A Review of Honor Harrington Series, David Weber

It is Canada Day, a much needed, rainy Canada Day in the heart of downtown Toronto. As I sit within the anticipated green, cloudy, gloom ineffectively resolving my current infatuation with David Weber's Honor Harrington series, I listen to the child reenact wrestling moves. School is out, a calm glee has permeated through the bones of the house, and we have engaged summer.  My little boy's kindergarten days are behind him and while grade one is still a tender age, his baby years are vanishing as his independence blooms. Either my mother-heart is seasoning into a tougher version or as my son grows, his transformation pulls me along a better path of motherhood. 

With the hot weeks of humid laziness stretching before me, my reading pilgrimage to SF heaven looms. Contrary to years past my summer reading marathon launched in spring with May, all Miles  and June, Honor.  Honor Harrington, the female archetype of SF military valour has become my everything. This alarming obsession to find, buy and read all the things has blocked my sense of SF-self. Discovering Daniel O'Malley's sophomore book was not only released but worse, being read by people I know, stopped me in my SF tracks. A saga is a cursed gift to the gluttonous reader; we clap with glee in discovering a dense canon to immerse in, eventually rising from it's world barely able to suss out the good from the bad. The very fact that I am not at this minute buying Stiletto is proof David Weber's Honorverse has sucked out my reading soul.

As Captain in her majesty's Royal Manticoran Navy, Honor Harrington wears the white beret with great respect. She has worked her way up through the years to become a leading force in the Navy, with troops willfully follow her orders to their demise. Honor is one of few humans adopted by a treecat, an arboreal, sentient creature with telepathic abilities, native to her home planet of Sphynx. With Nimitz by her side, Captain Harrington through intellect and sheer iron will defends her Queen's territory battle after gruesome battle. Not everyone is keen to see Captain Harrington rise up through the Navy; the very past she spent decades burying, rises to meet her, promising to take all that she worked so hard to achieve away. 

David Weber books have been in my peripheral for years. The father-in-law, a staunch military SF advocate lurves him as much as I lurve The Expanse. It finally took the monotony of finishing my Bujold obsession to pick up the dusty, neglected hard cover version of The Honor of the Queen. Once I had neatly tucked into it's space goodness, surprising myself by not skipping past the military descriptors, I deduced my earlier reluctance; the cover, these ridiculous, parade of bad covers that degrade the series into a farce of what the world believes SF to be. "Oh, hey, what you reading, omg, I just tried to talk books with a nerd, back away, BACK AWAY."' so says all the people as I read in the park, whispering about my sad geeky existence.

While it may indeed come down to covers, the odd realization is, the Honor Harrington universe is not exactly great nor is it exactly bad. Weber's world-building is key to the success of the series, without the political intrigue within and beyond the Manticoran space borders, the flatness of his characters would have killed the series by the fourth installment. Yet, as I tuck into book 6, happily content in the idealized utopia that is Honor Harrington, I know she will be alright and am completely okay with that. Perfection is obviously an adjective we strive for, how else to explain Honor Harrington's appeal? 

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