The Honor Of The Queen, by David Weber—A Convenient Enemy
I’m taking a break from indie fantasy this month to revisit some light summer binge reading—the Honor Harrington series by David Weber.
Not to criticize all of the indie authors out there, but sometimes it takes them a while to learn how to develop strong protagonists and compelling conflicts (then again, sometimes it doesn’t).
And I wanted at least one month this summer to enjoy one of my favorite protagonists (other than Sparrow himself, of course). So I’m racing through a military sci-fi series featuring a noble and strong navy Captain named Honor Harrington.
Here’s my review of the second book—I hope you enjoy it!
Why Do We Read Science Fiction?
Just like we have our theory of fantasy here at TheShortStoryTeller, we also have a theory about science fiction:
Science fiction allows us to examine ourselves by imagining what might happen if we remove some of our physical limits, or alter reality as we know it.
The Honor Harrington series falls into a sub-genre of military sci-fi. This means that the primary setting that encompasses the plot and the conflict is one of futuristic warfare. In this case, that warfare is taking place in space, between interstellar navies.
Military sci-fi is wonderful for imagining new warfare technologies. But if this setting only creates a sense of wonderment, is it really much different than simply fantasy? These books describe Warshawki Sails, impeller wedges, energy torpedoes, and many more fascinating technologies that while they might be well-researched, they are still quite fantastic and unreal.
So how can military sci-fi meet our sci-fi qualifications?
The Core Conflict: Does Religion Belong In The Future?
Some might feel that Weber picks at a low-hanging fruit in this book, by the way that he initially paints religious societies as primitive and backwards.
This isn’t a particularly new trope in sci-fi, either. I’ve encountered several movies and books that envision the future as one in which religion has been entirely supplanted by technology. And this is a legitimate scenario for sci-fi to discuss.
Weber eventually brings religion into a more normal light, however, by showcasing the religious moderates of Grayson as forward-thinking, yet also passionate about tradition and culture.
The Domestic Conflict
In The Honor Of The Queen, Captain Honor Harrington is faced with a stubborn economist and diplomat who believes that all warfare is an unnecessary consequence of the failure of diplomacy.
This antagonist believes that any warring parties can be reasonable enough with each other to find mutually-beneficial arrangements without resorting to violence. His worldview refuses to acknowledge violent trends due to ideological causes.
This is a worldview that ends up getting him punched in the face by an otherwise level-headed titular protagonist.
The External Conflict
Ostensibly, the upcoming war between Manticore and Haven is the same as our modern conflict between capitalist society and socialism.
Haven is a socialist nation-state, and while the author never draws these parallels, it’s not too difficult to draw comparisons with China, or even the socialist parties in American politics.
This series is multidimensional, to say the least.
The Recommendation: 5 / 5 Stars.
Have you read The Honor Of The Queen? Which other space-faring military sci-fi books do you recommend? Leave us a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to future book reviews!