Beginnings: Worlds of Honor 6 is the sixth short work collection in the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. It features five short works by Charles E. Gannon, Timothy Zahn, David Weber (two of the stories), and Joelle Presby.
“By the Book” by Gannon is set earlier in the Honorverse than any other story released to date at 250 PD (Post-Diaspora, 2352 AD per the Gregorian calendar, and 1609 years before Honor Harrington is born). It follows Lee Strong, a Lieutenant in the Customs Patrol of the Earth Union.
Asked to investigate the hijacking of a cargo vessel, Strong uncovers layer after layer of intrigue and secret planning as he tries to figure out why the ship was hijacked and who was responsible for it. I really enjoyed this story as it gave me insight into some events occasionally mentioned in the main series and its spinoffs. It was well paced and the characters were fleshed-out and interesting.
“A Call to Arms” by Zahn gives the background behind the attempted takeover of the Manticore Binary System by the Axelrod Corporation and the Volsung Mercenaries sometime in the 1540s PD. The main character in the story, Lt. Travis Long, encounters the political realities of dealing with subordinates who have high-placed allies while also trying to prevent Manticore from being invaded.
According to the Honorverse Wikia, this story is a lead-in to an upcoming prequel trilogy featuring Long, which I hadn’t heard about and which makes me happy as I generally enjoyed this story. Long was somewhat two dimensional for part of the story, and the story seemed too short and perhaps a bit rushed. It was still a good read, however.
Weber tells the story of how Honor’s parents met in “Beauty and the Beast”. After experiencing a traumatic mission, Alfred Harrington decides to go to school on the planet Beowulf to become a doctor. There he meets Allison Chou, and this meeting changes both their lives forever, especially after Allison is kidnapped by a group who wants nothing more than to destroy her family. Alfred has to figure out where she is and rescue her before she is killed.
While slightly sappy in parts, this story helped me better understand the two who helped Honor become the person she is in the main series, and I learned where Honor got some of her traits which are evident throughout the series. I really enjoyed the story.
In the next story, “The Best Laid Plans”, Weber takes us back to Honor’s youth and tells the story of how she met Nimitz. At only 33 pages, it’s a pretty quick read, but it filled in a bit more of the back story from the series. The story was well paced and enjoyable.
The final story in the collection is titled “Obligated Service”, by Joelle Presby. The main character, Claire, is one of the first Grayson women to graduate from Saganami Island Academy, and she is met with all kinds of people trying to prevent her from fulfilling her duties as a new member of the Grayson Space Navy, or trying to outright make her give up.
I felt somewhat frustrated by the writing style in this story until about 24 pages into the 62-page story. The point of view switched from limited third person to omniscient third person regularly, which made things a little confusing, and the lack of dialog in this part also made things feel a little off. I even had to reread a few parts because I got lost on what was happening.
I’m not sure if this was intentional, and perhaps intended to emphasize the loneliness of Claire. If so, it worked; if not, it only caused problems to the flow of the story. Once actual dialog began to be included, things sailed on smoothly. Overall, I enjoyed the story.
As a whole, Beginnings: Worlds of Honor 6 was a solid read and is one of my favorites of the Honorverse anthologies. If you are a fan of the series, this is definitely one to pick up. If you aren’t, I recommend reading at least the original series first.
Release Date: July 2, 2013 (USA)
ISBNs: 1451639031 (9781451639032)
Publisher: Baen Books
Alcohol/Drugs: 0 (description)
Language: 1 (very occasional expletive)
Sexuality: 1 (very brief sexual harassment, not explicit)
Violence: 3 (graphic descriptions of assault, space battles)