I’ve been waiting for this book for a while. David Weber has been building up to some of the events in Shadow of Victory over the last few books, and the last several books in the main timeline (which consists of three separate series) have happened pretty much simultaneously. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when you have nine books spread over 12 years, it gets hard to follow and remember everything that is happening (and where it is happening).
The Mesan Alignment has begun implementing a plan to get various Verge star systems to think the Star Kingdom of Manticore is supporting them in order to eventually destroy Manticore’s reputation in the Madras Sector. This is accomplished via a single agent who travels under a variety of different aliases to several different star systems. As those in the chosen systems have had little to no interaction with anyone from Manticore, they don’t have any reason to doubt the friendly and personable agent.
This book requires reading of the previous books in the main timeline of the meta-series. It is pretty much impossible to have any idea what is going on in Shadow of Victory unless you have already read the other books. Even if you have read them (which I have), it gets confusing trying to remember something from a book released two or four or eight or ten or twelve years prior.
And therein lies the problem. The story in the book is generally interesting, and I generally enjoyed it. However, I have now read nine books which cover the exact same time period. The first two-thirds of this book is rehashing many of those scenes and incidents from a different point of view, interspersed with the Mesan agent visiting various star systems in his efforts to smear the reputation of Manticore.
If these books ever get made into a TV series or movie series (or both), Weber has now done all kinds of work which will make the job of the script writers much easier. These last nine books present the same scenes from so many different points of view, they can simply pick whichever works best for them. However, that approach really, really doesn’t work as well in book form (especially not over 12 years).
Now, I really, really, really like the Honor Harrington series and universe. It is full of interesting characters doing interesting things. Adventure! Battles! Twists! Political intrique! More twists! It has all kinds of cool and interesting technology (which Weber often likes to explain in great detail). It is widely considered to be one of the best military science fiction series out there. However, the last few books have tried the collective patience of Honorverse fans (including me). Shadow of Victory is no exception.
I won’t stop reading this series, though. Even with the problems I mention above for Shadow of Victory (and the last few in the series), there is an interesting story weaving throughout all of this. Almost all the characters are interesting for various reasons. I think Weber has simply allowed his cast to get so large that too many of them are demanding page time. If he wants to write books about specific characters, that will work as long as he can keep things focused.
If you are a fan of the Honorverse, you will want to read Shadow of Victory. There is enough new information in it to fill in a lot of spaces in the overall story. However, it is getting frustrating to keep shelling out for a new hardcover book every year or so and have two-thirds of it be something that was in another book (even if it’s from a different perspective). Please move the story along more quickly, Mr. Weber. Give us an entire book’s-worth of new content. Please.
Release Date: November 1, 2016 (USA)
ISBNs: 1476781826 (9781476781822)
Publisher: Baen Books
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (brief, social drinking and smoking)
Language: 2 (occasional, mostly mild, some stronger and deity)
Sexuality: 1 (brief innuendo)
Violence: 2 (some brutal violence, murders, assassinations, mass death, space battles)