I read this book about 7-Jun-2004. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2003. This note was last modified Saturday, 16-Apr-2016 20:06:17 PDT.
This is book 1 of the "Honorverse" series.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
Surprisingly successful. I mean, a side-story in a big-name universe, written as a collaboration, when the previous mainstream book was something of a failure—not a promising genesis for this one. But I found it quite as entertaining as Honor Harrington, myself. This is another book I'm reading courtesy of the Baen free CD roms.
I confess to not paying the sort of attention to David Weber that I do to Doc Smith. And I haven't had the 40 years to memorize his books, either. And I don't care enough to track down obscure things I think I remember. So apologies in advance for the things I have wrong. (I find things I remember wrong about Smith still, too.)
This book draws heavily on—or perhaps originated, given the dates—a number of characters from stories in The Service of the Sword. In particular it uses the rather complex and interesting Victor Cachat heavily.
The plot has pretty much everything; blood and guts, growing up, sex, love, impersonation and disguise, politics, space combat, gunfights, the creation of a new state and a new line of royalty, treachery, and desperation. Everything but food, really.
A lot of unlikely factors—people and opportunities—come together to let Victor run a plot to free the slaves of one of the worst slave hell-holes in the galaxy and get them started on the way to freedom. He gets help from the Audubon Ballroom (violent anti-slavery group widely regarded as terrorists), the Anti-Slavery League (political anti-slavery group, has unproven connections to Audubon Ballroom), some Solarian League marines, the top levels of the Erewhonese government, a Manticoran cruiser captain, and an ex-slave academic. Oh, and Princess Ruth Winton, and Berry Zilwicki, and her father Anton. Catherine Montaigne, former Countess of the Tor, isn't mostly involved in the action.
So they take out the Massadan fanatics, and the "scrags" (an enhanced race with a history of working with the slavers) working for them, and capture the ship they were going to sneak off in (why they were going to sneak off in a slave ship loaded with cargo never made any sense to me) and end up at Congo, where they capture the station, the slaves on the planet then revolt and massacre most everybody else, and they declare their new state.
The big shocker (I told you there were spoilers here) is that they choose Berry Zilwicki (who's just turned 18) as Queen and head of state for the new nation on the renamed planet of Torch. I twigged when DuHavel first starts smirking to himself about it, pretty early really. For me anyway.
Their are some nice observations about the problems of slave laborers in a modern tech society. They have to read and write and know how to use "basic" tools and machinery, which includes computers. You can't keep them as ignorant as 19th Century slaves have them worth anything.
This is a bit of a Panglossian narrative, not that I really mind. Lots and lots of things go well, some of them better than one could reasonably expect. People grow and develop into nicer people more often than nasty people. The new star nation has some kind of a decent chance of succeeding, even.