Story: Honor Harrington’s triumphant return home from her miraculous jailbreak from the prison planet Hell, deep within enemy territory in the People’s Republic of Haven, becomes a rallying crew among her own people on Mantocore and Grayson – and a massive public embarrassment for Haven, whose officials not only claimed to have executed her, but created “news footage” of the event to prove it. The two remaining top leaders on Haven are not only trying to dance around that issue, but they find themselves growing increasingly wary of their own hand-picked Secretary of War, whose charisma could command more respect from the military than Haven’s own leaders do. Honor is taken off of active duty as she recovers from the brutal injuries she suffered on Hell, but this also clears the way for her promotion to admiral and an opportunity to teach advanced tactics at the legendary Saganami Island Academy. As Honor shapes the future of Manticore’s military, other events are set into motion that will change the future of both sides of the war.
Review: “Ashes Of Victory” has a feeling of being a pause in the ongoing Honor Harrington saga…albeit a pause where a lot manages to happen. The moment Honor is relieved of active duty to recuperate, rather than being patched up and sent back into battle, you know that “Ashes” isn’t going to be a typical book in the series (if indeed there is such a thing at this point). David Weber spends a lot of time behind enemy lines, setting up monumental events from the Haven side of the story, and certain tactical advantages on Manticore’s side that have been built up since the previous book turn out to be something of a red herring.
The real zinger comes in the final chapters of the book, in which Weber neatly sweeps away the entire support system propping up both Manticore and Haven. Of course, Honor is in the thick of things when it all goes down – or at least she’s in the thick of things on one side of the story – but the book’s ending, which keeps ripping the rug out from under the feet that Weber skillfully makes you think will be doing the dancing in upcoming books until the very last sentence, is strangely unsettling.
The action and intrigue don’t let up, but there’s a more political setup going on among the action scnees: the lines are being redrawn, old friends and old enemies vanish forever or find themselves in unexpected positions of power, and whatever happens in the next book, while you know the foundation on which the plot will be built politically, there’s no way to even guess what’s coming up.
It’s actually some of Weber’s best writing, hands-down – if your jaw isn’t on the floor by the last page, you might want to make sure you’re actually reading “Ashes Of Victory” instead of the phone book. “Ashes Of Victory” comes highly recommended.
Author: David Weber