Story: Honor Harrington has known fellow starship captain Pavel Young for her entire career – going back to their academy days, where he used his family’s privelege to get out from under charges that he tried to rape her, and back to Basilisk Station, where he tried to hang her out to dry…and back to the battle for Hancock Station, where Young ordered his ship to flee formation during a critical moment, causing the loss of thousands of Manticoran lives. But just as Young has made a career of slipping through the fingers of justice, Honor has made a career of surviving, and when Young is court-martialed for fleeing, he tries to even the score one last time by hiring an assassin to force a duel with Honor’s lover, Captain Paul Tankersley – a duel Paul doesn’t stand a chance of winning. Already laying low to avoid the press during a political firestorm, Honor sets out for vengeance, even if it means destroying her career in the process.
Review: I didn’t really set out to review two consecutive Honor Harrington books, but “Field Of Dishonor” reads at a white heat and it’s hard to put down. With its own inevitable rhythm of a march into battle, “Field” takes on the issue of letting politics dictate military policy (and leaves no doubt that author David Weber thinks it’s a bad idea).
This boook also sets things up for the future by starting to put pieces in play about Honor’s life outside of the Royal Manticoran Navy – as a steadholder of virtually her own country on the planet Grayson (a gift given to her in thanks for saving the planet – see “The Honor Of The Queen“), she has responsibilities that she can’t even begin to imagine. Inevitably, the reader begins to understand that the Grayson plot thread is being woven back into things, because that’s the only place Honor could possibly go if she throws it all away. Overall, Field paints a thoroughly detailed picture of a persistent, evolving, interconnected universe. Even though the Manticoran government is clearly inspired by Great Britain, with its House of Lords, House of Commons and Parliament, Weber sets a domino chain of believable partisan politics (and cutthroat ones at that) into motion that will doubtlessly leave ripples for future books in the series to clear up.
Poor Paul Tankersley – one starts to wonder if Captain Harrington’s love life is going to fare any better than that of another fictional starship captain whose love interests seemed to wind up face-down by the end of the adventure (and not in bed either). It’s almost a pity to see Paul exit here, as he was a thoroughly well-developed character in his own right, and not just one carefully calculated to win the reader’s affection (or Honor’s for that matter).
Quite possibly the best entry in the series so far – definitely not the place to start, but a nice reward for sticking with the story.
Author: David Weber