In Enemy Hands

In Enemy HandsOrder this bookStory: Promoted to Commodore after helping to turn the Manticoran Alliance’s fortunes around in the Silesian Confederacy, Honor Harrington is no longer in command of a single ship, but an group of ships dispatched to routine convoy duty in disputed space. When the People’s Republic of Haven, whose revolutionary government has just barely survived a mass assassination attempt, moves to take back a system conquered by Manticore, Honor and some of her most loyal crewmates past and present find themselves in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and in custody. But despite the change of government at Haven, Honor’s “crimes” at Basilisk Station have not been forgotten, and she and Nimitz are sentenced to death.

Review: A serious shake-up after some of the previous Honor Harrington books settled into a nice pat formula, “In Enemy Hands” puts familiar characters on unfamiliar ground, and puts a fair few of them out of commission, and it does it without coming across as too cliched. And clearly author David Weber is setting up strands of plot for future consumption, and this time I can’t wait to see where they’ll lead – or how one of the series’ few honest-to-God cliffhangers will be resolved.

The really interesting stuff, this time around, is happening with the Peeps, as Weber begins to set up major conflicts between the military and the revolutionary civilian government which has twisted the chain of command and the letter of the law until the Havenite Navy can barely function, and the military finds itself being used for propaganda purposes as much as fighting an actual war. Had I read this at the time, I would’ve dismissed it as Weber drawing more parallels to the French Revolution. Now I’m more inclined to think of him as frighteningly ahead of the game. Those who grooved on Babylon 5’s patriotism-vs.-chain-of-command themes should find this book an intriguing read.

On the homefront, I’m a little mystified by the apparent setup of a future relationship for Honor; without spoiling it outright, it just seems like a questionable setup from the word go, and not a direction that I can imagine her character going. Still, it’s just a setup in this book – all I can do here is question the wind-up and wait for the pitch a book or two down the road.

This book doesn’t skimp on its depictions of violence, brutality and outright cruelty, so those who can’t stomach such things would probably be well advised to steer clear. Weber has a somewhat predictable habit of setting up his bad guys as such utter SOBs that you can’t wait for Honor & company to dispatch them by whatever means are necessary, and he does it again here with a fiery comeuppance for the book’s adversaries. There’s something just a little bit convenient about how Honor’s friends come to her aid yet again here, but Weber seems to know that, balancing it out with a formidable body count on both sides.

“In Enemy Hands” is one of the better Honor Harrington books, simply because it doesn’t cleave to the formula that has seemed to dictate quite a few of them so far.

Year: 1997
Author: David Weber
Publisher: Baen
Pages: 544