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Reviews of Service of the Sword, the (2003)

Review by johnafair (2005-12-15)
This latest collection of tales from David Weber's Honorverse includes a number of short stories and novellas.
These are:
'Promised Land' by Jane Lindskold
'With One Stone' by Timothy Zahn
'A Ship Named Francis' by John Ringo and Victor Mitchell
'Let's go to Prague' by John Ringo
'Fanatic' by Eric Flint
'The Service of the Sword' by David Weber.
Most are set during the interregnum between the Haven wars though 'Promised Land' is set during the build up to the first Haven war when Manticore was still trying to decide whether to ally with Grayson or their deadly enemy Masada. A daring escape plan should make the decision easier. This is told in alternating points of view between the young leader of the Masadan revolutionaries and the almost as young crown prince of Manticore undergoing his midshipman's cruise.
Only 'With One Stone' has any of the regular characters from the books. Indeed, Rafe Cardones, Honor's Tactical Officer is the main protagonist as Manticoran intelligence goes after a potential new weapon where he has to decide between his code of honour and letting the peeps continue down an expensive technological blind alley.
'A Ship Named Francis' is set aboard a Grayson vessel that may not have the best of luck, or crew. This is quite fun in a sort of twisted way.
John Ringo also contributed a solo effort, 'Let's go to Prague', about a couple of Manticoran special forces personnel who decide to spend their leave behind enemy lines. Ringo is a former soldier so he should have a good idea of what goes on in the forces :-)
Eric Flint's 'Fanatic' stars Victor Cachet, last seen in an earlier Flint story. Here he has to stop a potential naval rebellion without letting his supposed colleagues in State Security in on the secret. Victor is easily one of the scariest characters in my book collection, never mind just these stories with his ability to switch in and out of a psychotic fury. It's to Flint's credit that he actually makes Victor rather sympathetic.
David Weber gets the final place of honour. This also deals with a snottie's maiden cruise. The thing about Abigail Hearnes, though, is she's the first Grayson midshipwoman to have graduated through Saganami and she has to overcome not only the misconceptions and outright bigotry of her fellow shipmates but her own misconceptions about those selfsame people. All their differences are put to one side when faced by a group of unknown raiders they have to fight for their lives. Abigail's captain, Michael Oversteegen is almost unique in the annals of the Honorverse in actually having a degree of ambiguity to his personality rare to David Weber's characters. They tend to either be hypercapable and paragons of virtue or complete idiots and utterly corrupt but Oversteegen, while obviously a brilliant captain, is also somewhat inclined towards the High Ridge government though not so much that he's an unthinking supporter.

Unusually for a 'shared world' collection like this, all the stories were of a high quality, though, as always, some were better than others - my particular favourites being 'Promised Land', 'The Service of the Sword' and 'Let's Go To Prague'.

Review by bkedryna (2003-11-14)
This is another collection of short stories in the Honor universe. Some are very good and others not as good, but one in particular is so funny I would recommend this book just for this one short story - "A Ship Named Francis". This iss a lot funnier to me than any Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett book I've ever read - I was laughing out loud on a public train and couldn't stop for most of the story. Too bad it's so short.




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