Reviews of Shadow of Saganami, the (2004)
Review by johnafair (2009-02-19)
Unlike the vast majority of David Weber's books, the action is of only equal importance to the political situation.
The book is split about equally between the political ramifications of the proposed merger between the Talbot Cluster and the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the interaction of HMS Hexapuma and the various political groupings in the cluster. For much of the book the political interactions are realised better than the military actions of the crew of the Hexapuma, mainly because there is more of a sense of doubt over the results of those interactions while captain Terekhov of the Hexapuma seems to be virtually perfect as he shows his Middies what being a Queen's Officer is all about.
However, the main focus of the shipboard events are the four snotties undertaking their Midshippersons cruise aboard HMS Hexapuma. Like the rest of the crew, they are disappointed to be away from the 'real' action against the Republic of Haven and we see how their perception, and those of the rest of the crew are brought round to seeing the Talbotters as an important constituent part of the expanding Star Kingdom. How the actions of the ship and it's crew will affect the Talbotters' perceptions of Manticore for the worse, or better. This exploration of perceptions are played out within the interactions between the snotties themselves as well. Our main point of view character is Helen Zwilniki who finds she might be mistaken about some of her fellow snotties. Weber is not afraid to confront the Middies with their own mortality either.
The ending is a touch over the top for my tastes (and possibly Weber's too on later reflection - see _At All Costs_ for an overlapping perspective from the Home Worlds point of view).
(This review refers to the 2004 version titled “The Shadow of Saganami”)