Review of In Enemy Hands by David Weber

December 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

In Enemy HandsIn Enemy Hands (Honor Harrington #7)
By David Weber; Narrated By Allyson Johnson
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 20 hours

Themes: / military sci-fi / prisoners of war / tree cats / torture /

Publisher summary:

Honor Harrington has survived ship-to-ship combat, assassins, political vendettas, and duels. But this time, Honor and her crew, ambushed and captured, are aboard an enemy ship, bound for a prison planet aptly named ‘Hell’ – and her scheduled execution. Yet the one lesson Honor has never learned is how to give up. She and her people are going home – even if it means conquering hell to get there!

Weighing in at nearly twenty hours, In Enemy Hands is the seventh volume in the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. If you’re new to this series, I highly urge you to start at the beginning with On Basilisk Station. This is solid military SF and if you can overlook the unnecessary info-dumping that Weber appears to frolic in at length, this is outstanding stuff.

The action scenes are crisp and well presented. And while there are a few ship-to-ship battles, most of the action occurs hand-to-hand. Weber does a pretty nice job at teasing tension out of the story but when he shifts into exposition, and this happens far too frequently, the earlier tension is lost and the reader is left to flail about in the sudden slackness of superfluous narrative. You know that person who talks and talks for no other reason than they like the sound of their own voice? Yeah, this is how it feels when you hit one of these info-dumping spots of Weber. But if you can tough it out and just grit your teeth, you’ll be rewarded with a fun and exhilarating military SF story with believable characters that you can root for.

Allyson Johnson narrates this audiobook, and all I can really say about her reading is that it is tolerable, but just barely. I feel a good reader should become the story rather than assuming the role of performer. If I listen to a book and am consciously aware of the narrator, the reader has failed. Not once was I able to focus on Weber’s story without being painfully aware of Johnson’s jarring and awkward rhythm. It felt as if she, Johnson, wanted to convince anyone who was listening that she “could” do the job of reading. Too many narrators try too hard to do their job when all they really need to do is read, just read, nothing more. It’s like climbing up a really tall ladder. Everything will be fine so long as you just climb. You only get into trouble when you start thinking about climbing.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

Review of More Than Honor by David Weber, et al

July 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

More than HonorMore Than Honor (Worlds of Honor #1)
By David Weber, David Drake, S. M. Stirling; Read By Victor Bevine, L. J. Ganser, Khristine Hvam
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 21 May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4805-2813-0
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 discs; 11 hours

Themes: / telepathic tree cats / short stories / military sci-fi / Honor Harrington /

Publisher summary:

New York Times bestselling author David Weber invites David Drake and S.M. Stirling, two of today’s top writers of military science fiction, to join him in an exploration of Honor Harrington’s universe.

 More Than Honor consists of the following four parts.

  1. A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber, narrated by Khristine Hvam.
  2. A Grand Tour by David Drake, narrated by Victor Bevine.
  3. A Whiff of Grapeshot by S.M. Stirling, narrated by Khristine Hvam.
  4. The Universe of Honor Harrington by David Weber, narrated by L. J. Ganser.

This collection starts and ends strong, but unflatteringly sags in the middle.  The story “A Beautiful Friendship” is a short work introducing Stephanie Harrington and the first bonding between humans and treecats.  It’s a powerful piece and Khristine Hvam narrates it with skill and style.  David Weber later lengthened this short story into a novel, which now is on my to-read list.  This collection is worth picking up if for no other reason than to simply read this first story.  I know for those of you who aren’t familiar with Honor Harrington and treecats, the idea of a six-legged cat might seem weird, it’s not, well not really.  Trust me on this, just go with it and all shall become groovy.

The following two works in this collection were in my opinion, unneeded baggage that added little and entertained less.  “A Grand Tour” by David Drake, narrated by Victor Bevine, tells the story of a largely forgettable cast of characters doing stuff that really doesn’t matter to anyone outside of the narrative.  Going from “A Beautiful Friendship” to this was like going from steaming jets of hot water shooting from the showerhead to being sprayed down in county lockup with a fire hose gushing ice water.  Victor Bevine as narrator gives a solid effort though at times, I felt he was overdoing it and this contributed to my overall sense of “Mehh” for this piece.  “A Whiff of Grapeshot” by S.M. Stirling, narrated by Khristine Hvam, wasn’t as bad as “A Grand Tour” but still, not great.  Stirling does tie this into the Honor Universe and Khristine Hvam gives another outstanding performance as reader.  Others may find this short story enjoyable and if you are one of these individuals, I can understand why you may like this.  I however found it lacking any sense of urgency and as a result, I felt unengaged for the duration of this short work.

This collection concludes with an appendix providing a wealth of historical reference to the Honor Universe.  For those of you who are into this series, I highly recommend reading this.  L. J. Ganser narrates this final section, “The Universe of Honor Harrington” by David Weber.  And for what it’s worth, Ganser does a great job of reading mostly historical exposition.  I found some of this material to be fascinating while some of it was dry and skim-worthy but still, good stuff to read through.

In the end, I’d say it’s an okay expansion pack but falls short of what it promises.  Sadly, this collection doesn’t even come close to scratching the military SF itch like Weber has done in the past with his earlier Honor Harrington books.  I was left wanting more treecats and more space battles.

Posted by Casey Hampton.