Books 4/20 – 5/9

“Let’s be about it”

Well not many new books. I’ve gone back and reread some of David Weber’s Honor Harrington Series. There are seventeen books in this series and some do not involve Harrington, though most do, and the ones that don’t are set in the same universe or Honorverse. I enjoyed the first ten novels in the series, “On Basilisk Station” thru “War of Honor”. In these ten I felt as though Weber got the balance right between the military, action, aspects of stories and characters. Throw in some fascinating science, economics, references to the age of sail (Napoleonic War era, Nelson that sort of thing), some pretty interesting alien species and you’ve got yourself some cracking good space opera. If you must call it something then hard military space opera will get close, if you must. Really the only down-side I can think of is the military aspects of it. If you can’t overlook the violence inherent in military sci-fi (insert Grail comment, go ahead I don’t mind) and the regular killing off of characters well, then this may not be for you. If you can or you like military sci-fi and prefer that the cast of characters change then I highly recommend this series. Another point very much in this series favor is that Weber does not, I repeat, does not write the same book over and over again. What about the remaining seven novels in series? I don’t know, I feel like they got too mushy. I preferred Harrington in full Valkyrie mode of the early books myself.


“Majestrum” is my first encounter with the author, Matthew Hughes. Based on this book I think I’ve got to start tracking down his other work, his web-site has some interesting tasters to get one started. So I got interested in this particular book by all the favourable references to good ol’ Sherlock and the fact that it was set in the far far future, I mean science fiction and mystery in one book, you might as well put a pint of Guinness and shot of Knappogue Castle whiskey in front of me! However, combining my two favorite genres has often disappointed and so with a bit of trepidation I dug in.

I was not disappointed. The main character of this work is Henghis Hapthorn who is a discriminator, ie detective. His method is one of pure rationality or so he thinks. That is one the major themes of the book, rational thought v. intuitive thought, or as it called in this novel “suggestive association”. Hapthorn’s reliance on rationality is Holmesian as is his arrogance. He is arrogant about his methods, his successes, and his place in what he sees as his world and his times. His world is “Old Earth” which is our Earth but in this universe it just one of ten thousand planets populated by humans after a number of Diasporas. This world is rendered in vivid and concrete terms by Hughes. This Earth has gained a type monarchy, the Archonate, and it has become very fussy about protocols, class and etiquette. I had a vision of Europe in the 16Th century until the early 18Th century, in terms of social structure. Obviously this is a space faring time and technology that underpins this universe is appropriately complex. His times are “rational”, without magic, but that is changing towards a period of magic. That imminent change forms one the crises for Henghis Hapthorn. The others are number of cases, discriminations, that he is employed to resolve. The the main discrimination that he must perform is complex and allows Hughes to discuss rational thought v. intuitive thought at length. This results in the book spending large amounts of time directed at the internal affairs of Hapthorn. The danger of becoming bogged down in these internal crises is avoided by a brisk writing style and healthy dollop of action sequences that force the characters out of themselves.

The novel is brief totalling 210 pages. The language used by the characters can be described as dense. Some times this can be difficult but worth the occasional obscure term as it just adds to the otherness of the novel’s universe. The desciption of the language can also describe the novel; at times difficult but worth the effort.

One comment on “Books 4/20 – 5/9”

  1. […] of the Honor Harrington series and quite enjoyed the first seven or so of those, my commets are here . But, I have often struggled with Weber’s non-Harrington works. So I’ve started this […]

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