Review: A Rising Thunder by David Weber

A Rising Thunder by David Weber
A Rising Thunder by David Weber

A Rising Thunder (Honor Harrington #13)
David Weber
Baen, 2012

The library was sent a copy of David Weber’s A Rising Thunder via the fine folks at Baker and Taylor and snagged it the second I saw it. I’ve spoken of the Honorverse before and my love of Weber’s magnificent space opera series. Along with Campbell’s Lost Fleet series the Honor Harrington novels are ranked at the top of my sci-fi series list and I’m always excited when a new books comes out. That was made all the worse this time out thanks to Weber’s frustrating cliffhanger at the end of Mission of Honor. Thankfully A Rising Thunder takes all the awesome and amazing moments built upon in the previous book and really rolls things forward.

Some spoilers ahead from Mission of Honor so if you have yet to read that book stop here.

Weber did a good job building tension about the Oyster Bay attack in Mission of Honor. I sat through that novel with growing apprehension and fear culminating in genuine sadness and outrage once the devastating attack occurred. Of course the novel ended not too long after so the real effects of that attack aren’t really felt or seen until A Rising Thunder. Of course, the scrappy Manticorans aren’t going to be daunted by the loss of almost all their orbital facilities and a recover and rebuilding effort is already underway as the novel opens. What is really surprising, not just for us but for the political entities involved is the aggressive response of the Manticoran Star Empire.

In another parellel to David Weber’s Safehold series the Star Empire of Manticore responds to the attack in much the way Charis responded the battle off Armageddon Reef. Both Charis and Manticore, when threatened by a more geographically expansive enemy and both boasting some of the best, most advanced navies in the world recall their merchant marine thus denying the enemy of their more prevalent and well-trusted hulls. I’m sure I’ve mentioned some of this before (I’ve sure thought about it a lot) but both series are about small, upstart nations whose presumption in challenging their world’s accepted social order sees them pitted against much larger seemingly unassailable foes. Both Manticore and Charis are fueled by technological advanced spurred by their need and willingness to think outside conventional means. Both Charis and Manticore find themselves under attack via a hidden group pulling the strings of the visible enemy. Heck, both Charis and Manticore find themselves allied with former enemies (though one through conquest and another through treaty). I don’t know if this a problem but the overarching thematic similarities between both Weber’s series is something that is constantly in the back of my mind as I read.

Where early Honor Harrington novels focused closely on the battle between the People’s Republic of Have and the Star Kingdom of Manticore, and specifically looked at the conflict through the filter of Honor the series has begun to grow broader in its scope. A Rising Thunder marks a major shift towards that broader perspective and sees the series quite literal aiming for the stars (beyond the Manticore binary system) and punching it full throttle. Honor wears multiple hats and is still a capable front line commander but her role in politics on an intergalactic scale has helped bush the series in direction other than pure military conflict.

A Rising Thunder isn’t a novel that is going to win new fans over. With twelve main series novels behind it (along with several other in universe novels) there is a weight of backstory behind the events of A Rising Thunder that would be impossible for new readers to grasp and without prior emotional attachment to Honor and the people in her life the novel would really fall flat. For fans A Rising Thunder feels like a close to one (rather lengthy) chapter of this story and the beginning of another whole new chapter; a chapter fraught with danger and a strong dose of the unknown. That said, A Rising Thunder is both a satisfying conclusion and an exciting beginning to whatever lies ahead for this series.

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