Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Dork Review #1: Storm From the Shadows

Alright, so we're going to try something a little different now, regular reviews of books that I've read or reading at the moment. I thought I'd start with one of my favorite authors, David Weber and his next to latest entry in the Honorverse series, Storm From the Shadows.

Now I'm going to assume that if you're reading this you're at least a little bit familiar with the Honorverse. If you're not then I recommend hitting Wikipedia and doing a search for Honor Harrington and then hitting the Baen Books website and downloading any of the Honorverse books they have available for free. Short description of the series would be Horatio Hornblower in space, but that fails to totally encapsulate what Weber has done.

So, on to the book itself. This novel picks up threads hanging around from Shadow of Saganami, and some characters too, and runs parallel to a lot of the action in At All Costs, and even though I have yet to read it, Torch of Freedom. One definitely nice thing is the introduction Mr. Weber provides that warns the reader that some of the events in this book are going to be different views on what's already happened and that all three story lines, the Honor Harrington one, the Talbott Cluster line, and the Queen Berry/Torch line, are all going to be interconnected. I sure the publisher is delighted by this, because to get the full picture of events you'll want to buy all the Honorverse books that come out so that you know exactly what's going on.

However, if you're unable to get them all or want to wait, usually Baen does include a CD in the first printing of a new hardcover that includes all of the books to date. Actually, that was my main motivation for picking up At All Costs in hardcover, so that I could finally get all of the books in the series and understand what was going on.

Finally, the introduction does include a warning. Events are going to get even grimmer for the heroes over the next few books, and this is borne out through this novel where we can see more of what's happening in the background, and it doesn't look good. The book ends on a forbidding note and you just know some serious shit is about to go down.

The two main characters I can see emerging in the text are Michelle Henke and Aviars Terekhov. Both assume more responsibility inside the military, and both get some very moving scenes in the book. Not wanting to give anything away, lets just say that Aviars is shown without a doubt that his actions in Shadow of Saganami were approved of and that the powers that be have great confidence in him.

This being an Honorverse book it does have to include at least one of two instances of Honor Harrington popping up and making a comment about current events. The nice part is that this is done with a light touch in most cases, and the only scene really where we see a lot of her is near the end of the book. This scene does involve Honor verbally pimp slapping the Queen of Manticore and is almost a reason in itself to read the book if you're a fan of Honor Harrington. However, this scene does little to drive the events in the rest of the book, being near the end and all, but for all appearances it is setup for the next Honor Harrington book. I have a feeling it will be referenced or copied over into Mission of Honor, which Mr. Weber has identified as being delivered and in the pipeline for publication.

All in all I enjoyed Storm From the Shadows. The best way I can describe it is as a middle book, kind of like The Empire Strikes Back from Star Wars. It has less action that some of the other Weber books, but it's main reason for existence seems to be to get things moving and setup the next few books after it. If you're only interested in Honor and her adventures then you could skip it, but then you'd be missing out.


  1. I'm also a big fan of David Weber though I'm a little behind on the Honor series. I have been reading Ashes of Victory off and on for a while now, but I got bogged down by all the exposition right in the middle. Weber essentially stopped the plot to have Honor host a dinner where she and her students critique every sea and space battle in the history of man. Tedious. Still, when Weber gets down to business, he is the best.

    Have you read the first three books in his Safehold series? They are spectacular. I agree with some of the critiques I've read saying the second book was slow-paced, but that didn't bother me. The characters and the world he has created more than make up for his desire to describe in rococo detail. He is a damn fine writer.

    By the by, I know you are testing the waters with your short stories. Might I suggest an American webzine called Aphelion? It is not a paying zine, but it's a great place to get started. Some folks don't want to give away their work, and I understand that, but aphelion has a readers' forum where customers give writers critiques. Sometimes that helps when you're just starting out (or just starting out again).

    Here's the website:

    And, if you are interested, I have a blog myself: I usually don't update it as often as you do yours, but now and again I post something. Mostly, it has always been my short short story warmup area.

  2. Thanks for the link David, and I will check it out. Right now I have a core group I like to have read my stuff, and they are reading through the second story I wrote. It's hard though, as they all have lives and I can't ask them to drop everything to help me out. Also, my second story is almost a novelette as it's slightly over 10k words, so I gotta give them some time to get through it.

    I should know something from Tesseracts within the next two weeks. If they say no I'll take another look at that story and either trash it, rework it, or submit elsewhere. I want to give the paying markets a try before I send something out to a non-paying market, even if it's just to get feedback from a greater audience.

    I've heard of the Safehold series but haven't gotten into it. Right now I have no shortage of things to read, but that series is definitely on the list. I'm really looking forward to the next entry in the Hell's Gate series though. Can't wait for that to come out.