Shadow of Freedom (Honor Harrington Series)
by David Weber
Cover Artist: David Mattingly
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451638691
Date: 05 March 2013 List Price $26.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Just when the universe starts to look a little better, everything goes to hell. That is a fair description of where the Manticorian Empire was just before the Mesan Alignment's strike on the home system. After the loss of material and production, Manticore is in trouble. But the actions of Victor Cachat and Anton Zilwicki bring Manticore and Haven together. This happens just in time to stop a massive Solarian League assault.
There are numerous points of view related to the groups and individuals fighting against Frontier Security. Most of which are not really memorable. They serve the plot, and do it well. In truth, they do go about trying to free themselves in a variety ways. Some of which might not be perceived too well by some in our post-911 world.
The adventures of Michelle Henke are wrapped into the continuing action at the end of the Haven War and the start of the war with the Solarian League. It brings into focus the secret group that has been manipulating most of the galaxy for generations. The thing I like about Henke, is that she is willing to take risks, that most wouldn't.
There has been a flurry of Honorverse novels in the past year and more are on the horizon. The Stephanie Harrington YA novels are doing well. This is a mark of the ability of Weber as an author. He is able maintain the action and spirit of the Harrington clan in a glimpse into the past that gives birth to the present.
This is the third Saganmi Island novel. As a later entrant in an ongoing series, this is not the best starting point for new readers. This in no way should be considered as advice not to read the whole series. Take the time to get to know Honor and her friends through the course of several novels. The overall series has more books than The Wheel of Time, but a lot more happens in the Honorverse. There have been several story lines that have developed and closed. There are conclusions and new beginnings. In a long series this is a big bonus, you don't have to wait for the end of the series for conclusion to some adventures.
The series has veered from the Lord Nelson and Horatio Hornblower foundations of battle action, to delve into the galaxy spanning politics of war. By leaving a battle focus more avenues are opened up for plotlines. This is good because it reduces the dependence upon creating ever larger and unrealistic scenarios in order to present challenges to the hero. I look forward to the continuing adventures of Admiral Henke and Honor Harrington as they bring the war to the Solarian League and the Mesan Alignment.