House of Steel: The Honorverse Companion
by David Weber
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451638936
Date: 07 May 2013 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Every story has a beginning. The war between Manticore and Haven brewed for decades before Honor Harrington came on the scene and the first shots were fired. Many times during the course of the series, there have been hints at why Queen Elizabeth Winton hates Haven so much. The story of her father King Roger Winton III is the rise of the Star Kingdom out of isolation and into the galactic politic.
In the time before Roger's life there was no prolong. His is the first generation to have the advantage of an extended life. The new extended life will have a great impact on the Navy. Officers will live longer and it will stifle opportunities for younger officers. Roger refuses to use his family position to advance, but he also is in a difficult spot as the heir to the throne. Since he can't be put into too dangerous a position, he finds a special part of the navy to develop in -- a section that will drive him as an officer and a king.
The life of a king is never easy. It is more difficult when there are competing factions in his government and an external enemy that wants to possess the honey pot that is the Manticore wormhole junction. Although smaller than the growing Havenite threat, the push to look for new allies and develop technology evens the odds. His drive is reflected in his daughter's future, even as she is forced to rise to the throne long before her time.
The first section of House of Steel is the story of Roger Winton's life and times. After that are numerous companion pieces that describe the history, government, religion, and military of Manticore and Grayson. There is also a special color section related to the flags, uniforms, and awards of both star nations. Taken together fans of the Honorverse get a more complete picture of the universe that has been developing for over a decade.
I was surprised to see the color section because of the associated costs, but very happy that it was included. The awards were the highlight of the collection to me. The story "I Will Build My House of Steel" was highly entertaining and well written. Another very interesting section is the frequently asked questions.
House of Steel is being released at a good time. There are all sorts of details for fans of the Honorverse series. The fall brings Honorcon where fans will gather with the creators of the series. This is the type of book that will drive conversations.
I had a chance to talk with Christopher Weuve, one of the contributors, and we discussed the work and details that went into creating this companion. He noted that the time period covered was chosen deliberately to not reveal details that would give away (details readers would prefer to find for themselves). This is something no fan of Honor Harrington will want to go without.