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The Worlds of David Weber

"Your Grace," Honor said, "I have only one question. Do you wish this man crippled, or dead?"

"My Lady," the Protector of Grayson told his Champion, "I do not wish him to leave this room alive."

-- from Flag In Exile, the fifth Honor Harrington novel

David Weber is a science fiction writer who specializes in military science fiction. He's best known for the Honor Harrington series, which currently numbers fifteen novels and five short-story anthologies. I have the first nine novels and the first three anthologies in paperback, e-book copies of the next four novels, and hardcover copies of a couple as well. Weber also has some stand-alone SF novels, and a collaborative series with Steve White.

The saga of Honor Harrington

Honor Harrington began as "Horatio Hornblower in space" and grew into a phenomenon in her own right. For some reason this female space-opera hero just caught fire, and twenty years later Weber is still writing about her.

  • ON BASILISK STATION
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN:
    After a disastrous performance in Fleet wargames, Commander Honor Harrington and her ship, the light cruiser HMS Fearless, have been exiled to the remote picket-station called Basilisk Station in the Medusa star system. Basilisk Station is where the Royal Manticoran Navy sends its screw-ups and deadbeats -- and it just so happens that the screw-up in command at the moment is Lord Pavel Young, an aristocratic captain who has a long-standing feud with Honor. Basilisk is also a haven for smugglers and other lawbreakers, as well as being a target for the enemy stellar power of Haven. Honor doesn't care about the first and considers it her duty to do something about the second, an attitude that gets her some new friends, some new enemies, and a whole lot of trouble. This is a decent military-sf yarn, but in my opinion it's also the weakest of the whole series. Weber was still working out the character of Honor Harrington, the technology of her universe, and his own writing style, and it shows.
  • HONOR OF THE QUEEN, THE
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1992
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-671-72172-0
    It's three years after the events of ON BASILISK STATION, and relations between the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the People's Republic of Haven are getting steadily worse. Seeking allies in the war she knows is coming, the Queen of Manticore sends a diplomatic mission to the planet Grayson in the Yeltsin system. The mission's military unit is commanded by Honor Harrington. That gets the mission off on the wrong foot right away: the Manticoran ships have many female crewmen and a female commander, but Grayson is a ferociously misogynistic culture, where women are considered little more than property and certainly not equal to men. Things get considerably worse when Grayson's sworn enemy, Masada, launches an attack with Peep help and wipes out most of the Grayson Space Navy along with the leader of the Manticoran diplomatic mission. At that point, as the senior remaining Manticoran officer, Honor finds herself cast in the role of simultaneous diplomat and warrior, pitted against enemies both on and off Grayson. This is both better written and a more complex story than ON BASILISK STATION, and begins a long, careful process of developing Honor from a simple "textbook naval officer" into a more complex and interesting personality. It also begins the building of Honor's companion treecat, Nimitz, from the seeming pet he was in ON BASILISK STATION into a truly intelligent entity and a full character in his own right.
  • SHORT VICTORIOUS WAR, THE
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1994
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-671-87596-5
    The People's Republic of Haven is planning a surprise attack against Manticore and its allies. Manticore knows the Peep attack is coming, but not where or when or how. Newly returned from medical leave, Honor Harrington is given command of the battlecruiser HMS Nike and assigned to the garrison at Hancock Station, a new and powerful Manticoran fleet base. While Honor learns the ways of her new command role and deals with the inevitable politics that come with it, the Peep fleet engages in a complex series of "provocations" intended to lead to a full-scale attack, and the Manticoran command tries to predict where Haven will actually attack. Meanwhile, Honor's personal situation at Hancock is made much more complex by the arrival of her old enemy Pavel Young. When Haven finally does attack, seeking the short war and quick victory they need, they find themselves facing a thoroughly warned and prepared enemy. That includes Honor and her commanding admiral, who both intend to make the war anything but short, and anything but a Peep victory. With this novel the story of Honor Harrington becomes a true arc, where you must have read the earlier books to understand everything that's going on in this one.
  • FIELD OF DISHONOR
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1994
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-671-87624-4
    After the Battle of Hancock (told in the previous book), Honor Harrington returns to Manticore to get her battered ship repaired. She also must give testimony in the court-martial of Lord Pavel Young for the cowardice he displayed during the Battle of Hancock. The court-martial leads to Young being expelled from the Navy in disgrace, and he swears to get revenge on Honor. Soon she finds herself at the center of a personal and political crisis as Young lashes out at her, seeking to destroy her in revenge for her role in ending his career. Unable to defend herself by legal means, Honor has only one recourse: the field of honor, where the Manticoran laws on dueling can bring personal enemies face to face, to settle their differences once and for all. This is very different from the earlier books in the series, much more character driven and with hardly any of the action that marks the earlier (and later) books. Yet in some ways it's the strongest of the series and certainly shows Weber can write characters as well as he can write space battles.
  • FLAG IN EXILE
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-671-87681-3
    Stripped of her command, her career in ruins, Honor returns to Grayson to start rebuilding her life. But events aren't content to let her do so in peace. Being a Steadholder is difficult enough, and to add further burdens, Grayson needs her expertise in its rapidly expanding Navy. While she tries to master her dual roles as Steadholder and Admiral, a new political vortex begins to form around her. Before long she finds herself at the center of another political firestorm every bit as vicious as the one she left behind on Manticore. Conservative elements on Grayson are rigidly opposed to the notion of a female Steadholder, and are determined to remove Honor from power by any means necessary. Even worse, Grayson is the primary target in a new Peep offensive designed to break the Manticoran Alliance and regain the initiative in the war. And Honor may be the only person who can save her adopted homeworld.
  • HONOR AMONG ENEMIES
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1996
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-671-87783-6
    Honor is given a chance to revive her Manticoran naval career, but there's a catch: she's expected to lead four clumsy, underpowered, undermanned, almost unprotected armed merchant ships into the Silesian Confederacy, a region of space where Manticore shipping is being plagued by pirates. Just to keep things interesting, some of the "pirates" aren't what they seem, and neither is the mission. One of the weaker entries in the series; a number of cliches and recycled plot devices, and besides Honor, the best developed characters are some of the bad guys. But it serves an important role in the ongoing story arc, reviving Honor's career and getting her back into action. And it's a fairly good story in its own right.
  • IN ENEMY HANDS
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1997
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-671-57770-0
    Honor gets a promotion to commodore and is given command of a Manticoran heavy cruiser squadron on a convoy-escort run. Unfortunately for her, the escort mission lands her in a system that the Peeps have just retaken, and she is captured by the enemy in a well-executed ambush. This in turn earns her a trip to a prison planet aptly named "Hell," and an appointment with the executioner there. This book ends on a major cliffhanger. Like FIELD OF DISHONOR, this is more a character-driven story than an action/combat story, and focuses on how Honor and her officers (most of whom are also her friends) react to being captured.
  • ECHOES OF HONOR
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1998
    Publisher: Baen
    ISBN: 0-671-57833-2
    As far as the Star Kingdom of Manticore knows, Honor Harrington is dead, murdered by the Peep security police after her capture and staged "trial" for war crimes. While mourning the dead Honor, the Manticoran commanders begin organizing a new campaign against Haven, using the new weapons they have under construction. But Haven strikes first and leaves the Star Kingdom and its allies reeling from their most severe losses of the war. Meanwhile, Honor herself is fighting to escape from the nearly impregnable prison planet called Hell. A well-written book, despite the fact that it neither starts nor cleanly finishes any of its major storylines. Weber manages the near-impossible in making Honor's escape from Hell seem plausible even when it shouldn't be.
  • ASHES OF VICTORY
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:2000
    Publisher: Baen
    ISBN: 0-671-31977-9
    Honor Harrington returns to the Star Kingdom of Manticore in triumph, having escaped from the Peep prison planet of Hell. She faces a long period of recovery from injuries she received while a captive. Worse, her treecat Nimitz has injuries of his own to contend with, as he finds he was mentally as well as physically crippled by Havenite brutality. But they persevere, and both begin working their way back to health. At the same time, Honor is assigned as commander of the Officer Training Academy for the Manticoran navy. Meanwhile, Manticore is finally ready to launch a long-planned new offensive, using a variety of new weapons and tactics before which the Peep Navy will be almost helpless. But things never seem to go quite as expected in wartime ...
  • WAR OF HONOR
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:2002
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-7434-3545-1
    It's been three years since Admiral White Haven's all-out attack using Manticore's new weapons and tactics brought about a coup in the Republic of Haven and forced the new leaders to request a truce. At the same time, the last-gasp stab by the old Haven leadership led to the fall of the Manticoran government. The new Manticoran government, led by the reactionary Baron High Ridge and formed of an unlikely alliance among three mutually-antagonistic political parties, is dragging out the peace negotiations while using the continuing state of "war" to maintain high taxes and push some of their own non-war-related programs forward. Honor Harrington and Earl White Haven have become leaders in the Opposition and are embroiled in a vicious political fight with the High Ridge government. To get Honor out of the way, the Government gives her command of a task force at a new picket station in the pirate-riddled Confederacy of Silesia, where she faces not only the pirates, but also increasing power plays from the neighboring Anderman Star Empire. Meanwhile, the new Haven leaders are getting increasingly impatient with the stalled peace talks, and a power-hungry Havenite politician is scheming in his own way to sabotage the peace negotiations.

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Other works in the Honorverse

The Honorverse is the larger universe in which the Honor Harrington novels take place. In recent years it's gotten .... well, larger, as Weber has let other authors play with his characters, and his own novels have reached out to other events and characters within the larger ongoing story arc.

  • CHANGER OF WORLDS
    Author: Weber, David (ed.)
    Copyright:2001
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-7434-3520-6
    This collection features four stories, only one of which stars Honor. The title story takes us into treecat society, and shows how the clan-leadership of Nimitz's clan decided to use Honor's estates on the planet Grayson as the treecats' first off-planet colony. A second story is about Honor's midshipman cruise, aboard an old Manticoran cruiser on an anti-pirate patrol. A third, lengthy story is set just after ASHES OF VICTORY, and describes how a rogue Manticoran officer and his daughter break up a massive slavery/genetic-engineering ring in the Solarian League. In the process, they gain some information that could be very useful back home on Manticore. (This story and the characters it introduces play major roles in WAR OF HONOR.) The fourth and final story tells of Admiral Esther McQueen's attempt to overthrow the Havenite revolutionary government (another element that was critical to ASHES OF VICTORY, yet took place "off-camera"), and how it was defeated.
  • MORE THAN HONOR
    Author: Weber, David (ed.)
    Copyright:1998
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-671-87857-3
    A collection of three short stories set in the universe of Honor Harrington. None of them have Honor as the main character; all explore other aspects of the Honorverse. Especially interesting is Weber's own contribution: the story of the first contact between humans and the small six-limbed aliens called treecats. As a supplement, there's a detailed look at the basics of the Honor Harrington universe: the systems, peoples, ships, and weapons.
  • WORLDS OF HONOR
    Author: Weber, David (ed.)
    Copyright:1999
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-671-57855-3
    Five more short stories in the Honorverse, two of them by Weber. One is set several hundred years before Honor's time, and describes a journey to Sphinx, homeworld of the treecats, by Adrienne Winton, heiress to the throne of the Star Kingdom of Manticore. While there, she's adopted by a treecat (the first Winton monarch to be adopted) and escapes an assassination attempt. Weber's second story tells the story of one of Honor's early exploits, rescuing survivors from a massive snow avalanche. A third story features another adventure on Sphinx, where treecats and humans teamed up to defeat some nasty human plunderers. Story #4 is about Elizabeth III's rise to the Manticoran throne after her father's death, which may or may not have been an accident. The fifth story is a conventional combat story, and probably the weakest of the five.

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Empire from the Ashes

The Moon is really a starship. Yes, that's right: Luna is actually Dahak, a warship the size of ... well, a moon, with an intelligent core computer and a very important mission. It seems like a ridiculous premise for a short story, much less a trilogy, but Weber makes it work. With a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek about it, of course.

  • MUTINEERS' MOON
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1991
    Publisher: Baen
    ISBN: 0-671-72085-6
    The Moon is actually an alien warship? It sounds like a preposterous premise, but Weber makes it work. Astronaut Captain Colin McIntyre is on a scanning mission above the Moon when he discovers something very strange: the Moon has lots and lots of tunnels dug all through it. Very big tunnels, at that. Colin is then captured and taken inside the Moon, where he discovers that what humans always called a moon is actually a gigantic starship, stranded in Earth orbit fifty thousand years ago after an on-board mutiny. The mutineers managed to flee the ship, which left the ship's computer, named Dahak, in a quandary. It can't leave without dealing with the mutiny, but it can't do anything about the mutiny without a crew. It's been stuck in Earth orbit ever since. Now it has a pressing need to resolve the situation, so it's captured Colin in order to make him its captain and get him to defeat the mutineers.
  • ARMAGEDDON INHERITANCE, THE
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: Baen
    ISBN: 0-671-72197-6
    The mutineers have been defeated, but there's a new problem. Fifty thousand years ago, the Empire to which Dahak belonged was preparing for a war against a powerful enemy starfleet from a species called the Achuultani. Now the enemy is on the way, and Colin McIntyre must organize Earth to defend itself while he takes Dahak to the heart of the old Empire to see if he can find any help. Pure space opera, way over the top, but pretty good nonetheless.
  • HEIRS OF EMPIRE
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1996
    Publisher: Baen
    ISBN: 0-671-87707-0
    Emperor Colin the First has to deal with a traitor at the same time as he's grieving for the children the traitor killed. Unknown to him, though, the kids are still alive and involved in a fight of their own on an isolated, very hostile planet, run by a very hostile Church. So hostile, in fact, that it considers their very existence a threat and orders them killed. Meanwhile, back on the Imperial homeworld, Colin himself is being slowly and carefully stalked and set up for assassination by a man who wants to be Emperor himself.

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The Starfire novels

Starfire is an SF tabletop wargame played using warships of many classes that move around a board made up of 'star systems' connected by 'warp points'. David Weber and Steve White both worked on developing the rules for the Starfire game, and later they collaborated on a series of novels set in the Starfire universe. As you might expect, these are the purest military SF -- most major characters are military, and the civilian world scarcely appears at all except as a source of complications and targets.

  • CRUSADE
    Author: Weber and White
    Copyright:1992
    Publisher: Baen
    ISBN: 0-671-72111-9
    Pure military SF. Chronologically the first of Weber and White's Starfire books. The war between Humans and Orions has settled into an uneasy peace when mysterious ships appear, claiming to be from a long-lost human colony. When the mystery ships suddenly attack and destroy an Orion task force, the human government must take on the task of destroying the attackers, rather than face a renewal of the Human-Orion War.
  • IN DEATH GROUND
    Author: Weber and White
    Copyright:1997
    Publisher: Baen
    ISBN: 0-671-87779-8
    A scouting flotilla of the human Federation which is exploring a new warp-point stumbles onto ships from another spacegoing race, one committed to war and so alien that humans can barely understand their strategy. More contacts follow rapidly, and soon the humans and their allies are in an all-out battle for survival against the most powerful foe any of them has ever faced.
  • SHIVA OPTION, THE
    Author: Weber and White
    Copyright:2002
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-7434-7144-X
    A desperate pitched battle has held the Bugs to a stalemate short of the critical worlds of the Human Federation. Now the humans and Orions and allies begin their counterattack against the Bugs, using survey ships to find new points of contact that can be exploited with surprise attacks. They soon learn that the Bugs are concentrated into five sub-groups or star nations; that the Bugs are vulnerable to a peculiar sort of telepathic shock when enough of them are killed at once; and that nothing less than total victory is acceptable to either side. So the humans invoke The Shiva Option: total destruction of any and every Bug-populated planet. Except ... what can they do with the planets that are inhabited by both Bugs and the formerly-intelligent "food species" on which the Bugs feed? A solution to that problem presents itself when a lost survey flotilla returns, bringing with it new allies who have a special reason for hating the Bugs and are so determined to exterminate the Bugs that they'll volunteer to lead ground assaults on Bug-held worlds.
  • INSURRECTION
    Author: Weber and White
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Baen
    ISBN: 0-671-72024-4
    The Terran federation is supposed to be a democratic, representative republic. But the politicians of the Core Worlds are determined to keep the Fringe Worlds from gaining the power that is rightfully theirs. When a Fringe World leader is assassinated by the Innerworld political machine, the Fringe Worlds rise in revolt. The result is a civil war between the Fringe Worlds on one side, and the Innerworlds on the other. The joker in the deck is the Rim Worlds, which remain loyal to the Federation but are completely cut off from the Innerworlds by the Fringe Worlds in between.

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Miscellaneous works

These are some of Weber's miscellaneous SF works.

  • APOCALYPSE TROLL, THE
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1999
    Publisher: Baen Books
    ISBN: 0-671-57845-6
    Centuries in the future, a human interstellar federation is at war with an alien species called the Kangas. With the humans approaching complete victory, the Kangas despatch a powerful force on a suicide mission: use never-before-tested theories to travel backward in time and destroy the human race before it left Earth. A human force pursues the Kangas and succeeds in destroying almost all of them, but is virtually destroyed itself in the process. One Kanga warrior, a cyborg called a Troll, and one future human fighter pilot, a woman named Ludmilla Leonova, survive and are stranded on early-21st-century Earth. The Troll has a twofold goal: carry out his mission to destroy humankind, and somehow gain revenge on his former masters whom he still hates. Ludmilla's mission is much simpler: stop the Troll. The Troll has phenomenal high-tech equipment on his side, including a limited form of mind control. Ludmilla has her brains and her allies among the humans. The outcome is more or less assured, but the real question is how many will die before it's all over.
  • PATH OF THE FURY
    Author: Weber, David
    Copyright:1992
    Publisher: Baen
    ISBN: 0-671-72147-X
    Perhaps the purest "space opera" novel I've ever read. Alicia DeVries, a retired commando in the Space Marines, sees her home attacked and her family murdered by raiding pirates. Alicia uses her own training and skills to kill most of the raider party, but she's nearly killed herself in the process. When she revives, she discovers that she has a very unusual partner living inside her head: a spirit of vengeance named Tisiphone, one of the Greek Furies. Since the authorities can't seem to find the pirates, Alicia uses her own skills and Tisiphone's power to steal an advanced starship with a prototype Artificial Intelligence computer. The A.I. bonds with Alicia and Tisiphone and takes the name Megaera, thus completing the re-creation of the original Furies. Together the three set out on a mission of revenge against the pirates -- a mission which will lead them to traitors in their own government and a ring of greed and murder beyond anything they expected. It sounds like a crazy basis for a good SF story, but one of Weber's strengths is taking crazy premises and making them work.

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