Review of SHADOW OF FREEDOM by David Weber
Baen, March 2013
As Manticore expands into League space, it's aided by local resistance movements, movements conveniently set up by Manticore's enemy, Mesa. Which means that Manticore doesn't have to waste any of its own forces in pacifying local populations, nation-building, or any of the other inconvenient aspects of conquest. Meanwhile, Manticore is busy building an alliance with its old enemy, Haven.
Unlike many other David Weber readers, I'm ready to move beyond Honor Harrington. Sure, she's wonderful and all that, but she's also just a little too perfect. (For true Honor fans, don't worry, all of the characters in the book are Honor fans, too, constantly referring to how wonderful she is). Unfortunately, instead of building new characters, Weber has taken the technology and rant road. Manticore wins not because its characters develop winning strategies, but because it packs better missile weapons, weapons that can't even be detected by its enemies and weapons with enough range that it can destroy its enemies before they get off their first shot. On the rant side, I think I would have gotten Weber's point the first time he went on about how citizens were disarmed, supposedly for their own protection. Yeah, we get that you don't like the idea of taking assault rifles out of the hands of crazy people, Weber. But just once should do it, shouldn't it?
I like the idea of Manticore vs. Solar League. If the earlier books in the series were England vs. France in the Revolutionary period, this could be Germany vs. the Soviet Union in World War II. Perhaps we'll see that in the future... but Shadow of Freedom is pretty much setup. If I hadn't read this book, I feel pretty certain that I could pick up the next one without noticing I'd missed anything.
One more thing... am I the only one who noticed that Weber writes in huge blocks of text? What happened to dialogue (by which I mean people talking to each other rather than delivering multiparagraph lectures?). What happened to action, where things happen?
I made it through to the end so I'm giving this book two stars but I have to say that second one is a bit of a gift in honor (no pun intended) of the good work early in the Honor universe.
Two StarsReviewed 4/09/13
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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