David Weber

Discussion in 'David Weber' started by Coragem, Jan 6, 2011.

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    Coragem

    Coragem Believer in flawed heroes

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    Hi guys:

    A few on this forum recommended that I try some David Weber. I've just read On Basilisk Station, and it's been a mixed experience.

    ** I enjoyed the character development, and in particular the evolving relationship between Honor and her exec. The book hit a character-based peak around the middle.
    ** I found the physics (hyperspace, impeller drives, etc.) very hard to follow, and I expect I would have done even if I'd been a physicist! Unlike other authors, such as Alastair Reynolds, Weber utterly fails to explain science in an understandable way using everyday images. And do we need such lengthly info-dump?
    ** The battle sequences were too long for me. Superficial description. I prefer to capture some drama in brief then get onto emotional ramifications.

    Now, what does the future hold? Are there jewels awaiting if I journey forth in the honorverse? Or should I pack it in now because the Mistborne trilogy is beckoning from my bookshelf and I was planning to re-read Enders Game and Gemmell's Rigante series...?

    Coragem.
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    Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    Ah! Who can tell? In the interest of full disclosure I am a big Weber Fan. I've read all of his early Honor Harrington books four times. So perhaps I'm not the best to ask, or maybe I am so here goes.

    First, Alastair Reynolds explains his physics?! I'm not sure I would go that far. I found Century Rain and Pushing Ice both dense in that regard. I have no idea how that boost to nearer light speed worked. Every time I read one of his books I'm frustrated by the lack of heroes. Pushing Ice had me throwing the book down a few times swearing I wouldn't finish it, the "feud" between the two main characters who should have been working together frustrated me to no end. (Easy Parson --- Let's get back to the question.)

    The next books will have a lot less to do with physics and a lot more to do with what it means to be a person of honor. It is my belief that the series builds through "The Field of Dishonor" and then levels out some, the last books not having the same amount of punch.

    On the other hand the battle sequences will be shorter in the following books, but very long by standards other than Weber's. If I were to criticize his battle scenes I would say that for the amount of damage her ships sustain, especially in Basilisk station, that it is hard to imagine anyone would survive.

    So, I don't know what to say. I think you will enjoy at least the next couple of novels for sure.

    I'm not big on Fantasy, so "Mistborne Trilogy" is just a name to me. Ender's Game however is IMO one of the all time great novels of any genre, and would be in the running for best SF novel ever. --- But while Speaker for the Dead was good not great, and Xenocide barely made the good category. And the rest of them should be used to start fires.
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    murphy

    murphy New Member

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    I've read and liked the Honor stories but during the scientific and battle scenes, my eyes glaze over, my brain goes elsewhere and I skip until I get to the interesting (to me) parts. I like the politics and characters of the series and read them for that.
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    chopper

    chopper still alive

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    hmm, oddly, i veer the other way: in the later books there is far too much interpersonal talkie stuff (Storm from the Shadows is all talk, no action), and i want wall-to-wall laser-pumped action! (well, not quite, but some would be nice)
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    Rodders

    Rodders |-O-| (-O-) |-O-|

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    I've very much enjoyed David Weber's Honour Harrington novels although i have found the Politics in the later novels a little tedious. As a rule though, they're great SF with a pretty well thought out universe.

    Personally though, i've never felt the need to read any of David Weber's books outside of the Honorverse.
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    Coragem

    Coragem Believer in flawed heroes

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    Thanks for this.

    I agree with you on Pushing Ice, and frankly for me the presence of heroes (or anti-heroes perhaps) are a prerequisite of an enjoyable novel! Century Rain is another of Reynolds' weakest, and a shame because the early part of the novel, setting a rich Parisian scene and setting up a mystery, is almost perfect. But I guess you've tried Chasm City and The Prefect? Strong and (for me) likeable / heroic protagonists there.

    Now, the question of "what it means to be a person of honor". I like the sound of that a lot. I'll let you know ...

    Interesting, I read that David Weber is Methodist. I'm not religious myself, but I seem to gravitate towards writers who are. I think it's because, as noted in my previous posts, in novels I look for a sense that there are things worth living for and fighting for -- i.e., a sense that life has meaning and that we can choose to be better people. I'm actually a Humanist, so I have faith in people's potential, and our ability to create meaning in our lives, and I struggle to read anything overly pessimistic or nihilistic that goes against that.

    Coragem
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    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    Just to add my two penny worth. I have read almost all of Weber's Harrington books; still have a couple of the later ones which I tend to read as interludes between heavier stuff.

    On the physics and battles, I tended to find him a little heavy in the very earliest books and again in some of the later books. The middle of the series is much more focused on HH herself; her honour, relationships, issues with her own nation of Manticore and her adopted one of Grayson. I personally do enjoy a fair bit of techie physics but then I am a techie myself. However even I have found some of his later work bit heavy in that area, but I have no problem with skimming it a little sometimes.

    All in all I do enjoy Weber's work which I find easy and enjoyable reading. I have also read his Safehold series which I have enjoyed a great deal; it's sort of a cross between Fantasy and SF. Fascinating in depth look at the somewhat accelerated) development of naval warfare, of which he seems to be very knowledgable. And his Hell's Gate series is also another interesting one though rather stalled at them moment I believe due to the ill health of his co-author on them - Linda Evans.

    Slightly off topic, but still Weber and HH, I was thinking recently how much he has modeled the Honorverse on our own politics. It seems to me that Manitcore (despite being a monarchy) is America, the People Republic of Haven naturally Russia, Grayson the UK possibly. The Anderman Empire or possibly Erewhon the rest of Europe. Not sure about the Solarian League, though they don't really get much coverage until the later books. What do others think?
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    Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    Vertigo! great question --- I am so happy to talk about David Weber's Honorverse.

    I have a slightly different take on this. I always saw Manticore was modeled on an idealized UK, or maybe more precisely England. (Don't forget that the inspiration for the series was the Haratio Hornblower series.) I'm not so sure that the People's Republic is modeled on Russia. I would tend to lean toward revolutionary France, -- Remember Robespierre? Doesn't that sound like one of the Peep's power brokers? The rest of them are not as clear to me. If we continue under a 17th century umbrella, but I don't believe that Weber can necessarily be tied to that -- then the Anderman Empire might be Germany (Prussia), the hints are there. Grayson puzzles me, but if continue 17th century then the logical conclusion is the Netherlands. Now the Solarian League looks to me to be drawn more from a near future than a far past, and then I make it the USA, big, powerful, self-satisfied, and sliding downhill. -- However 17th Century Spain cannot be ruled out. Erewhon --- not a clue. Rest of Europe sounds possible.
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    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    Interesting Parson, I hadn't thought of the 17th century and I must admit that my knowledge of that period of history is sketchy at best! I had looked at the essentially capitalist Manticore and socialist Peeps and the way that the relationship is initially bitterly cold with mutual hatred at all levels of society. During the course of the books there is a slow thaw in that coldness despite the fighting and the self serving behaviour of many of the politicians. This seemed to mirror the East-West relationship since WWII. However you may well be right that the Peeps are a closer match to the French Republic but I'm not so sure about Manticore. Despite it being a monarchy (with Queen Elizabeth even) I felt that the political power of the Queen had more in common with the American president than the British monarchy which hasn't had any real political power for a long time now.

    On the other hand Grayson-Manticore relationship has many similarities with the UK/USA relationship. The way Grayson is saved by HH/Manticore and then becomes it's staunchest ally put me in mind of WWII and the subsequent relationship between us and you guys. Also the stuffy, proper and reserved attitude of the Grayson society compared with the easy going one of Manticore seems to mirror the sterotypical image of each of our nations!

    In fairness to Weber, bearing in mind his background as a historian, he has probably used various political systems from various different eras as his models. In fact this is one of the things I always enjoy about SF; the opportunity to mix up things like that and then explore how they would work together.

    I must say I do enjoy Weber's books and I find his political machinations very enjoyable (particularly in the Safehold books). He creates very believable worlds and builds his characters well. My only real complaint is the level of detail he sometimes puts into his battle scenes. Precise distance, speed and acceleration figures may show that he has put a lot of thought into the tactics and execution of space battles but I'm afraid I'm not dedicated enough to try and work them out myself; it is just too much detail. However it is easy enough to skim those bits and get the general gist of it.
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    Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    For me, Manticore with its House of Lords, House of Commons, queen, major "navy" and minor "army," a history of privileged nobility who are "expected" to serve, all has to add up to an idealized England of the 16th century.

    "Thaw in relationships?" have you read "Mission of Honor?"

    I hadn't thought about the angle of development between the star nations and who might serve for a model for that. I'm not sure that there is one. Because Manticore continues to be far the superior power, but Grayson is definitely on a rapid rise. She goes from what amounts to a modern day 3rd world power, to a significant player in short order. But if we leave the development angle out of it, I agree that the relationship between the USA and GB looks very promising. I also like the experimental social institutions etc. that Sf is able to deal with in a more pure manner.


    I agree here most heartedly. His political take on things for me is very refreshing in comparison to the normal SF take on politics and social order. He is also one of the few authors who takes religion seriously as a force for both good and evil. That's something someone like me can really relate to. I also have to say that I find his detail in battles to be stimulating. I find myself trying to work out the tactics and distances to see if they really make sense. But then I'm a little weird. I can sometimes groove on an information dump.:D

    I too find the Safehold series enjoyable. But I hear that he has not intention of jumping the time line into the future and deal with the enemy (name escapes me right now) who drove earth to Safehold in the first place. Part of me thinks that Merlin gives too much of an advantage, but then we have yet to deal with the ancient space born defenses.

    I would like to see more of (or depending on how evaluate these things) a further sequel to "The Path of the Fury." I think that story line has real promise. As well as one that is completely stand alone at this point, "The Apocalypse Troll."
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    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    Yes I have indeed read Misson of Honor which is sort of what I was alluding to - but didn't want to put a spoiler in ;) But the "thaw" really started quite a bit earlier I guess around the time they released Michelle Henke (I think).

    I think the beauty of Merlin is that it lets him chart the development of naval warfare much more rapidly than would normally be the case - a touch indulgent to his historical interestes but also very interesting for the lay reader.

    I have never read The Path of Fury but instead came straight in with In Fury Born:

    I did enjoy that and I guess a follow on would be equally nice though he did pretty much wrap things up. I confess I have not yet read the Apocalypse Troll, though will probably get around to it sooner or later!

    One thing I find interesting about his writing is that he seems to have a preference for female lead characters even if, as in the case of Safehold, he then turns them into a man!
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    Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    I would agree it started earlier. And I also did not want to put a spoiler in. I think it began when Theismann became a force to be reckoned with in Haven's politics.

    Surely that is the intent. But it seems to me that the expansion cannot go much (any?) further without risking the wrath of the "Gods." I would guess we have one more book before Weber must address that problem. It Mother Church has enough sense to do the math, she will create a "modern" navy in numbers too great for Charis to handle and the next upgrade surely runs strait into the prohibitions.

    I would like to see the coalition take on the missions that were expected at the end of the last book. In truth, I thought "The Path of the Fury" was a better more personally satisfying story than "In Fury Born" which did bring in a lot of background the other book only hinted at.

    For a Weber fan "The Apocalypse Troll" is not to be missed. I feel it is at least the equal of anything else he's written. Something I surely wouldn't say about "March to the Sea" and the rest of that series. I can only take killing job lots for so long, and the first 2, that's where I stopped, did so much of that I just couldn't deal with it any more.
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    Montero

    Montero Senior Member

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    I read quite a few of the HH books some years back. (Tried re-reading recently but didn't enjoy much so gave up. Suspect my tastes have shifted.)

    Way back when, I enjoyed the battle and interpersonal stuff, found People's Republic of Haven sections tedious and in later books even reached the point of page flicking through it.

    Up to book 4 or 5 I think, ish, from vague memory had punch to it, and then the tail off started.

    Loved the Tree Cats. Want much more Tree Cat. :)

    If other things beckon, why not read them. Weber will still be there when you fancy a change. :)

    There is also The Empire of Man series - David Weber and John Ringo, where the finale of the series is running a revolution/palace coup/rescue from a restaurant. The last book in the series is "We Few" I've only read the finale as that is what happened to be in the library. Anyway, that was pretty amusing and worked as a stand-alone. (One day will read the rest of the series - unless I listen to Parson and don't bother, as March to xxx are the first three books in the series.)
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
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    Moggle

    Moggle New Member

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    I purchased a hardback copy of, "On Basilisk Station," for a dollar and after finishing it, I proceeded to read Honor of the Queen, Path of the Fury, 1632 and all the Dahak books. So far everything has been great. Well "Heirs to the Empire" was a big disappointment, but other than that every else has been great. I can't wait to read, "The Stars at War."

    My only criticism is that I do hope that Weber develops some kind of meaningful overarching plot in the HH books though; while the first two books were very good, I couldn't help but feel I was reading the exact same story over again. At what point will Weber stop using the formula of Honor beating overwhelming odds, moving up in rank and receiving a bigger ship at the beginning of every sequel?
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    Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    Moggle,

    That's an interesting criticism. Because Weber did have an overarching theme for (if memory serves) 9? books, at the end of which Honor Harrington was to die. But because the Honor Harrington books became so popular he let a couple of other authors in and they picked up on the thread he was going to move in the universe after her death, so the last 3 or so were not part of the original plan.

    As the series progresses you will indeed find other, not so pleasant, ways that each story ends. When I was reading them as they came out, there were a couple of times I wouldn't have been too surprised to find out that the series had come to an end and that Weber had moved exclusively to something else.
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    Jade44

    Jade44 New Member

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    I actually enjoy the space battle scenes, although as some have pointed out they are a bit overly detailed at times. One question I have always had regarding these battles is why there are no kinetic weapons. It seems to me that firing multiple warhead missiles containing submunitions would be a good deal more effective than firing single missiles that release energy bursts. However, it is SF and Mr. Weber has the right to have whatever weapons he wants aboard his spaceships.
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    Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    My guess would be that kinetic weapons are of little use against ships that duck. Since I know you are quite far in the Harrington novels, I'm sure you've noticed that the issue for the effectiveness of the missiles is how much burn time they have after they've reached the targeted ships defenses. Any kind of stationary gravel or such would be incinerated by the wedges.
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    WizardofOwls

    WizardofOwls King of Typos

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    Personally, I prefer Mr. Weber's fantasy trilogy - Oath of Swords, The War God's Own, and Wind Rider's Oath.
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    Jade44

    Jade44 New Member

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    That could well be. But I do note that Weber has attempted to make his warships resemble 18th century ship-of-the-line as much as possible, to the point of actually making the battles unrealistic. I actually prefer the physics used in Catherine Asaro's novels in which the warships have a mix of kinetic and energy weapons as well as missiles. Even today we have smart submunitions that can target individual targets. I would expect that in a time period more than a thousand years in the future that developing a sold shot missile that could evade the wedge would be quite simple. And imagine the energy transfer of a one kilo object moving at half the speed of light.

    And you are right - I am quite far along in the novels - almost to the most recent in fact. It was interesting to note that Weber corrected some of his earlier depictions of battle by adding the equivalent of aircraft carriers to the fleets and allowing his warships to fire missiles that were not in the broadside. Possibly this was due to fan input or maybe he just decided that if such weapons exist now, why wouldn't they exist then.

    But as I said - it is science fiction and he can do whatever he wants in his world. You just have to accept it the way it is. I still quite enjoy the novels or I would not still be reading them. It is nice to know that he decided not to kill off his heroine and has a couple more books planned, especially after he gave her wounds identical to those suffered by Lord Nelson.
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    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    The Nelson wounds was very deliberate, HH is very much based on Nelson which is why the original plan had here dying!

    And I think he is planning more than "a couple" more books, however I think the emphasis of the series will be moving more towards the younger generation now.

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