Shadow of Freedom by David Weber

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
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Finally this is Weber back on form again. Much of my more recent Weber reading has suffered, in my opinion, from too much of the narrative being presented through discussions between people sitting on their bums; in meetings or over meals etc. To the extent that my last HH book – A Rising Thunder – seemed to almost all that with just a couple of genuine action scenes. With Shadow of Freedom, however, Weber has come back to what he does so well; a beautifully balanced blend of action and political intrigue. He is even (for Weber) moderately restrained on his info dumps this time around!

That’s not to say it was perfect, it had its flaws; in particular I never felt that the reader really got close to any of the main protagonists, maybe because there were just too many of them. And, whilst I fully understand the problems of finding a natural break in all the threads of such a wide-spanning series, there were two threads that had only a couple of passages throughout the book and that were left unresolved. Sure, I know they will (probably) be resolved in the next book but these days Weber seems to have so many projects underway - Manticore Ascendant, Hell’s Gate, Safehold, three different HH series – that the wait for the next book in each series seems to be getting ever longer. I’m not sure tackling quite so many projects simultaneously is really the most considerate approach to his followers, though it may well be more interesting for him!

One other annoying little niggle is that I wish Weber would exert more control over his book covers. The main protagonist in this book is Michelle Henke. Who is an admiral, black and has no treecat; judging from here decorations it is almost certainly an picture of Honor Harrington who is referred to but never appears in this book. The book cover portrays a ship’s captain (as I recall the white beret is only worn by captains and not by Admirals) who is both white and has a treecat. Also on that cover there are three people portrayed with treecats and this book only has two. All in all the cover not only bears no resemblance to anything in the story it is actually misleading.

Still this book has done much to recover my expectations of his writing.

4/5 stars
 
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