Shadow of Victory by David Weber


Mad Mountain Man
Jun 29, 2010
Scottish Highlands
It’s interesting how since the first Honor Harrington book – On Basilisk Station – Weber’s writing has morphed from military adventure SF to political SF. There is nothing inherently wrong with such a transformation except possibly that he was much better at writing the former and, whilst he was always guilty of a bit of info-dumping (especially on technology details), he has, with the latter, shifted to almost pure exposition with only occasional bits of actual action. Add to that the apparent total absence of any content editing and his books have moved from being relatively exciting yarns to tedious faux histories filled with masses of unnecessary detail. In just one example from Shadow of Victory, Weber wanted to let his readers know that some missiles had been secretly launched and were on their way to their target (a space station). To do this he introduced a new POV, which never reappears in the rest of the book, along with about a three page of back story on his life just so he can detect the missiles about to hit his space ship which just happens to be in their way (sure that’s likely, space is rather big you know Mr Weber) and dodge out of the way. That’s it; four or five pages just to do what could have been done with an existing POV simply saying “missiles away.” One of the reasons I read the second half of this book so much quicker than the first was that I was getting much better at detecting and skimming such bloated passages.

There are now three separate threads to the HH stories and pretty much all of this book barring maybe the last 50 to 100 pages (out of over 800 pages) is going over stuff already at least mentioned, if not covered in great detail, in the other two threads. Between all three threads the number of events and the size of cast are both so large that it’s almost impossible to keep track and I’m afraid I’ve pretty much given up trying to do so. Another major annoyance for me at least is his stereotyping; I’ve noticed this before but here he excels himself. One of the planets in this book is meant to have a Scottish Highlands ethnic origin (I’ve never quite understood so many SF authors being convinced that a galactic diaspora would naturally result in cultural segregation like this) and so he fills that planet with MacThis and MacThat names. No McThis ones and virtually no non-Mac ones. I live in the Highlands and, yes, there are a lot of Macs about but in my Highlands phone directory the Macs (and Mcs) occupy just 25 pages out of over 150 pages. But no, Weber’s planet is filled almost exclusively with Macs. Irritating. I daresay his Polish origin planet is probably equally stereotyped but I’m really not sure since my eReader couldn’t even display many of the characters in the names and I certainly couldn’t pronounce them never mind remember them and consequently I rapidly stopped taking any notice of them (my apologies to any Polish people reading this).

And this is a problem I came across time and again throughout this book, I just didn’t really care enough about any of the huge cast of characters to be particularly interested in their fates. It eventually became just too tedious. I find myself asking why I continue reading these books and ultimately I suppose I do want to find out what will eventually come of all this intrigue, but I’m becoming less and less convinced that I care enough to battle through what will probably be a good many more books like this one to get there.

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