Finished a pair of excellent SF novels…
Mission of Honor – David Weber
This is a new book in the Honor Harrington series, a ‘space opera’ series that has extended to a dozen or so books and has recently branched into three parallel series of books, some in collaboration with other authors. In this book, the Star Empire of Manticore finds that even winning the war that has formed the center of the previous books isn’t enough, because a new pair of even stronger enemies are rising – the huge, corrupt but currently ineffective Solarian League and their shadowy manipulators ‘MAN’.
While I enjoyed the book, it is a little difficult to follow cold as there is a lot of recapitulation of action from the other series’ books and many scenes where characters are discussing what has happened rather than just doing it. While there is some action, compared to most of the other books there is much less. It is more of a bridge than a story of its own.
Worth reading if you are a fan, but if you aren’t start at the beginning with ‘On Basilisk Station’ where the central character, Honor Harrington is a new ship commander rather than the world spanning figure she has evolved into by this book.
What Distant Deeps – David Drake
This is the eighth book in the “Lt. Leary” series by David Drake. Drake is another master of military SF, and he tends to ground his situations in historical frameworks for added realism. In a way, the series can be thought of as a “Aubrey and Maturin in Space” except the captain (Leary) is a naturalist and the Maturin figure is Adele Mundy, a pistol-packing librarian that nominally is on the ship as a communication officer. Adele is an expert shot due to her being raised to fight duels by her noble family, who were all executed on the order of Leary’s father for treason.
In this book the two star empires in the region are at peace, but to keep busy Leary and Adele are sent to deliver a diplomat to a new post, and stumble over an attempt by an ally planet to annex a world claimed by their opponents in the last war. They have to block this effort to avoid launching a new war.
This series so far has avoided the growing scope of the Honor series, and like the Aubrey-Maturin books tend to involve small forces and a familiar cast of characters. You could easily start with the book, but you will want to go back and start with the first book “With the Lightnings”.