Book Review: The Honor of the Queen

The Honor of the Queen is the second book in the Honor Harrington series. It carries the tradition of strong narrative with a great main character at the center of the action. Fresh from her victory in Basilisk Station, Honor is sent to escort a diplomatic delegation from the Kingdom of Maticore to the planet Grayson.

One problem, Honor is a woman.

Grayson is a heaven for misogynistic Mormon-Expys.

And the population of are considered social moderates compared to their exiled brethren from Masasa, whose sole mission in life is to bring the “apostates” to heal by any means necessary (they have used nukes in the past, yeah they are that kind of folks) including allying themselves with the Republic of Heaven, Manticore’s sworn enemy so they can get the necessary tech to beat the Graysonites to submission.

This is a typical “Cold War” scenario where in two great powers, on the verge of war, manipulate local politics to their advantage.  In essence is a repeat of the plot of the first book, On Basilisk Station, but with less infodumps and some new wrinkles that keep the situation fresh enough to be enjoyable.

But certain problems crop up:

  • Orientalism: I get that these cultures don’t measure up to the standards of either Heaven or Manticore (their extreme misogyny being a key point of contention between each side and their would be allies), and while Grayson comes of the better with their intention to learn and change their ways (to match their new Heaven protectors) they still need pried open by through Honor’s near heroic sacrifice. Then and only then (and with their Axe Crazy/Religious Fanatic enemies) at their door will they support whatever the Manticorians offer (in good faith of course). Of course the Massadans, well….
  • Complete Monsters: The Masadans are the epitome of religious fanaticism. Use of extreme measures like nuking a planet-check, torture of prisoners in the most vile way possible-check, no deviation (with screening, frothing at the mouth and crazy fascist speech thrown in for good measure) from their divinely ordained mission even though they would be better off letting their neighbors live in peace-check.  Except for one sane man among them, all are complete bastards with no redeeming qualities, which leads me to my third and final point…..
  • Strawman Political: And how! Anyone that skews to one side of the political divide or another is seen as either a fool or a dangerous extremist. Only those who agree with Honor’s point of view are safe from this. Particularly bad with the character of Houseman, who while making some good points in the beginning, but his utter cowardice later on undercuts him completely and even leads to a near-no holds bar beat down from our resident Amazon/Tactical Genius.  Not that people like that don’t exists, but it seems that the character exists only for the author to prove a point, mainly that college educated liberals are sissies.

These things might annoy some readers enough to make them walk away from the books, but the action is so fast and intense, the main character so likable, and the situation so desperate, that it you can blow through these. In his defense, the Havenites do not come off as complete idiots or inhumane and the Manticorians are not perfect, even if they are the chosen good guys, so it seems that the author is aware of issues.

Overall, the book is entertaining, engrossing and well worth it.

——

And now for some music:

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