In most respects, David Weber’s Honor Among Enemies is exactly what you’d expect. Honor continues to wear a +20 Hat of Awesomeness; the Havenites continue to show the reader what a horrible idea socialism is, for all the socialists out there these days; space adventures continue to be had in a rousing fashion; and telepathic bonding animals continue to be really fucking twee.
(Aside: How come, for all the talk about how telepathic bonding animals are equals, they’re never really treated like it? The people of Valdemar don’t go live in the fields when they bond with horses, and Honor doesn’t go live in the jungle with the treecat tribes. The animal sidekicks hang around with their human partners, and generally act like smart pets rather than actual equals. It’s not really bothersome in general, inasmuch as I have no real desire to read books where people go to live in the jungle with tribes of hunting cats; but it is a notable failure of the reality to match the rhetoric.)
All that aside, there are two new and bothersome things about this book:
- It’s longer than the previous books. Most of the earlier ones were hovering around 350 pages, and this is over 500. Looking ahead on my shelves, I see that a few books down the road, they start to creep over 700 pages. I don’t want to say that it’s bloat for sure, but it’s inauspicious when page counts start creeping up late in a series.
- It’s a motherfucking flipbook! I sort of expect that a current edition pulled off the shelf won’t have this, but I swear to god that in the upper right corner, there’s a little picture that, if you flip quickly through the book, is an animation of a ship exploding. What the hell is this? It’s the most inexplicable thing I’ve seen in a book in a very, very long time. I haven’t seen a flipbook corner-thing since this one Donald Duck comic I read as a kid (wherein Donald did a hula dance). It creeps me out a lot.
Bothersome things aside, I continue to be inexplicably engrossed by Honor’s story, while not for a moment thinking it’s actually legitimately good. I can’t explain this, but it keeps on being true.