So now that your Terran Federation Navy has defeated a race of implacable evil aliens, what do you have them do? What enemy can possibly be worthy of their opponentry? Nobody but... themselves.

Yes, David Weber and Steve White’s Insurrection gives us a Civil War, pitting father against son, brother against brother, and brave and honorable Naval officer against brave and honorable Naval officer. It is a book about divided loyalties, the horrors of war, and the human price of conflict.

Which is, regrettably, not the strength of Weberian fiction. As much as I make fun of the human-eating spider aliens of the last book, they’re sort of ideal for this mode of military fiction, because they’re like ultra-Nazis — so evil that there’s no point in wondering if they’re worth fighting against, so you can enjoy the fun hyper-militarism without any qualms. But here, you can’t do that. You can’t really get into the guilty pleasure mode without feeling a little guilty.

“Well, good!” you say. “War is horrible, and these books ought to reflect that.” But you’re wrong. War is horrible, and some books ought to reflect that, but not these, because Weber and White have a deep-seated inability to write convincing characters who have recognizable human emotions.

To give you an idea, the book opens with approximately sixty pages of horrible, cringe-inducing politics; the highlight of this section is when one of the “good guys” actually goes ahead and murders his political opponent right on the Assembly floor. This is portrayed as a commendable act. So yeah, subtlety and nuance aren’t really strong suits. (We’ll skip lightly over the part where the rebels turn to, yes, the United States Declaration of Independence to announce their rebellion, and then use, yes, the United States Constitution as the basis of their new government. Even though this is a universe in which the United States stopped existing 300-400 years earlier and the people doing the rebelling have no ethnic connection to the United States.)

The space battle parts of the book are still enjoyable, but whereas the previous books of this series have been 90% awesome space battle and 10% loathsome politics, this is more like 80% loathsome politics and 20% awesome space battle. I don’t actually recommend it.


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