I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.House of Steel by BuNine, David Weber
is a Military Science Fiction
in the Honorverse, Honor Harrington series.
This edition was published by Baen Books on May 7, 2013 in hardcover and has 565 pages.
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Other books in this series include Worlds of Honor, Fire Season, Worlds of Weber: Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington and Other Stories, Beginnings, Treecat Wars
An Honorverse Companion revolving around the Honor Harrington military science fiction series.
It’s gotta have a “5” if only for the amount of work the BuNine have put into this. House of Steel provides a tremendous amount of back history on how the People’s Republic of Haven descended into the mess its in while the majority of the book is a history, a look at cultural development, wars, and an analysis of the different parts of space of Manticoran and Grayson governments (the Manticoran is in much more depth) and a detailed look at the evolution of the Manticoran Navy, Army, and Marines, and the ships with a less detailed look at the Grayson Navy’s ship designs. There’s a look at important people in the series — Manticoran and Grayson — and discusses the weapons. There are some briefer looks at other planetary systems and how they tie in with Manticore.
Weber provides a look at nonhuman sentient species including a terrific back history on the treecats from the earliest Manticoran discovery of them and their adoption of the Wintons through history including how they’re treated, their protections, and their emigration.
He also provides a great deal more information about King Roger’s grav-ski accident and the investigation’s results. And I cried…
It’s so frustrating to read of Roger’s struggle to build up the Navy, especially when I know what’s coming! And I’m just dying to re-read the series. It’s been too long since I read the start of the series; I’m just gonna hafta pick up the prequel, Worlds of Weber: Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington, and start again.
Of course, I adored the story, although Roger’s ending did make me cry and I did prefer the history and political bits — the huge chunk about the ships was tedious. I found myself wishing I had each book in the series by my side where I could try and pinpoint when each ship occurred in the stories and what actions they took part in, for a better sense of connection.
Between the short story and the histories and analyses is a section of color plates displaying flags, uniforms, military awards, insignia, crests, badges and pins, and starships.
Writers should consider reading the Afterword as it analyzes what went into building this world of navies and all the concerns which Weber had to take into account. The FAQs section is more of a tease; I do suggest reading About BuNine at the end where it introduces the people behind this creation of history and all. It’s an interesting introduction and funny.
There is a short story at the start about the Royal Manticore Navy’s build-up from Queen Samantha’s encouragement of Crown Prince Roger, his courtship of Angelique and her brother’s involvement in R&D, and his relationship with his children on through to his death.
There’s a nice bit in here about Elizabeth’s courtship with Justin Zyrr, a chem grad.
The Characters & Rest of the Story
We start in 1844 PD with Lieutenant Roger Winton; Monroe is his treecat. Sir Frederick Truman is First Space Lord and against the buildup of the Navy while Sir Abner Laidlaw, Baron of Castle Rock, is the First Lord of Admiralty and agrees with the Queen. Edward Janacek appears in this time as well, so we view his progress through the Navy and government. Sir William Spruance is Rear Admiral of the Green, Fifth Space Lord, and the head of the Bureau of Personnel. As the years go by, Murdoch Alexander, the twelfth Earl of White Haven, becomes First Space Lord — his son is Hamish Alexander, a Lieutenant Commander at this point, and we learn of his feud with Janacek (his anti-R&D stance comes up and I’m just dying to re-read his encounter with Honor about weapons improvement); Lieutenant Commander Sonja Hemphill comes onto the scene, and we learn of her, um, personality in the early days; and, Sir Thomas Caparelli.
Queen Samantha II is Roger’s mother; Magnus is her treecat. Caitrin, Roger’s sister, is twelve years younger than him; she marries Edward Henke, the Earl of Gold Peak. Naturally, Michelle Henke receives a mention.
Commander Jonas Adcock is in charge of Admiral Dame Carrie Lomax‘s secret R&D division at BuWeaps; his gift is in seeing connections and possibilities. It’s impressive how accepting he is of how Roger has to treat him. It’s also where the government plants Commander Winton when they can no longer tolerate his being aboard combat ships. Sebastian D’Orville is also in their R&D group. Angelique Adcock is Jonas’ sister who bedazzles young Roger. She lives on Gryphon and works as a silviculturalist, a forestry expert.
Sir Casper O’Grady, the Earl of Mortenson, is the current Prime Minister, anxious for Roger to leave the Navy. Godfrey Bannister is the senior social columnist for the Landing Times who saddles Angelique with the title that becomes a barrier to Angelique saying yes.
When Roger ascends the throne, Allen Summervale, Duke of Cromarty, is the new Prime Minister. Elizabeth (Ariel, her treecat, adopts her when Elizabeth is 15) and Michael are born.
Lady Emily Alexander‘s accident is mentioned. Padraic Dover is a major in Palace Security. We also learn of others who are involved in Roger’s assassination.
Peeps mentioned include:
Citizen Commissioner Sandra Connors shows up at DuQuesne Base with Citizen Admiral Alec Dimitri when White Haven takes it out. Thomas Theisman and Denis LePic are mentioned.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a collage of bits and pieces from House of Steel with a proud King Roger and his treecat, Monroe; Honor Harrington in beret; skinsuited men with a treecat; and, a variety of ships.
The title is the House of Winton — it is indeed a House of Steel.