Book Review: David Weber’s A Rising Thunder

Posted May 21, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

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.

Book Review: David Weber’s A Rising Thunder

A Rising Thunder


David Weber

It is part of the Honor Harrington #13 series and is a military science fiction that was published by Baen Books on March 6, 2012 and has 458 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Mission of Honor, Insurrection, Worlds of Honor, Empire from the Ashes, Changer of Worlds, Torch of Freedom, Hell’s Gate, Hell Hath No Fury, In Fire Forged, In Fury Born, Off Armageddon Reef, By Schism Rent Asunder, Mission of Honor, By Heresies Distressed, A Mighty Fortress, How Firm a Foundation, Fire Season, Midst Toil and Tribulation, Shadow of Freedom, House of Steel, Worlds of Weber: Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington and Other Stories, Beginnings, Like a Mighty Army, Cauldron of Ghosts, Treecat Wars, A Call to Duty, Hell's Foundations Quiver, At the Sign of Triumph

Thirteenth in the Honor Harrington military science fiction series revolving around Honor Harrington and the strategies required to keep the Kingdom of Manticore free.

You may want to wait and read A Rising Thunder after the next installment is published in 2013…2013??!!…’cause it is just making me nutso cuckoo to have to wait for Shadow of Freedom and find out what happens next…the pins and needles are just killin’ me!!

My Take

It’s a lovely tale of a corrupt government system being taken down ten pegs or so by a tiny neobarb system. Manticore is a utopia compared to most systems, but it has its own share of idjits and assholes. Luckily, it also has its share of decent people. And they’re in charge!

Oh, man, I love it. Those arrogant Sollies keep being shocked that this tiny neobarb navy actually dares to threaten the all-powerful SLN!? Talk about shock — the awe showed up back in Mission of Honor. It blows my mind that the SL government officials are so much more concerned about their personal fiefdoms that they’d rather take this chance at war and lying to their public than just admit they screwed up. So much cheaper in personnel, ships, money… Heck, they can barely admit it to each other.

“Justice is conspicuous by its absence when it comes to politics and entrenched, self-serving regimes.”

For centuries the Solarian League and its navy (SLN) has had everything its own way, and they have taken advantage. No one knows how many systems were absorbed into the League voluntarily, but it’s a good bet that many were forcibly taken. All in the name of “helping out”. Then their economies are plundered by the corrupt men set in charge over them. This attitude has taken them up against the navy of Manticore. A navy that has been researching and upgrading, inventing and improving their own weapons on an almost daily basis for decades in their war with the People’s Republic of Haven while the SLN has been too complacent and corrupt to bother.

No one in the SLN can believe that these tiny ships could possibly take out the mighty ships of the SLN. An attitude that doesn’t prevent Manticore from doing what it needs to protect itself and its allies.

The SL applies the terms of treaties and agreements when its convenient to them; downplays them when it’s not. They’re manipulating the data to make the Manties look like the bad guys. What’s truly amazing is that the SL public, despite knowing how incredibly corrupt their government is, actually buys this.

The SL has used its Frontier Security Force to bash the protectorate star systems for tribute, all of which goes directly to the SL bureaucracies and is the whole reason why the Office of Frontier Security (OFS) has been encouraged to expand its territory any way it likes.

Longacre (Beowulf) sums up the SL officials very well: “…he doesn’t seem to grasp the possibility that there’s any universe outside the system he understands.” And it’s too much fun to watch the Beowulfans dance around the SLN, thwarting their plans to use the Beowulf Terminus to attack Manticore. So many angles, so many disappointments for the SLN.

Don’t be fooled, though. Weber gets the tension up there and keeps cranking it up! I swear I read and sped and my heart rate just kept going up. Weber has shown that he doesn’t mind killing off the good characters or putting the good guys into really tight situations. No, it’s never a gratuitous “kill”, but, da-yum. A few books back there was a rumor he was going to off Honor…I just about died! And the damned Mesans are sending a load of their rockets to replace SLN ones. Eeek!

It’s so amazing to hear White Haven admitting that Admiral Hemphill’s research into improved weaponry was such a great idea and that he was so wrong. He admitted it before, books ago, but, still, it takes a big man to be able to bring it up again and again.

There is just so very much that is coming to a head in this series. I always figured that brokering a peace with the Republic of Haven would be the end. It makes sense that war with the Solarian League would bring that peace about and open up a whole new front to take down a new and bigger bully.

This pretty much sums it up: “I’m proposing to exercise the sovereign right of my star system to defend its citizens against the orders of an unelected clique of corrupt bureaucrats with no trace of constitutional authority…”

We also get the backstory on Anton Zilwicki and Victor Cachat escaping from Mesa, the present they brought home for Manticore and Haven, and why they decide to head to Nouveau Paris first with their prize.

Omigod, that whole exchange between Holmon-Sanders and Tsang…ya gotta wonder how often the U.S. and other countries’ government/military commands have pulled crap like that on smaller nations. I should hope it’s never been with such a flagrant disregard for truth and law! Weber really gets me going when I read this stuff..! Arghhh…! Why does the bad guy always gets mad when you reverse his tactics on him?

The Story

Not getting a reaction from the Solarian League, Manticore ups the ante and recalls its merchant ships, ordering each and every one home while the Royal Navy takes over space termini to ensure their people get home safe. It’s a move that angers ships’ captains and merchants, and one that begins to terrify the rest of the universe as they begin to realize just how many of those merchant hulls are Manticoran.

And Filareta with a huge Solarian League fleet. Sorry, another huge fleet directly to Manticore to beat them into submission — amazing how the SLN keeps losing fleets to the Manties. Then Beowulf receives a visit from Admiral Simpson of the SLN, and the speculation is rife as to whether the SL has finally figured out how deeply in bed Beowulf is with Manticore.

In the meantime, Crown Prince Roger Gregory Alexander Timothy Winton is about to get married to his soon-to-be Crown Princess, Rivka Rosenfeld. And the first time, the treecat volunteers have served as security in this non-war.

And, it’s time to implement Lacoön Two.

The Characters

The Star Kingdom of Manticore

Duchess Honor Harrington-Alexander and her treecat, Nimitz, are still going strong albeit with her one remaining armsman, Captain Spencer Hawke. James MacGuiness is still Honor’s steward. Drs. Allison and Alfred Harrington are her parents. Her dad is still trying to come to terms with the demise of almost the entire Harrington family in the Yawata strike. The one good side to that attack is that Honor’s parents now accept that bodyguards are essential. Sergeant Isaiah Matlock is the son of a forestry ranger and has been assigned to Alfred; Corporal Anastasia Yanakov is Allison’s. Faith and James Harrington are Honor’s twin siblings, and while they still have Luck Blackett, replacing Jeremiah Tennard was difficult until Honor thought of Andrew’s younger brother, Corporal Micah LaFollett. Someone Faith has known her whole life. Honor’s own children, Raoul and Katherine, have drawn Lieutenant Vincent Clinkscales. Hamish Alexander-Harrington, Earl of White Haven, is married to Honor, and both of them are married to Emily Alexander-Harrington, Countess of White Haven. Samantha is Hamish’s treecat.

The Manticoran Navy includes…
…(besides Honor!) some old-timers: Captain Andrea Jaruwalski, Commodore Mercedes Bingham, and Captain Rafael Cardones. Vice Admiral Alice Truman of the Mantie Navy is in Beowulf as backup.

Empress Elizabeth is Manticore’s ruler. Her Cabinet consists of William Alexander, Baron Grantville and Prime Minister of the Star Empire; Sir Anthony Langtry, as foreign secretary; Baroness Morncreek; and, Bruce Wijenberg. Sir Lyman Carmichael is the Manticoran ambassador to the Solarian League in Old Chicago.

Sphnix is…

Honor’s and Nimitz’s home planet and part of the Star Kingdom of Manticore. Dr. Adelina Arif has been working with the treecats of Sphinx, teaching them sign language, and now a delegation of treecats have requested that Adelina comm Honor with their proposal. A proposal of war from Sorrow Singer, Song Shadow, and six other memory singers. The treecats can recognize the abrupt change when the nano-assassin created by Manpower is about to go into effect, and they want to do their part, even if it means going off-planet. The genocide of the Black Water clan has galvanized the treecats for war.

Grayson is…

…allied with Manticore. Man, everyone is heading to Manticore! Protector of Grayson Benjamin Mayhew, his wives Katherine and Elaine, and three of their children are touching down at Landing in Manticore. Michael Mayhew, Benjamin’s brother, is the Grayson representative to the Republic of Haven-Manticore treaty.

The Andermani are…

…a mostly independent planet with a watching brief is inclined to Manticore. Admiral Chien-lu Anderman, Herzog von Rabenstrange, has also arrived in Landing with his “personal aide” Major Shiang Schenk of the Totenkopf Hussars representing Emperor Gustav.

The People’s Republic of Haven was…

…Manticore’s enemy for years. Its President Pritchard has found common ground with the Star Kingdom, and they become allies in oh, so many ways. Admiral Thomas Theisman of the People’s Navy (and its Secretary of Defense, War, and Chief of Naval Operations) will have a front row seat in the upcoming battle.

Anton Zilwicki and Victor Cachat are spies; the first for Manticore and the second for Haven. Both have reputations for getting the job done, no matter what. Zilwicki has forgotten more about electronics than any hundred others and is a trained naval officer; Cachat has a more restricted set of core competencies: lock picking, murder, extortion, counterespionage, regime destabilization, explosives, arson, and just your all-around general mayhem.

The Solarian League (SL) is…

…the enemy. The men who really run the Solarian League are Permanent Senior Undersecretaries Innokentiy Kolokoltsov, who is the most powerful man in the entire League; Agatá Wodoslawski is treasury; Malachai Abruzzi is information; and, Omosupe Quartermain is commerce. Admiral Rajampet Rajani is in charge of the navy that is supposed to be protecting its commerce. The one that’s going down the tubes in both directions. President Yeou Kun Chol is a figurehead only and has never interfered in the running of the SL until his much smarter brother becomes concerned about the family shipping interests. Fleet Admiral Winston Kingsford looks to be getting a promotion. He also seems to be much more intelligent than Rajampet. Well, not that that’s really saying anything. And he has the very competent Captain Gweon with a good plan. Only he’s in bed with Erzébet Pelletier, a Mesan operative.

Audrey Hanrahan is a muckracking journalist whom the government fears and everyone believes because she actually publishes facts, verified facts.

A new group of Solarians with lots of questions are about to play a greater part in the story: Captain Daud al-Fanudahi who has been trying to draw his navy’s attention to the improved Manti weaponry, Captain Irene Teague who’s come to believe him, Colonel Natsuko Okiku is with Criminal Investigation and just doesn’t like how well all these explanations hang together, and Major Bryce Tarkovsky is with Marine Intelligence and has some thick dossiers on SLN officers in bed with Manpower of Mesa.

The SLN fleet heading to Manticore is led by…
Fleet Admiral Massimo Filareta (Weber keeps talking about his very kinky, disgusting sexual proclivities but we never get the details! We do, however, get a very clear idea of how far into Manpower’s pockets he is). The sad thing is that Filareta is actually quite bright and is drawing all the right conclusions. But Manpower prepares for all sorts of contingencies. Admiral John Burrows is his chief of staff and an excellent manager of Filareta. On the plus side, Filareta knows he needs someone to manage him. Admiral William Daniels is his operations officer. Rear Admiral Marjorie Simpson is with the SLN and a cousin of Rajampet’s. She’s used in a lot of gray areas by the SLN, and she’s in Beowulf to coordinate an attack. Fat chance. Fleet Admiral Imogene Tsang exercises poor judgment in the attack.

Beowulf is…

…technically a Solarian League ally. Members of the Beowulf Planetary Board of Directors include Gabriel Caddell-Markham as the Director of Defense — Timothy Sung is his personal aide; Chyang Benton-Ramirez is the Chairman and CEO; Fedosei Demianovich Mikulin is Director at Large; Jukka Longacre is Director of State; and, Joshua Pinder-Swun is Secretary and Vice Chairman and CEO of the system government. Jacques Benton-Ramirez y Chou is Honor’s uncle, one of the Chyang’s cousins, and the Third Director at Large. He’s also the very unofficial liaison to the Audubon Ballroom.

Vice Admiral Holmon-Sanders of the Beowulf System Defense Force reiterates her government’s demands. Felicia Hadley is Beowulf’s senior delegate to the Solarian League Assembly.

Other SL Allies

Governor Oravil Barregos of the Maya Sector and Admiral Luis Roszak are making their own plans as a protectorate of the SL.

Manpower is…

…the power behind the Mesan Alignment and the ultimate enemy with its Nazi-like beliefs. Albrecht Detweiler is the man in charge. One of his sons is mentioned: Benjamin.

The Cover and Title

It’s a Baen cover with its sci-fi theme and the right colors. Honor Harrington is in uniform and white beret with Nimitz wrapped around her shoulders as she marches off the ramp from her spaceship. Guards are waiting on one end while crewmen are watching her walk off. It’s nighttime and the spires of buildings are lit up on either side.

The title is what the Solarian League Mandarins are provoking. It’s not just the Star Empire of Manticore it needs to fear, but all the star systems its OFS has been raking over. It’s A Rising Thunder that is approaching, that will rattle everything the SL has taken for granted.