To End in Fire: The Honor Harrington Series: Crown of Slaves Saga, Book 4 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
The Crown of Slaves saga continues. Adventure and intrigue in Honor Harrington’s Star Kingdom from New York Times best-selling authors David Weber and Eric Flint.
The Solarian League lies in defeat, crushed by the Grand Alliance of Manticore, Haven, and Grayson.
Obedient to the Alliance's surrender demands, the League is writing a new Constitution, to prevent the reemergence of out-of-control bureaucrats, like the "Mandarins" who led it to disaster. Frontier Security has been disbanded, the outer worlds have regained control of their own economic destinies, and multiple star systems will soon secede from the League entirely.
Yet the League is—and will remain—the largest, most economically powerful human star nation in existence, and despite the overwhelming evidence that their unelected political leaders were the driving force behind the war, many League citizens deeply resent the fashion in which their star nation—the Solarian League—has been humbled. And those who most resent the Grand Alliance continue to blame Manticore for the nuclear bombardment of the planet Mesa after its surrender. They refuse to accept that the League—and the members of the Grand Alliance—could have been manipulated by a deeply hidden interstellar conspiracy called the Mesan Alignment. The Alignment is only an invention of the Grand Alliance, no more than a mask, a cover, for its own horrific Eridani Violations.
Those Solarians will never accept the war guilt of the League, because they know the Grand Alliance was just as bad. Because they deeply resent the way in which the Grand Alliance pretends to be the innocent "good guys." And in the fullness of time, those Solarians will seek vengeance upon their enemies.
Not all Solarians feel that way, but even some of those who accept that there was an interstellar conspiracy cherish doubts about its origins. But it is still out there, and now defeated Solarians and agents of the victorious Alliance must join forces to find it. Even if they don't believe in it, it believes in them.
They must find it and identify it, to prove to revanchist Solarians that there was a conspiracy.
And they must find it and destroy it to end its evil once and for all.
The Crown of Slaves Honorverse Series:
Crown of Slaves
Torch of Freedom
Cauldron of Ghosts
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|Listening Length||25 hours and 34 minutes|
|Author||David Weber, Eric Flint|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||November 03, 2022|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #8,076 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#148 in Military Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#231 in Space Opera Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#494 in Military Science Fiction (Books)
Top reviews from the United States
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About midway through this thick tome you'll begin to wonder "Will there be any action in this novel at all, or will it be an endless sequence of meetings?" But the cover illustration shows a big space station or an orbital fortress under attack, so you reason that, eventually, there should be some major action, right? There's been some "police" action on Mesa, but even that tale was told after-the-fact.
At around the 7/8ths point you see the relatively few pages left to finish and truly begin to wonder if the book has a payload, but...there's that cover illo!
And finally, you get some action. You get AN end in fire. Not the final end, but AN end. And the cover illustration is finally justified.
Make no mistake: all the meetings in the book -- and there are MANY -- are important to the overall context of the Honorverse. Unlike the early books in the Torch sequence, this fourth book also sits firmly in the Honorverse as a whole. In short, dedicated fans really can't skip this book...although you'll be excused if, at some points, you'll wonder if the long, meeting-filled journey will be worth it.
First the good:
The characters from the collaboration novels are the headliners for the most part and they are used well here. The quirky humor of some is still present but doesn't distract from the story. None of them step out of their roles or character and the interactions still work. If you like the people Weber has given us then tis book won't upset you in that regard.
The plot moves fairly well. It's refreshing to see that there are some sane people in Solarian politics and their military and intelligence. It's also nice to see that the Alignment isn't a monolithic block of ideological supremacists. It would have been nice to see more of the Alignment's movements on the worlds where they are still the hidden power cabals though.
The Not so Good:
It's a transition book in the Honorverse saga so there was bound to be a lot of talking scenes to advance the plot but I think the balance went to far. The scenes on Earth around the abolitionist movement are just unnecessary word count. There is also a noticeable lack of action and none of the detailed space battles that the series is built upon. I did like one piece of new tech that the bad guys developed but that leads to...
The Plot Hole:
The climatic battle takes place and the cornered villains fight to the end but our heroes emerge triumphant. But no one notices or wonders why we don't see any Spider Drive ships in the final battle. or don't see any manufacturing sites for said ships. You would have thought that the invasion fleet would have spent several worried chapters wondering how to counter those ships but they're not even mentioned in the planning sessions. Yes, you save for a desperate battle, but the large scale invasion of your final hidden base should have seen all the stops pulled out. Unless this isn't really your hidden base but another decoy.
I know that there are more books planned(originally around Honor's children) but I needed a chapter with all the really smart intelligence people realizing that the job's not done.
Top reviews from other countries
This book starts shortly after the end of "Uncompromising Honor" in which David Weber finally more or less completed the main story arcs for his character Honor Harrington. Every immediate military threat to the "Grand Alliance" of Manticore, Grayson, Haven and the Anderman Empire has been comprehensively defeated: new constitutions are being written for the Solarian Republic and the planet Mesa. Hardly anyone in the galaxy doubts that the Manticorans and their allies have won while the Solarians, and the "Mesan Alignment" which the Manticorans insist was the real instigators of the wars described in the previous 21 books, have lost.
But the true picture which authors David Weber and Eric Flint describe at the start of "To end in fire" is rather more complex. The Solarians did indeed lose the war, but their population and total wealth are still far greater than all the members of the Grand Alliance put together, so one of the challenges facing the victors is to avoid any kind of Carthaginian peace: they cannot afford to leave the Solarians impoverished and angry, or hungry for revenge which, if they build a new and modern fleet, they might well be able to achieve.
Much of the galaxy still has trouble believing that the "Mesan Alignment" bad guys still exist, if they ever did - but unfortunately for everyone else they did, they still do, and very few even of the members of the organisation have any idea of their true power, what they've done, what they plan to do, and how many planets they still control.
"To end in fire" is the 22nd of a group of novels set about two thousand years from now in the future which David Weber initially created for his character Honor Harrington. It is the fourth in the "Crown of Slaves" sub-series about the fight to rid the galaxy of slavery. It is also a kind of coda to the titanic struggle described over the previous 21 books - but lays the groundwork for a whole new story arc which David Weber appears to be planning to write set a generation later.
There is also at least one more book on the way in each of the two prequel series which take place some five centuries before (e.g. only fifteen hundred years in the future) featuring respectively Travis Long, and Honor's ancestor Stephanie Harrington.
The reason for the length of this review is that I'm trying to set out, without any significant spoilers, how all these books fit together to help potential readers decide in what order they might wish to tackle them.
The first 11 books of the so-called "Honorverse" beginning with "On Basilisk Station" which kicked the whole thing off a quarter century ago are a "Ms Hornblower in Space" saga with the main character, Honor Harrington, representing a genetically enhanced female cross between Horatio Hornblower and Horatio Nelson.
The twelfth Honor Harrington book which was called " Mission of Honor: Honor Harrington, Book 12 " concluded with a handshake between Queen Elizabeth of Manticore and President Pritchard of Haven which marked the final end to the series of wars between these two star nations which had dominated the first eleven Honor Harrington books.
This was followed by "A Rising Thunder" which was a sort of "bridge" novel, because it more or less completed the transition or bridge from the "Ms Hornblower in Space" storyline about the conflict between Manticore (clearly inspired by Britain at the time of Nelson) and Haven (an enemy power which has elements inspired by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia but is mainly equivalent to Bourbon/Revolutionary/Napoleonic France), to a different story arc in which the sinister Mesan Alignment is trying to manipulate pretty well the whole galaxy into a gigantic series of wars, including one between Manticore and the vast "Solarian Republic."
From book 12 onwards the situation between Manticore and the Solarian Republic, which is the biggest star nation in the galaxy, grew worse and worse. The reader knew, but at first most of the characters didn't, that they were being manipulated by the sinister "Mesan Alignment." One of the sub-plots from a "A Rising Thunder" onwards is that a small group of relatively junior officers in the Solarian Republic are gradually coming to realise that the Manticorans may actually be right when they say that the Star Empire of Manticore and the Solarian Republic are being tricked into war by a conspiracy hostile to both. Those officers are in a race against time to assemble enough evidence to convince those of their superiors who have functioning brains but are not part of the conspiracy.
The story of how two super-spies discovered an outline of what the Mesan Alignment are really up to was told in the book " The Torch Of Freedom " but although the author gives the reader some idea what the Mesans are doing, nobody else in the galaxy fully understands their aims or plans.
A number of the "Honorverse" books are organised into linked but distinct sub-series which portrayed unfolding events with the focus on three different perspectives of the galactic situation, but "Mission of Honor," "A Rising Thunder" and "Uncompromising Honor," while telling the story from Honor Harrington's perspective also give a "helicopter view" of the whole galactic picture.
If you have not read any of the Honorverse books and are interested in doing so, do not start with "To End in Fire" from which will not get full value without understanding the context from previous books. These stories work far better if read in sequence. I would recommend starting with the first book, which is " On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington) .".
For example, there are two short references in "Uncompromising Honor" and this book to a breakaway group called the "Renaissance Factor" which would appear like a fairly minor detail in the decay of Solarian power in the outer reaches of the galaxy to most contemporary observers - and to any reader who hasn't read the previous novels.
But to those who HAVE read chapter 39 of "Mission of Honor" these references tell you something extremely important about where the bad guys are with their plans, and what the good guys know - or rather, don't - about them. Which has huge implications which will probably be the subject of the entire new successor series of books set a couple of decades down the line to which this review has already referred.
The first eleven "Honor Harrington books, despite the futuristic setting, exhibited strong parallels with Nelson's navy. Assumed technology in the stories to this point imposed constraints on space navy officers similar to those which the technology of fighting sail imposed on wet navy officers two hundred years ago. Similarly, the galactic situation in the novels up to the eleventh book. "At All Costs" had marked similarities to the strategic and political situation in Europe at the time of the French revolutionary wars. However, particularly after the gigantic battle at the end of that book which roughly corresponds to Trafalgar, the story started to go in a wholly different direction.
This divergence applies to both the political diplomatic storyline and to naval technology. For the first few books you could see close parallels for the characters, nations and ship classes with those in C.S. Forester's "Hornblower" series or the real history of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. E.g. Manticore was Britain, Haven was France, Honor Harrington was a mix of Horatio Nelson and Horatio Hornblower, Rob S. Pierre was Robespierre, the Committee of Public Safety was the Committee of Public Safety, "ships of the wall" were ships of the line with superdreadnaughts as first rates, etc, etc. One book, Echoes of Honour (Honorverse) was even an almost exact parallel to the Hornblower book Flying Colours .
However, as the story diverges from that of the Napoleonic wars, so the parallels with 20th century naval warfare or with space battle games like "Starfire" (of which Weber was one of the creators) have become stronger than those with the age of fighting sail. First he brought in Q-Ships, then spaceships which correspond to aircraft and carriers, missile cruisers and stealth ships.
Before the tensions between Manticore and the Solarian Republic led to actual hostilities, those tensions could be seen as equivalent within Nelson-era parallels as imposing similar strategic considerations on the Manticoran navy that the threat of war with the USA (which, of course, eventually happened as the war of 1812) had on the British Royal Navy prior to 1812. But the relative size, wealth, and apparent power of the Solarians and Manticorans and the British and Americans is reversed: the Solarian Republic in this story is so much more relatively huge, populous and wealthy relative to Manticore than the infant United States was in 1812 relative to the British Empire, that the Nelson era parallels are no longer helpful.
If you are trying to work out in what order to read the "Honorverse" books, here is a description of the sequence of the 22 novels. The sequence of 14 novels which follow the career of Honor Harrington herself consists of
1) On Basilisk Station
2) The Honor of the Queen
3) The Short Victorious War
4) Field of Dishonour
5) Flag in Exile
6) Honor among Enemies
7) In Enemy Hands
8) Echoes of Honor
9) Ashes of Victory
10) War of Honor
11) At All Costs
12) Mission of Honour
13) A Rising Thunder
14) Uncompromising Honor
The "Torch" or anti-slavery sequence (with Eric Flint as co-author) focusses on the battle for freedom of people who have been held in slavery by "Manpower," which at first appears to be a huge and corrupt company corresponding to the slave trader interests in Britain and America some two hundred years ago. The books with this focus are
(i) Crown of Slaves (set at about the same time as "War of Honor"), and
(ii) Torch of Freedom (set at about the same time as "At All Costs").
(iii) Cauldron of Ghosts (set at about the same time as "A Rising Thunder")
(iv) THIS BOOK, "To end in Fire" (which begins shortly AFTER the end of "Uncompromising Honor.")
The "Shadow" sequence consists of four books which focus on the "Verge" on the edges of the Solarian Republic and particularly on the Talbott Quadrant, and particularly on the rapidly worsening crisis between Honor Harrington's home star nation of Manticore and the Solarian republic. The books in this sub-series are
(a) The Shadow of Saganami (overlaps the 1st half of "At All Costs"), and
(b) Storm from the Shadows (overlaps "At All Costs" but starts and finishes later.)
(c) Shadow of Freedom (set at about the same time as "A Rising Thunder")
(d) Shadow of Victory (overlaps "Mission of Honor" and "A Rising Thunder")
I ought for completeness to add that besides the volumes listed above there are several collections in the "Worlds of Honor" series of short stories by Weber and co-authors set in the same universe, and featuring a range of characters, some from the main series of books, others new. It doesn't matter in what order you read most of these, but I do recommend that if you are about to tackle "Ashes of Victory" and have not read "Nightfall" from "Words of Honor 3: changer of worlds" you may want to be aware that "Nightfall" describes in detail a very major incident in that book of which only the causes and results are described. To read the full story in sequence, get the two books together, and start with "Ashes of Victory." When you reach chapter 33 of that book, which begins with St Just's secretary saying "Citizen General Fontein is here, Sir" you put down that "Ashes of Victory" turn to "Nightfall" in "Words of Honor 3" which begins with the same words, and read that story through to the end. Then you can go back to "Ashes of VIctory" and start again at chapter 34 - you will not need to read chapter 33 as it is exactly the same as the first part of "Nightfall."
In addition to the stories set during the lifetime of Honor Harrington's, there are also two prequel series set four or five hundred years earlier. One of the short stories was extended to form the first of a new Honorverse series for young adults, with the eponymous novel " A Beautiful Friendship " released in October 2011. It features Stephanie Harrington, a member of an earlier generation of Honor Harrington's family, who was the first human to be "adopted" by a "Treecat," a member of the planet Sphinx's native intelligent species. The Treecats are telepaths among themselves and can read human emotions, and some of them form a lifelong telepathic bond with humans: for example Honor Harrington has been adopted by a treecat called Nimitz.
The books in the Stephanie Harringon/Treecat series, also known as the "Star Kingdom" books, three already published and one due in 2022 are:
1) A Beautiful Friendship
2) " Fire Season (Star Kingdom) "
3) "The Treecat wars."
The fourth book in this series which will be called "A New Clan" is due out in 2022.
The second prequel saga, set in the same century as the Stephanie Harrington books but so far without any direct link to them or any common characters, is the "Manticore Ascendant" series of novels about the early days of the Royal Manticoran Navy in which Travis Long is the main hero. This series so far consists of
1) A call to duty
2) A call to Arms
3) A call to Vengeance
The fourth book in this series, which is called "A call to insurrection" is due out on 3rd January 2022 and at the time of writing this review I am eagerly awaiting it.
By the way, if you hate spoilers I advise you not to look at the product descriptions of this book on the websites of the publisher or several booksellers who ought to know better. The Amazon page is not too bad but some idiot at the publisher appears to have included in the press releases/product information a couple of spoilers which give away the outcome of two issues which David Weber deliberately left hanging at the end of "A call to Vengeance."
Finally there is an Honorverse companion book, "House of Steel."
I can recommend "To end in fire" and indeed the entire Honorverse series.
Do you like briefings that lead towards some actual action happening; only for said action to occur 'off-screen' and is then followed by yet another debriefing in which they describe what happened in those exciting moments 'off-screen'.
The past few Honorverse novels have suffered from having the same bit of action repeated endlessly from different viewpoints. This book has basically taken that strategy and applied it to group meetings.
It literally takes 70% of the book for things to even begin to warm up to actual events to move forward.
and the ending, telegraphed by said endless meetings is supposed to leave me excited for more of this?
Bitterly disappointed. and completely done with the Honorverse. Rolled the dice to see this thing out and left with regrets. I'll go back and endlessly re-read the first 20 or so books and revel in their energy than pay for another.