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Saturday, May 4, 2013

"House of Steel: The Honorverse Companion I" by David Weber and Bu Nine (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

"The ultimate guide and companion to the New York Times best-selling Honor Harrington series. A new short Honorverse novel, plus a compendium of tech, specs, and history to accompany the blockbuster series.

An all-new David Weber Honorverse short novel,I Will Build a House of Steel, chronicling the early days of the Manticoran Star Kingdom and the reign of King Roger."

House of Steel is the first Honorverse companion out of three planned; it has a short novel about King Roger's reign and the start of the buildup of the Manticoran Navy, information about Manticore and Grayson, quite a few schematics, a presentation of the BuNine group which is the technical back-office of the series and answers to a few questions by David Weber himself. 

Volume 2 (House of Lies) will cover Heaven, and probably the Andermanni Empire and Silesia and volume 3 (House of Shadows) will cover the Solarian League and Mesa.

The short novel "I Will Build My House of Steel" is excellent. It starts with Lt. Commander Roger Winton, heir to the throne and still unmarried at 41 - though that is early as he is 1st generation Prolong - who is transferred from ship command to BuWeapons as the Prime Minister is concerned about his traipsing in Silesia when the succession is not fully settled, considering his younger sister Caitrin, the only other child of Queen Samantha, has a reputation for being hot-headed.

Roger's uphill fight to change Navy culture and focus on the Havenite threat rather than on commerce protection seems to have stalled at least for now, but BuWeapons has some interesting personnel...

Jumping every few years to important events during his times, we get to see the established characters of the Honorverse (Hamish Alexander, Sonja Hemphill, Janacek, High Ridge etc) as young(er) people and the early tussles between Sonja Hemphill and Hamish are a delight to read; many hints for the future and a superb 200 page story.

The companion per se is quite detailed about Manticore, its history, notable people, navy, type of ships etc while the Grayson part is shorter though still a decent compendium. The last part with an essay and a few q/a by DW is also outstanding.

House of Steel is highly recommended for fans of the series and as the compendium stops in early 1921 PD, so just before the first battle of Manticore, there are no real spoilers for the current part of the series so it's a good "get up to date" for people who want to jump in but do not want to read 20+ books and tons of short stories.



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