Book Review, Guest Post, Science Fiction

Book Review by Seawriter: The Hunt for the Mesan Alignment

The sprawling science fiction series involving Honor Harrington started in 1993, with On Basilisk Station. Nearly thirty years later it is still going strong with nearly thirty novels and six anthologies in five different threads.

To End in Fire by David Weber and Eric Flint is the Honorverse’s latest arrival. Part of the “Crown of Slaves” strand of the saga, its focus is on the genetic slavery of the far future. The slave-sponsoring planet Mesa, and the self-emancipated slaves of planet Torch, feature prominently.

Earlier in the series Honor Harrington’s Manticorian conquered Empire Mesa. Manticorian, with their starfaring allies in the Grand Alliance, also defeated the Earth-based Solarian Empire. The Grand Alliance was formed after the Solarians – headquartered on Earth and making up the Core Worlds of human-occupied space – attacked Manticore.  That war and earlier wars between Manticore and Haven were triggered by the Mesa-based Alignment. Mesa was taken to subdue the Alignment.

The Alignment – or rather the part of the Alignment the Grand Alliance sought – left Mesa as the Grand Alliance arrived. Moreover, the “Malign” Alignment (as it would be labeled in this book) trashed Mesa on their way out. They did it to give Manticore a reputation for atrocities – and make it impossible to prove the existence of a conspiracy to rule the galaxy by the Alignment.

Proving the Alignment exists is a key to enduring peace in human-occupied space. Unless Manticore can demonstrate the Alignment is more than just a boogieman invented by Manticoran propagandists, the Solarians will want revenge for their humiliating defeat by the Grand Alliance. The Solarian League is simply too big to remain conquered for long. Proving the Alignment’s existence and their role in triggering interstellar wars will focus Solarian anger away from Manticore. This hunt is this book’s main theme.

Clues are found on Mesa, on Old Earth, and in remote parts of the human-inhabited galaxy. Plot threads come together forming an intricate and entertaining tapestry. Weber and Flint again demonstrate their skill in transforming the previous books’ bad guys into the current book’s good guys. Moreover, they show that even the darkest villain believes their actions are just and right, justified by an inner logic – even when the rest of humanity disagrees.

Honorverse fans will find To End in Fire a welcome addition to the series. Those new to the series will find it an entertaining adventure, even without knowing the backstory.

“To End in Fire,” by David Weber and Eric Flint, Baen, 2021, 857 pages, $27.00 (Hardcover), $9.99 (e-book)

*Mark Lardas is an engineer, freelance writer, historian and model-maker living in Texas.  Mark posts on Ricochet as “Seawriter,” and is well-known for his regular and much appreciated reviews of books on all subjects.  Of his reviews, he says “I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review.”  His website is marklardas.com.

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