The first in a military SF series.

Publication year: 1993
Format: ebook, available for free on Kindle and on
Publisher: Baen

Commander Honor Harrington of Manticoran Space Navy has finally gotten her own warship, the HMS Fearless. Even though it’s a light cruiser, it’s still a serious military space ship. However, Honor’s joy quickly turns to dismay when she finds out that the ship’s armament is being changed into something that looks good on paper but doesn’t work in reality. During Fleet exercises, that’s proven rather bitterly and to make things worse, the crew blames their new captain. Even Honor’s executive officer McKeown is just going though motions and not really serving her or the ship.

After the spectacular failure, HMS Fearless is exiled to Basilisk Junction, a place where all the Navy’s worst are sent. Basilisk has a single alien planet, Medusa, with native aliens whose tech level is about Bronze Age level. The Star Kingdom of Manticore annexed it because the star system is next to hyperspace jump points and therefore important trade point. However, the planet and the aliens are something of an embarrassment to some important Manticoreans so the Navy doesn’t police it at all like it should. The current senior Navy officer uses the opportunity and leaves, so Honor becomes the de-facto senior officer. She faces an impossible situation: to police a heavily trafficked jump point with just one ship and a crew who doesn’t trust her. But she’s determined to do her best.

However, her actions soon anger some important people in her own country and also important neighbors. And one of those neighbors seem to be up to no good.

Honor is described as a young woman but she seemed to really be in her forties; she’s received a treatment to lengthen her lifespan. She’s every bit a model Navy officer; determined and ruthless when needed but also compassionate even to her underlings. But she keeps a cool, detached face to her crew. Still, she clearly has feelings and she sometimes has to work to keep them in check. The fact that her crew doesn’t trust her, hurts her deeply and yet she’s determined to do her best for them. She has to overcome a lot of obstacles, both near and far. She also drinks hot chocolate instead of coffee, just like me. 

For the most part, this a fun and exciting military adventure. However, it does have quite a lot of politics; Manticore’s internal and external politics. I found them a bit hard to follow because the scenes introduced a lot of people who were seen just a few times. There were more than a few info dumps, too, about technical stuff which I wasn’t much interested in and about the various politics. Most of them were at the beginning of the book but one was put in the middle of a fight and was quite distracting.

One thing, which I really enjoyed was that many of the soldiers were women and that wasn’t a strange thing. They were marines and navy people alike, most dedicated and hardworking but there were a few bad apples, too. In other words, women as people! Most of the commanding officers seem to be male, though.

The final battle was epic but unfortunately the motives made it pretty much pointless, which was disappointing.

I enjoyed most of the book and might continue with the series at some point.