- Treecat Trilogy
- Young Honor and Elizabeth
- Prince Michael rescues and Honor dances
- On Basilisk Station
- The Honor of the Queen
- The Short Victorious War
Continuing my review of Honor Harrington stories and novels in chronological order:
- “A Ship Named Francis” by John Ringo & Victor Mitchell (The Service of the Sword anthology)
- “A Grand Tour” by David Drake (More than Honor anthology)
Does John Ringo watch animé? That was the question that came immediately to mind after reading "A Ship Named Francis". This story is a humorous look at the wackiest ship in Grayson’s space navy, a "Siberia" where incompetents and other people who just don’t fit into the rest of Grayson’s space navy end up getting dumped.
Through whatever peculiar twist of fate, Manticoran medical technician Sean Tyler is assigned to this ship as part of the personnel exchange Grayson has going with Manticore…and he soon discovers just how badly he’s rolled the dice.
The premise of this story bears a remarkable degree of similarity to the premise of the animé Irresponsible Captain Tylor, which is also about a dumping-ground-of-the-Navy starship and the peculiar crew it accumulates. In fact, both stories feature an irresponsible captain, an alcoholic doctor, a martinet first officer, and, of course, a protagonist named Tylor (or Tyler, which is pronounced the same at any rate). Did Ringo watch it? Is this an intentional homage? There are quite a number of differences as well, but there are so many similarities it just makes me wonder.
"A Ship Named Francis" is utterly hilarious (much as Irresponsible Captain Tylor is, for that matter; anyone who enjoys one of these stories will undoubtedly also like the other), but the mood of the story doesn’t exactly fit with…well, the entire rest of the Honor Harrington series. For that reason, it’s probably not meant to be taken as canonical.
"A Grand Tour" by David Drake is another story that doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the setting. This probably won’t surprise anyone who has read Drake’s later "Leary, RCN" series. Whereas Honor Harrington follows C.S. Forester, "Leary, RCN" is more inspired by Aubrey Maturin. (Of course, I’ve not read much Forester and not read any Maturin, so I’m only going by what I’ve heard.)
As it happens, Drake used this story as a prototype to develop the characters he would later place another setting for that series—so “A Grand Tour” is really a Leary story in Honorverse clothing. Thus Sir Hakon Nessler is Daniel Leary, Edith Mincio is Adele Mundy, and Beresford is Hogg.
In this story, Nessler, Mincio, and Beresford have come to a planet called Hope, somewhere in the armpit of the galaxy, to study ruins left behind by the Alphanes, a spacegoing species who mysteriously vanished thousands of years before mankind ever came to the stars. (Weber also adopted the “Alphane” name to refer to another, quite different, still living alien race in the “Empire of Man” books he co-wrote with John Ringo.) They encounter one Lord Orloff, a boor of a nobleman who is attempting to make off with an immense Alphane artifact, and also an older woman named deKyper who has devoted her life to studying the ruins.
And then they encounter the escaped crew of a Manticoran navy vessel attacked without warning in a supposedly neutral star system—and hatch a plot to use the decrepit ex-Haven navy starship owned by Orloff to teach the Peeps a lesson. It just requires winning a high-stakes game of cards played with a rigged deck…
“A Grand Tour” is a great “Leary” story, but I don’t know that I’d call it so much of a good fit with the Honorverse. As with “A Ship Named Francis,” the overall mood of the story is just too different from the rest of the universe (though for different reasons). And none of the new people, worlds, or alien races mentioned here are ever touched on again anywhere else in the series. Still, it’s nice to see another iteration of characters I’ve come to like a whole lot in their own series of novels.
My next review will cover Field of Dishonor, the first major angst locus of the Honor Harrington series.