Review: “To Honor You Call Us” by H. Paul Honsinger

thTo Honor You Call Us: Man of War Series by H. Paul Honsinger, 454 pages.

It’s always a delight to find a new author that you really like. For me, it’s even a greater delight when I discover that the author is not only an indie author, but that this is his very first book.

Honsinger joins the short list of military sci-fi authors that I think not only can write in an entertaining way, but come across as actually knowing what they are talking about. Set 300 years in the future, To Honor begins a series that follows the experiences of Max Robichaux, a battle-tested 28-year-old lieutenant, then lieutenant commander, who inherits command of a new destroyer in the Union forces caught in a war with the Krag, a rat-like race who are intent on destroying the fleet, capturing every human-held planet and killing every human. Robichaux learns that being in command, something he has always longed for, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. His predecessor, a captain compared to Queeg in The Caine Mutiny, has brow-beaten the soul out of his crew while not preparing them for the combat they will inevitably face. With the help of a ideosyncratic staff doctor that comes aboard when Robichaux does, the new captain addresses mutiny, drug addiction, and a host of other problems that comes with the new ship.

The combat scenes are great, as expected. But what I enjoyed most was the reality of day-to-day problems of dealing with a demoralized, drug-addled, mutinous crew. I was impressed–especially since this is a first novel–that the author brought a richness into the story that made you believe that he may have just stepped off a star destroyer in the 24th century. The dialogue is realistic, the description is full without slowing the action down, and the pace is fun.

Probably the only wrinkle I saw in the story was in Robichaux himself. He’s too perfect. Here’s a 28-year-old new Lt. Commander, fresh into command, who seems to have all the answers. I expected some self doubt, some hesitation, even some missteps, but I didn’t find that. In addition, Robichaux’s characterization begins in the first few chapters, but seems to disappear later when other characters are introduced. In fact, Robichaux’s character remains somewhat flat as he is surrounded by other, more colorful characters.

But in the end, it was a thoroughly enjoyable book. It was about the same length as the last book I reviewed, but while the first one took me about a month to complete, I finished this one in two days. That’s says a great deal about how much I enjoyed it.

I give it 4 and a half stars out of five.

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