Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Call to Duty-David Weber and Timothy Zahn

A Call to Duty
David Weber and Timothy Zahn
Baen, Oct 7 2014, $25.00
ISBN 9781476736846

Seventeen years old Travis Uriah Long knows life changed when his dad died as his mom seems lost and inattentive to him.  Though some teens would relish all that freedom, Travis misses some adult supervision.  Thus Travis enlists in the Navy.  After surviving boot camp, Travis attends advanced training school before being assigned to a battlecruiser.

Travis’ older half-brother, Baron of Winterfall Gavin Vellacott listens to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Earl Breakwater argue to disestablish the Navy; as the impoverished Star Kingdom of Manticore has better uses than funding a horrible defenseless fleet.  Defense Minister James Mantegn, the Earl of Dapplelake, disagrees though accepts the assessment that the vessels should have been mothballed and replaced, and the corrupt lazy officers dismissed.  Gavin offers a compromise that methodically reduces the Navy while assessing the impact on security.  The Crown Prince Edward Winton, an officer in the Royal Manticoran Navy, wants to modernize the fleet and remove the freeloaders while much of Parliament wants to reprogram the naval budget for other purposes.

Occurring several centuries before Honor Harrington began breathing; the first marvelous Manticore Ascendant science fiction thriller focuses (through the subplots of the half-brothers) on a critical political-military budget debate (guns or butter).  Fans, especially armchair historiographers, will relish A Call To Duty as what is ancient history (and legend) in the Harrington saga is new or relatively recent in this winning outer space drama; and at times differ in what each era believes happened.

Harriet Klausner

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