By David Weber and Jane Lindskold
This is the third in the series ancillary and remotely prequel to David Weber's ever-expanding Honor Harrington series of interstellar war and politics. It is a more direct sequel to the second young-adult “Star Kingdom Novel,” Fire Season [link], than was the latter to the first volume, A Beautiful Friendship [link]. This will be a short post since I don't have a whole lot to say about this book that wouldn't be repeating what I said about the other two. I love virtually anything set in Weber's Honorverse, and this story continues the tale of Honor Harrington's several-centuries' great-grandmother Stephanie as she continues to grow through her 'teen years, dealing with consequences of her discovery of the treecats of her new homeworld Sphinx as well as the various issues facing any normal teen-aged girl.
The major themes introduced in the first two books continue to be worked out in this volume: 1) the continuing conflict between humans of the Manticoran Star Kingdom as well as the wider galaxy as to whether to regard the treecats simply as incredibly clever animals or as sentient beings with “human” rights – and if the latter, what should be the relationship and interaction between humans and their “more primitive” neighbors?; and 2) new conflict between treecat clans stressed to the point of crisis by the ecological catastrophe of the recent “fire season,” with autumn advancing and Sphinx's long, hard winter approaching swiftly. But this time, except for at the very beginning and the very end, the story is told in parallel narratives as Stephanie and her friend Karl are dispatched by the Sphinx Forestry Service to receive three months forestry training at the University on Manticore, a rare opportunity for interns who are not full forestry agents – but which means that Stephanie is separated by the gulf between neighboring worlds from her new boyfriend Anders … who remains on Sphinx with the group of xenoanthropologists headed by his father but finds circumstances compelling him to spend a great deal of time in the company of Stephanie's best friend Jessica with predictable (even were it not broadcast on the inside front cover text) results. Once again, it's a well-written and engaging tale that weaves another thread into the growing tapestry of Weber's fictional universe.
Cheers! – and Thanks for reading!