This is the latest episode in the ongoing Honor Harrington series, which is particularly convoluted in the last few books. It actually resolves something at the end, rather than opening up new complications, though there is still a great deal going on.
This is definitely only a book for fans of the series, since it takes up in the middle of a situation that we've been building up for the last several books. Even though I have read the series, and I went back and read my own reviews of the last few, I found it difficult to keep track of what was happening. But even so, it's definitely better than the last couple. There are too many characters, and we watch the unfolding action from too many viewpoints. But it does have a fair bit of the snap that made the early books so popular. And underneath a fair bit of ranting about the evils of bureaucracy, combined with villains who are rather too much to believe, we do manage to also talk about how governments can end up doing evil things even without evil intent.
7 out of 10.
**** PLOT SUMMARY -- MASSIVE SPOILERS ****
At the beginning of the book, Manticore is beset by three different wars. Haven is temporarily on the ropes. The Sollies are just getting seriously uppity after Mike Henke blew up the flagship of a complete dork, Admiral Byng. And Mesa is very quietly preparing a sneak attack on Manticore itself. In this book, the Solly war gets seriously escalated when they send another complete dork, Admiral Crandall, with a larger fleet, which gets pasted by a handful of cruisers, since Manticore's weapons are so far superior to the Sollies'. Honor is sent with her fleet, capable of destroying all of Haven's space infrastructure, but instead she's there to negotiate. She and Haven President Eloise Pritchart quickly come to personally respect each other, but Pritchart has recalcitrant political factions and the negotiation promises to be a tough one. It looks like it will come through in the end, but then the Mesan surprise attack goes off, completely undetected, and cleans out all of Manticore's orbital infrastructure. They still have the capability to destroy the coming Solly fleet, and even the one after it, but without their missile factories they'd lose eventually, if the Solly political system allowed them to continue throwing ships at them until they had nothing to shoot them with. It's looking really bad for Manticore, but people are starting to twig to the fact that Mesa has been orchestrating the whole thing for a very long time. Then the missing spies Anton Zilwicki and Victor Cachat reappear at Haven, with the defector Herlander Simoes, and President Pritchart becomes fully ready to ally with Manticore to kick Mesa's ass. She travels in person to Manticore and meets Elizabeth. They bury the hatchet and Haven agrees to help smash the incoming Solly fleet. It will require a lot of killing to make the corrupt Solly system collapse, and they probably won't stop fighting until then. And Mesa's long term evil plans are just coming together. But the good guys at least know who they're fighting, and it now looks like there's a way for them to win.