In Fire Forged – Worlds of Honor #5

It’s been awhile since I touched on the “Good Reading Material” topic and I just finished the latest Honoverse anthology book In Fire Forged so here is a review of that book.

First there has been grumbling among Honorverse fans about the length of the book being too short and not enough short stories in it (and no Treecat stories) to compensate for the $15 Hardcover price. Now that begs the question is it true?  To answer that I went back and looked at the four previous anthology books to see how many short stories were in them and while doing that I counted two other categories: Treecat stories and Technical pieces.

Up first we have the original anthology book “More Than Honor” (which strangely doesn’t provide the series name to the anthology series). In this book there where a total of just 3 short stories with only 1 of them a Treecat story (A Beautiful Friendship) and there was a rather large and in depth technical background piece on the Honorverse at the end of the book.

The second book “Worlds of Honor” (which did provide the name for the anthology series, so that Worlds of Honor is actually Worlds of Honor #2. No! Don’t try and reason for that path just leads to madness) has 5 short stories and of which 2 of those is Treecat stories. There is also no technical pieces in this book.

The third book “Changer of Worlds” has 4 short stories in it and 1 of those a Treecat story. There is also no technical pieces in the book.

The fourth book “The Service to the Sword” has 6 short stories in it, none of which is a treecat story and there was no technical pieces in it.

The fifth and newest book “In Fire Forged” has 3 stories in it, none of which is a treecat story. However  there is a rather large technical chapter on the invention of the Laser Head Missile, how shipboard Armor works and an appendix of technical drawings.

So story wise the newest book matches the layout of the first anthology book with 3 short stories and a technical piece. Now since you can go and buy “More Than Honor” in hardcover for $14.35 via Amazon the criticism on the point of length and price is a false one. Basically the fans have gotten spoiled over the years, especially in the the 4th of the series, with the larger amount of stories and no technical pieces in it.

Now there was a second criticism other fans made and that was to the quality and freshness of the stories. So lets take a look at that angle.

The first story in the book “Ruthless” picks up 2 years after where the short story “Promise Land” from the book “The Service to the Sword”. The story basically is about how Prince Michael ends up proposing to Ruth.

The second story in the book “An Act of War” picks up about 12 years after the short story “With One Stone” from the book “The Service to the Sword”. The story is basically how the con man “Charles” scams the Peeps a second time.

The third story in the book “Let’s Dance!” is the only completely new story in the book in which you see Honor when she was in command of the Hawkwing and the reason why and how she ends up at the Advanced Tactical Course (ATC).

To myself I have to agree with the criticism that the book was not fresh. The first two stories would have been fine if they had been used in a book like “The Service of the Sword” where there was 6 stories. However when 2/3rds of the stories are basically just follow on’s, which is something not done in the anthologies before, it makes it look like a half effort where it was just put out there to fill a commitment. The technical chapter at the end does not offset this since, being honest, that chapter is only really interesting to the people that hangout on Baen’s Bar or David Webers own site arguing over the minutia of the Honorverse.

Just like there is a subsection of Honor fans that are into the technical aspects of the series there is one that are into the Treecats. For the second anthology in a row now there has been no Treecat story which is disappointing, especially since the events of what happened on their home planet in the last mainline book “Mission of Honor” (MoH) and what David Weber has let slip at conventions. Here was the perfect chance to do a short story about the Treecats response to the events in MoH.

So overall unless you really must have every Honorverse book in hardcover or a Honorverse tech head I wouldn’t recommend buying this book at this time but waiting for the paperback of it next year. If they had put one more completely new short story in it (especially a Treecat one) then it would have been worth it, but one new and 2 follow on’s is just not worth $15 to the casual Honorverse fan.


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