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Crown of Slaves    by David Weber & Eric Flint order for
Crown of Slaves
by David Weber
Order:  USA  Can
Baen, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

These are dark days for the Star Kingdom of Manticore. It should not be so. The brutally long war with the People's Republic of Haven, if not over, is at a standstill. Haven's leaders, unlike the war-mongering government they replaced, have turned their attention to domestic concerns rather than actively pursuing war. Unfortunately, Manticore too has a new government, far less competent than that of prime minister Cromarty, who successfully guided the war effort for so long. But Cromarty is dead, assassinated; and his successors are self-serving, short-sighted aristocrats more interested in protecting their own privileges and wealth than in pursuing intelligent foreign policy. The new government is pulling back the navy to protect Manticore, endangering the gains made under Cromarty, and worse still, leaving their allies to fend for themselves, even actively insulting them.

Furious, the Queen does what she can to retain ties with Erewhon, a planet that takes seriously ties of loyalty, now deeply offended by Manticore's new government. She sends her niece, accompanied by trusted protectors, on a diplomatic visit intended to assure Erewhon of the good will of the Queen at least. Once arrived, they find themselves in a veritable hotbed of diplomatic maneuvering, since Haven has also sent one of its most effective teams, Victor Cachat and Virginia Usher. The stakes rise when a group of fanatic Masadans decide to kidnap Princess Ruth. The Queen's niece is the daughter of the rebel Judith, who succeeded in fleeing the planet Masada. The misogynistic Masadans are determined to make an example of Ruth. Also adding to the chaos is the plight of a freighter-load of genetic slaves, caught up as hostages in the terrorist activities of the Masadans and themselves determined to escape their masters.

Fans of Honor Harrington will recognize old friends in Victor and Virginia; Anton Zilwicki, redoubtable Manticoran agent; his daughter Berry, friend to Princess Ruth; and many others. Weber and Flint work seamlessly together to provide an action-packed tale rich in memorable characters and excitement. (There are also some hilarious scenes with Victor and his new love interest.) Crown of Slaves illuminates a hitherto little-known corner of the 'Honorverse'. Interested readers might check out Short Victorious War, Worlds of Honor #3 : Changer of Worlds, and Worlds of Honor #4 : Service of the Sword for previous adventures of Anton Zilwicki, Victor Cachat, and Judith. They also are well worth the read.

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