This week I decided to review House of Steel: The Honorverse Companion by David Weber and BuNine, a group of consultants that aid David Weber with work related to the details of the Honorverse. The first part of the book is the novella I will Build My House of Steel . It covers the efforts of King Roger III of Manticore’s efforts to prepare his nation for the pending war against the People’s Republic of Haven, beginning with Roger as a junior officer struggling against the established mindset held by many of his superior officers in the Royal Manticoran Navy who feel that the navy needs to focus its limited resources and construction on protecting the Star Kingdom of Manticore’s abundant merchant trade from pirates rather than preparing a full scale war. The story follows Roger as he becomes part of a small weapons and technology development and analysis team for the RMN through his reign, with two chapters set after his death covering his daughter’s first days as Queen and the much later battle where one of the weapon concepts he encouraged is first used at anything near its full capability, a weapon which decisively turns the last battles of the First war between Haven and Manticore in Manticore’s favor and revolutionizes space warfare, as well as the Queen’s reaction when she gets news of that battle’s results. The rest of the story consists of detailed information on the two main protagonist nations of the setting ranging from histories of the two nations to entries on major players in both nations' military forces and governments at the time the book is set, along with details of the makeups of their military forces plus details on the ships, weapons, and equipment they use during the era of the main Honor series up to around two years before the chronologically latest books in the setting. This is followed by a chapter describing the process used to create the navies native to the setting, and a FAQ section.
I give House of Steel a 9 out of 10. Throughout the series, you’ve heard about the struggles King Roger III and his daughter, Queen Elizabeth III, faced in preparing for the war which was the centerpiece of most of the current main Honorverse novels, as well as a number of the setting’s short stories, and I enjoyed seeing more detail on his role in the events leading too it. I wish the story had shown us more of Roger’s career as a warship captain but I admit that most of his actions on the bridge of a warship had little to do with his preparations for the war with Haven, with all of his combat actions taking place against pirates, privateers, or slavers. I loved the amount of detail put into the sections concerning Star Empire of Manticore and the Protectorate of Grayson and thought the article on how the navies of the Honorverse are created was a very nice touch. The only thing I wish could be added to the later sections would be to expand the specifications and histories of the various warship classes used by the Manticoran and Grayson navies so they covered all of the warship classes used by the two navies rather than just those used during the main series.