This week I decided to review A Rising Thunder by David Weber. The book opens with a number of scenes involving the recall of merchant shipping belonging to the Star Empire of Manticore from the Solarian League in response to a number of escalating incidents and battles between League and Royal Manticore naval forces. It is hoped that this action and closing Manticore controlled wormholes to League shipping, drastically decreasing the number of freighters working the league’s trade routes and vastly increasing the length of time ships take to reach their destinations, will convince the League’s leadership to back off from its aggressive posture. This fails and the League’s leadership instead prepares an offensive against the Manticore system. This leads to an internal conflict when the Beowulf system, Manticore’s strongest allies within the League, exercises its right under the League constitution to refuse to allow a second league fleet passage through the wormhole linking Beowulf and Manticore. Meanwhile two intelligence agents return with proof of an ancient, ongoing conspiracy manipulating current events and maneuvering to seize control of all humanity. This revelation leads to a surprise alliance just in time to confront the League fleet attacking Manticore, an attack which leads to a massacre of the attack force with the League suffering massive losses. When news of the defeat arrives, the commanding admiral of the League Navy begins plans to prevent the League’s true leaders from blaming him but is forced to commit suicide by the Mesan conspiracy first. The book ends with the Beowulf system announcing its plans to withdraw from the League and the shadow leaders of the League pondering possible responses.
I give the book a 7 out of 10. It isn't bad and some of the discussions between members of various factions regarding the strategic plans of their groups are very interesting but the series is at its best when the missiles are flying and the lasers blazing. There isn't much combat in this book and what battles occur are too one- sided to be of much interest. I’m sure the setup will lead to better things in later books though.