This is the second Honor Harrington book. Like the first, On Basilisk Station, it’s currently available for free as an e-book, which is wallet-pleasing.
I generally liked the first book. In certain aspects it was very good but it did sometimes info-dump a bit.
The second retains all the virtues of the first and diminishes or eliminates the flaws. The author is very good at creating tension and prolonged space battles, the longevity of which serves to heighten the sense of danger.
It’s even oddly topical, with the choice of religious lunacy as an antagonistic force.
Honor Harrington (HH), freshly promoted after the previous book’s doings, is the military lead on a Manticoran military-diplomatic taskforce to Grayson, a potential new ally. The downside is that they’re very conservative religious sorts who don’t think a woman capable of being a soldier and her being the military chief could make signing a treaty difficult. However, they are keen on allegiance with Manticore, due to the threat posed by Masada, a nearby planet crammed full of religious lunatics, who are also potential friends for the People’s Republic of Haven, Manticore’s cold war style enemy.
The plot is simple in broad scope but complex in detail, so I won’t go into it too deeply. It’s very well-conceived, as HH and the diplomats try and forge an alliance with a world that has a drastically different view of society. Meanwhile, Masada and Haven seek to destroy any prospect for such a partnership.
Whilst there’s a good amount of backstory, it feels naturally presented. The author also doesn’t fall into the trap of making the religious conservatives or extremists into two-dimensional caricatures or scarcely credible idiots.
The pace of the plot is well-balanced: slow tension mixed with bouts of frantic action, and leavened with just the right amount of ambiguity and uncertainty.
I don’t think it’s necessary to have read the previous book, but it would help give a little bit more background to the general universe (or Honorverse) as well as specific characters. Mind you, as both this and the first book are free, there’s little reason not to get them.
So, I would recommend this if you’re into sci-fi, and even if you’re not I would suggest giving it a look. Found it very entertaining myself, particularly the latter half, and it’s well worth a look.