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Torch of Freedom

by David Weber and Eric Flint

Published by Baen

Print edition available 2009

Reviewed by Mark Owings
Review posted 11/21/09

I should maybe be hesitant to recommend or even review what is in a way the nineteenth book of a series, considering the amount of catching up one may have to do to understand what is going on. (Although the hardcover edition contains in the back a CD-ROM with the text of the other eighteen, plus some other material.) On the other hand, this is a direct sequel to Crown of Slaves, and the major characters and basic situation are well established there (though the characters were introduced earlier.) Also, for good or ill, a couple of scenes described in other books that are important to this book are repeated here. This results in one person active and interactive whom you may think of as already killed off.

Um, plot. Applying a distorting mirror of analogy, this is about an attempt by the Barbary slave traders (secretly run by Margaret Sanger) to overthrow the government of a Haiti that worked out, at a period when France and Britain were distracted by fighting each other..

Only five of the sixty-three chapters and sixty of the six hundred pages are devoted to the sort of tedious naval space battles that plague the Honor Harrington books. Which is to say, it's not quite as good as Crown of Slaves, which had none of those at all. But it is well worth reading. You get to watch two high-grade loose cannons who are theoretically on opposite sides working together. You are presented with almost-answers to some loose ends and puzzles that got back to close to the beginning of the nineteen books. And you get a vast conspiracy that has been cooking for a couple of hundred years (remembering that people live that long here.)

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