3.5 to 4 stars
A new series in the Honorverse, slated to be released next week. We find ourselves back before Manticore knew it had a major wormhole, back before it had any spaceship building industry and soon after a Plague that wiped out much of its nascent population. One of our protagonists is Travis Long, who enlists in the RMN (Royal Manticore Navy) while his supposed friends rob a neighboring jewelry store. Travis acquires a couple of monickers during basic training that reflect upon his always by the book philosophy with respect to rules and regulations. The political climate on Manticore has a faction of the civilian government clambering to dismantle the Navy and/or replace it with a Coast Guard like service that patrols the local system and protects merchants and miners from pirates. The action ramps up when Manticore sends representatives to a Haven sponsored military surplus spaceship sale. Pirates (or what we are led to believe are pirates initially) masquerading as legitimate buyers attempt a heist of their own on a much grander scale than Travis' juvenile delinquent buddies.
I flew through this plot driven action-adventure space opera in just a couple of days. I suspect the addition of Timothy Zahn helped keep the story zipping along so that David Weber didn't pause to infodump as he is wont to do. While I like Travis, and Metzger and Donnelly, the book still lacked great character development. Very good plot, but just good character writing. The Massingills came close, but their screen time was too limited for me to really form the bond they deserved.
My thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this eARC ebook prior to its release by Baen on October 7, 2014.