A Call to Duty (Manticore Ascendant)
by David Weber and Timothy Zahn
Cover Artist: David Mattingly
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476736846
Date: 07 October 2014 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Manticore is in its early days. The Manticoran Junction has yet to be discovered. Recovering from a plague and with few resources, the system is in a rough spot. The same rivalries that prevented Manitcore from winning the war with Haven, were in place even at the beginning. Different views of prosperity drive these rival factions. They also fight over what to do with some surplus ships.
Travis Long trusted the wrong people once. It nearly ruined his life, but a side trip to a Manticoran Navy recruiter saved him. But he may not have a place in that same Navy, because he follows the rules. Travis does things by the book, and this rubs many of his fellows the wrong way. So even though he is very competent, his career is in jeopardy at nearly every stretch.
There are opportunities for people with skills and knowledge. People from all over move towards the Manticoran system. Two of them, Colonel Jean Massingill and her husband Alvis, have come from Solarian space. They were promised opportunities in the Navy, but things don't go as planned because of the feuding factions. They will have the opportunity to make a choice, one that is contrary to everything fans of the Honorverse have come to expect.
There are several other minor characters that have brief POV chapters in order to move the story along and keep the reader up on all of the action. Although important at the time, they aren't worth developing here.
This is the first novel of a new series set in the Honorverse. Even though it is part of a larger world, it is a safe starting point for people new to the universe. The characters are all newly introduced or only briefly mentioned. For long time fans of the Honorverse, there are lots of Easter Eggs.
This is pretty standard military science fiction. A basic action adventure that mostly focuses on the career of Travis Long. There are enemies to face after surviving the brilliant ideas of their own leaders. The action comes in a steady stream of mini-adventures. I enjoyed that there were story arcs within the story that reached conclusions even as future adventures are set up.
I really liked this exploration of the early days of Manticore. There is no direct link to Honor Harrington. But the world that she lived in is definitely coming together. It is kind of nice to see less sophisticated space battles. To top it off there is some pretty solid marine action. I look forward to the changes that led to the situation as it was when Honor came on the scene.