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A Call to Arms – I liked the first book in the series better

A Call to Arms (Manticore Ascendant #2) by David Weber and Timothy Zahn
My rating: 7 out of 10 stars

A Call to ArmsLieutenant Travis Long of the Royal Manticoran Navy is the sort of person who likes an orderly universe. One where people follow the rules.

Unfortunately, he lives in the real universe.

The good news is that Travis is one of those rare people who may like rules but has a talent for thinking outside them when everything starts coming apart. That talent has stood him—and the Star Kingdom—in good stead in the past, and it’s one reason he’s now a “mustang,” an ex-enlisted man who’s been given a commission as a King’s officer.

The bad news is that two of the best ways of making enemies ever invented are insisting on enforcing the rules . . . and thinking outside them when other people don’t. Travis learned that lesson the hard way as a young volunteer in basic training, and he knows that if he could just keep his head down, turn a blind eye to violations of the rules, and avoid stepping on senior officers’ toes, he’d do just fine. But the one rule Travis Long absolutely can’t break is the one that says an officer in the Royal Navy does his duty, whatever the consequences.

At the moment, there are powerful forces in the young Star Kingdom of Manticore’s Parliament which don’t think they need him. For that matter, they’re pretty sure they don’t need the Royal Manticoran Navy, either. After all, what does a sleepy little single-system star nation on the outer edge of the explored galaxy need with a navy?

Unhappily for them, the edge of the explored galaxy can be a far more dangerous place than they think it is. They’re about to find out why they need the Navy . . . and how very, very fortunate they are that Travis Long is in it.

This is another good book by David Weber & Co. Unfortunately I have to say that I liked the first book in the series better. The book is quite slow to start and, what I consider the main character, Travis is really not present at all during a good first chunk of the book. During this part of the book it suffers a bit from the “David Weber Syndrome” were people just go around and talk, discuss and talk some more. The latter third of the book makes up for this with plenty of action but the first parts of the book still drags it down quite a bit.

Most of the book is spent on the build up for the war to come. We are following one of the principal agents in his endeavours to set the stage for a crushing defeat of the Manticoran forces which, due to the usual political short-sightedness as well the equally usual habit of said politicians to work primarily for their own gain, is a abysmally poor state. This is also one of the parts with this book that I do not like very much. A lot of it is spent on frustrating politics and political manoeuvring.

Luckily things do heat up in the third part of the book when the cat is out of the bag and the shit hits the fan big-time. Once we get to the fleet action it is as good as can be expected from a book (partly) written by David Weber. These parts were a pleasure to read.

The, not so surprising, outbreak of the hostilities also means that previously mentioned assholes (aka politicians) got some nice surprises and consequently got slapped around a bit. Unfortunately, and this frustrated me to no end, these assholes actually do not get it but, during the very end of the book, they immediately starts to plot how they can use the events for their own gain. What was especially pissing me off were the parts where the jerk Winterfall repetedly tries to convince himself that he is working in Manticore’s best interest by continuing to have his head stuck up Breakwater’s arse. Not only that but they manage to screw Travis over…again. Arrrggghhhh!

On the whole it is a good book. As the previous one it is good but not great and I liked the previous one better.

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