Book Review: The Shadow of Saganami by David Weber

Posted November 3, 2021 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Shadow of Saganami by David Weber

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Shadow of Saganami by David Weber
Genres: Military Science Fiction
Published by Baen on January 8, 2014
Pages: 776
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Cauldron of Ghosts, Treecat Wars, A Call to Duty, Hell's Foundations Quiver, At the Sign of Triumph, A Call to Vengeance, Uncompromising Honor, Through Fiery Trials

First in the Saganami Island military science fiction, series, a spin-off from the Honorverse (#33) series. The focus switches between Midshipwoman Helen Zilwicki and Captain Aivars Terekhov.

My Take

It’s the black-and-white of good and evil. There are so many conflicts/points of interest in this story, well, the whole series really. There’s the hatred Manticore and Haven have for Mesa/Manpower and their slave products. The Solarian League considers anyone who’s not them as beneath them, neobarbs who couldn’t hold a party in a brewery. *snicker* The League’s envy of the income Manticore gets from shipping tolls. Khumalo is a conflict all by himself.

The underhanded politicking is absolutely disgusting. I wanna shoot ’em all, but it would be too kind.

You’ll better understand this as you discover just how incredibly poor the planets are in the Split System. Geez, you’d think their wealthier citizens would want to help improve their lives. I know I can’t wait for Manticore to jump in and help. Knowing the difference between how the Manties approach people and how the OFS does, makes you want to smack people like Agnes upside the head!

Weber also gives us an inside look at the dynamics amongst the crew, and all the other groupings through third person global subjective point-of-view. Phew, those dynamics run a gamut of emotions and thoughts.

I can’t help it, I do adore Mateo, lol. And I love Abigail Hearns’ story as well. She keeps cropping up, and her character only gets better as she grows.

Whoaaa, wait’ll you read about Aivars experience as a POW!

There are a number of positives in the series, including men and women being treated as equals in positions of power as well as in military units. Another positive is Manticore as the good guys, although, yes, they do have their fair share of jerks.

Yep, sounds like the Navy (or any other military branch) never changes with ships ensuring they have plenty of spares onboard.

It is pretty amazing that the Hexapuma does so well with so many recent academy graduates!

Helen does keep things alive with the people she’s related to, lol.

Even more lively is the debate over Manticore versus the Office of Foreign Security versus the Solarian League and which one would be the better “master”. How the individual planets who have requested annexation have such “individual” ideas of how it’s gonna work.

I like the idea of prolong, if only because the healthcare in Manticore sounds so fabulous. It does however cause some interesting problems.

Ooo-whee, there are some nasty grudges held in this system. I can understand why, and it does point to how one’s perspective is shaped by their age.

It is sweet to read of the crew coming to accept their captain and vice versa.

Vaandrager is one nasty woman, as are Nordbrandt and Tonkovic. That Tonkovic woman is such a hypocrite!! In contrast, the midshipmen are having attacks of conscience. Now, Westman, he strikes me as an intelligent man, so how he doesn’t make the connection with the Office of Frontier Security, I do NOT know.

It’s not until better than halfway through that we learn the reason Van Dort set up the RTU, and why Van Dort is jumping ship, so to speak.

It’s a fabulous story if you love military action, the ins and outs of politics, and the triumph of good over evil. I do not however grasp the science. I just read and not worry about understanding it.

The Story

It was the discovery of the Lynx Terminus that brought Manticore into contact with the Split system. A wide-ranging group of planets who want to join Manticore, only, not everyone wants to join.

“It’s always so much easier to round up the local opposition for disposal if they think you’re their friends.”

The Characters

Helen Zilwicki, a.k.a. Zilwicki the Terrible, Anton Zilwicki’s daughter and Queen Berry’s sister, is on her middy cruise. Okay, she’s the Terrible because of her skill at Neue-Stil Hangemenge (she taught the instructors at the academy). Her fellow middies include Aikawa Kagiyama, Helen’s best friend who’s on the Tactical track; Ragnhild Pavletic who is a whiz at flying; the poetry-writing Leopold Stottmeister, a soccer jock, is in Engineering; and, the unknown and totally gorgeous Paulo d’Arezzo, who’s on the Electronic Warfare track and has skill as an artist. Leo’s uncle Stefan is a merchant who’s had bad experiences with the Sollies.

Anton Zilwicki is a master spy who’s made friends with a Havenite, Victor Chachat, another superspy and an enemy. The former countess, Catherine Montaigne, is Anton’s common-law wife and Helen’s stepmother. Anton and Catherine adopted Lars and Berry after the Manpower Incident in Old Chicago.

The Hexapuma is . . .
. . . a.k.a. the Nasty Kitty, a heavy cruiser, which Captain (Capt) Sarcula was supposed to command until his reassignment. Capt Aivars Aleksovitch Terekhov is its new commander; he was also a diplomat for 30 years. Sinead is his beloved and loving wife of forty-three years. Chief Steward Joanna Agnelli serves the captain as valet, butler, and more; his previous steward, Dennis Frampton, had died at Hyacinth. Commander (Cmdr) Ginger Lewis is the Chief Engineer. Freda MacIntyre, a jg lieutenant, is the boat bay officer with issues. Jankovich is the environmental tech. Cmdr Ansten FitzGerald is the XO. Senior Chief Petty Officer Aubrey Wanderman. Lieutenant (Lt) Andrea Duncan is the logistics officer. Lt Cmdr Tobias Wright is the Astrogator. Lt Cmdr Amal Nagchaudhuri is in Communications. Lt Cmdr Naomi Kaplan. Lt Guthrie Bagwell is the EWO (Electronics Warfare Officer) under Kaplan. Lt Grigsby, the junior tactical officer, won’t be reporting aboard. Surgeon Cmdr Lajos Orban is the ship’s doctor. Senior Chief Waltham. Chief Ashton has a date with Alf Sanfilippo. Senior Master Chief Jeannette Clary is the senior helmswoman. Lt Jefferson Kobe and Lt Hansen McGraw serve as officers of the watch. Lt Cmdr Frank Henshaw is the second engineer. Lt Frances Olivetti is the third astrogator. Sensor Tech 1/c Liam Johnson and Danziger are both ratings. Coxswain 1/c Tussey flies Hawk-Papa-Three. Lt Jensen Sheets is the assistant astrogator.

Lt Abigail Hearns, a Grayson heir, a.k.a. Miss Owens, is the assistant tactical officer (acting). Mateo Gutierrez, the RMMC sergeant who fought beside her on Refuge (In the Service of the Sword: “The Service of the Sword”), resigned from the Corps to become a lieutenant in the Owens Steading Guard and her personal armsman, and was assigned to her as a condition of her being on active duty. Lord Owens is Abigail’s father. Colonel Bottoms also insisted on the “my lady” routine.

Capt Tadislaw Kaczmarczyk (he’s a major when aboard ship) is the CO of Hexapuma‘s Marine detachment. Lt Angelique Kelso is First Platoon’s CO; Sgt George Antrim is the senior NCO. Lance Corporal Wendell McCollom runs Second Squad. Lt Bill Mann is Third Platoon’s CO; Sgt David Crites is the senior NCO. Lt William Hedges runs Third Platoon?? Sgt Maj Hermelinda “Gunny” Urizar.

Manticore is . . .

. . . the primary planet and the Kingdom of Manticore, ruled by Elizabeth III. Princess Ruth is her niece who wants to be a spy. William Alexander, Lord Alexander, and the Baron of Grantville is the new Prime Minister. First Lord of Admiralty Hamish Alexander, Admiral of the Green (retired), and thirteenth Earl of White Haven, is his brother. Sir Arthur Langtry is the Foreign Secretary. Dame Amandine Corvisart will be sent to investigate the situation at Monica.

Admiral of the Red Lady Dame Honor Harrington, Steadholder and Duchess Harrington, is the Navy’s best and the current commanding officer of the Eighth Fleet, Manticoran Alliance. Michael Oversteegen. HMS Invictus is the flagship of Home Fleet. Admiral of the Green Sebastian D’Orville is the commanding officer of Home Fleet. HMS Duke of Cromarty is the current royal yacht.

Admiral of the Green Sir Lucien Cortez, the Fifth Space Lord of the Royal Manticoran Admiralty has Capt Terrence Shaw as his chief of staff. Admiral Draskovic had been Sir Lucien’s predecessor. Admiral Pat Givens is in charge of the kingdom’s spying. Sir Thomas Caparelli is the First Space Lord and commander-in-chief of the Royal Manticoran Navy. BuShips is the Bureau in charge of Ships. BuPers is the Bureau in charge of Personnel.

Pavletic, Tilliotson, and Ellet is one of the Star Kingdom’s oldest shipping lines.

Royal Manticoran Naval Academy
Vice Admiral of the Red Dame Beatrice McDermott, Baroness Alb, is the Academy Commandant. Command Sergeant Major Sullivan. Jeff Timberlake and the arrogant Kenneth Bashanova had been other students with Zilwicki.

Hephaestus is . . .
. . . the major Manticoran shipyard where Commander Bennington is a bean-counter.

Manticore’s allies include . . .
. . . fewer and fewer, but the Graysons are still with them. Benjamin Mayhew is the head of Grayson, and he changed the laws of inheritance. The Andermani Empire is ruled by an emperor. Beowulf is a lone planet that most everyone else fears, if only for its honesty and reputation. They “own” the Sigma Draconis Terminus.

The Talbott Cluster has . . .

. . . requested annexation by the Star Kingdom of Manticore. The System President is Samiha Lababibi, who is based in Thimble on the planet Flax. Dame Estelle Matsuko, Baroness Medusa, is the queen’s provisional governor in the Cluster and is based on Flax where the Constitutional Convention is meeting about the annexation. Gregor O’Shaughnessy is her analyst. Colonel Oliver Gray is the commander of Medusa’s Marine contingent. Major (Maj) Sandra Cateaux is the senior Marine physician. Maxwell Devereaux is the Convention Sergeant-at-Arms. Maj Toboc arrives with a dispatch. Lt Quayle commands the Destiny, a dispatch boat.

Rear Admiral Augustus Khumalo is a High Ridge appointee, a “political” admiral, on HMS Hercules. Capt Loretta Shoupe is his chief of staff. Cmdr Ambrose Chandler is his intelligence officer. Capt Victoria Saunders is the commanding officer of Khumalo’s flagship; Cmdr Richard Gaunt is her XO.

Khumalo pulls together the light cruisers Devastation and Inspired; the destroyers Victorious, Ironside, and Domino; the White; and, the ammunition ships Petard and Holocaust.

Vice Admiral Quentin O’Malley.

Cmdr Eleanor Hope and her XO, Lt Cmdr Osborne Diamond, of the Vigilant; Lt Cmdr Bruce Jeffers and his XO, Lt Amelia Kulinac, of the Javelin. Cmdr Josepha Hewlett with her XO, Lt Cmdr Stephen McDermott, of the HMS Gallant; Cmdr Mira Badmachin is CO of the Volcano, a huge freighter; Lt Cmdr Benjamin Mavundia and his XO, Lt Cmdr Annemarie Atkinson, of the Audacious; Ito Anders and his XO, George Hibachi of the Warlock; Cmdr Herawati Lignos of the Aegis along with four destroyers, Lt Cmdr Jeffers of the Javelin; Lt Cmdr Maitland Naysmith of the Janissary, Lt Cmdr Frank Hennessy of the Rondeau, and the Lt Bianca Rossi of the Aria join the Hexapuma on its mission.

San Miguel is . . .
. . . another planet. Joachim Alquezar, the head of the Constitutional Union Party, is its representative to the Convention and the Convention president.

Rembrandt is . . .
. . . a mercantile power and home base for the Rembrandt Trade Union (RTU), which was founded by Bernardus Van Dort. Suzanne Bannister had been his much-loved wife; Phillipia and Mechelina were their two daughters. I think Vermeer is the capital city. The RTU consists of Rembrandt, San Miguel, Redoubt, and Prairie. Ineka Vaandrager is the current chairwoman of RTU. Capt Groenhuijen is chief of staff for Admiral Van Der Wildt. Tinkhof is the president.

Scarlet and Standley are only some of the star systems RTU has angered.

Dresden is . . .
. . . an incredibly poor planet. Henri Krietzmann is the president and their representative to the Convention.

The Republic of Kornati is . . .
. . . the only inhabited planet of the Split System ruled by a bunch of greedy oligarchs with Aleksandra Tonkovic as its president. Luka is her butler. The Nemanja Building is the home of their parliament. Deputy Nicola Martinovic had died a hero. Vesna Grabovac is the Treasury Secretary. Vice President Vuk Rajkovic leads the Reconciliation Party. Darinka Djerdja is his executive assistant. Mavro Kanjer is the Secretary of Justice. Goran Majoli is the Secretary of Commerce and one of Rajkovic’s strongest allies. Andrija Gazi is the Chairman of the Special Committee on Annexation, which includes Deputy Tamara Ranjina. Deputy Cuijeta Krizanic leads the Committee on Constitutional Law, a.k.a. the Standing Committee. It seems the Rajkovics and Kovacics are some decent oligarchs. Tomaz Zovan is a Democratic Centralist and a friend of Tonkovic’s since childhood. Alenka Mestrovic helps keep Tonkovic informed. Judita Debevic is the leader of the Social Moderates and vice-chairwoman of the Standing Committee. Eldijana Mrsic is the senior Democratic Centralist on the Standing Committee. General Vlacic Suka is to declare martial law.

Colonel Brigita Basaricek is the commanding officer of the Kornatian National Police. Capt Barto Jezic is a senior SWAT officer. Lt Aranka Budak. Sgt Slavko Maksimovac is with Red One.

Agnes “Sister Alpha” Nordbrandt, a member of parliament for the Kornatian National Redemption Party, is furious with the vote and becomes a terrorist and leader of the Freedom Alliance of Kornati (FAK). Juras “Icepick” Divkovic is one of Agnes’ original recruits; his brother is Drazen, a.k.a. Brother Dagger. “Tyrannicide” is Juras’ second-in-command. Charlie One, a.k.a. Camp Freedom, is a brilliant training camp. Other team leaders include Brother Scimitar and Sister Rapier. Jelena Krleza is Drazen’s second-in-command.

Other terrorists include Belostenic, Dekleva, and Glavinic.

Capt Duan Binyan commands the Marianne, a Jessyk Combine armed freighter. Also known as Golden Butterfly. Annette De Chabrol is the first officer. The nervous Zeno Egervary is the chief security officer. Franz Anhier is the ship’s engineer. Iakovos Sandkaran is the communications officer. Azadeh Shirafkin is the purser.

The Copenhagen was in the wrong place.

New Tuscany is . . .
. . . a problem planet, and Andrieaux Yvernau leads their delegates.

Marian is another planet in the Cluster.

Tillerman System
Yolanda Harper is their chief delegate. Jeffers is Firebrand’s contact.

Montana is . . .
. . . a planet of honorable cowboys and great beef. Warren Suttles is its president. Chief Marshal Trevor Bannister, a good friend of Westman’s, is with the Montana Marshals Service, the local planetary police force. Les Haven is the Land Registry Office Inspector. Hieronymus Dekker. Daniel Santiago works for Dekker.

Stephen Westman of Buffalo Valley is unhappy about the vote as well, but a lot more organized and sensitive with his terrorism. His men include the trusted Luis Palacios, the field manager for the Westman empire; Jeff Hollister; Bennington; Travers; and, Ciraki.

Oscar Johansen is a Manticoran surveyor along with Alvin, Mary Seavers, and Aoriana Constantin. HMS Ericsson and HMS Volcano are support ships for the Southern Patrol.

Nuncio is . . .
. . . a poverty-stricken star system with two planets and a patriarchal culture: Basilica and Pontifex. President George Adolfsson is in charge; Alberto Wexler is his personal assistant and nephew. Commodore Emil Karlberg is the commander of their Space Force. Capt Magnus Einarsson is Wolverine‘s commander who has a problem with Abigail.

Freighter Nijmegen is targeted by Capt Daumier of the Anhur crewed by StateSec. Citizen Commodore Clignet was a nutjob. Citizen Lt Eisenhower was assigned as prize master. Lt Josh Baranyai is/was the third officer of the Solarian merchant ship Emerald Dawn. Capt Bacon had been in command. Sophia Abercrombie, the second engineer, went a week later. Steve Demosthenes was the second officer.

Torch is . . .

. . . in the Congo system. A former Manpower planet, it was taken in Crown of Slaves, 1 (Wages of Sin) and is now ruled by Queen Berry Zilwicki, Helen’s sister.

Silesia is/has been . . .

. . . a notorious area of space for piracy. A treaty agreement will supposedly put an end to this threat. Admiral Sarnow leads an RMN squadron there.

The Republic of Monica is . . .


. . . a planet in cahoots with the Office of Frontier Security and Mesa. Estelle is the capital city. Roberto Tyler is the president. Alfonso Higgins is his chief of intelligence. Alvin Bjornstad is vice-president. Admiral Gregoire Bourmont and Admiral Isidor Hegedusic are the Monican System Navy whose new ships include Cyclone, Capt Schroeder of Typhoon, and Hurricane, which are led by Commodore Janko Horster.

Capt Damien Harahap works for Maj Ulrike Eichbauer. Tommy is Harahap’s partner on Kornati.

The Meyers System is . . .

. . . a Frontier Security protectorate where the planet Mesa and Manpower is located. Aldona Anisimovna, a director of Manpower, and Isabel Bardasano are premier assassins. Isabel is also on the board of the Jessyk Combine, a shipping company which is actually owned by Manpower.

Firebrand” is supplying angry citizens with weaponry with the help of the Central Liberation Committee.

The People’s Republic of Haven is . . .

. . . at war with Manticore.

The Solarian League is . . .

. . . based in Old Chicago on Old Earth. The Executive Council rules the League. The Renaissance Association is a political party the head of which was recently assassinated.

The Office of Frontier Security (OFS) is . . .
. . . a joke. Not a funny one. Part of the Solarian League, it’s rife with corruption and greed. They take over planets and beat them into the ground for the purpose of enriching themselves. Some of their commissioners include Lorcan Verrochio, Volkhart Kalokainos of Kalokainos Shipping, Izrok Levakonic is a representative of Technodyne Industries of Yildun, and Valery Ottweiler, a diplomat of Mesa. Hongbo Junyan is a vice-commissioner. I think Old Man Heinrich is Volkhart’s father.

The brutal Brigadier General Francisco Yucel, the commander of the Solarian Gendarmerie, is charged with intelligence operations for Verrochio.

It was the Battle of Hyacinth . . .
Aivars had been in charge. Senior Chief Mangrum and Franklin is in Communications on the Defiant. Sister ships include Valiant and Resolute who died. The merchant ships that escaped include Handley and Plasma Stream.

The Legend
Manticore’s military forces revere Commodore Edward Saganami, recipient of the first Parliamentary Medal of Valor, for his bravery in battle at Trautman’s Star in Silesia. His ship, Nike, is on the List of Honor, names that are kept in commission forever. Queen Adrienne had been the reigning monarch.

Sensei Robert Tye is one of the galaxy’s two or three most experienced practitioners of the Neue-Stil. A mustang is an officer who was promoted from the enlisted ranks. Dazzlers are powerful jammer warheads. The Verge is a casual reference to the belt of marginal worlds that exist outside the Solarian league’s official borders. A Warshawski sail is a circular disk of focused gravitation that extends for over a hundred and fifty kilometers in every direction. It’s a lovely confirmation that Countess North Hollow has disappeared. Brother Albert had been Abigail’s childhood confessor on Grayson. President Shaw??

The Cover and Title

The cover is a collage of, um, interestingly shaped ships flying past Helen Zilwicki’s white beret-clad head, which is in profile looking right. Below Zilwicki’s neck is a pyramid-shaped line-up of black-clad Navy personnel standing in a mist of white fog rising up to their knees. The background for this is a deep blue and colonial blue clouds crisscrossed with white laser lines. It has a thin border of purple separating it from the outer black edges of the cover. At the very top is the author’s name in red with raised yellow outlines. The title is in a shaped sign outlined in a pale green that is just above Zilwicki’s head. The words are in a yellow font with a long text shadow of red.

The title refers to The Shadow of Saganami that spreads over each of its graduates.

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