Honorverse. Something-verse, for the socially capable, is geek-speak for the world or universe in which one or a number of an author's works appear. It has a long history: Robert E. Howard's grim warriors slew their way though the same world, although at different times. Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan visited Pellucidar, the hollow interior earth of Burroughs "Earth's Core" books, and his Venusian adventurer Carson Napier had intended to reach the Barsoom of John Carter until he realized he'd forgotten to plan for the effect of the moon's gravity on his rocket. Napier, alone among the leading men of ERB's different adventure series, is blond, although Burroughs does not seem to draw any connections.
Anyway, Weber has been exploring the Honorverse since first publishing On Basilisk Station in 1992. Captain Honor Harrington, Royal Manticoran Navy, assumes her first hyperspace-capable command therein*, and we begin traveling through our portion of the galaxy as we learn about the Star Kingdom of Manticore, the devious and dirty People's Republic of Haven, the bloated behemoth of the Solarian League, the martial and proper Andermani Empire and so on. The early books are quite clearly space-opera homages to C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower, but after awhile in the series Weber began branching out. Other officers, queens, dukes and what have you joined the daring, resourceful, tough but beautiful Harrington as he started expanding his field of action and drama. Political skullduggery, media spin, and so on took roles on the stage.
Other authors joined Weber for different novels and several volumes of short stories and novellas. All were set in the Honorverse version of our galaxy, filled with habitable planets that had very few races of intelligent beings on them and which were promptly colonized by humanity. The other novels lit up their own different pieces of this wide-ranging sprawl of star nations and their various populaces (populi?)
As the Honor Harrington novels grew in popularity, the predictable bestseller's bloat set in. Most writers lack the discipline to really trim their favorite kinds of scenes or types of writing from their work; that's where editors come in (Exhibit A: This blog has no editor and this piece should probably be about 150 words long). The Honorverse fanbase was loyal to Weber's descriptions of a brave, daring and resourceful nation of people represented by an even more brave, daring and resourceful military, and by Weber's coherent worldview, science and techno-geekery. So as the word count cranked up along with the cover price, no one at Baen Books had a cross word to say about it. Great stories and pretty good books were still buried within the mess, but retrieving them became a labor-intensive experience for the reader.
Weber also developed an annoying habit of coining (and running into the ground) his own clichés. "Bomb-pumped lasers claw" at defensive screens several times per battle. "The next best thing" to a jargonishly huge portion of armament or weaponry is unleashed three or four times a book. His characters' words drip so much sang-froid you want to offer them napkins. Expository dialogue and narrative oobleck their way into smothering whole chapters, and Harrington herself seems well on her way to demiurge status, all properly retconned so that we see explained how she was always what she is now, even if she wasn't anything of the kind when we read the first books.
Mission of Honor, the 12th book in the main sequence Honor Harrington series, both extends and redeems some of the problems that have come close to sinking the more recent Harrington books. On the one hand, it's several hundred pages shorter than War of Honor and At All Costs. On the other hand, the conversational cataracts that seem to have been undammed from Weber's keyboard surge even higher, as the evil Manpower Coporation's directors and the arrogant imbeciles of the Solarian League spend way too many of those pages talking. And talking. And talking. And talking. They lean back in chairs and sigh or grin every once in awhile, but that's just to let them draw breath for more talking.
At least a novella's worth of plot developments struggle for notice in Mission, which is more than the entire monstrosity of At All Costs could produce. Things do happen, which is a step in the right direction. Whether or not Weber can continue that trend and make Honor Harrington No. 13 a lucky novel has yet to be seen. Either way, I am unashamed to admit that this fanboy will be there to snap it up as close to its publication date as finances permit. Because it is, of course, a matter of...honor.
*I got this wrong. See the helpful comment below.