A Call To Duty (David Weber, Timothy Zahn; Baen Books) is a passable extension of Baen Book’s tent-pole Honorverse franchise. Though billed as by David Weber, it resembled almost all of Baen’s double-billed “collaborations” in that most of the actual writing was clearly done by the guy on the second line, with the first line there as a marketing hook.
Zahn has a bit of fun subverting at least one major trope of the subgenre; Travis Long is definitely not the kind of personality one expects as a protagonist. Otherwise all the usual ingredients are present in much the expected combinations. Teenager longing for structure in his life joins the Navy, goes to boot camp, struggles in his first assignment, has something special to contribute when the shit hits the fan. Also, space pirates!
Baen knows its business; there may not be much very original about this, but Honorverse fans will enjoy this book well enough. And for all its cliched quality, it’s more engaging that Zahn’s rather sour last outing, Soulminder, which I previously reviewed.
The knack for careful worldbuilding within a franchise’s canonical constraints that Zahn exhibited in his Star Wars tie-ins is deployed here, where details of the architecture of Honorverse warships become significant plot elements. Also we get a look at Manticore in its very early years, with some characters making the decisions that will grow it into the powerful star kingdom of Honor Harrington’s lifetime.
For these reason, if no others, Honorverse completists will want to read this one too.