The Honor of the Queen takes place three years after On Basilisk Station. In that time, Honor has used her command to hunt down space pirates and protect Manticore’s ships. Now she has received new orders to join a small fleet headed for the world of Grayson. In the three years since the first book, Manticore’s relations with Haven have continued to worsen. Both sides know that the prospect of war is a matter of if, not when. With that in mind, both sides are seeking alliances with star systems near their territories for tactical superiority.
And this is the part where certain people may get offended by the ideas presented in The Honor of the Queen. Grayson, simply put, is sexist. Their people are descended from a Christian, Luddite-type culture. While the reasons for their sexism are fleshed out further in later books, in The Honor of the Queen it is very blunt. Their culture views women as delicate and needing protection. This creates one of the central conflicts in the book in the form of Honor. Manticore sends her on this mission for political reasons as much as her skills. To show Grayson that working with Manticore means viewing women as equals.
Anyone who read the first book should have a rough idea of how this turns out. Honor is a badass and far, far from needing anyone else to protect her. That being said, the people of Grayson are aware of the limits of their culture and planet’s technology and acknowledge that allying with a more powerful nation like Manticore will require them to adapt and change rather than digging in their heels. On the flipside of that, Grayson’s sister planet and enemy Masada takes the sexism and turns it up to 11. They are also more religiously extreme, viewing non-believers as infidels who deserve only slavery and death.
When The Honor of the Queen came out 25 years ago, sexism and religion were starting to become touchy subjects. The social developments of the last 25 years have made these problems in our society much more apparent. It would be a bit much to claim David Weber was ahead of his time for addressing these issues when he did, but he was up to bat a lot early than most other people with a following and influence.
While the story, characterization, and other literary aspects of The Honor of the Queen are on par with the first book, modern readers may ignore those factors and only focus on the real-world applications of the subject matter instead. If you are an individual sensitive to those types of things, even when the heroine comes out on top, this may not be the book for you. For those readers who want to read one of the best military sci-fi series out there, Honor Harrington continues to impress.