I’ll preface this review by saying I’m a sucker for space operas. If I wasn’t, this would probably only be a 3-star book.
So, in any military series there comes a point where the books start to be less about the main characters and more about the conflict. The Short Victorious War is only book 3 is a very long series (and that’s not even taking all the spin-offs into account), but we already see hints of it here. Now, Honor is still the main character. But there is not as much focus on her here as in the last two books. The reason is that this is where the war actually starts. There were military conflicts in the previous books, but there wasn’t an active state of war. This is where that kicks off, so the book leads into “the conflict is the main focus” territory kind of by necessity.
Aside from the shift of tone, this book is very much your dictionary definition of space opera. Honor is the epitome of a badass, which we know from books 1 & 2. So, we know what to expect from her in that regard. That same sentiment is true in pretty much all other regards to her personality. And the story. Basically, if you’re familiar with how space operas play out, there are no great surprises here. Characters and plot all head in the direction you would expect.
Another big thing for David Weber is the worldbuilding. My god, there’s a lot of worldbuilding. Every piece of sci-fi technology and military protocol gets explained. Which I, personally, love. I’m totally into that stuff. But for readers who aren’t, it seems like it can get repetitive fast. If you just want to see the good guys win and don’t care too much for a detailed explanation into the why and how, that aspect of The Short Victorious War is probably going to be a turn-off.
Like the previous books, there is a lot of borrowing from real-world history. Manticore is very much just Space Britain. Haven is Space France. And the vast distances of space, coupled with how the sci-fi tech works, essentially turns spaceships into old wooden navies in terms of function. And that’s fine. They say history repeats itself so it’s not really that much of a stretch.
In conclusion, The Short Victorious War is a solid entry in a great series for lovers of military sci-fi. And space operas (especially space operas). I’ve heard kind of mixed things about where the series ends up further down the line, but so far it seems solid so I’ll keep reading.