To Honor You Call Us (Man of War) – The Cumberland Gap

Another book from the Kindle Unlimited Library & Amazon & while I wish this one was better, it’s also not as bad as some of the others I’ve read … in fact there are some elements that I really liked.

To Honor You Call Us tells the story of a ship that has not had too much luck in terms of its previous Captain.  Now this isn’t a case of the person being a down on his luck Old Sot like I spoke about in Constitution, but rather in this case the Captain is very domineering and a stickler for spit and polish without any understanding of the reason or rationale for that requirement.  As the Captain of a ship that was responsible simply for transporting an Inspecting Admiral from location to location, his personality might work but in a combat theater his personality and attitude quickly impacted the crew to such an extent that in previous trials, his ship was either destroyed outright or fled the battlefield!  As you can well imagine, the morale of the crew on the Cumberland was nothing less than atrocious and in fact the rest of the fleet took to calling the ship the “Cumberland Gap” as she was so hopeless!

Into this morass is thrust a hard fighting and quick thinking young ensign.  Not having previous command experience, he while flattered to receive the promotion, to some extent also realizes that the reason he’s received it is because he can’t really screw things up anymore!  However, not only is Max able to do well, he’s able to turn around the feelings of the crew and win some stunning victories against their mortal enemies – the Krag – in the process!

What I liked and didn’t like

  • The Krag are actually quite an interesting villain and I like the detail provided about them.  Without ruining the story in any way, I can tell you that Earth was “visited” millions of years ago by unknown aliens.  These aliens took samples of Earth material to a new planet and it is here that the Krag developed.  However they didn’t evolve from monkeys as mankind did, but rather from Rats.  As such while they share DNA with us, they are definitely not in any way Human and have a completely different way of acting, breeding and fighting.  I think they make an excellent villain, but I really didn’t like how long it took to get any detail on them.  While I understand that you wouldn’t necessarily expound upon the nature of your foe in the first 20 pages, it felt like the book was almost complete before I knew who we were fighting and why.  I think it would have been much better to provide that information up front as it would have given me a greater insight and empathy for the characters and their struggles from the get go.
  • There is lots of similarity here to the Nicholas Seafort series of books by David Feintuch in my eyes.  While many compare Honor Harrington to the Horatio Hornblower series of books, I really think that Seafort is the worthy owner of that title.  I liked the explanation of why boarding parties are still in use and why they utilize swords and knives in battle (in addition to guns).  It made sense and definitely helped me visualize the action sequences in much greater detail.  I would have liked for there to be more scenes with hand-to-hand combat but that’s a small quibble!
  • Admiral Hornmeyer is an awesome character.  Irascible is the best way to describe him.  Doesn’t take shit from anyone and isn’t afraid to swear to get the job done.  Really well written and funny and his parts in the book are both too short and too infrequent.  Would love to see him more.
  • Dr. Sahin is a bit weird to my taste … he always seems to have the right response and knowledge and I’d think that his reactions would be slower than a marine not faster.  Really makes you wonder if perhaps he’s a spy or something like that in disguise?
  • The attack against the Battle Cruiser was extremely well done and I really enjoyed reading that whole sequence.  While I understand the reason and rationale of focusing so much of the book on the morale of the crew and even the shopping trips of the Doctor, I really wish there had been more sequences similar to this throughout the book as they were excellent.
  • The writing overall is not too bad … it does however at times feel a bit jerky? In addition while the characters are interesting they also don’t really seem 100% natural and it feels like they are playing a role.  It’s weird, there isn’t any one specific thing I can point to, but it’s just a bit off.

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