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Frequently Asked Questions

Perhaps it is because of the nature of the books that David writes, perhaps it is because David Weber's fans are unusually dedicated and inquisitive... but it seems that everyone has a question! Here are a few that David finds he gets asked most often.

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Series Question Posted
Honorverse Honor Harrington novels have included covers by several different artists. Which depiction of Honor do you find most accurate? May 2009

We've been through a total of 3 artists on the HH covers. Actually, I tend to think that the shape of her face and her eyes are closest to correct on the cover of On Basilisk Station, although Nimitz is not at all how I envision him and there are major problems with the uniform. The same artist did the next 2 covers, and somehow Honor started morphing until we wound up with the The Short Victorious War and someone who, frankly, looks more like my viewpoint character (Li Han) from Insurrection. We changed artists for Field of Dishonor, and while I feel the cover was effective in a marketing sense, I felt that Michael Jackson was considerably \prettier" than Honor. The same artist did Flag in Exile, and (I felt) gave us someone who looked much more like Lt. Dax from DS9 but without the tasteful body decals. (The 2 things that bugged me most about this cover were that I had carefully described the Grayson sword as having a "western style hilt"--and got katanas--and that I had specified that the planet on the Grayson flag was actually Grayson, and not Old Terra.) With In Enemy Hands we shifted to David Mattingly and, despite a few continuing problems, I am more content with his covers than with anyone else's to date. I think Honor looks a teeny bit too old on In Enemy Hands, but I believe part of this is the lighting, which comes up from below and "loses" the line of her chin against the flesh tones of her throat. (Of course, if he'd included the white turtle neck blouse, this would not have happened, but--hey! He got every other detail of the uniform perfect, which no one had previously managed.) As far as the shapes of the ships are concerned, those seem to be the hull forms for Mattingly space craft. I do not know whether he has read the books or is working from a synopsis provided by Baen. More to the point, perhaps, I don't really care. While I would be eternally grateful to get the ships right, I am already eternally grateful for the improvements in (and consistency of) Honor's appearance from book to book.

(BTW, I have a way to describe Honor which seems to work for everyone except artists. I describe her as a slightly taller Eurasian Sigourney Weaver from the original Alien movie with Linda Hamilton's physique from T2. Works for me, anyway. Also BTW, on the casting question, I do indeed agree that what is needed for an actress to portray Honor is less someone who matches her physical description as closely as possible as someone who can properly portray her character and make the transition from wallflower to beautiful [but not "pretty"] person between installments. [Of course I want sequels, you sillies!] I think someone with, say, Meryl Streep's ability [and a similarly unique facial structure, perhaps a bit more like Honor's] but physically younger would be ideal. Of course, where do I find a treasure like that? Sigh.)

Two of the foreign editions of Honor books are the UK edition of Honor Among Enemies and the German edition of On Basilisk Station. The British Honor Among Enemies uses a cover by someone named "Buggy G. Riphead" (and I'm sorry, but that name always makes me think of purple hair and safety pins in navels) which does, indeed, make Honor look a lot more Afroasian than Eurasian, and also I'd guess five years or so younger than I visualize her looking. The German edition of On Basilisk Station uses the cover art from the US edition of Honor Among Enemies, but with one cuff ring removed to get her down to commander's rank. (Unfortunately, the other rank indications--like her shoulder boards and collar insignia--were not changed, but at least their hearts were in the right place. Please note that it was not until Mr. Mattingly appeared on the scene that we ever got her into a uniform of the proper rank.)

Honorverse Who is Honor Harrington? May 2009

Honor Harrington is a 6'2" (187.96 cm) tall Eurasian, female starship commander in the service of the Star Kingdom of Manticore who rises eventually to very senior flag rank, not to mention becoming a knight of the realm, a steadholder (think a ruling princess within an empire), a duchess, and general all-round avatar of the war goddess.

Obviously, that's just a tad simplified and just a mite flippant, but it's also true.

I think, though, that the real core of Honor's personality, and what makes her resonate with her readers, is the fact that she's one of those responsibility-takers I write about. She doesn't waffle. If there's a problem to be solved, a job to be undertaken, she simply goes ahead and does it rather than worrying about whether or not it's her fault, or her responsibility, or whether or not it's going to make problems for her down the road.

One thing that I think a lot of readers have missed about Honor, though, is that Hamish Alexander was completely correct when he told her that she had "the vices of her virtues." There have been many instances in the series where Honor has made what was, at best, a suboptimal choice, yet because the readers liked her so much, and because they were "inside her head" when she did it, they give her a pass on it . . . if they ever notice it in the first place. One rather famous incident, for example, comes when she smacks Reginald Houseman. Sure, he deserved it; on the other hand, as a serving officer in the Royal Manticoran Navy, Honor had no business giving it to him the way that she did. Again, in the same book, she almost shoots a POW out of hand. Again, he had it coming; on the other hand, he hadn't been tried, he hadn't been sentenced, and what she intended to do -- what, in some ways, she actually did do, since she pulled the trigger -- would quite rightly have been regarded as an act of murder. Once again, in In Enemy Hands, she makes a seriously flawed decision, although not this time because she loses her temper. In this instance, a bunch of her subordinate officers and her Grayson armsmen have given their lives rescuing her, and by this time she is not simply a captain in the Royal Manticoran Navy -- she's a flag officer, and a steadholder, with all of the duties and responsibilities of a ruling head of state. So, it's clearly her duty to carry through with her escape, not to mention the fact that if she doesn't, then all of the people who have already died will have died in vain. Yet when her last armsman is wounded and knocked unconscious, she runs right back into the crossfire to save him, and comes within inches of getting both of them killed.

There are a lot of other instances in the books where she makes decisions based in large part on who she is -- what makes her who she is -- rather than on a proper analysis of the situation. I think part of the problem is that when a competent person makes a mistake, it's usually a competent mistake, and it's usually not made for stupid reasons, which means that when Honor makes a mistake, the readers generally don't beat up on her for it.