Fast-forward about fifty years. Honor Harrington spends the next several volumes doing suicidally badass things, saving worlds, thrashing the evil with her Kung-Fu Griptm, being awarded medals and rank and wealth and elevated to the aristocracy and all but anointed Queen. In fact that last thing sort-of happens, in that one planet is so delighted at her sheer gosh-darn awesomeness that the people there actually create a country for her to rule. I did not make that up. Indeed the only people who don't think HH is just the most magnificent thing that's ever happened are evil politicians – and I don't repeat myself, as would normally be my practice, because these books do contain non-evil politicians. They all think HH is awesome, which is how you can tell. The people who don't think HH is awesome are completely icky, one and all.
Honor Harrington is truly an incredible individual. She goes from being a lieutenant-commander or something (I forget) to a fleet admiral in two completely different navies in like 35 minutes, based entirely on her consummate bad-assery. She is hated and feared by her Star Kingdom's enemies, except the good ones, who kind of admire her too. She is a master of some sort of body-stacking martial art, has a six-legged feline sidekick who's almost as deadly as she is, and really doesn't get a very great deal more dangerous to be near even when she's commanding a superdreadnought bristling with missiles. Which she does frequently. Really, giving this woman missiles is sorta gilding the lily – you already know she's gonna win the battle just because she showed up. In one volume she takes up the sword, masters it in like two paragraphs, and you just know she's going to lop some blackhat's head off with it before the final exciting chapter, because otherwise why would there be a sword? And she'll do it better than anybody's ever seen it done. Because she does everything that way: Her stupendous dangerousness is by no means her only virtue. This is a woman who is right about everything, better than anybody at doing anything. Like that country somebody gave her: As far as I can tell this place starts out as bare toxic dirt, contains no people, and within a few pages it's kicking the ass of every other country's economy on the whole planet. Most navel officers can't do that.
Or the one time she gets captured by icky enemies. Of course she not only escapes (duh) but she totally kicks the icky asses of all the bad guys (and you can tell they're bad because they don't like HH. Also they're into rape and murder and stuff, because people who don't like HH do things like that.) and escapes the prison planet with all the prisoners. An entire planet's worth. In fairness, it does take a while for her to round up the transport, but it doesn't really pose a problem. In fact Honor Harrington's single weakness is that sometimes she doesn't quite think she's awesome enough, and she kinda gets down on herself for not being more awesome. Fortunately she has a veritable army of sycophants whose sole function, other than sitting in briefing rooms and marveling at her awesomeness, is to jolly her out of these moods by reminding her of that time at the battle of Fourth Yeltsin or something when she tore an entire squadron of battleships apart with her bare hands.
David Weber, the writer of this very popular series, makes no secret that he based the character on C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower. In fact he beats you over the head with the comparison a couple of times, no mean trick in a science fiction book. I might have enjoyed the series a bit more if I weren't a fan of the Hornblower books and aware of what a pale imitation the Harrington character is. Horatio Hornblower is indeed an improbably successful naval officer, but that isn't what makes him interesting. He is also a deeply, sometimes tragically, flawed character, and his sidekicks don't sit around wishing he understood how completely incredible he is. They wonder things like, “Why did the Captain just cross the entire Atlantic and never speak a single word?” or “Should the Captain really have given that warship we just so painfully captured to that murderous South American lunatic? I don't think this is going to work out well.” And it often doesn't. With Honor Harrington, though, if she sets her hand to it you can bet it's gonna flourish. To a truly incredible degree.
There's also the writing style, which is...well, if you squeezed out the long, dreary, repetitive, unnecessary dialogue some of these lengthy books would be more like pamphlets. Seriously, the dialogue can go on for dozens of pages, and Weber is not afraid to apply those aphorisms so ruthlessly taught in Introductory Writing courses, like “Tell, Don't Show,” and “Never be afraid of beating a point to death, and when it has finally died give it a good swift kick just to be sure.” An example, which had me particularly foaming at the mouth: On the occasion when Honor Harrington
The plots are actually pretty good, when you can detect them through all the blather and padding. And I suppose that's what keeps me reading them, though I do require frequent breaks and never have gotten through all the books. I'm a writer myself, and yes I can get a bit critical of the writing of others. But that'll just be our little secret – I'm sure it never shows.