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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
This excellent collection of short stories contains four very different stories -- three from David Weber (centered on Honor Harrington) and one from Eric Flint.
Although all four stories are exceptional, my favorite is Flint's "From the Highlands," a story about a man's heroic quest to get back his kidnapped 11-year-old daughter before an intergalactic revolution is ignited. Captain Anton Zilwicki, from the highlands of Gryphon, was the barrel-chested husband of Helen Zilwicki, the famous Manticorian Captain who died defending a merchant convoy from People's Republic of Haven ships in previous novels. Anton's surviving daughter is also named Helen, and when the young girl is kidnapped, Anton vows to find his daughter and rip apart whoever is behind the abduction.
Anton Zilwicki is one of those characters that readers can't help but root for. He is built like a tank and always says exactly what's on his mind, whether it's appropriate or not. He lives by a strict code of honor and is the kind of person that most anyone would want as a close friend.
Zilwicki turns to the Lady Catherine Montaigne for help. Montaigne supposedly has connections with the infamous terrorist Jeremy X and his soldiers. But as Anton and Lady Catherine are drawing up a plan of attack, hours and days are passing. What about Helen?
It's clear from the beginning that the 11-year-old is indeed the product of her parents. Instead of sitting terrified in a corner of the dark cave where she has been imprisoned, she has found sharp pieces of rubble and has started digging her way out. She digs every day and measures out the time between her twice-a-day meals of barely edible swill. She hides the opening behind pieces of rock and spreads the dirt out on the floor so her captors won't notice anything. After six days of digging, Helen finally bursts through into a maze of underground catacombs.
But once inside the subterranean tunnels, Helen runs into people -- or more appropriately, creatures -- much more dangerous than her abductors. "After an instant's spike of fear, Helen saw that the three men approaching bore no resemblance whatsoever to her captors. The creatures lurching toward her wore a pastiche of rags and filthy garments that were almost impossible to describe. And where her male captors had been clean-shaven and short-haired, these things looked more like shaggy apes than people."
What Helen has to go through in her attempts to evade her captors and stay alive is as surprising as it is intense. And what happens to her father is even better! I absolutely loved the conclusion of "From the Highlands" and am hoping that Flint decides to continue the story in future collections.
The three other stories were just as engaging. Weber's "Changer of Worlds" takes place on the treecats' home planet of Sphinx and chronicles an important time of flux in the treecats' history -- when the People decide to open cultural doors that had been forever shut. "Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington" tells the story of young Honor Harrington and her ordeal with an evil superior, Elvis Santino. "Nightfall" is a dark story about the complex relationship between Oscar Saint-Just and Esther McQueen, two political figures vying for the ultimate position of power. Before Saint-Just can set his assassination plot of McQueen in motion, she strikes Saint-Just when he least expects it.
A great anthology that expands the Honor universe, Changer of Worlds is a must-read for all those Honor Harrington fans out there. (Paul Goat Allen)