In Fury Born by David Weber
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Imperial Intelligence couldn’t find them, the Imperial Fleet couldn’t catch them, and local defenses couldn’t stop them. It seemed the planet-wrecking pirates were invincible. But they made a big mistake when they raided ex-commando leader Alicia DeVries’ quiet home work, tortured and murdered her family, and then left her for dead. Alicia decided to turn “pirate” herself, and stole a cutting-edge AI ship from the Empire to start her vendetta. Her fellow veterans think she’s gone crazy, the Imperial Fleet has shoot-on-sight orders. And of course the pirates want her dead, too. But Alicia DeVries has two allies nobody knows about, allies as implacable as she is: a self-aware computer, and a creature from the mists of Old Earth’s most ancient legends. And this trio of furies won’t rest until vengeance is served.
In Fury Born is a greatly expanded new version of David Weber’s popular novel Path of the Fury, which has gone through six large printings in its original mass market edition. David Weber has added considerable new material, revealing the earlier life of Alicia DeVries before she embarked on her mission of vengeance, and illuminating the universe of the original story. The result is a novel with almost twice the wordage of the original, and a must-buy for all David Weber fans.
So that second paragraph in the summary is important to pay attention to because it covers the first half of this monster-sized book (clocking in at 838 pages without the appendices). Don’t go in expecting to hit that first paragraph’s promise of AI and ancient mythology until you hit a little ways past the halfway mark.
Fans of Weber’s Honorverse – like myself – will recognize quite a few elements, names, and character types in this book that call back to the Honorverse. Oh, sure, Alicia has a furry contralto instead of a crisp soprano, but that and certain cosmetic changes seem to be one of the few differences between the two heroines. The two aren’t completely alike in personality though, I’ll grant Weber that, but Alicia DeVries could still be Honor Harrington in a different environment, and that was in the back of my mind through most of the whole book. By the end I think Weber was able to differentiate the two enough for me, but maybe not for everyone.
A lot of the characters were enjoyable and fleshed-out, like usual for Weber, but most of them weren’t. I would have loved to see more depth to Watts instead of only seeing him through Alley’s eyes, and there were so many unanswered questions about the Rish by the end of the book. And I really wish we’d seen more of Alley’s family before their deaths. On the other hand, I loved getting to see ‘Uncle Arthur’, Tannis, and Ben Belkassem throughout the course of the book.
Part of me wonders what this book was before Weber expanded on it but mostly I’m glad I only know this version of it. I think that without the background knowledge, I wouldn’t have as much sympathy for Alley. I think she would have read as a flatter character – or far closer to Honor – without having gotten to see her history both as a Wasp and as a drop commando. Yes, the two ‘halves’ read very differently from each other, but at the same time they’re both pure Weber and they’re both about Alley.
And bonus points to Weber for Alley’s meaningful name! I won’t say why because that might spoil the ‘surprise’ (which isn’t much of one, I’ll admit, especially looking at the title), but I definitely appreciate her name’s significance, especially considering the end of the novel.
In the end, I’m left hoping Weber comes back to this verse someday – not until after we’ve gotten some closure on the Honorverse, because darn it I want to know what happens with Mesa! But I’d also like to see more of Alley and her allies.
4 out of 5 stars.