West of Honor Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of West of Honor

West of Honor is set in Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium science fiction universe, in which the United States and the Soviet Union form an alliance, using the military to maintain the status quo and retain their power. It introduces military officer (later mercenary captain) John Christian Falkenberg, who is featured in several more novels.
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Captain Falkenberg is sent to the underdeveloped planet Ararat with whatever forces and officers he can scrounge together in response to pleas for help from the planetary governor. (The story is told from the viewpoint of the senior of Falkenberg's three newly graduated officers, Lieutenant Hal Slater.) The CoDominium had unilaterally decided that Ararat would make a convenient dumping ground for criminals and political prisoners. Chaos ensues, and the governor and the small military garrison hold the only city, but everything else is controlled by various gangs.

Falkenberg sends Slater and a small force ahead in the few helicopter-towed transports to launch a surprise attack to capture a fort which commands the only exit from the valley surrounding the city. The main force then advances, driving the gangs toward the fort. Despite heavy resistance, Falkenberg's makeshift force defeats and either kills or disarms large numbers of the enemy, enabling the local militia to hold the valley.

Afterward, Slater meets and falls in love with a local woman who had been raped and tortured for trying to fight the criminals. The locals outside the valley want Falkenberg to finish the job, but the corrupt governor won't authorize it.

Some time later, the governor and his militia are surrounded in a town. He orders Falkenberg to come to his rescue. However, Falkenberg suspects a trap, and that the governor is working with the enemy. He devises a risky plan that, with the assistance of the locals, succeeds in smashing the power of the gangs for good.
Best part of story, including ending: The military strategy seems pretty sound, at least as far as this armchair general can tell. However, see my comments about the main character.

Best scene in story: I can't honestly say that any particular scene sticks out, but Slater barely holding out at the fort in the face of increasingly desperate attempts by the convicts to escape is as good as any.

Opinion about the main character: In common with most military science fiction, the military commander (e.g. Ender) is miraculously five steps ahead of the enemy, despite the shortsightedness, cowardice or corruption of his politician bosses. Rather cliched in this respect.

The review of this Book prepared by J. Lee a Level 10 Peregrine Falcon scholar

Chapter Analysis of West of Honor

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 50%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 10%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 20% FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story War or Invasion    -   Yes Major kinds of combat:    -   guns Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   infantry soldier Age:    -   20's-30's


Planet outside solar system?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   none/very little science jargon needed How much dialogue?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Jerry Pournelle Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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