I’m going to make no bones about this, In Fury Born is one of my favorite books of all time. This has been a Shelf of Honor book since I first read it years ago by an author I’ve been reading for almost twenty years. And that’s hard to do at twenty eight. I read my first David Weber book back in the mid nineties, mass market sized hardcover library version of On Basilisk Station, the first of the Honorverse books. I must have not read Fury until after 2006 because I’ve got the expanded version rather than the original Path of Fury version. I had been reading a lot of swords and magic and needed a change of pace and Weber is one of the best at space operas.
Short back of the book version of what goes on … Alicia DeVries is a bad ass space Marine. Seriously, the best of the best and gets tapped into the appropriately elite drop commando unit, the Emperor’s Cadre.So the first chunk of the book is Alicia’s progress from recruit to Cadre to the front lines. She racks up all sorts of combat medals but gets seriously betrayed and retires out early to a frontier planet. Oh hello pirates! The pirates start pwn’ing face all over the sector kill off everyone she cares about. How’s she going to get back at them? There are still three hundred pages left! Oh that’s right, a Greek fury gets into her noggin too. And they hijack a sentient space ship. Time to own some pirates.
So yeah. I’m going to try to avoid getting all spoiliery but my level of “spoilery” and yours might be different. Fair warning.
Fury is actually the original version plus a “novel length prequel.” If you didn’t know about it, you might not notice. If you are looking for it, the break where the original started is blatent. When the story shifts to post-retired Alicia and the frontier, some of the info dumps repeat. They’re not lengthy or obnoxious, you can’t be a published author for decades and not know how to do it well, but they’re there. Character descriptions and the like. It’s like reading a book and it’s sequel back to back, which essentially this is.
But yeah, this book has so many things I love to read. Let’s count. One… space marines! I’m no hardcore military SF guy. I’ve read some that lean too heavy on procedure and the bureaucracy of the military. But Weber doesn’t do that. There are full fledged characters inside the uniforms. This is the norm across the board for all the Weber books I’ve read. The book jumps POVs a lot, even though Alicia is the primary focus, but Alicia isn’t all knowing and the other POVs are crucial to knowing what goes on. But even in little chunks of text that follow a base lieutenant or smuggler boss who is about to die after a page and a half, there’s still a sense that there’s more than just a cardboard cutout. So space marines with souls. Alicia is a confident warrior but one who knows killing isn’t always the answer. She shows this through her deeds and not just thoughts.
Two… multiple personalities. It sounds like a cliche soap opera thing, but I find it interesting as hell. When it’s done well, it’s not derivative at all. In Fury it’s not a psychosis but rather more than one entity living in the same noggin. My love of the tropes of psychological SF probably stems from the early Zelazny I like such as Roadmarks and all that New Wave stuff from the 70s. Character driven stuff is always my favorite and the battles inside someone’s mind are the best way to get to know them. Notice I avoided saying “getting inside their head” until now. So literal and figurative bam on that.
Three… modern mythology, or in this case, future mythology. I first read this book, WebMage by Kelly McCullough and American Gods all around the same time. It has become one of my favorite subgenres partly because it’s pretty new on the scene and partly because it mixes up all the conventions of the genre I’ve been reading for ever. Now most of the modern mythology stuff is current day,Fury is the only one I can think of that takes the ancient deities and plops them down in the future. So in addition to the uniqueness, Weber makes Tisiphone, the titular fury, into just as much of a proper character as any of the others. In some ways, she has the most growth of any of them.
There are some similarities to Honor Harrington but in no way is Alicia just Honor with a rifle. Especially in the later Honorverse books, there’s a whole lot of diplomacy. I could see Alicia dealing with people, but not so much being a stateswoman like Honor gets to do. They’re both fighters to be sure, but I see Alicia as a predator that stalks prey where as Honor always seemed to have more patience, to lay in wait. I think a lot of that has to do with the differences of person to person combat versus ship to ship combat.
So three of my favorite things rolled up into one action packed book. The action is visceral without being gory or gratuitous and when Weber gets down to space naval combat, there’s no one I’ve read better. A full blooded Weber space battle is the Platonic ideal of a space battle. Seriously, if I ever teach writing space combat, anything he writes can be Exhibit A.
If you have even the remotest interest in space operas and/or military SF, check this book out immediately. Don’t let the addition of the mythology bent sway your hand, this book is worth it.
Next up, Arctic Rising by Tobias Buckell.