50. Peters, Ellis. The Summer of the Danes (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael) (245 p.)
51. Peters, Ellis. A Rare Benedictine (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael) (150 p.)
52. Weber, David. Flag in Exile (Honor Harrington) (442 p.)
53. Weber, David. Echoes of Honor (Honor Harrington) (718 p.)
November total: 1,555 pages
2012 YTD total: 18,915 pages
All series books this month.
These Cadfael books differ from most of the others in that neither has a core of Brother Cadfael putting together the pieces & thereby solving a murder mystery, even if that's not the only main plot. The Summer of the Danes includes a murder mystery, but it's left unsolved until the murderer, unprompted, confesses on his deathbed; otherwise, this is really just historical fiction. A Rare Benedictine is three short stories from Brother Cadfael's life, all set before the first book in the series; the first even depicts what immediately led up to his conversion from a crusader to a monk. There are no murders here at all, but skullduggery and mystery abound. Both are really good historical fiction, though, sort of like a much more low-key Pillars of the Earth.
Since I'm reading through what I had on hand (or could quickly put my hands on), I ended up skipping two Honor Harrington books, between these two, but I didn't have a problem figuring out the basics of what I missed. Flag in Exile has a lot more political shenanigans and a lot less space combat than previous volumes. (Except maybe Field of Dishonor, but even there, Honor generally wasn't herself holding up one whole side of the political maneuvering from the start; here she is.) It's a good story, though.
With Echoes of Honor I can see how the series has started sort of going off the rails by around this point. The shift from the (primarily, but not always solely) one-person POV story in the previous volumes I've read to the POV changing with almost every chapter here is a bit of a jarring change for me, and while almost every character here has a story to tell that interesting in its own right, I've been reading this series because I enjoy the adventures of Honor herself (and Nimitz), not every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the milieu, and I prefer POV shifts that are the exception rather than half or more of the book and are limited to other characters in the immediate vicinity and serve to punctuate the story (such as a scene on the enemy ship's bridge at the height of a battle, or a scene from the POV of a new engineer's assistant seeing Harrington come on board a new ship) rather than reveal important plot information (such as several chapters set several worlds away driving plots that only tangentally touch Honor herself and conveying information that she would never know or find out). Since I skipped two main-line books to get to Echoes of Honor, I didn't notice and thus wasn't bothered by any plots being picked up from side miniseries or the shared-world stories by other authors, but with the way the POV jumped all over, there probably were some in there.
(I'm also so annoyed that I momentarily lose my suspension of disbelief every time it comes up that the leader of the People's Revolution and the person responsible for lining up the "elitists" for execution but who is also trying to keep the proletariat mob from turning on himself has the name "Rob S. Pierre". C'mon; that's so obvious it hurts. I'd expect better of a first-timer's fan fiction--heck, that's the sort of in-joke character name I'd give a D&D character. As is, for those don't know the reference it's a meaningless reference that gets emphasized a bit too much--how often does his middle initial really need to be mentioned over the course of one book?--and for those who do get it, it's using a sledgehammer where a fly swatter would be sufficient.)
Feudalism: Serf & Turf