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David Weber's Honorverse military SciFi series encompasses main series books, a couple of sub-series, and anthologies.

Some of those works were published later but are in-universe prequels (e.g. "More Than Honor" anthology and "The Star Kingdom" contain a backstory of how humans and Treecats met). Some are sequels with different characters in the same universe ("Crown of Slaves" series)

Is there a recommended order of reading all of them? (ideally, informed by Weber's opinion).

An important point I'm interested in is the order of reading of short stories (published separately or in anthologies) - e.g. do they apply to different books/series and if so, should they be read together in the anthology, or within appropriate series order?

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4 Answers 4

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According to David Weber's official fan website, the books were originally intended to be read by publication date.

As the series has progressed in terms of both complexity and size, various changes have been made and the accepted order is now shown below, primarily (but not exclusively) focusing on in-universe chronology.

"What order Am I supposed to read the Honor Harrington/Honorverse books?

Great Question! David originally intended the books to be read in order by publication date, but that's gotten a little complicated.

Check out our handy list, contributed by Christine Acker!"

David Weber's Honorverse Timeline

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Unfortunately, this is already out of date. – Donald.McLean Jul 29 '14 at 14:45
@Donald.McLean - The chatter on the official website seems to agree that the newest books should just be added to the published order. – Richard Jul 29 '14 at 15:30
And what about Beginnings, A Call To Arms and Fire Season? – Donald.McLean Jul 29 '14 at 15:54
@donald.mclean - not the foggiest. The authors site doesn't include them in the reading order. – Richard Jul 29 '14 at 16:28

Having read pretty much everything in the Honorverse, it is my opinion that the best reading order is chronological, by in-universe time. The vast collection of stories and novels make up a single, massive, inter-related narrative and it all just makes more sense when read chronologically.

The Honorverse page on Wikipedia contains a complete, up-to-date, listing of all the novels, as well as short stores, in the section Stories listed by internal chronology. This shows dates, and sometimes helpful notes, so that readers can see how the stories overlap.

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Strangely enough, I mused about this a few days ago - I read the entire lot since Christmas in a rather strange order, so I was wondering how I should have done it.

My recommendation would be to read the main series in publication order followed by the anthologies likewise, then the two spin-off series together in (in-verse) chronological order. Logic:

  • The main series builds up all its characters easily enough to fill their roles in it, and follows one character's story almost continuously. Inserting the spinoffs chronologically would only serve to interrupt its flow with peripheral diversions.
  • The anthologies fill in parts of the backstories of the main series' characters that weren't required for the main plot. Expect lots of 'oh...I remember where this guy popped up again' or 'so THAT's why she said that!' moments, plus some insight into secondary characters' motivations. They introduce most of the important characters for the spin-offs.
  • The spin-offs frequently use events and characters from the main series and each other, so should be read last and together. I read one set (saganami) in its entirety first, but wouldn't recommend that. They fill in between a lot of the 'backdrop' events of the later main series books, without being essential to the plot.

That's all I have to say for now!

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First off, it's worth pointing out that David Weber is the Word of God on all of this, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

The series started out as a novel series written by Weber beginning in 1992 with On Basilisk Station and continued with Weber as the sole creator up until roughly 2000 when Ashes of Victory was published. Two anthologies were also published - More than Honor and Worlds of Honor - in 1998 and 1999, respectively, with Weber writing stories and editing both anthologies, but none of the stories in those anthologies really add very much to the main story line.

However, between the publication of Ashes of Victory (or really, Echoes of Honor, the previous novel) and War of Honor, Weber kind of let the Honorverse get out of control. Just about everybody in the Baen bullpen took a crack at throwing new characters into the Honorverse and, while not all of them stuck, enough did that you have to pick up at least a couple of stories from the various anthologies to keep up with the overarching narrative.

The most important characters for the narrative, at least, right off the bat, are going to be the Zilwickis, Victor Cachat, and Abigail Hearns. They are featured in a couple of the short stories - "From the Highlands" in Changer of Worlds for the Zilwickis and Cachat, and "The Service of the Sword" in the anthology of the same name for Abigail Hearns.

After picking up those characters, you're ready for War of Honor. The Honorverse isn't done fragmenting, however. Two more spinoff series start pretty quickly after War of Honor: the Crown of Slaves books and the Saganami Island series. Luckily, since Weber (sometimes with Eric Flint) is writing all of them, you're pretty safe sticking with publication order - as long as you picked up those new supporting characters from the short stories.

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