A Beautiful Friendship

David Weber. Baen, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4516-3747-2
Weber, the bestselling creator of the Honor Harrington books, digs into prequel territory with this series launch starring Stephanie Harrington, Honor's ancestress. While Weber's adult fanbase will find much to enjoy, teenage readers may find the expository writing and adult politics off-putting. An only child and a prodigy, Stephanie is 11 when the story begins, isolated and bored on the newly colonized planet Sphinx. The colonists are unaware they are under surveillance by a race of sentient, six-legged felines until someone notices small thefts. Stephanie decides to catch the thief, but instead establishes a strange, empathic link with the marauding "treecat," Climbs Quickly. Stephanie deals with interstellar politics and local bigotry as she develops her connection with Climbs Quickly. There's a strong whiff of 1950s Heinlein to this story, especially in the roles allotted to women: though Stephanie gets older, she does not mature, nor does she apparently experience puberty, and her increasing self-control is largely attributed to Climbs Quickly's influence. Nevertheless, the profound connection between Stephanie and her treecat will likely maintain readers' interests through the more challenging aspects of Weber's world-building. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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