If you’re disappointed in how long it’s taken me to read Midst Toil and Tribuilation, you have to stand behind me myself. It’s been a week since I finished the fifth book, and this sixth is not one of the ones I personally categorize as a slog. However, real life has had a bit to say about that. Between the convention, recovering from the convention, investigation of my loot from the convention, dinner with my family, and overtime, it’s taken me ’til now to finally finish a book that’s less than five hundred and fifty pages long. That does not include the forty-page cast of characters. I did mention how that section would continue to grow, right?
Tech-wise, our land battles are just about to the point of WWI, and they fill this book. Also atrocities. David Weber doesn’t get into gory detail, but this is a holy war after all. Shit has gotten real, and it’s only going to get worse. We’re also seeing how our main characters are becoming harder, more inured to the violence. The protagonists don’t want to see themselves and their soldiers turn into heartless bastards, but they can see it happening, especially in the most hotly contested regions.
You could give this book a subtitle: War Stinks. Midst Toil and Tribulation is the interim book of a war that seems to go on forever; you want it to be over so that people can get back to normal life, but you can’t just stop fighting because the moment you do, the enemy will roll right over you. The enemy is merciless and because of that, they will force you to either sink to their level, or allow yourself weaknesses they’ve avoided. It’s a desperate battle that neither side can truly see the end of, even though they’re both weary of it all.
Weber loves military fiction, a fact that’s only become more evident as the series goes on. In fact, there’s a nod to one of his favorite series in this book: Bolos, created by Keith Laumer. And yes, I know for a fact Weber is a big fan because there is an entire book – Bolo! – of Weber’s own short fiction set in that universe.
Hopefully it won’t take me quite as long to get through the seventh book, though I already know the eighth is one of the aforementioned slogs. Regardless, we shall see!