Rating: Buy, Softcover, New
After basically blowing away a full evening with my family to read Eye of the Storm (by John Ringo) I figured I owed Mrs. Bugbear and Little Miss Bugbear. I spent most of Saturday afternoon making Boeuf En Croute, the french version of Beef Wellington, or perhaps they're more or less the same thing. I figured at the start of the recipe that it would take an intense afternoon of effort to turn out a pleasant meal to make up for my absorption in a book one night this past week. Imagine my surprise, while it did take a bit of labour I also had time to start the latest offering from David Weber, Storm from the Shadows. Both the book and the beef turned out to be very enjoyable.
Storm from the Shadows actually opens before the events of At All Costs, the last installment in the main trunk Honor Harrington stories, and is actually the sequel to The Shadow of Saganami. Generally this is a very good book. Storm from the Shadiows ties together events that have occurred in Crown of Slaves as well as the The Shadow of Saganami and the Honor Harrington books while advancing the events focused in the Talbot Cluster. The main fault I feel is not re-hashing some of the events for which Weber apologizes in the author's foreword. I agree that it was necessary to integrate the stories as Weber points out in his foreword. The only real flaw I found was that Storm from the Shadows was not the page turner that most of the Honorverse books are. The Saganami Island books seem a bit more intrigue based and consequently the action is lessened and the pace a bit slower. Thus I managed to read the book and not burn the roast this past Saturday afternoon since I could actually put the book down while I made pastry.
In spite of the intrigue based nature of the book Weber does manage to slip in a bit of action and his patented Weber Data Downloads tm. I should note that I really don't find the blocks of technology description or battle narrative a negative feature of Weber's books. After all I can choose to skip them or read them and Weber does me the favor of not putting these large blocks of data that he feels necessary in penny packets throughout the book. For those that don't like them then read something else but you'll be missing a great book in most cases.
The only other thing that I dislike is that Weber left a cliffhanger at the end of Storm from the Shadows. Damn it, cliffhangers are marketing devices and should not be used as literary devices, especially when it's been four years between Honorverse books, DAMN YOU WEBER! Okay so he might have written some other books I've also enjoyed in the intervening four years but still DAMN YOU WEBER! AND WHEN IS THE NEXT BAHZELL BANAHKSON BOOK COMING OUT! WHEN'S THE NEXT EMPIRE OF MAN BOOK AND PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WRITE ANOTHER FIFTH IMPERIUM BOOK IT'S BEEN THIRTEEN YEARS! OH THE HUMANITY!!
I'll stop now, he did manage to write six books in the intervening four years so perhaps I shouldn't complain....as loudly.
On the cooking front, the Boeuf en Croute turned out very well. My maternal grandmother once advised me, you can make good pie crust with shortening or lard but you can only make great pie crust with lard. I unfortunately used shortening.
A couple other pitfalls to be aware of are not overworking the dough and making sure all your ingredients are cold when you start.
Despite hitting pretty much all the landmines in making pastry neither Little Miss Bugbear nor Mrs. Bugbear had any complaints though.
The layer of sherry & french beaujolais braised leeks, mushrooms mixed with pate between the crust and the roast was very very good and may have cause the complaint box to remain empty.
Bon appetit and good reading.
The recipe that I linked to is not the recipe I used. I used a recipe from a beef cookbook which is no longer in print, the recipe linked to above is freely available on the Web.