Or Jack McDevitt's A TALENT FOR WAR, which opens with a Mass, on Albacore (on the smaller of the planet's 2 continents) "The air was heavy with incense and the sweet odor of hot wax". I don't mention TALENT because it relates to your topic, but because everyone should read McDevitt.
I've not read it, but having read a small sample of it, I definitely will.
I bought A Talent for War
and finished it in a day, so it definitely kept me interested. I will have to read it again, though, before I can decide where it ought to be ranked. Plus I'm sure that there is something I missed the first time around (I read The Lord of the Rings
about once per year and every time I read it I discover something I had missed before -- granted there are 1300 pages in the edition I have, HM hardcovers).
GKC, what do you think of David Weber's Honorverse collaborations with Eric Flint? I started reading Crown of Slaves
some time ago and had a lot of difficulty in getting through it. I don't mind intrigue but it seems unduly focused on the sex lives of the characters, who is seducing whom, etc. In fact I had trouble recognizing Weber at all in the work -- even different terms are used for some concepts (for example, the term "contra-grav" is used rather than Weber's usual term, "counter-grav"). I don't mean to nitpick, of course -- for me it is just evidence that Weber had little to do with the book except provide Flint with some ideas.
I am a fanatic on all the Honorverse, and certainly accept the portions that Flint contributed as canonical. I am also quite grateful to Flint for causing David to extend the time line by at least two books, past the point he had decided to make the climax, in order to accommodate stuff that Eric had written, that messed up his planned schedule. I just bought RISING THUNDER, and have only one more book before Something Awful Happens.
I note the difference in style and emphasis, in CROWN OF SLAVES and TORCH OF FREEDOM, emphasis on certain characters, MANPOWER, the Ballroom, etc. Doesn't bother me at all. I am caught in the flow, and highly unlikely to catch contra or counter. Memory isn't that good. But it is as likely that Eric gives David ideas as the other way. Certainly he did, when he forced the time line shift.
My wife, more the extremist on Honor than I am, makes no distinction between Weber and Flint, reads all, demands more.
Haven't read any real SF for a while. Preston's IMPACT and Green's THE SPY WHO HAUNTED ME don't really qualify. Awaiting Jack's latest, done with Mike Resnick, due shortly. Prior to that, maybe Wolfe's HOME FIRES was latest. Or one of Kratmann's.
Hope in the end your final judgement on TALENT FOR WAR is positive. Then go on to read of my daughter's exploits in saving the world in MOONFALL.