Every time I read this authors name I imagine fat, old Kirk shaking his fist and yelling, "Zaaaaahhhhhn".
Anyway, I actually read this because Nathan was wondering if Zahn was similar at all to David Weber. I hadn't read any Zahn before (except the first 30 pages or so of a Star Wars novel, I just can't read Star Wars novels for some reason, can't do it.)He rec'ed this one so here we are.
The Icarus Hunt is the story of a renegade space smuggler Han Solo Jordan McKell, who is hired by a mysterious stranger to take some kind of mysterious, sealed cargo to Earth from whatever planet they were on that I don't feel like looking up. Along the way they run into a variety of problems and are soon on the lam from an evil alien species whose economic future is threatened by the mysterious cargo. Mystery abounds.
This was a perfectly enjoyable novel, well paced with engaging characters and a mystery at the heart of the story. I enjoyed it very much but the story ended with an enormous DEM that kind of ruined the end of the book for me. It wrapped up everything way too neatly and left me felling like the author just was writing along and suddenly thought, "Oh shit, I have to wrap this up in, like, 30 pages". Oh well.
To finally answer the question that started all of this, if this book is in any way representative of Zahn's writing style (and since this is the only example I have I am going to assume, for purposes of this review, that it is) then he and Weber have almost nothing in common. The Weber books I have read have been big on technology and extremely lengthy explanations of exactly how every...single...god...damned...thing works in sometimes excruciating detail. Weber's characters are paper thin for the most part, with the exception of Honor Harrington herself, she is well developed and a very good character. Zahn, on the other hand, appears to have better developed characters and a better sense of pacing and dialog. He either writes in a more personal style or the first person POV comes off that way while Weber's style seems more structured. Zahn and Weber are not similar except possibly in quality, they are both solid but not spectacular authors with significant strengths and significant weaknesses.