"A Talent for War" is a science fiction novel, almost, but not quite a space opera.
200 years before the events of this novel, there was a great war with an alien race colloquially known as "the mutes", and the hero, the human hero, is Christopher Sim. He's the household name, the subject of novelizations, of operas, of plays, and speculative histories. Everyone in this world knows him and the basic roll he played in the war.
McDevitt mentions more than one of these novels and operas. He goes into great detail about stories done about each and every character in the war, the lieutenants, the Benedict Arnold, the love interest, the side stories and so on. While I realize that it's necessary to show just how ingrained the roll of Christopher Sim is in this fictional society, it just isn't that interesting. The main story is, but the many, many sidelines in a novel just 300 pages long don't hold my interest. I found myself counting the pages and struggling to get back to the novel when I'd put it down. I almost gave it up a couple of times, but managed to finish.
I won't be reading any more McDevitt without a solid recommendation from someone I trust.