STUDENTS OF HONOR . . .
The Star Kingdom of Manticore is once again at war with the Republic of Haven after a stunning sneak attack. The graduating class from Saganami Island, the Royal Manticoran Navy's academy, are going straight from the classroom to the blazing reality of all-out war.
Except for the midshipmen assigned to the heavy cruiser HMS Hexapuma, that is. They're being assigned to the Talbott Cluster, an out of the way backwater, far from the battle front. The most they can look forward to is the capture of the occasional pirate cruiser and the boring duty of supporting the Cluster's peaceful integration with the Star Kingdom at the freely expressed will of eighty percent of the Cluster's citizens. With a captain who may have seen too much of war and a station commander who isn't precisely noted for his brilliant and insightful command style, it isn't exactly what the students of Honor Harrington, the "Salamander," expected.
But things aren't as simple — or tranquil — as they appear. The "pirates" they encounter aren't what they seem, and the "peaceful integration" they expected turns into something very different. A powerful alliance of corrupt Solarian League bureaucrats and ruthless interstellar corporations is determined to prevent the Cluster's annexation by the Star Kingdom . . . by any means necessary. Pirates, terrorists, genetic slavers, smuggled weapons, long-standing personal hatreds, and a vicious alliance of corporate greed, bureaucratic arrogance, and a corrupt local star nation with a powerful fleet, are all coming together, and only Hexapuma, her war-weary captain, and Honor Harrington's students stand in the path.
They have only one thing to support and guide them: the tradition of Saganami. The tradition that sometimes a Queen's officer's duty is to face impossible odds . . . and die fighting.
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In his long-running saga of the Manticoran Space Navy and its battles (War of Honor, etc.), Weber has chronicled the career of Honor Harrington, a distaff Horatio Hornblower transplanted into a futuristic conflict based loosely on the Napoleonic wars. These hugely entertaining and clever adventures are the very epitome of space opera, but their emphasis on one officer's contribution tends to give a lopsided view of how a military organization fights. In his rousing second Honorverse novel (after 2003's Crown of Slaves, coauthored with Eric Flint), Weber focuses on how each member of a unit contributes to the mission's success through teamwork, discipline and individual initiative. A scratch task force is dispatched to a series of fringe systems that have petitioned to join the Manticoran Space Nation. What is supposed to be a relatively easy assignment to a sector far from the front lines of the renewed Havenite War is soon complicated both by terrorists who oppose the annexation and by corrupt elements of the Solarian League the major power in Weber's universe who don't want the stiff-necked Manties sniffing around their highly illegal (and lucrative) genetic slave trade. Weber emphasizes the role that tradition plays in inspiring our lads and lasses in uniform, reminding the reader that a hero can be anyone who does his or her job with honor, commitment and skill.