Absent Aliens: Used in spirit. They're not actually absent, just... Not important. Humanity has made contact with at least twelve sapient species during its exploration of the galaxy, and at least one multi-stellar species has gone extinct (The Alphanes), but they are not involved in the story at all. The Medusans of Basilisk are important in the first novel, but fade into the background once Honor leaves their system since they only possess a Bronze Age level of technology. The only sapient aliens that have a presence throughout the series are the treecats of Sphinx, primarily represented by Nimitz, the 'cat who has adopted Honor — and tropewise they're more Manticoran Bond Creatures than an alien faction. There are a couple of alien species that humanity has uplifted but they're somewhere on the other side of the Solarian League, and not any more relevant than almost any other aliens in the series.
Accidental Truth: In Shadow of Freedom, "Firebrand", a Mesan agent posing as a Manticoran spy and setting rebel groups up to fail by promising them support he knows will never arrive tells his latest marks that they'll be able to contact Admiral Gold Peak for help once she moves openly against the Solarians at Meyers, secure in the knowledge that she won't do anything of the sort, and that any message that did get through to the Manties wouldn't be taken seriously. He's spectacularly wrong on both counts and effectively sends his patsies to the one place where they're absolutelycertainto find help. And it's not like the RMN doesn't make a fetish out of silly things like honor and initiative.
Achievements in Ignorance: The Graysons make some revolutionary discoveries due to having to rebuild their tech base from scratch — most notably, acceleration compensators that are more efficient than Manticore's version, and fission reactors that are smaller and more efficient and powerful than the rest of the galaxy thought feasible. At the time Manticore comes along they are very thankful they have some modern tech examples to work with to help relieve the backwards nature of their industry, but Manticore is also happy to have new ideas to try for themselves.
Action Girl: Tons of, starting with the title character.
Action Girlfriend / Violently Protective Girlfriend: Honor to Hamish Alexander. He declines her offer to teach him martial arts, saying that in the (highly unlikely) event that some poor mugger makes it through her bodyguards, he will be content to hold her coat while she beats the hell out of him.
Action Mom: There are plenty of them, but the most prominent examples are Helen Zilwicki (the senior one for whom the daughter by blood is named) and Honor herself.
Imagine going away on a business trip, leaving your lover behind. Then, while you're there, your best friend shows up without warning, to tell you that your lover was just murdered. Then you find out that it was an enemy of yours, the same man who tried to rape you once, but you didn't tell anyone about. In other words, the love of your life is dead, and you're responsible.
The Harringtons knew that when their little girl joined the Navy she may one day be killed in battle—but having her captured by the enemy and watching her execution on TV is one of the most heartrending passages in the entire series—even though, by this point, the reader already knows it's completely fake.
Air-Vent Passageway: Used in Crown of Slaves, but used more realistically than many examples. Crawling around in them is murderously hard work, characters without detailed schematics get badly lost, and it proves almost impossible to remove a grille without the proper tools. Additionally, the ducts in question are on a space station and are deliberately designed to be large enough to crawl through since they double as maintenance access passages.
Steadholder Mueller at the end of Ashes of Victory. He also counts as an Unwitting Pawn in the way his downfall came about.
Admiral Rayna Sherman in Honor Among Enemies. She deeply regrets signing up with Andre Warnecke and spends much of the single chapter she appears in plagued by her conscience before dying in the service of a madman. Worse, her ship was blown to bits while she was trying to surrender, seconds before she was able to strike the wedge. (Even if she had succeeded, she herself likely would've been executed for being one of Warnecke's highest-ranking people anyway.)
Several other characters in navies that are unlucky enough to not be the RMN get this treatment a lot. Especially if they're a member of the SLN.
All There in the Manual: Weber posts a lot in forums providing additional details, mostly about the underlying architecture of the world building. Most of it is collected here
Nobody ever takes Sir Horace Harkness for anything more than a battered old working-class noncom, but behind the unremarkable exterior lurks the mind of a hacking genius clever enough to hack his way into one of Manticore's most-protected military computer systems solely to make sure that he is always assigned to the same duty station as the young officer he has taken under his wing. This comes in extremely handy in In Enemy Hands.
The real rulers of the Solarian League are a quintet of Permanent Undersecretaries.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: One of the plot points in At All Costs involves an expired contraceptive implant — a device which sounds exactly like (and is presented to the reader in the same style as) the kind of futuristic medical technology that David Weber might invent, but which (in a less long-lived version than Harrington's) exists right now.
Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: When we meet Honor's mother, the first words out of her mouth are an observation of how nice a butt Honor's executive officer has, and telling Honor she needs to tap that — pronto. And she does that kind of thing all the time. Ironically, she is considered a bit of a prude on her home planet, due to her being decidedlymonogamous.
Amazon Chaser: Quite a few, as is inevitable in a setting such as this. For example, Iris Babcock is quite clearly described as not being particularly attractive. In the middle of book four, however, her pure badassitude leaves Harkness gawking and the next time we hear of either of them they've married each other.
Ambiguously Brown: Over the two thousand years since the present-day, the human race has interbred enough (not to mention played with genetic manipulation here and there) that it is actually fairly uncommon for the ethnicity, let alone skin color, of a character's name to match his features. This can lead to Dark-Skinned Blonde or Dark-Skinned Redhead characters (both of which have been seen in the series), as well as to characters such as Thandi (whose people started from an African genotype, lost their skin and hair pigmentation, but kept the facial structure and kinked hair).
American Customary Measurements: Grayson still uses them, for baseball, at least, demonstrating their hat of being stubbornly traditional to the extreme. Everyone else wonders why they don't just round everything up to the nearest meter. (Grayson's answer: 'Because this is baseball, dammit!')
Ancient Conspiracy: The Mesans, manipulating events in the human inhabited galaxy for at least several centuries.
And I Must Scream: Anyone unlucky enough to be targeted by the nanotech assassination virus experiences this. It takes over motor control only, so the victim remains fully conscious and aware even though he can't stop his motions or make a sound in protest. Chillingly portrayed by one loose end for the Mesan Alignment, who finds himself desperately trying to call for help, as he watches his own arm pull a gun out of his desk drawer and put the barrel into his mouth. In a twist, the empathic/telepathic treecats can hear the mental screams and react accordingly.
"Military fiction in which only bad people—the ones the readers want to die—die and the heroes don't suffer agonizing personal losses isn't military fiction: it's military pornography. Someone who write [sic] military fiction has a responsibility to show the human cost, particular [sic] because so few of his readers may have any personal experience with that cost.
Anti-Hero: Mostly as secondary characters. Chief Harkness, Jeremy X, Klaus Hauptmann, etc. The Spook Duo (Victor Cachat and Anton Zilwicki) are more than willing to ignore some pesky little rules in their pursuits, too.
It would be much easier for a warfleet to bombard and destroy a planet (apocalypse Class 4) than to fight another warfleet. The "Eridani Edict," a declaration by the Solarian League, forbids them from doing so, unless they first take control of the orbitals and offer a surrender chance. Controlling the orbitals is the equivalent of holding a sword to the planet's throat, and no sane opponent would keep fighting under that threat.
A brief (by Weber's standards) discussion in one book also points out that even civilian spacecraft could become a relativistic kill vehicle. Later, Mission of Honor demonstrates how much devastation can be caused as collateral damage or even accidentally. Debris from an orbital strike (not a treaty violation, and not even aimed at the planet) kills 5 million people on the surface, including most of Honor's large extended clan. Many more people would have died had not an intervening ship been quick on the draw.
Appropriated Appellation: The ruling members of the League bureaucrats are referred to as "Mandarins" by newsies critical of their actions, despite the best efforts of the League propoganda officials to stamp out the practice. The practice has gained so much traction that they have begun to accidentally refer to themselves as Mandarins, and are not happy when they realize it.
Arbitrary Minimum Range: At one point, some Marines need to use an antitank launcher to blow open a blast door, but can't use the best munition for the job because the range is shorter than said munition's minimum safe distance.
Arc Welding: Mesa and Manpower, Incorporated are first mentioned in War of Honor, ten books into the series and two books before their rise to the position of primary antagonists; but the later books give them credit for not just a lot of the earlier events of the series, but even historical events stretching back centuries that had been mentioned and discussed by characters for years.
Artificial Gravity: The effects of this technology are pervasive — impossibly tall skyscrapers, the replacement of all forms of ground transport, interstellar shipping cheap enough to ship perishables, FTL communication and travel, tractor beams, protective force fields, cheap and practical nuclear fusion, shaped nuclear explosions for laser warheads, cheap satellite launches, etc, etc.
Artistic License – Physics: Although Weber takes pains to get the physics right, he's primarily a naval historian by training, and a few creative changes to the laws of the universe do slip through.
At one point in Flag in Exile, the Peep missiles being used are said to be able to accelerate to a maximum velocity of about 60,000 kps relative to the ship that launched it, at which point their drives will burn out. That's a delta-v budget of 0.2c. Yet at another point in this same engagement, the claim is made that if the launching ships are incoming at 0.8c, their missiles will have a burnout speed of 0.99c. Unfortunately, that close to the speed of light, speeds don't add together in such a straightforward fashion — two velocities v1 and v2 add together as v = (v1 + v2) / (1 + (v1 * v2 / c2)). A missile launched at 0.8c would, if it accelerated by another 0.2c in its own reference frame, have a final speed of 0.862c, not 0.99c. (Time Dilation is a factor from one perspective; relativistic mass is a factor from another.) In order to accelerate from 0.8c to 0.99c, a missile would have to accelerate to 0.913c relative to the launching ship, which represents a delta-v of over 673,000 kps as viewed from its own reference frame.
Similarly, in chapter 35 of Ashes of Victory, Weber says that missiles accelerating at 48,000g (470 kps-squared) over a distance of 3.5 light-minutes will have a final velocity of 0.83c. But under special relativity, at high speeds an object accelerating at 470 km/s2 will actually gain less than 470 km/s of velocity every second. For an object accelerating over a given distance, where the distance is measured in a fixed observer's reference frame, the formula for how much time it takes in the accelerating object's reference frame is T = (c/a) * ArcCosh (a * d/c2 + 1), which for these missiles works out to T = 504 seconds. The formula for the final velocity you'll have when accelerating for a certain length of time, where the time is measured in the accelerating object's reference frame, is v = c * Tanh(a*T/c). Even if we generously assume that these missiles can actually accelerate for a full 9 minutes (T = 540 seconds) in their own reference frames, their final velocity will only be 0.69c, not 0.83c.
"I'm perfectly well aware that all of you already knew all of that." He smiled slightly. "Put it down to the executive producer's last-minute, pre-curtain anxiety. Or, more likely, envy."
Assassin Outclassin': Honor has survived a half dozen attempted assassinations. Scores of bystanders and several of her bodyguards have been wounded or killed, one of her friends died Taking the Bullet, she herself has been injured more than once, but she has always made it out alive. Few of the assassins have gotten away. She has even foiled more than one assassination attempt against other people when she was nearby.
In The Honor Of The Queen, the religiously conservative Graysons initially can't handle Honor's mere presence, due to their prejudice against women. They simply can't believe that a woman can in any way be capable of a military command. This changes after the planetary newsnet gets their hands on a security-camera recording of Honor decimating a small army of armed assassins who were trying to kill the planet's leader — with her bare hands.
Scrags follow this trope clearly and unquestionably.
Attack Pattern Alpha: As goes almost without saying, almost every military engagement involves quite a few attack patterns being employed. The most significant such code from a plot perspective, however, is the Manticoran fleet signal "Case Zulu" — meaning "Invasion Imminent". It has so far been used twice in the series; the first by Honor at the climax of On Basilisk Station, and the second by Admiral Stephania Grimm, head of the Junction's Astro Control, when Haven launches Operation Beatrice.
Attempted Rape: Pavel Young tried to rape Honor when they were both midshipmen. She beat the snot out of him, but was too scared of the potential political ramifications to press charges. Her character growth and his distinct lack of character are a fair chunk of the plot of the first three novels and most of the plot of the fourth.
Author Appeal: Baseball as a sport gets far and away the most page-time dedicated to it, though it's really only held out on long-isolated Grayson.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Zigzagged somewhat. Honor Harrington herself is an Action Girl of the most Bad Ass sort, partially thanks to being a Heavy Worlder, but most navy commanders are specialized in what they're supposed to be doing — that is, commanding spaceships from the safety of their bridge, not trading blows with armed assassins planetside. On the other hand, the basic officer training course (at least for the Royal Manticoran Navy) includes some pretty severe close-combat coursework, so there's at least an effort from the military to make this trope true. Apparently, most commanders just didn't take to that training as easily as Honor did, or they just let their training slip the moment they were out of school. (Honor was also on the unarmed combat team, meaning she put in quite a few more hours beyond the required courses.)note Not every character who earns their authority earns it through combat; those who don't tend to earn it through political or diplomatic asskicking instead, e.g. Dame Estelle Matsuko.
Awakening the Sleeping Giant: For most of the series so far, the Solarian League has been effectively ignoring the activities of the protagonists and antagonists, since their total military forces are, in numerical terms, insignificant compared to those of the League. Starting in Mission of Honor, their stance has changed, and they have participated in some rather one-sided engagements. The results have made them extremely nervous about Manticore's military supremacy; too bad for them it's not just Manticore who's ahead. The trope, however, is played straight in that everyone understands that given enough time and effort the League would be able to crush even the Grand Alliance simply because it's just so damn big. Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely to stay in one piece long enough.
Although the Grav Lance, first seen by the reader in On Basilisk Station, has the ability to knock down even a superdreadnought's sidewalls in one shot, it can only function at 1/4 (or less) the range of all other existing weaponry, and that assumes it does not malfunction all on its own. Subsequent increases in missile ranges have made it even more impractical than it was in the first book.
The Mesan spider drive. While the spider beams are virtually invisible compared to the impeller wedges all other ships use, they produce no gravitic sump for an inertial compensator to work with, meaning that spider-ships have to use much less effective grav plates and are therefore capped at about half the acceleration of even a superdreadnought. Even more importantly, the lack of impeller wedges and the fact that sidewalls block the spider beams mean that a spider-ship has no gravitic shielding. In short, a spider-ship can hide, but it can't run and it can't fight, making it useful for the sneak attacks only, akin to the early (WWI/WWII) submarines.
Badass: Most of the cast. Notably Honor herself and Victor Cachat, the two characters who have keen analytical minds, but are also involved in the first-person violence.
Dame Estelle Matsuko, first introduced as the Special Commissioner for the Basilisk system in On Basilisk Station, brought back (name-checked only) to be the Home Secretary for the Grantville government, and properly reintroduced in The Shadow of Saganami as the Governor-General of the Talbott Quadrant, is such a badass she can scare the pants off Solarians.
Queen Elizabeth III, whose political acumen is the envy of all who behold it and whom nobody dares to underestimate.
Eloise Pritchart, who got her start as a guerrilla fighter and assassin in the Aprilist movement before allowing herself to be co-opted by the Committee of Public Safety and proceeding to Feed the Mole in magnificent fashion. Ultimately she becomes President of the restored Republic of Haven and the Havenite equivalent of Queen Elizabeth.
The Harringtons. Honor gets most of the attention, but her father was a ruthless killing machine in combat when he was a Marine, and her mother's twin brother used to be a hard-core special forces operator who had no problem organizing assassinations of enemies just to make a point.
House Winton, as I Will Build My House of Steel goes to show, a family of skilled and determined politicians, with a tradition of military service. Roger III was the one who turned the Royal Manticoran Navy from an anti-piracy force into a first-rate navy, in expectation that they would eventually go head-to-head with the expanding Peoples' Republic of Haven.
Bad Liar: Honor, Sir James Webster, a few other Manticoran officers-cum-diplomats. In fact, that's part of the reason they're chosen as diplomats; their inability to lie well makes their honesty equally obvious. Apparently, Webster is such a terrible liar that people actually mistake his attempts to do so for sarcasm.
Batman Gambit: Discussed in Echoes of Honor where Admiral Tourville explains to People's Commissioner Honeker exactly why it is a terrible idea for your plan to rely on the enemy doing exactly what you want them to do. War Secretary McQueen's deliberate aversion of such plans is brought up as a reason why Operation Icarus had better odds of success than an earlier, too-elegant-for-its-own-good plan did in Flag In Exile.
Batter Up: When Honor sees a baseball team for the first time she thinks she is witnessing the outbreak of mob violence armed with wooden clubs. Andrew LaFollet manages to stop laughing long enough to explain to her that baseball is a sport on Grayson and those clubs are sports equipment.
Battle Butler: Cathy Montaigne's butler is an ex-combat slave and undercover freedom fighter.
Battle Couple: Victor Cachat and Thandi Palane as of Cauldron of Ghosts. The two of them take out several criminal gangs and fight in a drawn-out siege against overwhelming odds together.
The only steward in the RMN who is not actually in the Navy, James MacGuiness.
Master Steward Chris Billingsley, Michelle Henke's personal steward, got a pet cat aboard her flagship in spite of regulations preventing pets aboard ships.note Treecats aren't "pets", but they used to be subject to this restriction as well before royal intervention.
When an attacking spacecraft gets within energy range of its prey, it typically fires every single laser and graser mounted on its broadside in continuous-fire mode until the target dies. In Honor Among Enemies, Honor's Q-ship Wayfarer mounts eight superdreadnought-sized grasers on its broadside, capable of reducing to incandescent flinders any attacking ship dumb enough to get close.
Even modern missiles are also Beam Spam, delivered via Recursive Ammo and Manticore Missile Massacre. Each missile uses the energy of its detonation to power a cluster of x-ray lasers aimed at the target, and these are fired in increasingly large salvos as the series goes on. Each salvo detonating around a target results in hundreds of beams lancing toward the target from every direction possible.
Beat Them at Their Own Game: In At All Costs, the new Manticoran Eighth Fleet's job is to conduct deep raids in response to the Peeps repeatedly doing that.
Honor gets severely wounded multiple times and suffers disfiguring injuries, but (with one exception) gets patched up as good as new by the time the next book starts.
Fittingly for an Expy of an Expy of Horatio Nelson, she loses an arm and an eye (though unlike him, technology exists to grant her artificial replacements). Incidentally, she loses the same arm and eye as Nelson lost (the left in both cases).
Becoming the Mask: The State Secremnant forces, who finally become a well-disciplined, focused fighting force as the Peoples' Navy In Exile. Unfortunately, they realize the transformation has happened as their fleet is being torn to shreds by an enemy that has them badly outclassed.
Honor can be pushed too far. The results are bad for the ones who do it.
It was a merciless something, her "monster"—something that went far beyond military talent, or skills, or even courage. Those things, he knew without conceit, he, too, possessed in plenty. But not that deeply personal something at the core of her, as unstoppable as Juggernaut, merciless and colder than space itself, that no sane human being would ever willingly rouse. In that instant her husband knew, with an icy shiver which somehow, perversely, only made him love her even more deeply, that as he gazed into those agate-hard eyes, he looked into the gates of Hell itself. And whatever anyone else might think, he knew now that there was no fire in Hell. There was only the handmaiden of death, and ice, and purpose, and a determination which would not—could not—relent or rest.
Even though treecats are "cute" to humans and love children, they turn into ruthless living implements of death (once described as furry berserking buzzsaws) when "their" humans (or anyone their humans happen to like/want to protect) are threatened.
Shannon Foraker, who simply remarks "Oops!" when two full squadrons of super-dreadnoughts (and roughly one hundred thousand crewmembers) get annihilated by a few keystrokes.
Beware the Superman: Earth's devastating Final War was fought by super soldiers with drastic adjustments to their physiology for increased combat capability. They were also supposed to be modified for super-intelligence, which all too frequently had the side effect of increased aggression and sociopathy, and that has led to lasting prejudice against all genetic engineering. Honor herself, who inherited a set of adjustments for life on high-gravity worlds, fears that her modifications may be responsible for her temper and her lethal combat abilities.
The short story "Beauty and Beast" reveals that she fully inherited both the temper and combat abilities from her father, a man who left the Marines because he was too good at annihilating bad guys.
BFG: The tri-barrel, a portable weapon verging on light artillery, has frequently been described as shredding the environment around their target.
Big Bad: Albrecht Detweiler and the Mesan Alignment, the mastermind behind events stretching back centuries.
Zig-zagged so much you would expect it to blow an impeller node in Honor Of The Queen.
Dear god. She doesn't know we're here.
From the short story The Service Of The Sword: HMS Gauntlet's return to Refuge after defeating three heavy cruisers in open battle and blowing the fourth and last out of orbit with one salvo.
Used multiple times in the Stephanie Harrington books. Oftentimes in the form of entire clans of treecats. Angry treecats.
At the end of Shadow of Freedom, Michelle Henke collected all of Tenth Fleet and set off for Mesa. In the next book, Cauldron of Ghosts, she arrives just in time to rescue Victor Cachat, Thandi Palane, and the seccies who are about to be overrun in the siege of one of the residential towers. That is what is politely called exquisite timing.
Due to her genetically altered metabolism, Honor (like her father) can eat like a horse and never gain a pound. This becomes less than helpful when she is a prisoner of war, because standard prison rations are effectively starvation rations for her.
Thandi Palane, whose enhanced physique requires a minimum of four large meals a day to avoid starvation. Victor Cachat observes at one point that she appears to be inhaling bread rolls.
Bishōnen: Victor Cachat, repeatedly described as cute, and Jeremy X, who was literally genetically engineered to be one, to fit his intended role as a jester.
Possibly also Honor herself, depending how you read certain exchanges between her and Emily.
Bizarre Alien Senses: The Sphinxian Treecats are telepathic and empathic, and are evidently unique in the universe in that trait. Some humans, such as Honor, appear to display an aptitude for it as well, though.
Blackmail: A prominent and frequently used tool by most sides. The most notable examples are the Earl of North Hollow, whose files have manipulated Manticoran politics for decades at least, and Mesa, who has seemingly every Solarian flag officer in its pocket, including the competent ones.
Black Sheep: Denver Summervale, relative of the well-liked and highly competent Prime Minister Summervale, is a professional duelist/assassin.
Bling of War: This is also a hallmark of the Mesa System Navy (the attention-getting false front of the Mesan Alignment's military might) and emphasizes their showiness and lack of competence compared to the much more subdued uniforms of the top-secret Mesan Alignment Navy.
Allison Benton-Ramirez y Chou Harrington enjoys playing this trope immensely, being from a whole Planet of Hats populated by them. She often managed to scandalize even "libertine" Manticorans, not to mention members of her husband's much more straitlaced society on Sphinx. She did have to tone it down when Harringtons moved to Grayson, though.
Blown Across the Room: Pulsers tend to shred their victims, but occasionally the tattered remnants of their bodies will be propelled down a hallway.
Blue Blood: The series provides an in-depth examination of the pros and cons of an established aristocracy, and the impacts it can have on the development of those born into the system.
Pavel Young, Michael Janvier (Baron High Ridge), Steadholders Mueller and Burdette, and the Countess of New Kiev might as well be the poster boys of Aristocrats Are Evil, but the series also features the honorable House of Winton, the Mayhew family of Grayson (excepting such black sheep as Maccabeus), the Alexanders of White Haven, and eventually Honor Harrington herself. At several points in the series the characters themselves will debate the merits of various political systems, with the eventual conclusion that they all have positive and negative aspects, but the Manticoran model at least does its best to curb the excesses of any power elite.
Also demonstrated is that people have to be seen as individuals: Michael Oversteegen is a relative of Baron High Ridge, has the affected (annoying) drawl adopted by some members of the aristocracy and shares many of the Janvier family's political views... but is a resourceful, courageous, highly moral, and capable officer who cares for and treats his subordinates with respect, works well with others, and is in turn respected by his peers. He's basically what the more "traditional" members of the aristocracy claim to be. He also thinks High Ridge's side of the family are complete idiots.
Hugh Arai for Queen Berry in Torch of Freedom, initially against his will and fully expected by Jeremy X.
Andrew LaFollet spends most of his life quietly, deeply, and unrequitedly in love with his Steadholder, Honor Harrington, even refusing to marry or have children (all but unheard-of on Grayson) out of his devotion to her. She knows about his feelings and regrets hurting him by not requiting them, but he doesn't seem to consider it a loss.
Bond Creatures: Treecats which "adopt" humans form an instant and indissoluble psychic bond with them. Early on, this was terribly tragic. Treecats tend to suicide from despair when their human partner dies. Treecats are also one of those species that are long-lived for their size, clocking 2 to 3 centuries on average. This meant that to bond with a human was to be Blessed with Suck. The first bonded treecat did so with a child, and still only lived half his allotted lifespan. Late-generation prolong treatments mostly un-sucked this.
Book Ends: With an actual book, even. At All Costs begins and ends with Honor reading a story to some children.
Haven's main method of ensuring prisoners of war do not escape their prisons is to stick them on an island hundreds of miles from any mainland. Michelle Henke remarks in one book that she has to admit the "moat" is pretty effective even for keeping in hundreds of people who are known to both be martially competent and have a desire to be elsewhere. By doing this, Haven is able to spare the prison camp of pretty much all of their own personnel, aside from a liaison, and lets the prisoners run it almost autonomously.
The same method is later adopted by Torch: they put their prisoners on a very scenic island... that's surrounded by terrifying aquatic predators.
Boxed Crook: Georgia Sakristos, the chief political and security advisor for Pavel Young (and later his brother), is found by Anton Zilwicki to be the former Mesan slave, known as Elaine Komandorski, who once sold a whole lot of escaped slaves back to their masters for her own personal freedom and a hefty load of cash. "Team Honor" offers her a significant handicap in relaying this info to the Audubon Ballroom in exchange for dismantling the North Hollow's political machine and the destruction of the massive supply of blackmail material that forms the backbone of North Hollow's political power. She takes the deal, simply because she knew that as a public figure she'd never be able to avoid the Ballroom for long, and for a traitor like Komandorski they'd kill her slowly.
Braids of Action: Honor's default hairstyle since she started to wear her hair long. Also used by other characters.
Break the Haughty: Frequently and routinely to the Solarian League (the star nation that refers to anyone not a citizen of the SL as 'neo-barbarians') by Manticore. Not only do they continuously snub diplomatic and military representatives of the League (who are shocked by such audacity) they chew up and spit out every Solarian fleet they fight, at absolutely pathetic odds (a dozen cruisers defeating about six dozen superdreadnoughts).
Burning the Flag: In A Rising Thunder, the manticoran ambassador to Earth observes a 'spontaneous' protest against his nation, noting how the crowd is setting fire to manticoran flags as well as badly-made effigies in Manticoran naval uniforms. One of the protesters waiting a bit too long to let go of a burning flag adds a bit of humor to an otherwise bleak scene.
Burning the Ships: The original colonists to Grayson wrecked their starship's cryonics equipment, ensuring that it would be impossible to return to the "sinful" Earth. They didn't wreck the whole thing, though, which is fortunate because it turned out that the planet was basically one huge Superfund site and there's no way they would have survived without the ship's resources.
But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Honor in At All Costs, more or less directly quoting the trope name when she finds out. There was a birth control failure, when a paperwork error prevented her doctor from realizing her implant had expired during her "death" on Hades.
The Bus Came Back: Dame Estelle Matsuko, career diplomat and the Resident Commissioner for the system in On Basilisk Station, played an important role in the first novel, then completely vanished from the narrative.note Well, mostly vanished; she is noted in Field of Dishonor to have sent a message of condolence to Honor after the death of Paul Tankersley, and is name-checked in War of Honor as the incoming Home Secretary for the Grantville government, a post she resigns to take charge in Talbott. In neither case does she appear onscreen. When she showed up again in The Shadow of Saganami, she had become Lady Dame Estelle Matsuko, Baroness Medusa. She subsequently becomes a major character in the Saganami Island spinoff series as the Provisional (and later Imperial) Governor of the Talbott Quadrant.
The body guards for the Hereditary President of the Peoples' Republic of Haven are all from Neo Geneva.
Honor's armsmen hail from Grayson, prompting some ruffled feathers when she has to take armed foreign nationals onto Her Majesty's warships. Captain Harrington is certainly not allowed any such thing, but Steadholder Harrington is legally prohibited from being without her armsmen, so the issue was quietly dropped when it became clear that the Protector of Grayson was quite prepared to raise trouble over it.
Matteo Guttierez, late of the Manticoran Marines, is the armsman for Abigail Hearns, daughter of Steadholder Owens of Grayson. Abigail disliked the idea of having her own personal bodyguard, to put it mildly, but puts up with Matteo because of that business on Refuge in "The Service of the Sword".
Almost all Manticoran system wildlife got tagged with a name of some Earth lifeform, but few actually resemble their namesakes. Even "mistletoe" is a tree that does not resemble its namesake at all.
A number of other planets seen throughout the series also have wildlife or plants named for Terran wildlife or plants, attaching prefixes like "near-" or "neo-" or "pseudo-" to the earth fauna or flora's name.
Lampshaded in Storm From the Shadows when Mike Henke describes the local seafood on Flax in a message to her mother: "They've got what they call 'lobsters,' even if they don't look anything like ours —or like Old Earth's, for that matter—..."
"A Call To Duty" has Long and several of his fellow trainees complaining that their instructors threw a curve ball at them in an exercise that was impossible: A missile with a two-stage drive, which gets Long in trouble when he provides a detailed explanation of why they're impossible to an officer who's been trying to get the funding to develop one for years. Followers of the original story will know that Admiral Hemphill eventually developed a missile with a three-stage, but that was four centuries later (And Long's comment that a multi-drive missile would have to be significantly larger than a single-drive missile, and thus have a different sensor return, is still valid).
At the end of that book, he comes up with the bright idea to swing a missile by an enemy-held ship to shut down its wedge without destroying the ship. Something very similar was done by Honor in the first book, On Basilisk Station.
The Captain: Honor and many others, this being a navy focused series.
Cast Herd: Rather than strictly follow Honor, the books often alternate chapters or sections covering characters from particular groups — the Manties, the Havenites, the Sollies, the Talbot Cluster/Quadrant residents, the Torches, the Mesan Alignment, etc. Later in the series, the Torch and Talbot herds got their own sub-series.
Casual Interplanetary Travel: To the point of day trips to other planets by middle class people being possible (with favorable orbital positions). In Ashes of Victory Admiral Caparelli mentions the Navy's willingness to ferry Honor between her father's hospital on Sphinx and Saganami Island on Manticore — "it's only a few hours away".
Casual Interstellar Travel: It helps that it is the year AD 4023, with interstellar travel having existed for almost 2,000 years. Historical asides note that travel only became casual in the last 600 years. Before the development of the Warshawski Sail, travel through hyperspace between even the nearest stars took weeks or months, and ran such high risks of running into a Negative Space Wedgie that most colony ships were actually slower-than-light vessels.
Catch Phrase: "Let's be about it." Honor's use of it as such has been picked up on in the books, with both Dame Estelle Matsuko and Lieutenant Abigail Hearns using it when Honor is nowhere nearby. Honor herself has been zinged a few times by having it quoted back to her by one of the other characters, and we learned in "Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington" that she picked it up from her first captain during her middie cruise.
Cerebus Syndrome (or Growing the Beard): The series starts out as a fairly light space-navy adventure series, but gradually morphs into a galaxy-spanning political conspiracy epic. ( Losing some readers along the way.)
Characters Dropping Like Flies: The early books in the series had lots of named bit characters dying. When Eric Flint was to start writing in the universe, he tried to find some few characters appearing in only a single book or two that he could use — and found they had a 90% mortality rate. (He did manage to find three.)
One of the most blatant uses is in the first book where a new weapons system is briefly demonstrated and then forgotten about until the height of the final engagement.
After Honor loses her arm, her dad builds her a new one, and decides to include a built-in pulser just in case. Needless to say, she eventually has to use it.
Another literal Chekhov's Gun shows up in Honor Among Enemies in the form of Honor's .45 pistol.
Subverted in Honor Among Enemies. During a Virtual Training Simulation early on a Mauve Shirt technician comes up with a brilliant new way to restore a busted grav-sensor, prompting Honor to order the trick 'cleaned up and filed for later use'... but the situation where it would be useful never comes up again.
Kevin Usher first appears in The Short Victorious War, set a number of years before he becomes a main character in the "Wages of Sin" stories and books. He appears as the leader of the special-ops team that takes out Internal Security head Constance Palmer-Levy's car with a SAM as part of Rob Pierre's coup against the Legislaturalists. In the same book, fellow "Wages of Sin" main characters Anton and Helen Zilwicki also make their first brief appearance.
Thomas Theisman first appeared as a destroyer skipper in The Honor of the Queen as an honorable Havenite officer who told Honor the truth about what the Masadans had been doingto the captives on Blackbird. He appeared in two scenes in The Short Victorious War (the same two scenes as Anton Zilwicki, incidentally), and then again briefly in Flag in Exile. But it wasn't until Honor Among Enemies that the true purpose of his plotline began to unfold; from then on he took an increasingly important role in events, culminating in the efficient and brutal reorganization of Haven's government via a pulser dart to Saint-Just's head.
Chessmaster: Half the cast are top notch military strategists, others are political strategists, and some are both.
Chew Toy: Every time the name "Joe Buckley" appears it usually means his death. Especially the latest SLNS Joseph Buckley, most of her predecessors in the SLN, and the scientist after whom she is named. That's about half a dozen in one paragraph. Joe Buckley is a Baen-wide official Designated Victim.
Cincinnatus: Thomas Theisman, who not only had the the opportunity to, but actually had successfully orchestrated a coup and taken control of the People's Republic of Haven. However, he immediately held general elections, resurrected the original constitution of the Republic of Haven and gladly accepted a cabinet position as Secretary of War. In the ensuing years and internal political struggles, several characters remark that the new government of Haven stands no chance of being internally toppled because Theisman stands behind it, and the navy stands behind him.
Cliff Hanger: Several of the books end abruptly with a galaxy-changing action or revelation, and no denouement to clear up the loose ends. For example, the last thing we see in Ashes of Victory is Citizen-Admiral Theisman shooting Oscar Saint-Just, and the last thing we see in Mission of Honor is President Pritchart proposing an alliance with Manticore against the Solarian League and Mesa. Often, there's a gap of time between the cliff hanger and the next book, with the fallout of the cliffhanger event generally summarized.
Colony Drop: Operation Oyster Bay, though mostly accidentally, results in chunks of the Manticore system's orbital industry falling and killing millions, including 1% of all treecats and most of Honor's extended family. Because the biggest chunk fell on Yawata Crossing, Manticorans refer to the attack as "The Yawata Strike".
Command Roster: A new one in every book, though characters that survive will often move into a more senior position in the next, often leaving for a time and then come back. A common pattern is Assistant Tactical Officer (Junior Security Officer) to Tactical Officer (Security Officer) to XO (Number Two), and then into The Captain.
Continuity Nod: Many times, we will see passing references to ships or people that featured prominently in earlier books. Of particular note is HMS Warlock taking part in the Battle of Monica in Shadow of Saganami. It is stated by Warlock's captain that the ship has had a poor reputation ever since Pavel Young was the captain during A Short Victorious War.
Continuity Snarl: Represented by some of the expanded-universe short stories written by other writers (and in some cases, Weber himself).
The "Let's Dance" story, written as backfill for the "Crown of Slaves" stories, in which Honor Harrington ends up causing a diplomatic incident by working with a gang of known terrorists to capture a slave-trading space station. Said incident is not mentioned in On Basilisk Station (written considerably earlier) which happens immediately afterward — nor does anyone throughout the book show the sort of reaction that might be expected to someone who caused an incident of that nature.
Regarding Jane Lindskold's "Promised Land", you would think the fact that a member of Manticore's royal family is married to a Grayson-born former Masadan captive wife would merit some mention in (the earlier-written) The Honor of the Queen, concerning as it did a possible alliance between Manticore and Grayson. Un-snarled, however, in "Ruthless", by the same author, which indicates that at the time the alliance was formed, Prince Michael and Judith had not yet fully realized their feelings for each other. Even though seemingly everybody else in the Manticoran aristocracy had figured it out.
The "super LAC," CLAC, and SD(P) classes developed during In Enemy Hands, Echoes of Honor and Ashes of Victory also qualify.
Covers Always Lie: Some of the short story anthologies notably play this trope straight in various typical sci-fi book ways, most egregiously done by Service Of The Sword, which portrayed a group of Space Fighters, even though no such thing exists anywhere in the Honorverse. The David Mattingly covers for the main series in general tend to avert this trope, but even they will have the occasional scene absent from the book. Covers for international editions of the book vary in accuracy; the covers for the French editions, available at http://genkkis.deviantart.com/gallery/24898514 , are especially notable for their accuracy, to the extent that some American fans will print out those covers and put them on their hardcovers in place of the original David Mattingly covers.
Flag in Exile's cover is later lampshaded. In a later book, Honor sees a mural of her climactic duel in that book, which depicts her unhurt, with Protector Benjamin in the background with Nimitz (as the cover of Flag in Exile depicts), then points out in the actual scene, she had recently received a cut on the head, and Nimitz wasn't even there.
Covert Group with Mundane Front: Beowulf's Biological Survey Corps. Commonly regarded as fairly tough, for an innocuous civilian agency. In reality, elite anti-Manpower commandos.
Played straight with the board of directors of Manpower Incorporated, and all of Mesa's rulers in general. It is becoming increasingly clear that the whole Corrupt Corporate Executive thing is just a cover for their real evil scheme.
Subverted with the Hauptmann Cartel and Honor's various enterprises, though Hauptman originally played it straight — the very first book has him getting into a conflict with Honor that involves threatening her parents' careers. He gets so nasty she issues a death threat to stop him cold. His Heel-Face Turn comes only five books and about ten in-universe years later after Harrington saves his daughter Stacey's life and Stacey called the old man out.
Played with by the Rembrandt Trade Union of Talbott. Their founder is definitely seen as one by his enemies (and some of his allies), but turns out to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist who adopted the persona simply as a means to accelerate and consolidate the economic power of the Talbott cluster to avoid being swallowed by the inexorable expansion of the Solarian League. When one of his fellow executives actually turns out to play this trope very straight, he wastes no time in completely destroying her career.
Crash-Into Hello: Allison Chou engineered such a meeting with Alfred Harrington when they were in medical school, primarily to see if her ex boyfriend's low opinion of him was warranted or not. She failed to take into consideration Alfred's large size and long stride, and is almost sent crashing to the ground except for his quick reflexes.
Crime of Self-Defense: Honor catches some media flak from her political opponents for shooting a man whose gun was empty... because he had shot her in the back seconds before, in violation of dueling rules that would have mandated his death anyway by the hand of the duel supervisor.
Grayson and Masada were formed by a fundamentalist sect of Christianity. (The Masadan "Faithful" ended up rejecting Christian theology after the Grayson Civil War and their exile, basing their religion instead on an ultra-fundamentalist reading of the Old Testament which is particularly notorious for its loathing of women. The Graysons themselves have mellowed somewhat over the centuries, but continue to adhere to a conservative brand of orthodox (small "o") Christianity which looks like a cross of Anglicanism/Episcopalianism and various Fundamentalist/Evangelical denominations.)
Nuncio in the Talbott Cluster was founded as a more-or-less standard Cult Colony, but the original organizers screwed up so badly the few survivors became an atheist colony.
Refuge was another fundamentalist colony, this one established by settlers from Haven.
Culture Clash: A major theme of stories taking place on Grayson. Honor's mother and Tomas Ramirez both also play the role of (mostly integrated) outsiders to Manticore's culture. One of the funnier moments in the books is Honor's first exposure to baseball. She radically misunderstands why a group of people would be heading to the park armed with "clubs."
Culture Chop Suey: Humanity's push for the stars mashed the cultures into a chunky salsa even better than globalism does it now. You still can make out the basic ingredients, usually, but the overall results do not really look like anything in particular. The Manticoran and Andermani Empires are particularly notable examples. The former is comprised of various cultures and ethnicities that have over time taken on a British veneer, while the Andermani are predominantly ethnic Chinese posing as Germans, much like their ruling dynasty.
The Manties have even been on the receiving end of one of these when the Havenites restart the war in War of Honor and take back most of the gains Manticore had made before the cessation of hostilities.
The Mesan Alignment's sneak attack on the Manticore home system, Oyster Bay, resulted in millions dead, smashed orbital industries, and no losses for their side. To add insult to injury, Manticore's military forces are never engaged, being utterly insignificant to the outcome of the attack.
There are several utterly one sided naval battles over the course of the series. The one that stands out the most, if only for its sheer scale, is in A Rising Thunder, when a joint fleet commanded by Honor and Tom Theisman, combining Manticoran, Havenite, and Grayson ships, engages a Solarian fleet. Honor loses two thousand people. The other side loses over 1.2 million.
Deconstructed in Shadow of Freedom, when a Manticoran destroyer squadron annihilates a squadron of Solarian battlecruisers. The initial Manticoran attack was so brutal that the Solarians immediately realized they were outmatched and surrendered... but too late for the Manties to recall the next wave of missiles. Over half of the Solarian crewmen are killed when their ships are blown from the sky before they can abandon ship, while the Manticorans are helpless to do anything but watch the results of their handywork. The Manticoran commander spends a bit of time second-guessing himself on whether it was really necessary for him to open up with such a heavy attack after all.
Also in Shadow of Freedom, Lieutenant AbigailHearns, in command of a small group of crewmen, goes up against a whole lot of Solarian Gendarmerie thugs in control of a space station in order to rescue captured personnel. Via the creative application of grenades, computer hacking, and I Shall Taunt You, she proceeds to wipe the floor with the alleged best ground combat forces in the universe.
Damage-Sponge Boss: The Solarian League's navy is obsolete in every meaningful way. Its hardware is 20 years or more out of date, it's got no sense of modern doctrine, its officers have never had real war experience, and it is so convinced of its own superiority that it is barely even paying attention to the huge war between Haven and Manticore, dismissing reports of their technological progress as exaggerations and fabrications. Ship to ship, any Havenite or Manticoran ship would beat a Solarian ship without the Solarians even getting in range to fire a shot. But, the League's navy is so incredibly large that, when discussing the possibility of all out war, the Manticorans' most pressing tactical concern is that they'll run out of ammo before running out of targets. Once Manticore allies with Haven, however, even that worry is wiped away, resulting in this beautiful and badass quote by Aivars Terekhov:
Terekhov: Let’s do some math here, Brigadier. If two of our ships can kill seventy of yours, and we’ve got five hundred of them, that means we can kill every superdreadnought in Battle Fleet, including the Reserve, about three times each.
Dating Catwoman: The People's Republic of Haven assigned People's Commissioners to keep an eye on navy officers in command positions, to make sure they toed the line. What the St. Just regime never learned, though, was that one admiral and people's commissioner fell in love with each other. The admiral and people's commissioner in question were Javier Giscard and Eloise Pritchart, future Fleet Admiral and President of the restored Republic of Haven. If they or their relationship had been discovered, the kindest fate that awaited them would have been summary execution.
Deadly Euphemism: An enemy commander planetside rudely tells Sir Aivars Terekhov (in orbit over the planet with his ships) to depart or she'll kill (more) of the civilian population she is holding on the planet (having previously destroyed several entire cities). Terekhov informs her that his "response" to her terms will be arriving "any moment now." A few seconds later, a kinetic strike obliterates her entire headquarters from orbit.
Dead Man Switch: in Honor Among Enemies, there's a double version of this; a terrorist has taken over an entire planet, and when Honor tries to liberate it, he reveals that he has bombs planted under major population centres, which he can detonate himself, and will be detonated if she tries to take him out with an orbital strike; he uses this to bargain for safe passage out of the system. When he leaves the planet's orbit, he'll be out of range and can't set them off any more - so he insists on having Honor as a hostage until he can meet a waiting ship. Honor agrees, but brings her own dead man switch; a charge on the outside of their shuttle that will detonate if she doesn't enter a code at regular intervals.Unknown to the terrorist, she has another plan; her 'switch' is concealing her old fashioned gun, undetectable by common modern technology, and when they're out of range she uses it to kill the terrorist.
Denver Summervale carefully plans out how he wants to goad Honor into challenging him to a duel, and then kill her slowly with several shots to give her time to realize what's happening. Unfortunately for him, he completely underestimates her, and she uses precisely the same plan to kill him.
Admiral Rajampet derides the idea of the Mesan suicide virus... until he falls victim to it. His last thoughts are (pretty much) "Oh, it did exist after all."
Brigadier Yucel, who caused the deaths of about half a million people by ordering Orbital Bombardment of major population centers in order to quell a planetary revolt, is killed when her headquarters is struck dead-center by an orbital strike compliments of the Royal Manticoran Navy.
Grayson has such high concentration of heavy metals, just breathing the natural air will kill you via lead poisoning long before the lung cancer has time to develop. Inhabitants must live in sealed environments with carefully filtered air; food must be grown either in expensively detoxified soil or in even more expensive (but somewhat less laborious) orbital farms. It is later revealed that even with these measures, the original colonists would never have survived if not for the genetic modification performed on them without their knowledge.
The prison planet Hades ("nicknamed" Hell by its inmates, not that that is much different from its actual name) is covered with wildlife that is distinctly Red in Tooth and Claw and the biochemistry of the place is such that humans can not eat the native life. There is exactly one plant on the entire planet that humans can even digest. It contains trace elements that cause brain damage.
Guanyin (the original name of the Andermani Empire's capital planet) had undetected bacteria that ate chlorophyll, leading to mass crop failure and famine.
There aren't many details about Ndebele and Zulu, the two habitable planets of the Mfecane System. What is know is that they are often referred to as hell-planets, and the first generations of colonists had an 80% infant mortality rate.
Sphinx is a relatively minor example, due to the high gravity and it's very robust ecosystem which includes a staggering variety of very capable and very dangerous predators. The unusually long year additionally means years of winter at a time, and equally long summers which can become dangerously dry, leading to massive wildfires. Even in Honor's time, much of the planet is still untamed wilderness.
Declining Promotion:By the current point Sir Horace Harkness is easily qualified to be at least a commander and possibly a junior-grade captain (and gets put in the appropriate slots), but his actual rank is only chief warrant officer.
Deep Cover Agent: Taken to ridiculous extremes by Mesa, whose Long-Range Planning Board plants its agents by first planting their grandparents long before they're ever born.
From above and below: Starships are protected by their utterly impenetrable impeller wedges (aka "belly bands"), which use extremely strong gravity to distort space so much that no physical or energy weapon can get through them.
From the sides: Starships have weaker (but still formidable) sidewalls. These don't so much block incoming lasers as redirect them, so that some shots that would otherwise be direct hits turn into misses. A starship can open small, temporary holes in its sidewalls through which its own missiles and energy weapons can be fired.
From the front and back: Ships have no protection other than their hull armor. In In Enemy Hands, a means was devised to project a "bow wall" or "stern wall" directly in front of or behind a ship — but only one or the other, never both at the same time, and then only if the ship shuts off all acceleration while such protection is present.
Space stations and other installations that lack impellers can be protected by an omnidirectional sidewall.
Delaying Action: A few times, most notably with Rear Admiral Sarnow's battlecruisers against a Peep force of dreadnoughts in A Short Victorious War. Not only did they have to delay them until The Cavalry arrived, but they had to continue to delay them so they would not have time to escape before Admiral Danislav's fleet could pounce on them. Buying that time cost them greatly.
Depraved Bisexual: From the novella Let's Dance!, the commander of the Casimir slaver depot, Edytá Sokolowska, is said to be into both physical and psychological torture of her "toys" (men and women), including the threat of the prepubescent sons and daughters of said "toys" being given to the station's XO, Julian Watanabe, who is no less of a torturer, if given more to the physical kind.
In The Short Victorious War, four Peep battlecruisers expecting a lone Manty light cruiser stumble upon the dreadnought HMS Bellerophon, which is on routine rotation home, at close range. Despite the fact that the ship — which hadn't expected to encounter anyone — is currently under the temporary command of a communications officer and self-admitted tactical ignoramus, the disparity of firepower is so great that the result is a Curb-Stomp Battle for the Manties.
Lt. Commander Avshari: Ms. Wolversham, you are authorized to return fire!
Oyster Bay. The Mesans were not using impellers, but their new spider drives. The Manties literally had no way of seeing the MAN coming, despite being always alert and ready.
Honor Among Enemies has Harrington, in command of HMS Wayfarer, respond to a distress call from RMMS Artemis and HMS Hawkwing, a Manticoran passenger liner and the destroyer escorting her, which are being attacked by a pair of Havenite battlecruisers.
In Obligated Service, Commander Greentree is tipped off that something is very wrong when he encounters the Cessation of Communications variant... from the largest shipyard and orbital base in the Grayson home system.
...but only for translation purposes. The Japanese versions of the Honor Harrington books are split in two starting with the third or fourth book, more with the later volumes.
Weber indicated that the 13th Honorverse book, A Rising Thunder, was divided for publication due to being too long for economical hardcover printing and binding. This would not be the first Weber book to which this had happened.
Doctor Doctor Doctor: Most often Admiral Admiral Admiral, but also sometimes Steadholder Steadholder Steadholder or Duke Earl Countess.
Domed Hometown: Many of the steadings on Grayson feature air-tight domes due to the high presence of heavy metals on the planet. The introduction of advanced new building materials after their alliance with the Manticorans means the Graysons can now build far bigger and stronger domes.
The beginning of Mission of Honor, where for the first time Honor can personally express her desire for the war to end.
"Speaking for myself, as an individual, and not for my Star Empire or my Queen, I implore you to accept Her Majesty's proposal. I've killed too many of your people over the last twenty T-years, and your people have killed too many of mine. Don't make me kill any more, Madame President. Please."
In Shadow of Freedom, the Manticoran task forces sent to various Solarian star systems ask the enemy time and again to stand down and avoid unneccessary bloodshed. Of course, most of their targets ignore them and get their asses kicked by the Manticorans' vastly superior weapons tech.
Doomed Hometown: Blackbird Yard and GNS Ephraim are a classic example in Obligated Service.
Doom Magnet: Honor repeatedly laments every death that she's caused in the course of her duties, even when they're all justified and may have prevented even more deaths down the line. Nevertheless, due to her tendency to be in the right place at the right time, her casualty count is higher than it is for officers who are even more ruthless than she. Lampshaded in Honor Among Enemies, when a couple of the wash-outs hastily assigned to her Q-ship are overheard complaining about their chances of surviving their mission.
Dramatic Irony: Constantly, to varying degrees, since the narrative follows scores of characters on a dozen different sides, and none of them ever have perfect intelligence.
On Basilisk Station ends with Honor chasing a ship that is trying to call off a Havenite invasion. Honor thinks they are trying to summon an invasion. The captain of the opposing ship even lampshades it.
In War of Honor, Honor reflects how Chakrabarti, No. 2 at the Admirality, is likely to tell Sir Edward Janacek, No. 1, whatever he wants to hear. The previous time we heard anything about him before that point, it's Janacek thinking about how Chakrabarti keeps bending his ear with increasingly dire predictions. The next time is his first "onscreen" appearance, and it's him begging Janacek to take his (perfectly sensible) advice or he resigns. He resigns. One of the first things she does in the next book is admit she was wrong about him.
In The Shadow of Saganami, the slow spread of news across the breadth of the Talbott Cluster makes for quite a few such moments.
At the end of Chapter 31, Captain Terekhov of the HMS Hexapuma is "looking forward to discovering what new routine, boring, absolutely vital and essential tasks awaited them" upon their arrival in Celebrant ... not knowing that a dispatch boat is on its way to order them to the assistance of the population of Split, who are dealing with a series of terrorist bombings by an isolationist extremist group that began in the latter half of Chapter 14.
At one point, during a discussion of recent events, Dame Estelle Matsuko says, "Either way, I'm glad there's not going to be any more spectacular bloodshed and explosions coming out of the Cluster." Smash Cut to Captain Terekhov, who has just hijacked most of the southern patrol and is on his way to force the surrender of the system of Monica in a battle that would wind up getting him knighted (and the Parliamentary Medal of Valor) and end with the entire squadron on the List of Honour. Sorry, Dame Estelle!
Grayson Navy Letters Home is written from the POV of a Cecilie Rustin, a female Grayson ensign on her first posting. Obligated Service focuses on Claire LeCroix, her room mate during the same assignment. If you read the former, you know that the latter will involve The Oyster Bay attack on Blackbird Base, where Claire's cousins live and work, and where her previous ship is in drydock. Her cousins and former shipmates are killed in the attack.
The Dreaded: By the closing stages of the of the war with the Haven during the Pierre government, Harrington became THE boogeyman to the navy and political leadership of the People's Republic. Pierre ruefully admits that half his analysts believe her being present at most of the critical confrontations between Haven and Manticore over the preceding decade, and winning them (even after apparently being killed in one of them, only to reappear later having engineered the greatest prison break in human history), is due to pure chance. The other half, working for a dictatorship that is ideologically atheist, believe she's in league with the Devil.
Drunk Driver: Arnold Giancola is killed by one in At All Costs. This provides innumerable headaches for the government, since "accidents" were a favorite method of the Legislaturalists when they wanted to remove a political opponent and nobody is going to believe that this time it really was an accident, unfortunately timed right as they got information that implicated him in restarting the war — with him dead, they couldn't investigate it, and they couldn't come forward with what information they did have because it would have looked for all the world like they had killed him and made up an excuse. Even the Mesan Alignment is bedeviled by this incident, even though they -- for once -- are completely innocent:
Albrecht Detweiler: What? We didn't have anything to do with that!!
Duelling with pistols is legally allowed in the Star Kingdom, though frowned upon, with the rules and regulations codified in the Code Duello. This fact plays an important role in Field of Dishonor.
Grayson has no Code Duello or legally sanctioned duels, but its constitution does provide for Trial by Combat in the event of Protector's Justice. This resolves itself as duel to the death between the accused and the Protector's Champion, as seen in Flag in Exile.
During the jailbreak in In Enemy Hands, a team of three Armsmen and two naval officers is sent to retrieve Honor from her cell. They get picked off (or make Heroic Sacrifices) one by one and only Honor (well, most of her) and Andrew LaFollet survive to join the rest of the escapees.
Honor's initial team of Armsmen. One Heroic Sacrifice after another reduces their numbers until only Colonel LaFollet remains from the original group. To keep him out of the line of fire Honor assigns him to guard her son instead of her...and he promptly makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save little Raoul and Honor's mother during the Yawata Strike.
The Battle of Manticore kills Admirals Sebastian D'Orville, Theodosia Kuzak, and Alistair McKeon — but not before they hold off the Havenite forces long enough for Eighth Fleet and Honor Harrington to make it home and turn the tide. They gave their lives to save their Queen and kingdom, and the Royal Manticoran Navy will never forget it.
Earth That Used to Be Better: Several characters from other planets end up on Earth at some point during the series. None of them are impressed by what they see: Widespread corruption, a populace divided between deeply cynical elites and credulous masses guided by Bread and Circuses, and displays of spectacular arrogance and deep bigotry. It's not quite a Wretched Hive, but all visitors seen so far prefer their own homeworlds. Even the guy who grew up in a slum. What makes it worse is that at various points in the Back Story, Earth was much worse.
A rare involuntary example. Honor spent some time legally dead due to being trapped behind enemy lines without the enemy being aware of it. When she finally makes it back to friendly territory, she is mortified to learn a dozen different projects ended up named after her, including a brand new type of superdreadnought. She manages to get most of them un-named after her, but the Graysons cling to the ship's name — and take glee entirely unbecoming of Godly men such as themselves in passing her around the various military departments, all of whom piously explain why they couldn't possibly change the ship's name. Honor feels terribly sorry for herself. The Graysons can barely restrain themselves from all-out guffaws.
More mundane examples include the various steadings of Grayson, all of which are named for their founders, including Harrington Steading.
The Empire: Subverted; the new Star Empire of Manticore and the Andermani Empire may be expansionist monarchies, but they are the nice guys of the galactic political setting — the Manticorans more so than the Andermani, however. Lampshaded in Echoes of Honor by the Prime Minister:
"Never mind that we've got a participating democracy, as well, and the Peeps don't. [...] They're a 'republic,' and we're a 'kingdom,' and any good oatmeal-brained Solly ideologue knows 'republics' are good guys and 'kingdoms' are bad guys!"
Enemy Civil War: Haven, multiple times. It is also heavily hinted that the same fate awaits the Solarian League in the near future. The Mesan Alignment is, as of the later books, actively attempting to foster these wars in star nations opposing them.
Alfredo Yu when he defects to Manticore after he realizes he will get blamed for the monumental Peep screw-up at Masada. He eventually ends up an officer in the Grayson Navy, as Yu's personal sense of honor and skill are more than enough for him to find forgiveness for his past actions among a navy so desperate for experienced officers.
Warner Caslet, another Peep officer, also defects to Manticore in an impossible situation.
Victor Cachat has managed to rope Manticoran secret agent Anton Zilwicki, in addition to a Manticoran warship or two, into doing the Republic's dirty work on more then one occasion. In Mission of HonorZilwicki and Cachat get proof back to their respective governments of Mesan manipulation and sabotage of the peace talks in order to keep Manticore and Haven shooting at each other. The book ends with a formal decision to ally together against the Solarian League.
In Crown of Slaves, Audubon Ballroom and former Scrags, bitter enemies elsewhere, work together with Victor Cachat to handle a situation in Erewhon space involving Manpower, Inc, who are employing Masadan fanatics with Scrags providing muscle.
In A Rising Thunder, we learn that despite Manticore & Haven's own belief to the contrary, Mesa actually had nothing to do with Arnold Giancoloa's actions. However, as Benjamin Detweiler tells his father, there's enough circumstantial evidence alongside the use of their killer nanotech by their actual mole, that their theory isn't unsound.
In that same scene, Albrecht isn't as angry about the revelation Cachat & Zilwicki were alive to dispute their version of the Green Pines incident as he might be otherwise, because he acknowledges that the fact the evidence favored their initial belief that they had been killed.
In more general terms, it's a belief of many Manticore flag officers that in space combat you never get surprised, you just realize some piece of information you overlooked or were kept from seeing.
Eternal English: English remains the universal language and is largely unchanged due to the use of recordings and standard education materials, but the trope itself is averted in that, when Honor reads a 20th century book to some children in At All Costs, she says that some of the word meanings have changed since it was written.
Everybody Knew Already: By the end of The Short Victorious War, Honor learns to her discomfiture that her entire chain of command knows that she's going steady with Paul Tankersley — from the members of her crew on the Nike up to and including Admiral Parks, who chooses her ship to transport Tankersley back to Manticore because of it.
Sweet Tester [...] each of them thinks no one in the world — including each other — can tell what's going on. They actually believe that. Idiots.
Everything's Better with Princesses: Not in-your-face, but a lot. Given that Grayson Steadholder title basically equals royalty, we have Lt. Abigail Hearns, Miss Owens, and Honor as well, at least formally. There is also Queen Berry's intelligence advisor, Princess Ruth Winton, then Vice Admiral Michelle Henke, Countess of Gold Peak and Elizabeth's first cousin, and many, many others. Captain Terekhov once notes that between Lt. Hearns, and Midshipwoman Zilwicki (Crown Princess Helen of Torch) his ship, Hexapuma, has a super-abundance of princesses.
We finally get to see inside Pavel Young's head in Field of Dishonor, and he is a completely horrible person, and believes that everyone else thinks like he does. He really does not understand the actions of his opponents.
The Solarian leaders assume Manticorans are as dishonest and scheming as they are, and consequently make ever-more disastrous foreign policy decisions.
Evilutionary Biologist: The people of Beowulf, the premier genetic research and development planet in the galaxy, have strict guidelines in place to make sure they do not cross any moral or ethical lines when it comes to their work on the human genetic code. Because Mesans are, in a nutshell, the rogue Beowulfans who did not like the Beowulf Code, they are composed almost solely of Evilutionary Biologists who hate Beowulf with a passion. According to Weber, the Mesans have a point about undue demonisation of transhumanism that is in the Beowulf Code, but they are wrong in their attempts to prove that to everyone by force.
Evil Versus Evil: Cauldron of Ghosts, with the Mesan organized crime syndicates taking up arms against their planet's oppressive government. Note that the degree of evil among the mafias varies quite a bit, and most of the well-established gangs practice Pragmatic Villainy (unlike their government, who's brand of evil has been highlighted multiple times as improbably impractical.)
Exotic Extended Marriage: Polygamy is pretty much universal on Grayson, as a genetic quirk that allowed them to survive Grayson's harsh environment also skewed the birth rate to three girls for every boy. Allison Harrington notes that as a result, Grayson children have extremely secure childhoods.
Expy: The Five Mandarins, the five Permanent Senior Undersecretaries who lead the Solarian League, have a lot in common with Safehold's Group of Four, also by Weber.
Both are groups of The Man Behind the Man, rendering the people who are supposed to be in charge effectively puppets.
Both are faced with a smaller enemy who is far more technologically advanced than they are.
Both are highly focused on their own survival in the short term, and are thus making decisions that will prove disastrous in the long term.
Extra Dimensional Shortcut: Hyperspace is layered like an onion, with our normal spacetime being the outer layer. The distance between points becomes further compressed as you transit to higher bands, although until Mission of Honor nobody's transited higher than the theta bands and lived to tell the story. Most ships don't go higher than the zeta bands under normal circumstances.
Eyes Never Lie: All over the place in a world full of stoic, navy poker faces and smooth, evil politicians. The sole exception is Eloise Pritchart, whose eyes tell everyone exactly what she wants everyone to be told. This saves not only her life but her lover's multiple times over. Fortunately for the future Grand Alliance, Honor Harrington doesn't need to rely on her eyes to know when she's telling the truth.
Eyepatch of Power: Honor loses her left eye in The Honor of the Queen, but it is replaced by a prosthetic that has some superiority despite the imagery from it not seeming as 'real'. The prosthetic is burned out by a technician aboard Tepes in the book In Enemy Hands, and goes unreplaced for over two years.
Facepalm: In The Honor of the Queen, when Honor literally smacks down Reginald Houseman for his cowardice, "Ambassador Langtry covered his eyes with one hand ... Langtry's other hand rose to join its fellow over his eyes".
Failsafe Failure: Averted, the failsafes on critical ship components do not fail unless part of them has just been blown up. This is because the engineers are fully aware of the fact that if the fusion reactors or intertial compensators fail catastrophically, they won't live long enough to try to fix them, so they do a lot of preventative maintenance to make sure this doesn't happen.
False Flag Operation: A particularly subtle and nasty one is the focus of Shadow of Freedom. the Mesan Alignment is funding various resistance movements in the Verge under the banner of Manticore as a Xanatos Gambit that will leave Manticore stretched too thin supporting people in need or abandoning them and looking like an unreliable and untrustworthy ally. It comes back to bite them, though, when Admiral Khumalo, Baroness Medusa, and Tenth Fleet manage to keep Mesa's promises in Manticore's name.
In Cauldron of Ghosts, The Mesan Alignment begins staging high-casualty terrorist attacks targeting citizens on Mesa, pretending to be the Audubon Ballroom acting in support of the Seccies (descendants of freed slaves) and the Slaves. The apex of this is a series of attacks targeting the families of planetary security and law enforcement agencies in order to bring about widespread violent crackdowns, all so that they can fake the deaths of the Alignment conspirators as part of their abandoning Mesa to the Manties and Havenites.
False Reassurance: In Basilisk, Honor's response to having apparently asked her bosun to look for smugglers to man customs flights:
"Of course not, Major. This is a Queen's ship. What would we be doing with smugglers on board?"
Famed in Story: Honor, to her constant chagrin. Many of the other high-ranking political and military figures are also famous, of course, but they are used to it.
Honor is a master of coup de vitesse, a synchretic style which has mugged every "hard" martial art in existence for interesting ways to turn humans into bleeding heaps of failure on the floor. Coup de vitesse seems to be the preferred style in the Royal Manticoran Navy.
Some mention has been made of the Judo-derived Andermani style "Neue-Stil Handgemenge" (Dog-German for "New Style Hand-to-Hand Combat), the form known to the junior Helen Zilwicki and practiced by Master Tye from "From the Highlands".
The Grayson swordsmanship style is an offshoot of kenjutsu that filtered through The Seven Samurai and bounced off a swordsmith who didn't think the katana made much sense as a weapon. It shares several techniques with kendo, but has lost some and has others which are unique. Grayson swords are based on the katana, but have full two-hand hilts, basket-shaped guards and a prominent false edge.
Fantastic Slur: "Genie," for a genetically-engineered person, in A Beautiful Friendship. Honor calls herself one rather casually, so by her time it's possible the word has lost its sting (or become irrelevant given No Transhumanism Allowed). But then, Honor may just have G Word Privileges.
The Andermani Empire is explicitly modeled on the Kingdom of Prussia. They were founded by a guy who thought he was the reincarnation of Frederick the Great, to the point of running around in full Prussian military uniform. Just the first in a line of loony, yet competent, emperors. The vast majority of the population is ethnically Chinese, including the royal family whose members sport names like "Chien-Lu Anderman, Herzog von Rabenstrange".
Grayson admits that it's Meiji Japan, complete with kudzu, but Protector Benjamin explains that the analogy only goes so far. It turns out that they based large parts of their pre-industrial society on what little fiction they brought with them, including Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai. They still love baseball, though, which is reflective of their other influence being American. They are also one of the last planets to still use neckties, as well as US Air Force style uniforms for their space navy complete with clouds and thunderbolts for field officers. This is commented on as anachronistic, as obviously Space Is an Ocean and should have uniforms to match.
The Silesian Confederacy is a nice pastiche of the worst parts of the Third World in terms of corruption, ineffectual government, and generally being a very bad place to be, as well as the actual Silesia and its role in history between France, England, Prussia, and Austria.
The planet Montana which is, well, exactly what it sounds like as a counterpart culture, in an idealized version of the US "Old West".
The Solarian League has been explicitly said to be too vast for any historical comparisonnote by comparison, Weber has said that if the Solarian League was the U.S., then Haven and Manticore might be individual counties in California, but the ruling group of bureaucrats has been nicknamed in universe "Mandarins", a clear allusion to the corruption and stagnation China has suffered in the past.
Faster-Than-Light Travel: In keeping with the nautical theme, starships accomplish FTL travel by reconfiguring their impeller drive fields into "Warshawski sails".
The Federation: Deconstructed with the Solarian League. The Empire of Manticore is shaping up to be a real one, as is the Republic of Haven.
The federal structure of the new Star Empire of Manticore is described at some length in Storm from the Shadows, as well as in the new companion volume House of Steel.
Feminist Fantasy: The more-or-less complete gender equality of Manticore, Haven and most other star nations is lampshaded by Grayson's still heavily-patriarchal, though getting less so, society. Gender issues also play a major role in several plots, notably The Honor of the Queen.
Manticore has an official aristocracy, but many of its titles stem from intellectual property rights and corporate ownership. Only a fraction of the peerage have titles based on direct property ownership.
The Anderman Empire has a landed aristocracy based on Prussia and greater German territory from the eighteenth century.
Grayson aristocracy is descended from traditions of the Dutch Republic, with nobles enabled to act in the Protector's absence, despite its primary cultural influences of the American South and isolationist Japan.
Haven had a declared aristocracy, but its Legislaturalist clans were not bound by property or titles, but political influence.
Fighting for a Homeland: The Peoples Navy in Exile, comprised of PRH warships that remain loyal to the Committee for Public Safety and plan to one day retake Haven from the current Republic government.
Finger Firearms: A stealthy, emergency-only version. Honor's cybernetic arm packs a pulser (essentially a high-tech gauss pistol) concealed inside her index finger. Firing it blasts the fingertip off.
Chase weapons on ships of the wall are spinal mounts that larger than most of their broadside armaments.
Spine-mounted grasers on the later generations of LACs.
Roland-class destroyers mounted all 12 of their missile tubes in "chase" configuration, 6 of them each fore and aft, due to space restrictions imposed by the larger missiles.
Flying Car: All over the place thanks to countergrav technology. Aircars are a common means of transport on any reasonably advanced planet, and even ground cars use countergrav to negate their weight and effectively float.
Floating Head Syndrome: Most of the book covers (Storm from the Shadows being a particularly good example)would tend to suggest that the Royal Manticoran Navy is at war with the ghost of Honor Harrington's ginormous floating head. Even in the books where she has only a cameo appearance.
Fluffy the Terrible: HMS Hexapuma, a heavy cruiser affectionately known by its crew as the Nasty Kitty.
Foregone Conclusion: I Will Build My House Of Steel focuses on Roger Winton through his military career as the Crown Prince of Manticore, and later his political career as he takes the throne after his mother's death. Much is made of the fact that he will have a long life to enact the changes Manticore needs to prepare for the oncoming war against Haven, as well as to spend time with his children. Anyone familiar at all with Queen Elizabeth's backstory will know that Roger is assassinated when his children are still in their teens, and before he can finish his preparations for war with Haven.
In Crown of Slaves: Ruth Winton's security detail discusses the difficulties of protecting her on her trip to Erewhon, and they mention receiving medals for their bravery in risking their lives to save hers. The officers discussing the medals receive them. Posthumously. Also, the discussion of how Berry would make a good Queen.
In Mission of Honor, White Haven refers to the Solarian fleet led by Sandra Crandall as having been meant as a "Pearl Harbor attack." Just a couple of chapters later, when "Operation Oyster Bay" kicks off, Manticore learns what a "Pearl Harbor attack" really is.
While LAC usage as parasite craft first properly came up in Honor Among Enemies and full CLACs only appeared afterwards, the idea of using them as riders adjunct to a hyper-capable carrier could be seen all the way back in Honor of the Queen, albeit being towed rather than internally stowed; it just took several books before the technology to make an LAC that could actually pose a threat to a big ship came about.
At the end of Ashes, the Queen asks the Opposition to support the current gov't and interim Prime Minister at least until the war is over. They refuse, and the Queen promises revenge and says that they will "rue this day". They become the new Gov't.
One book and several in-universe years later, the truce with Haven falls apart, the Prime Minister goes to her to ask to form a new government. In part for the greater support, in part to spread the blame. The reigning monarch, for the first time in Manticoran history, refuses, leaving him to either continue and take the blame or resign in disgrace. (He resigns.)
In The Short Victorious War, Admiral Mark Sarnow notes that if Honor had been given a Manticoran peerage that accurately reflected her Grayson title as Steadholder Harrington, she'd have been a duchess, not a mere countess. Some six books later, she does indeed become Duchess Harrington.
In Flag in Exile, Rear Admiral Thomas Theisman thinks, "The universe... was not precisely overrunning with fairness, but it did seem that what went around came around. A point the Committee of Public Safety might want to bear in mind." This is four and a half books before Admiral of the Fleet Thomas Theisman puts an end to the Committee of Public Safety with a pulser dart through Oscar Saint-Just's head.
Forgotten Fallen Friend: Averted just as hard as Weber can possibly manage. Any prominent supporting character killed in the course of the plot will still be remembered, sometimes more than a dozen books later. It's yet another way Weber underscores that War Is Hell, and that losing friends, family, and comrades takes its toll on the survivors.
If Honor Harrington owns, governs or is otherwise connected with anything that she can rename after a fallen friend, she will.
Forgotten Superweapon: The grav lance as seen in On Basilisk Station. It got a mention in a short story set right afterward and then vanished forever. When posters to the Baen's Bar discussion forums about Honorverse ship technology mentioned this, as well as coming up with various innovative ways in which such a device could be used, Weber admitted that he had not fully thought through all the game-breaking implications such a weapon would have to space naval combat in his universe when he came up with it, and now rather hoped people would just forget about it. Other posts of his note that Manty wallers do mount grav lances in their broadsides; what was radical about it in Basilisk was "the idea of trying such a mass intensive weapon in a CL hull when it can be used only under extremely unusual circumstances even by a capital ship".
Also, from a Watsonian perspective, Manticoran naval tactics have evolved to prioritize the fact that their missiles outrange everybody else's (even Haven's, who are doing a decent job of keeping up in the Lensman Arms Race), allowing them to destroy entire fleets without taking a single casualty themselves (see: Battle of Spindle). A whites-of-their-eyes energy weapon has even less use to them under such circumstances.
Former Regime Personnel: A lot of former People's Navy and StateSec ships wound up as mercenaries or pirates, many thanks to having a pulser dart awaiting them for their actions under the previous Havenite government.
The first few books had Havenite viewpoint characters (including series anchor Thomas Theisman), but primarily as counterpoints to Honor's narrative. The fourth officially moved to Two Lines, giving Haven's side of the war on a regular basis. Then we basically skipped Three and went straight to Four with the addition of vewpoints from Solarian and Mesan characters. Not coincidentally, the story got more complicated.
The series has always been very patient about spinning out plot lines. Hamish Alexander, for instance, is introduced as a narrator in the first book but doesn't even meet Honor for the first time ("on-screen" at least) until the very last pages of the second.
Frickin' Laser Beams: Lasers are used for missile defense, grasers (gamma-ray lasers) for ship-to-ship combat — lasers can also technically be used in that role, but their range and power are generally insufficient against a target with sidewalls. Missiles usually carry nuclear weapon-pumped X-ray laser warheads that shoot multiple beams at a target from a few thousand kilometers away when the missile detonates.
Fun with Acronyms: In Echoes of Honor, it is said that Commanding Officer, Light Attack Craft sounds too much like "colic", but no one wanted Commanding Officer, Wing either.
Funetik Aksent: Michael Oversteegen's aristocratic Manticoran accent verges slightly into this territory, suggesting that for all the Star Kingdom's similarity to 18th Century Britain, an upper-class Manticoran accent sounds rather like a Southern drawl.
Or rather, future military terminology. "Ship of the Wall" instead of "Ship of the Line", etc. Space is 3-dimensional; on the ocean, a battle line is a line of ships (hence "ship of the line") turned to give maximum cannon cover, while in space, ships can not only line up horizontally, but also vertically, providing a complete wall of cannon cover.
A number of current-day expressions are seen in Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" form: e.g. "paper hexapuma" instead of paper tiger, "loose warhead" instead of loose cannon.
Non-coms that become commissioned officers through Officer Candidate School are still called mustangs.