[[quoteright:296:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kris_longknife_mutineer.jpg]]
->'''Jack:''' I see they didn't hang you.\\
'''Kris:''' Nope, they missed their chance. The Navy still has a Longknife.\\
'''Jack:''' Why do I feel like saying 'God help us all'?\\
'''Kris:''' 'Cause it just may be true.
-->-- ''Mutineer'', by Mike Shepherd

A MilitaryScienceFiction[=/=]SpaceOpera novel {{Verse}} primarily centered on Kris Longknife, a rich young naval officer who struggles to deal with the expectation and reputations (both good and bad) of a famous family of military leaders, politicians, and billionaires, written by American author Mike Shepherd (a pen name for Mike Moscoe).

Books in the main series:
# ''Mutineer (2004)''
# ''Deserter (2004)''
# ''Defiant (2005)''
# ''Resolute (2006)''
# ''Audacious (2007)''
# ''Intrepid (2008)''
# ''Undaunted (2009)''
# ''Redoubtable (2010)''
# ''Daring (2011)''
# ''Furious (2012)''
# ''Defender (2013)''
# ''Tenacious (2014)''
# ''Unrelenting (2015)''
# ''Bold (2016)''

After ''Bold'', Mike Shepherd left his former publisher and began self-publishing a new Kris Longknife series set several years after the end of ''Bold'':
# ''Emissary'' (2017)
# ''Admiral'' (2017, unreleased)

In addition, there are several associated ebooks, both novellas and short stories:
* ''Kris Longknife's Bloodhound''
* ''Welcome Home/Go Away''
* ''Training Daze''
* ''Kris Longknife's Maid Goes on Strike: Life on Alwa Station''
* ''Kris Longknife Among the Kicking Birds'' (originally chapters that were cut from ''Unrelenting'')
* "Ruth Longknife's First Christmas"
* "Kris Longknife's Bad Day" (originally the opening to ''Emissary'')

There is also a spinoff series centered around a secondary character:
* ''Kris Longknife's Assassin'' (2014): Ebook novella retelling ''Audacious'' and ''Intrepid'' [[POVSequel from Vicky Peterwald's perspective]].
# ''Vicky Peterwald: Target (2014)''
# ''Vicky Peterwald: Survivor (2015)''
# ''Vicky Peterwald: Rebel (2016)''

And another series of ebooks picking up in the Alwa system after Kris left:
* ''Kris Longknife's Replacement: Admiral Santiago on Alwa Station''
* ''Kris Longknife's Relief: Grand Admiral Santiago on Alwa Station''

Also, set in the same universe, Mike Moscoe earlier wrote a prequel series under his own name:
* ''The First Casualty (1999)''
* ''The Price of Peace (2000)''
* ''They Also Serve (2001)''
* ''To Do Or Die (2013)''

The first three books are currently out of print, though they were republished in 2013.

----
!!This book series provides examples of:

* ACupAngst:
** Kris is tall, wiry, and small-chested. The latter causes her some considerable distress as she constantly seems to keep running into attractive women with more assets she compares herself to. On the upside, it means Abby can supply her with exploding falsies without making her look top-heavy. [[spoiler:In ''Bold'' she observes that one of the upsides of having had a baby naturally (due to lack of access to advanced medical technology on her former duty station) is she now actually has breasts to speak of.]]
** For her part, the much curvier Vicky Peterwald [[InvertedTrope inverts]] it: while wholly unafraid to use her assets to her advantage, she complains to Kris at the end of ''Intrepid'' that they get in the way in her military career (they give her back pain and get in the way during PT). Also played straight in ''Redoubtable'' when she tells Kris that while they're large, they came in late.
* AbsentAliens: {{Justified}} initially: besides the Three, a trio of long-vanished {{Precursors}} that built the jump points and left interesting artifacts lying around many planets, the first six books take place eighty years after a bloody border war with an alien species called the Iteeche, after which TheNeutralZone was established between them which neither side is allowed to cross. The Iteeche take on a much greater role beginning in ''Undaunted'', when they start trying to make diplomatic overtures to Wardhaven's bloc. Later books drop the trope completely.
* AbsoluteXenophobe: The PlanetLooters consider all intelligent life other than themselves "vermin" to be eradicated. [[spoiler:{{Justified}}: Based on evidence recovered from their homeworld and nearby star systems in ''Tenacious'', the cast theorize that they were once enslaved by a neighboring species, then overthrew and wiped out their overlords before setting out to remove all alien life that could possibly be a threat to them.]]
* ActionMom: Kris, starting in ''Bold'' after her daughter Ruth is born at the end of the previous book.
* AlienLunch: In ''Kris Longknife Among the Kicking Birds'', Kris witnesses an Alwan mother regurgitating meat to a chick. They are, after all, biologically birds.
* AllPlanetsAreEarthlike: Not all of them, but most star systems in the series have at least one habitable planet. Maybe {{justified}} by the jump point system, which is believed to be artificial: if the Three built them, they wouldn't have bothered to build jump points in systems they themselves couldn't use.
* TheAlliance: [[spoiler:What forms by the end of ''Unrelenting'' to battle the PlanetLooters. Kris has brought two pre-space species, the Alwans and Sasquans into the fold. Meanwhile back home, every human government except Greenfeld is sending ships to Alwa, and the Iteeche are also sending help.]]
* AntiMutiny: [[spoiler:At the end of ''Mutineer'', Kris realizes that her superior officers are attempting an illegal attack on an Earth battle group in hopes of starting TheWarOfEarthlyAggression. She relieves her CO and his XO on the spot with help from the Marines and enlisted, convinces junior officers on the other ships in her squadron to follow suit, then chases down the admiral responsible and forces his ship to surrender. Wardhaven declares the events top secret, but Earth awards her its highest decoration for valor, the Order of the Wounded Lion.]]
* ApocalypseCult: The Abdicators, who arose during the Iteeche war, are convinced that all humanity must hide itself away in the face of alien invaders who will boil humans' eyeballs in their own blood (that isn't a joke, that's literally their words), after which good aliens will come to take away the survivors. When Kris encounters their colony on Xanadu there's apparently been a religious dispute: the good aliens are now referred to as angels. [[spoiler:The Abdicators try to frame her for their assassination of Henry Peterwald and start an apocalyptic war so that spacers stop visiting them and the evil aliens won't find them.]]
* ArmchairMilitary: The first book comes at the end of an eighty-year peace and most of the senior officers in the series have never seen major combat. This causes a number of problems when the Society of Humanity disintegrates.
* ArtificialIntelligence: Nelly, Kris' personal computer. She started as an ordinary non-sentient pocket computer but Kris spent much of her teenage years upgrading her with her Aunt Tru. Then, early in the series, Tru tasks Nelly with trying to activate a fragment of the alien computer on Santa Maria, and Nelly develops into a fully sapient being. [[spoiler:Up to and including creating children of her own.]]
* AssassinOutclassin:
** Kris has escaped or outfought a disturbingly large number of murder attempts (to the point where at one point Kris jokingly asks Nelly to time how long until the next one, and Nell snarks that she can't count that ''low''). By late in the series Kris actually gets rather blase about constantly being shot at or bombed, and in ''Undaunted'' she finds herself annoyed that she ''wasn't'' the target of the latest round.
** Vicky hasn't suffered quite as many, yet, though she's rapidly catching up after her stepmother puts out a hit on her. Her current record is four assassination attempts in one day.
* AsteroidMiners: Tommy Lien, Kris's best friend for the first three books, comes from a family of these. As a result, he's ProperlyParanoid about safety in space, and is quite [=OCD=] about triple-checking ''everything''.
* BadassBureaucrat: [[spoiler: Vicki gains the loyalty of the planets that join her in revolting against the Empress in large part due to her efforts at giving them functional economies and working governments as much as by military power.]]
* BadassFamily: Those [[MemeticMutation damned]] Longknifes.
* BatmanGambit: Several different people conclude that the absurdly oversexualized female Greenfeld court fashions encouraged by the Empress are likely meant to entice her husband to sleep around and cheat on her so he ends up dead at the hands of an cuckolded husband or lover.
* BattleCouple:
** Tom and Penny, who are both Navy officers and lovers, [[spoiler:until he's killed in action in ''Defiant'' three days after their wedding]].
** [[spoiler:Kris and Jack starting in ''Furious'' after their RelationshipUpgrade at the end of the previous book.]]
* BattleInTheRain:
** The Battle of Black Mountain in ''To Do Or Die'' takes place in the middle of a torrential downpour at night. It's deliberate, so as to eliminate the defenders tech advantages (the position was [=EMPed=] beforehand). Combat quickly degenerates to muddy knife-fights in the dark.
** The shootouts on Olympia in ''Mutineer'' count as well, though it's raining ''the entire time'' due to a volcanic eruption.
* BeamSpam:
** Two types of lasers are used by human ships:
*** Warship lasers use a continuous beam, hoping to stay on target long enough to burn through. Ships customarily rotate during combat to spread out the burn, and warships are further armored in several meters of ice.
*** Pulse lasers tend to have a larger bore: Kris's ship USS ''Wasp'' carries four 24-inch guns. However, they're powered by capacitors rather than by a direct draw from the reactor, meaning that they're good against weakly armored targets but useless for fighting warships and aren't capable of rapid fire unless you reduce power.
** How the raiders fight and inflict casualties; when in doubt, they just start shooting lasers at anything and everything.
* BerserkButton: Kris really hates kidnappers, ''especially'' those that kidnap children. This is an understandable byproduct of her little brother getting kidnapped and murdered when she was 10.
* BiTheWay: Vicky frequently uses her feminine wiles to seduce men to her bidding (at least early on), but also has a sexual relationship with her female bodyguards Kit and Kat, and once has a foursome with them and Mr. Smith in ''Target''. [[spoiler:This ends when Vicky falls in love with Manuel Artamus.]]
* BlingOfWar: After Hank is made a commodore and encounters Kris in ''Resolute'', she notes to herself that while he has more medals than she does, ''every'' medal she wears save one has a [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22V%22_device "V" device]] that means it was earned in combat, whereas none of Hank's do. (Her Wardhaven Defense Medal is the only exception, that being because it may ''only'' be awarded for fighting in defense of her home planet against direct attack.)
* BodyguardCrush:
** There are some very strong hints that Jack is in love with Kris and vice versa. [[spoiler: He marries her in ''Defender''.]]
** Vicky manages to bed nearly every bodyguard she's ever assigned, [[BiTheWay male or female]].
* BrainComputerInterface: Kris upgrades to one between the first and second books so she and Nelly can talk to each other faster.
* BulletproofVest: Beginning in book two, Abby starts supplying Kris and her team with bulletproof lingerie, mainly spider silk body-stockings to be worn under her clothing. This is often backed up with girdles (or a one-piece swimsuit in one case) reinforced with ceramic trauma plates. It's treated realistically, stopping bullets and spreading the force out, but you still end up with some nasty bruises.
* ButICantBePregnant: Kris spends all of ''Unrelenting'' pregnant, despite having just replaced her contraceptive implant. It turns out that a supply officer had sabotaged her fleet's last shipment of implants as his way of protesting her relaxing the fraternization regulations. This results in seventy unplanned pregnancies and said supply officer getting dishonorably discharged in a system where the only company willing to give him a new job is the manure works.
* CelibateHero: It looks like everybody in the series is getting some romance except for poor Kris. That eventually changes.
* TheChessmaster: Admiral Crossenshield, Wardhaven's head of black ops. He's got his fingers in many pies, and is [[spoiler:(one of) Abby's]] {{Mysterious Employer}}s.
* ChestOfMedals: It's noted in ''Tenacious'' that Kris has, by that point, accumulated most of the highest awards for valor issued by human governments, including that of her sometimes mortal enemies from Greenfeld. [[spoiler: And then she gets ''three more'' from the two largest Sasquan governments. One of the feline aliens comments it's hard to find room when she tries to hang a medal over Kris's neck.]]
* CrazyPrepared: In ''Defiant'' Abby manages to produce clothing, including correct-size undergarments, for a woman she'd never heard of a week before. Then she dials it UpToEleven and produces enough bulletproof bodysuits and ceramic trauma plates to outfit an an entire Marine squad.
* ColonyDrop:
** Kris suspects that the "volcanic eruption" that caused the cataclysm on Olympia in ''Mutineer'' may have actually been an asteroid deorbited by the Peterwalds in one of their conquest plots.
** In ''Intrepid'', an ApocalypseCult attempts to crash a passenger liner into a Greenfeld planet at a measurable fraction of the speed of light, trying to frame Kris for what would include the death of head of state Henry Smythe-Peterwald XII. [[spoiler:Kris attempts to shoot out its engines but it GoesHorriblyWrong and destroys the entire liner, killing 5,000 people.]]
** While investigating the PlanetLooters in ''Defiant'', Kris's team determines that the attackers combined asteroid strikes with orbital nuclear attacks, then used Sarin gas against anyone who managed to organize an army to attack them on the ground afterwards.
* CombatPragmatist: Kris notes that while most marines had to be trained out of notions of fighting fair, Kris took to dirty fighting like a duck to water.
* CourtroomEpisode: The middle act of ''Furious''. After the events of ''Daring'', Kris is charged with war crimes by 153 planets, among them the members of the Musashi Empire. But after her attempt to break in to see her grandfather goes south, [[spoiler:she surrenders to a Musashi warship to escape from under the thumb of her family and get her story out, knowing she faces beheading if convicted. Public opinion swings in her favor over the course of her time on Musashi, and the panel judges ultimately return a verdict of NotProven.]]
* CultColony:
** Xanadu, a planet of religious fanatics who feared being eaten by Iteeche so much that they fled to the edges of human space and lived completely underground.
** New Jerusalem is an ultraconservative Christian colony whose soldiers are trained more in catechism than combat.
* CurbStompBattle: Both of the ship-to-ship fights that Kris gets into in ''Bold''. After several years of combat experience and a LensmanArmsRace to challenge the PlanetSpaceship-building HordeOfAlienLocusts trying to wipe out all life that isn't them, her squadron of eight battlecruisers easily outguns ships that were top-of-the-line at the start of the series... which is all the warring factions in the Greenfeld Empire have.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: The Greenfeld Empire. Hinted, and confirmed in the sequel series, to also be the state of the Iteeche Imperial Court.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Olympia in ''Mutineer'' serves as one for some extreme libertarian political ideas. The founders of the planet were determined that they would have no strong central government, and so the planet has no chief executive, only a legislature that may meet once every three years, no exceptions, and is permitted to have only one hundred pages of laws (with font and spacing specified in the constitution to prevent cheating). This means its government is completely impotent when a cataclysm[[note]]Either a massive volcanic eruption or a ColonyDrop, either way resulting in a planet-wide climatic disruption.[[/note]] strikes right after the legislature's thrice-yearly meeting.
* DeflectorShields: A close variant, PlayedForLaughs. The original USS ''Wasp'' (''Intrepid''-''Daring'') can produce a floating umbrella of Smart Metal to shield itself from enemy fire. Thanks to the influence of pre-space science fiction, Kris's crew insist on referring to it like a deflector shield, much to her irritation (she insists on calling the command to activate the umbrella "Raise defenses"; her crew always respond "Shields up").
* DistractedByTheSexy: Vicki Peterwald weaponizes it.
* DropPod: Light Attack Craft (LAC), essentially a set of rocket-powered benches with a heat shield and steering wheel, are used to drop small teams on enemy positions. The series begins with Kris piloting one on a hostage-rescue mission.
* ElectiveMonarchy: What the United Society ultimately becomes. Raymond Longknife, one of Kris's great-grandpas, is made king of what is initially referred to as the United Sentients (finalized as United Society). He's given all the trappings of a European-style monarchy, but seemingly serves in mostly an advisory role to the elected government. He also has a term limit of 25 years, after which no member of his bloodline is permitted to seek elected office, which Raymond insisted be included. (It's mentioned early in ''Emissary'' that he's starting to regret the bloodline ban and that his grandson, the prime minister of Wardhaven for most of the series, wants it amended out.)
* TheEmpire: Greenfeld has a habit of overthrowing planets' governments covertly to add them to its bloc (variously referred to as the Greenfeld Confederacy, the Greenfeld Alliance, and finally the Greenfeld Empire). It's also been known to simply put a squadron of battleships into orbit of a desired planet and order them to join Greenfeld or else. [[spoiler:After Vicky starts a civil war partly to save her skin from her stepmother, her bloc becomes something of a HegemonicEmpire instead.]]
* EscapePod: Ships carry survival pods, which are also built into battle stations. They don't have any propulsion, they're just there to keep you alive till whoever survived the battle picks you up.
* EternalEnglish[=/=]LanguageDrift: Everyone speaks Standard, a mish-mash of English and Spanish.
* EverythingsLouderWithBagpipes: The Highlander regiments always bring them along, being Scotsmen InSpace Tommy, despite being part Irish, ''hates'' the noise.
* FalseFlagOperation: The Greenfeld attack on Wardhaven in ''Defiant'' is officially due to "pirate battleships" attacking, since neither Wardhaven nor Greenfeld has an appetite for the likely result of two civilizations of similar strength going at it: a ForeverWar that would probably drag all humanity down with it.
* FantasyCounterpartCulture:
** Humanity as a whole somewhat parallels the modern United States, mainly in cultural schisms between densely populated core worlds such as Earth and New Eden (urban megacities), less urbanized centrist Rim worlds such as Wardhaven (smaller cities in the South and West) and some planets such as Olympia, New Chance, and Pandemonium that are actively opposed to having strong government at all (rural West).
** Wardhaven, which has a king and Parliament, comes off as Space Britain, though being a member of the United Society/Sentients, it ends up as a United States/England mashup.
** Greenfeld appears to be Space Soviet Russia crossed with elements of Nazi Germany at times.
** The Musashi Empire is pretty explicitly Space Japan, complete with kimonos, formals tea ceremonies, and high-tech warships.
** The Helvetican Confederacy appears to be Space Greece.
** The Scanda Confederacy is Space Scandinavia/Space Vikings. If the name wasn't clue enough, their ships are named after figures from Viking mythology. There's also a Scandan freighter named ''Sisu'', a Finnish virtue akin to stoicism and grit.
** The Sasquans parallel Earth in the 1960s or so, albeit GenderFlipped. Various blocs seem to mimic the United States, Britain, and a hybrid of the Soviet Union and North Korea [[spoiler:which falls into civil war after Kris lasers the dictator from orbit for firing missiles at her ships ''twice'']]. There's also a "Third World" of nations that try to stay neutral between the big three.
** The Iteeche are a blend of Imperial China and Imperial Japan, with a bit of ancient Persia for flavor. They're a deeply tradition-bound culture with a GodEmperor, and in the event of the Imperial Planet falling to the rebels in a civil war, the victors typically wipe out its inhabitants and replace them with their own (in reference to several dynasties in China attempting to erase all trace of the one they overthrew). Nobles are followed around by halberdiers who behead Iteeche who break norms or are suspected of rebellion (or even make grammatical mistakes), and people who commit dishonorable acts are required to "make most sincere apology to the emperor" (i.e. drink a cup of poison that causes an extremely painful death).
* TheFederation: The Society of Humanity at the start of the series, the United Sentients/United Society afterward. The latter specifies in its constitution that no planet will be permitted membership that does not have a single central, democratically elected government that makes provision to protect any minority populations.
* TheFellowshipHasEnded: [[spoiler:When Kris returns home between ''Unrelenting'' and ''Bold'', Jack comes with her (they're married with a daughter now and Kris wants a "safe" desk job from which they can raise a family), but Penny, Abby, and Captain, now-Admiral Drago stay behind at Alwa to continue the war under Sandy Santiago.]]
* FixedForwardFacingWeapon: Present on Fast Attack Craft (FAC), Patrol Fast (PF), and Frigates (FF), which mount their main (and for the [=FAC=]s and [=PF=]s, ''only'') weaponry forward.
* FluffyTheTerrible: The Esperanto League, a minor human faction, bans giving warships "distressing combative names".
* FourStarBadass: [[spoiler: By ''Tenacious'', Kris is field-promoted to full Admiral (four stars), and has the highest awards for valor issued in human space, as well as that from a newly-discovered alien species. She's been in the military for ''six years''.]]
* FutureImperfect: {{Downplayed}} with the use of "March of Cambreadth": some of the characters think that Music/HeatherAlexander's 1997 war song must be older than the 20th century, since it mentions swords, axes, shields, and cavalry.
* GlassCannon:
** [=FACs=], with four 24-inch pulse lasers and no armor, are this. Their cannon can cripple a battleship, but they can't take a hit.
** The omnicidal alien's ships tend to be this. Ridiculous amounts of laser cannons, but no armor.
* GodSaveUsFromTheQueen: Vicky's evil stepmother, "the Empress". A scion of one of the major corporate conglomerates on Greenfeld other than the Peterwalds' company, she bamboozles and henpecks Henry Peterwald XII out of actual administration while her kleptocratic family runs it into the ground to enrich themselves. And she puts a huge bounty on Vicky's head to ensure that her son with Henry will inherit, [[spoiler:which ultimately leads to Vicky leading a rebellion]].
* GoingColdTurkey: Kris honestly believed she was a drug addict for years as a result of spending most of the two years following her brother's death either stoned (From medication provided by her mother), drunk (from various items stolen from the family liquor cabinet) or both. Her great-grandfather Trouble managed to get her the help she needed to stop, and she didn't touch drugs or alcohol of any kind for years afterwards for fear of restarting a potential addiction. Later evidence showed that she had yet to reach that stage.
* GoldDigger: Kris mentions having had to deal with a lot of boys who either wanted her for her family's money, or just wanted the prestige of having "scored on a Longknife". She lost her virginity to one of the latter, which she views as a mistake, and occasionally has to ward off the former and/or their mothers in the series.
* GoneHorriblyWrong: The attempt to stop the ColonyDrop in ''Intrepid''. [[spoiler:The plan is for Nelly to fire precision laser shots from ''Wasp'' to destroy some of the hijacked passenger liner's engines, reducing its acceleration so that it misses the planet entirely. Unfortunately, when they discover the liner is rotating, as ships often do when they expect to take fire, they factor it into their targeting but nobody calculates the effect on the liner itself: the perturbation of the sudden loss of acceleration causes a massive shockwave in the liner's fuel water tanks. The tanks burst and the water continues on through the ship until it breaches a reactor, destroying the ship entirely. After calculating this, everyone agrees that, sadly, the 5,000 people on the liner were dead the minute they came aboard: there was no way at all to save any of them.]]
* GoodFeelsGood: Vicky realizes this in her own series when she takes action to help the ordinary oppressed and abandoned people of the Greenfeld Empire and feels a sense of accomplishment and of being respected she never received in her previous role as glorified bimbo and future trophy wife.
* GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion: {{Downplayed}} rather delicately in ''Unrelenting''. At least one of the women impregnated as a result of the sabotage of a shipment of contraceptive implants chooses to terminate. Kris encounters her in sickbay and the younger woman is clearly rather torn-up about it; the chief medical officer describes her as having had to make her first serious adult decision since joining the military. Kris also firmly stomps on a (male) admiral's suggestion that the pregnant women be ''made'' to abort.
* TheGreatestStoryNeverTold: In universe, how Kris earned the Order of the Wounded Lion, Earth's highest award for valor, is classified and she doesn't tell it to anyone. [[spoiler:Refusing to follow illegal orders, she started a mass mutiny against several treasonous captains and an admiral who planned to provoke TheWarOfEarthlyAggression. Earth's government sent her the Order as thanks for preventing the rogue attack on their fleet, but Wardhaven doesn't want word of any of it getting out for political reasons.]]
* GuiltFreeExterminationWar: The still-unnamed PlanetLooters [[spoiler:almost]] never surrender, and their ships hold [[spoiler:almost]] their entire species. The humans and their allies in turn know [[spoiler:by exploring their abandoned homeworld]] that the HumanAliens mean to eradicate them from the face of the galaxy due to {{Absolute Xenophob|e}}ia. There's only one way this ends.
* HeelFaceTurn: [[spoiler: Hank's sister, Vicky]]. Her improvement comes after she's assigned to a military ship as a very junior officer to discipline her following her actions in a previous book. After doing so, she learns not only to take pride in actually being good at something on her own merits and not because of her wealth, family, looks, or skill in bed, but that she's learning how to be a proper officer, something that [[spoiler: Hank lacked]] and actually caused his death.
* HeroicSacrifice:
** [[spoiler:The casualties from the Battle of Wardhaven in ''Defiant'' all count given the circumstances, but Tommy Lien takes the cake. When ''PF-109'' is hit, he dives from his chair to knock his wife of three days Penny Pasley out of the way and is crushed by the collapsing ceiling that would have killed her.]]
** [[spoiler:{{Subverted}} with Phil Taussig and USS ''Hornet''. In ''Daring'' he and Kris aboard ''Wasp'' split up while fleeing the vengeful HordeOfAlienLocusts, hoping that one of them will make it back to human space to BringNewsBack. Kris makes it, and later tracks the trail of ''Hornet'' to a marginally habitable planet where Taussig abandoned ship and rescues the survivors, captain included.]]
* HollywoodTactics: Used InUniverse by one of the [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen empress's]] governors in ''Vicky Peterwald: Survivor'', who orders a squadron of similar size to Vicky's to attack them head-on, thinking himself a cavalry officer leading a charge. RealityEnsues: Vicky's ships evade their fire in imitation of the way Kris jinks around like a madwoman, and the opposing fleet's inertia carries them ''past'' Vicky, giving her free rein to take the planet unopposed. [[spoiler:Once they get turned around, the opposing captain pulls a HeelFaceTurn: the governor was standing on the deck waving a saber instead of being strapped in, and is sent flying into the wall when the ship goes up to combat rotations all at once.]]
* HumanAliens: Ironically enough, the one alien species that looks human enough that they're virtually indistinguishable externally are [[spoiler: an omnicidal HordeOfAlienLocusts whose thought processes are the the most alien of the non-human intelligent species humans have met.]]
* HumansAreDivided: Initially humanity is organized under the banner of the [[TheFederation Society of Humanity]], but it breaks up at the end of the first book and several smaller blocs form in its place (Earth's bloc retains the name). In contrast, the Iteeche have a single powerful emperor ruling all of them in theory, though in practice Iteeche nobles often act to expand their holdings into unclaimed space without his knowledge [[spoiler:and start a rebellion against the emperor in the sequel series]]. The Alwans and PlanetLooters, however, have multiple populations that are mostly unaware of each other at first, and the Sasquans are still in an era of warring nation-states.
* HyperspaceIsAScaryPlace: Besides the potential for TeleFrag at jump points, which is avoided by means of traffic buoys in human space, you have to be careful of speed and rotation when passing through one. At low, constant speed and slow rotation, the jumps lead to nearby stars, but under acceleration or rotation, you can end up hundreds or thousands of light-years further out. A so-called "bad jump" usually means the ship is lost in space forever, but in the {{backstory}} Ray Longknife's crew managed to duplicate the conditions that led to a bad jump and return through the same jump point. In ''Defiant'', Kris's exploration mission starts mounting such jumps deliberately to cover more ground, ending up a quarter of the way across the galaxy at their furthest point, and Nelly is able to develop a predictive model for where they'll end up after long jumps. Oh, and jump points sometimes move, teleporting thousands of kilometers with no notice.
* JustTheFirstCitizen: Henry Smythe-Peterwald XII, head of state of Greenfeld during the series, is initially referred to as the First Citizen, though he later declares himself an emperor and his daughter Vicky a grand duchess.
* InappropriatelyCloseComrades:
** In ''Defender'', Kris and Jack initially plan and execute [[spoiler:their wedding]] in a single day [[spoiler:before orders can be received placing them into the same chain of command and make their relationship illegal]]. Later, though, crew on the all-Smart Metal frigates and battlecruisers take to adding doors to bulkheads between their quarters, a logical consequence of having lots of predominantly young and unattached people cooped up together in a tin can for weeks or months at a time. Rather than continually reassign people to separate couples, Kris decides to "treat sailors like adults" and relax but not completely eliminate the regs on fraternization, a practice that Sandy retains when she takes over. [[spoiler:Commander Sampson mouthing off to Kris about this is one of the reasons she fires her.]]
** ''Unrelenting'' features a supply officer whose views on this prompt him to sabotage a shipment of contraceptive implants, resulting in a lot of unplanned pregnancies (and the supply officer getting a dishonorable discharge).
* InterserviceRivalry:
** Played for laughs in ''Audacious''. Kris goes on PT with the Marine guards at the Wardhaven Embassy on New Eden and is handed a sweatshirt in Navy blue and gold... with a bulls-eye on the back.
** In ''Bold'' the United Society Navy's Battle Force (battleships) and scout force (cruisers and destroyers) are arguing over who has authority over the battlecruisers built for the war against the HordeOfAlienLocusts. Kris takes a third option at the end of the book and becomes head of Battlecruiser Force. In "Kris Longknife's Bad Day", it's five years later and she's still fighting for her battlecruisers: she believes, not without reason, that they obsolete the other ship types (they outgun cruisers and destroyers and are fast enough to take over their duties, and have comparable firepower and are cheaper to build and crew than battleships, especially in the face of the alien marauders), but she faces resistance from the old line, including her grandfather Al Longknife whose company has a monopoly on battleship construction (Kris cut him out of battlecruiser construction to punish him for various CorruptCorporateExecutive behaviors earlier in the series).
* ItsPronouncedTroPAY: Vicky's father reportedly insists that Greenfeld's newly established Medal of Honor-equivalent military decoration, the Order of Merit, is supposed to be pronounced ''Mérite''. Vicky thinks he's being ridiculous.
* KineticWeaponsAreJustBetter: Zig-zagged.
** Kinetic weapons, generally dial-a-yield dart rifles, are favored for ground use, man-portable lasers being reserved for anti-missile defense.
** Laser cannons, due to their near instantaneous travel time, are used on spaceships. Kinetic or other projectiles make an appearance in some space battles but their effectiveness is generally fairly low.
** In ''Unrelenting'', [[spoiler:ImportedAlienPhlebotinum is used to knock small chunks off a neutron star and accelerate them to .05 ''c'', which Kris uses as artillery against a huge PlanetLooter fleet.]]
* KnownOnlyByTheirNickname: General Terrance "Trouble" Tordon, one of Kris's great-grandfathers. Victoria "Vicky" Peterwald.
* LadykillerInLove: [[spoiler:GenderFlipped with Vicky. The rebellious imperial princess who formerly enjoyed sleeping around and often used her considerable assets to her advantage, falls in love with Mannie Artamus, the mayor of the city of Sevastopol on her headquarters planet St. Petersburg.]]
* LamePunReaction: Vicky gives us a real groaner in ''Rebel''.
--> '''Vicky:''' Look on the bright side, guys. If we all hang together, it will be one hell of a date.\\
'''Mannie Artamus:''' Only if you go up the scaffold stairs first. And in a short dress.\\
'''Vicky:''' No doubt, my stepmother would be only too happy to oblige you. But I live by the old saying, no noose is good noose. ''(cue CollectiveGroan)''
* LanguageEqualsThought:
** While the PlanetLooters' language has over a dozen words for "submission", it interestingly has no word for "war": as the AbsoluteXenophobe marauders consider all intelligent life other than themselves to be vermin, one infers that they therefore consider their serial xenocides to be something akin to pest control. [[spoiler:It also has no direct translation for "surrender": a squadron that apparently tries to surrender to Kris in ''Unrelenting'' tries to get it across by repeating "We will be your slaves."]]
** The Alwans are a more traditional example: they don't have a concept for war (interpersonal violence is rare in the Roosters' culture, and while Ostrich tribes fight each other, they don't really think of it as a war the way humans would), so the humans use the Alwans' hunting concepts as a synonym.
* LensmanArmsRace: One develops in the war against the PlanetLooters, who have [[WeHaveReserves enormous weight of numbers]] and BeamSpam on their side and learn to innovate with their existing technology quickly (e.g. nuclear suicide bombers and {{Colony Drop}}s), but have worse technology to start with, NoOSHACompliance, and dogmatic HonorBeforeReason attitudes that discourage experimentation and mean that few survive to learn from their mistakes. The human and alien forces fighting them (led by Kris) start with ships built to post-Iteeche War standards (ice armor and no reactor-fed lasers bigger than 18-inch), but by ''Unrelenting'' (only a couple years later InUniverse) are fielding rapid-fire 22-inch lasers on ships ships built entirely of {{nanomachines}}, able to maneuver at far greater accelerations with the crew staying comfortable, and armored with crystals that re-radiate incoming laser fire. [[spoiler:And then we get to the "beam ships", million-ton behemoths that are more scientific instrument than warship and fight as kinetic artillery by knocking chunks off of neutron stars at .05 ''c''.]]
* LightningBruiser: The frigates and later battlecruisers built beginning in ''Furious'' for the war with the aliens. In first contact with the aliens, only a few of Kris's smaller Q-ships survived the initial battle, because they were so much more difficult for alien BeamSpam to hit than the MightyGlacier Greenfeld, Helvetican, and Musashi battleships. In response, Musashi builds several all-Smart Metal frigates with battleship-size lasers fitted fore and aft rather than in broadside turrets, which are gradually scaled up into battlecruisers (so named because they carry battleship guns on ships with the speed of cruisers). They can take some heavy hits, especially after being supplemented with energy re-radiating crystal armor, and return it with interest, but their primary defense is evasion, which Kris, a product of smaller corvettes and patrol boats, takes to with aplomb but has difficulties teaching to the battleship-minded officers she's often sent as reinforcements as commander of Alwa Defense Sector (and later is tasked with training in "Kris Longknife's Bad Day").
* LostSuperweapon: The Vanishing Box. [[spoiler:Left behind on Santa Maria by The Three, it was discovered a million years later by local teens. Capable of instantly obliterating entire mountains,]] it's later used to fight a rogue [=AI=] attempting to kill everyone on the planet. Later research into how it works leads to the creation of the Hellburner, a teraton-yield super-torpedo.
* LoudOfWar: Tommy Lien, of of Kris's friends and crewmember on her PF boat, blasts the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_of_Cambreadth March]] of [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFi7bWkyRpA Cambreadth]] over the radio as the flotilla sorties to meet the attacking battleships in ''Defiant''.
* MacrossMissileMassacre:
** Kris launches one during the Battle of Wardhaven. A couple space freighters are fitted with hundreds of modified ground-to-ground missiles borrowed from the Army. They're not particularly effective-the warheads are pretty small--but the incoming battleships are forced to either shoot the missile down and overheat their lasers, or loose sensors, ice armor, and possible laser cannons to a blizzard of missile fire.
** The aliens like to use barrages of nuclear missiles in addition to BeamSpam. In ''Kris Longknife's Replacement'', the Sasquans gift Sandy Santiago with twenty percent of their nuclear arsenal, including a number of roughly [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B41_nuclear_bomb B41]]-size hydrogen bombs, to do with as she likes, and when faced with an alien ambush she uses Smart Metal to make missiles for them on the fly. She later takes to firing self-guided nuclear- and antimatter-tipped missiles through jump points to break alien blockades.
* ManInAKilt: Highlander regiments from Lorna Do and Pitt's Hope, planets settled by Scotts, still wear kilts into battle. Popularly known as Ladies From Hell, they're highly regarded as top-notch light infantry, a reputation cemented when 200 Highlanders and a Marine platoon take Black Mountain in vicious close-quarter combat in a thunderstorm. Unusually, the Highlanders also include female personnel and put them in the same kilts.
* MeaningfulName:
** In the Battle of Wardhaven, Kris splits the defenders into three groups. Task Force [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Armstrong_Custer Custer]] provides supporting fire, Task Force [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horatius_Cocles Horatio]] serves as the final line of defense, and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charge_of_the_Light_Brigade Light Brigade]] mounts a suicide charge to destroy the enemy at point-blank range. Kris leads the attack aboard [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_Torpedo_Boat_PT-109 PF 109]], part of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VT-8 Attack Squadron Eight]]. [=PF=] 109 is the only survivor, albeit with heavy damage and several dead.
** Played for laughs in ''Resolute''. At the end of the book it's revealed that the Q-ship ''Resolute'' that was attached to Kris's new command was sent along as an escape valve for her.
--->'''Jack:''' Excuse me for butting in, but you give this gal a ship named the ''Resolute'' and expected her to use it to run away from a fight? I was starting to think you maybe understood your great-granddaughter. I guess I was wrong.\\
'''Admiral Crossenshield:''' Maybe we should have renamed the ship.
* MemeticBadass: The Longknife family are an in-universe example - at least, the ones that are considered "one of those damned Longknifes" (that's all one word, by the way) - not totally a good thing, as many people would prefer to avoid associating with them.
** Kris eventually learns that she's gaining her own reputation separate from her family, and people are starting to differentiate between "one of those damned Longknifes" and "Kris Longknife".
* MileLongShip: [[spoiler:The still-unnamed alien raiders use million-ton battleships ten kilometers long. And the mothership is ''four thousand kilometers'' long.]] Human battleships tend to top out at about 300,000 tons; the biggest human ship so far in the series is a million-ton passenger liner.
* MilitaryMashupMachine: The USS ''Wasp'', in both incarnations, is this. The first model was classed a corvette, the second was designated a frigate, terms generally used for escort ships, though both incarnations mount battleship-sized laser cannon, carry a battalion of Marines, and mount missiles half its own weight. The overall result is something between a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphibious_assault_ship [=LHD/LHA=]-style]] attack transport and a Soviet [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirov-class_battlecruiser ''Kirov''-class]] heavy missile cruiser. Then they bolt cargo containers all over the exterior hull, which turns her into a Q-ship for luring in pirates.
* MixedAncestry: Kris is depicted as a blonde white woman both in the text and on the covers, but mentions to Nelly in ''Tenacious'' that she has significant Native American ancestry. This is prominent in ''Among the Kicking Birds'', as Kris refuses to repeat white colonists' treatment of her own ancestors with the originally pre-industrial Alwans, wanting to deal with them fairly and with a minimum of harm to their native cultures. Also, Jack is Hispanic, [[spoiler:which makes their daughter Ruth Maria half-Latina as well]].
* MohsScaleOfSciFiHardness: The series sits roughly at Mohs/PhysicsPlus. FasterThanLightTravel and {{Subspace Ansible}}s are only possible by means of preexisting jump points (messages are passed between systems literally by having a buoy pop through the jump point and retransmit it), ships must take orbital physics into account (they also affect the position of jump points), and [[SpaceIsCold heating and cooling is an issue during combat]]. However, the series also prominently features ArtificialIntelligence and {{nanomachines}}, and new technologies begin to be developed in later books: [[spoiler:first a telescope to see through jump points, then continuing with a weak TractorBeam that can lift a few milliliters of material off a neutron star, which is combined with {{antimatter}} for a multi-teraton torpedo warhead.]]
* MulticulturalAlienPlanet: Of the four (living) non-human advanced species contacted by humans, none come from a PlanetOfHats. [[spoiler: Even the xenophobic, omnicidal raiders have members of their species who aren't completely fanatics about killing everything else.]] Also done with human planets, usually in a manner [[FantasyCounterpartCulture allegorizing or directly replicating a political/ethnic/regional schism in American history]]:
** Hikila in ''Defiant'' is split between the ethnic Polynesian original settlers, who settled tropical islands intending to reestablish their traditional way of life from Earth, and more numerous refugees from other planets whom they accepted during the Iteeche War, who meant to continue how they lived on their homeworlds and resent the islanders taxing them but not giving them a voice in government. [[spoiler:The planet's constitution ends up being written to accommodate the needs of both groups, with the Hikilan queen getting a veto on any measure she views as impinging on the islanders' culture.]]
** New Eden in ''Audacious'' is the first extrasolar planet humanity colonized, and has essentially three semiautonomous nations of respectively American, European, and Chinese descent on it (each of which has its own house in the planetary legislature and gets its own powerful vice president). People not descended from those original settlers don't get to vote and form a permanent underclass.
** In ''Undaunted'', Texarkana's original settlers made to replicate a rural rancher culture, with the most powerful ranchers named dukes. A later group of settlers built a few industrialized cities, which the ranchers view as a threat.
** Greenfeld planets, such as those Kris deals with in ''Redoubtable'', tend to have a largely white (mainly German) ruling class and a more diverse underclass. One book makes a point that Greenfeld troops would have difficulty working covertly on one of their own planets, where Kris's browner Wardhavenites wouldn't. (Kris herself is multiracial, drawn and described as a blonde white woman but stated to have significant Native American ancestry, which is where her surname comes from; her bodyguard[=/=]LoveInterest Jack Montoya is Latino.)
* MysteriousEmployer: Abby's endless supply of trunks and their contents are paid for by an anonymous source (or sources) that's interested in keeping Kris alive.
* {{Nanomachines}}: Nano bugs and scouts are heavily used (even by reporters), as are nanos meant to destroy other nanos. In an apparent [[LetsFightLikeGentlemen gentleman's agreement]] nanos are ''never'' used to kill humans (though Kris does use them to blow an evacuated space station up). Also, Smart Metal and its derivative Uniplex, made up of massive numbers of metal nanos, are used to build entire ships.
** Which is fairly good sense since human-lethal nano-machines have the same problem bioweapons have, they tend to be rather unselective with who they kill and releasing anything sufficiently nasty to be of military value has a high chance of wiping you out too.
* NeglectfulPrecursors: The long-vanished "Three" are believed to have built the jump points that make FasterThanLightTravel possible. They also left behind a computer that awakens in the prequel series and tries to kill everybody on Santa Maria (which was defeated by use of a superweapon also probably left behind by the Three). They also left the defenses on at a planet Kris's team discovers in ''Resolute'': any ship that gets too close attempting to study their leavings is shot down.
* TheNeutralZone: The "No Go Zone", an area designated by the treaty between humanity and the Iteeche Empire after their war where no one from either side may pass.
* NeverMyFault: One of the lesser problems Kris has to deal with when she's made commander of the war effort against the PlanetLooters in ''Defender'' is Lieutenant Commander Sampson, a by-the-book officer with a chip on her shoulder because of her father's suspicious death in prison after a certain incident in ''Mutineer''. Sampson tacitly admits to having had a junior forge her signature on readiness reports and blames inexperienced crew and an untested ship design for performance issues in exercises. Kris promptly relieves Sampson of command, then threatens to CourtMartial her for conduct unbecoming when she starts mouthing off and complaining about the other ships' lax attitude to fraternization. [[spoiler:After Sampson mutinies and steals a freighter hoping to get home, she's recaptured and it's discovered that she has a malignant brain tumor. It's removed, but Sampson doesn't change her behavior, conspiring with a supply officer to sabotage the fleet's contraceptive implants, resulting in a rash of unplanned pregnancies that includes specifically targeting Kris herself.]]
* NinjaMaid:
** Abby, Kris's body servant, knows how to dress that body in ball gowns as well as protect it with guns and bombs. Usually both at the same time. Best demonstrated in ''Defiant'', where she not only produces body armor for a nine-person assault force, but parachutes in as a marksman before rappelling face-first down an air vent to blowtorch a way in.
** Vicki has two personal servants who are also very lethal assassins.
* NoodleIncident: In a RunningGag, all Abby's previous employers got killed. She's never elaborated on how or why though.
* NoEndorHolocaust: It's mentioned that heavy space tugs tend to hang on the fringes of space battles that occur in orbit specifically to avert this.
* NoWomansLand:
** Womens' rights have apparently taken a major step backward in Peterwald space: misogynistic attitudes are common, contraception is evidently difficult to find, and female military personnel who become pregnant are discharged.
--->'''Kris:''' ''(to Georg Krätz and Vicky Peterwald)'' How very medieval.
** New Jerusalem is a conservative Christian religious colony that according to Kris doesn't allow women to go about uncovered.
* NotProven: [[spoiler:How Kris's trial for crimes against humanity ends in ''Furious''. She's spoken her piece and is free to leave Musashi, but isn't found innocent.]]
* NotSoDifferent:
** Vicky eventually realizes that superficial differences to the contrary, she does have things in common with her (former) archenemy Kris, and later deliberately seeks to emulate her and use her as an example.
** The humans and the ''Iteeche'', surprisingly enough. While [[StarfishAliens biologically quite different]], they have similar thought processes and many of the same internal political problems as humans do [[spoiler:and both falsely accused the other in {{propaganda}} of trying to exterminate them]].
* NukeEm: Humanity has banned nuclear weapons, but the alien raiders and the Sasquans both have very large nuclear arsenals. The major Sasquan governments gift Sandy Santiago a fifth of their stockpile in ''Kris Longknife's Replacement'', which includes some [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B41_nuclear_bomb B41]]-sized warheads that she uses against the aliens.
* OffTheWagon: At the start of ''Furious'', Kris has crawled back into a bottle to deal with being separated from her team and hidden away on a backwater planet [[spoiler:after 153 planets charge her with crimes against humanity for the battle in ''Daring'']].
* OpenSecret: The six Greenfeld battleships that attempt to glass Wardhaven in ''Defiant'' are officially declared pirates by Wardhaven and disavowed by Greenfeld, as neither the United Sentients nor Greenfeld can easily win a direct confrontation.[[note]]The planners of the mission in ''Defiant'' had a workable plan for a decapitation strike and mop-up, it just didn't work because they ran into one of Kris's CrazyEnoughToWork counter-plans.[[/note]] Nobody believes it for a minute: Greenfeld Captain Georg Krätz comments in ''Intrepid'' that it's not like you can exactly hide six fully crewed super battleships going missing.
* OrbitalBombardment: Possible in the series with considerable levels of precision, but the effects on the ground of a large-bore laser are rather like being too close to a tactical nuke going off (no ConvectionSchmonvection here). Kris's ears ring for the rest of the day after an orbiting pirate blows up a farmhouse and lake a couple klicks off with an 18-inch pulse laser in ''Intrepid'', and in ''Redoubtable'' she's a thousand feet away behind cover when Greenfeld Admiral Krätz opens fire with a full broadside of 18-inch battleship lasers.
* OutWithABang: [[spoiler:In ''Target'', Vicky begins her escape from kidnappers hired by her stepmother by seducing one of them, then crushing his throat while riding him.]]
* OverlyLongName:
** Ron'sum'We'sum'[=QuinCap=]'sum'We, an Iteeche alien who accompanies Kris for several books. Thankfully, he's happy answering to just Ron. Other Iteeche names are similar.
** [[spoiler:Kris and Jack name their daughter Ruth Maria Brenda Anne Longknife (Ruth after one of Kris's great-grandmothers, Maria after Jack's mother, Brenda after Kris's mother, and Anne being Kris's middle name).]]
* PartyScattering: At the start of ''Furious'' the survivors of the Voyage of Discovery have been scattered to the four winds under orders from Ray Longknife, lest they tell their stories to the media and he lose control of the PR situation. Kris falls OffTheWagon during her exile on Madigan's Hope as titular commander of a patrol boat squad after she tries to speak out at an open-mic night and is hustled off the stage by hired thugs, and Jack is reassigned to [=HellFrozeOver=], a refueling station in the Wardhaven system.
* PlanetLooters: How the unnamed alien raiders behave. They kill off most a planet's biosphere (especially the dominant lifeform), and then steal all the resources they can, including most of the planet's water and a significant portion of its atmosphere.
* PlanetSpaceship: At four thousand kilometers long, the PlanetLooters' [[TheMothership base ships]] are bigger than many moons and are {{Generation Ship}}s that house tens of billions of crew. [[spoiler:By the end of ''Unrelenting'', Kris and forces under her command have destroyed eight of an estimated forty to fifty, plus one that was under construction.]]
* PortalNetwork: The Three left behind jump points used for FTL travel between solar systems. [[BlindJump Blind Jumps]] are a danger, as you could end up hundreds of light-years from you destination if you enter a jump point too fast, accelerating too much, or use a less-stable jump point. Apparently if you're rotating it's worse.
* POVSequel:
** ''Kris Longknife's Assassin'' mostly retells the events of ''Audacious'' and ''Intrepid'' from Vicky's perspective with interstitial scenes added, with scenes including Kris more or less copy-pasted from the corresponding book (to the point where at one point Vicky is said to "seem" to be doing something as if the scene was still being told from Kris's perspective, due to an editing error).
** "Welcome Home/Go Away" is the tail end of ''Daring'' retold (mostly) from Grandpa Trouble's perspective.
** ''Kris Longknife's Bloodhound'' covers Special Agent Foile's investigation into Al Longknife while Kris is involved in her CourtroomEpisode in ''Furious''.
* {{Precursors}}: The Three. The ancient races which might have built the faster than light transportation network. Or might not have and it is all natural. Oh, and they left behind a bunch of planets they used to live on, at least 3 have been discovered and visited in the novels set in the universe.
* PregnantBadass: Kris becomes pregnant shortly before the start of ''Unrelenting'' (due to her contraceptives being sabotaged by a disgruntled supply officer) and gives birth at the end of it. This doesn't stop her from commanding a fleet through multiple battles over the course of the book.
* ProxyWar: A common plot format in the early books is to have Kris stumble onto a Greenfeld-backed coup attempt on the planet of the week and screw it up. [[spoiler:In ''Audacious'' she realizes her great-grandpa Ray Longknife is using her as an unwitting catspaw and demands to be let out of it.]] It's also explained a couple times that this is due to the likely destruction of the United Sentients, Greenfeld's bloc, and probably much of the rest of human space should open war break out: [[MutuallyAssuredDestruction the two sides are too evenly matched]].
* QuestionableConsent: In ''Target'', Vicky is kidnapped by assassins after the bounty placed on her head by her EvilStepmother, and escapes by seducing one of them and [[OutWithABang killing him in the act]]. She considers it rape even though she initiated the act, since it was motivated by desperation rather than desire.
* RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil:
** Several planets have their governments collapse due to various calamities, leading to victimization of local women, which is met with lethal force when Kris or Vicky become involved.
** {{Subverted}} later: while commanding Alwa Station, Kris relaxes the fraternization regs, which leads to one of her [=COs=] sexually assaulting an enlisted woman. She reassigns him to command the manure works. [[spoiler:He does a good job and shows remorse for the act at later encounters, which leads her to use him as commander of several {{Suicide Mission}}s instead to earn his way back into her good graces.]]
* ReassignedToAntarctica:
** Following the disastrous battle in ''Daring'', [[spoiler:Jack]] gets reassigned to the charmingly named [=HellFrozeOver=] (yes, all one word), a station orbiting an gas giant that's being mined for fuel.
** On Alwa Station, the PenalColony of choice is an island where the humans are mining composted bird guano for nitrates, which Kris uses to deal with several persistent discipline problems.
* ReallyGetsAround: Vicky uses her feminine wiles to seduce men for both pleasure and profit, frequently. Captain Kratz reportedly read her the riot act after she was caught in a paint closet with another ensign.
* RebelliousPrincess: Kris becomes a princess at the end of the first novel and hates it. [[spoiler: Vicky becomes a literal one as she starts a rebellion against the corruption of her stepmother, the Empress.]]
* RelationshipUpgrade: There's hints dropped starting about book three that Kris and her bodyguard Jack are developing feelings for each other. It's made explicit in ''Undaunted'', then while trying to get home in ''Daring'' they finally confess their feelings to each other, and are married two books later.
* RomeoAndJuliet: Hank, the son of a rival family, says that he and Kris might be like this in the second novel. Kris denies this, since she has no intention of dying. Also, the next time they meet, his categorical refusal to consider the possibility that anyone on his side might be in the wrong turns them into enemies. [[spoiler:Then he dies]].
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething:
** Most Longknife family members, from King Ray to Princess Kristine. Subverted somewhat as Kris was in the Navy before she was a Princess and "King Ray" doesn't much fit the traditional role of a King.
** Vicky Peterwald is learning how to become this, mainly because she calculated her odds of surviving the ambitions of her stepmother's family if her skills remained limited to needlepoint and Kama Sutra as being negligible. It also improves the odds of her ''Empire'' surviving her stepmother's family's ambitions. Her father ''used'' to be one, but by the time of the Vicky Peterwald novels, he's become so fixated on having a pretty young new wife that he doesn't realize that his in-laws are deliberately running his Empire into the ground. Or the fact that his wife has put a hit out on his only surviving child from his first marriage (Something that is common knowledge across the entire Empire). Or that he's being set up to be killed by a jealous husband, something a great many people have concluded.
* SacrificialLion: [[spoiler:Georg Kratz's flagship ''Fury'' has the misfortune to be caught within BeamSpam range of the alien fleet during the battle in ''Daring'' and is destroyed in seconds.]]
* StarfishAliens:
** The Iteeche are seven-foot-tall amphibious vertebrates with four eyes and four undifferentiated, two-jointed grasping limbs who reproduce by ejecting gametes into the surrounding water. During the war human soldiers quickly learned to ''never'' get into melee range with one.
** The Alwans are flightless omnivorous birds who find it great fun to tear strips off of live prey, but balk at interpersonal violence in favor of noisy dominance displays.
* StrongAsTheyNeedToBe: The dart weaponry used by all factions in the series uses varying charges of liquid propellant. Loading sleepy darts automatically reduces the charge, and you can manually vary the power, and a max-power rifle round results in BlownAcrossTheRoom at 500 yards.
* {{Shapeshifting}}: Ships built with Smart Metal can alter their shape as needed, shrinking in combat to present a smaller target, shifting from space mode to ground mode (for [=FAC=]s), or even splitting into two ships (for frigates). Tends to result in minor problems, as equipment lockers often end up in the wrong location.
* ShoutOut: The characters frequently make references to lines from classic science fiction movies and TV shows. For example, ''Franchise/StarTrek'' is still around: in the first book a Marine is overheard comparing the corvette ''Typhoon'' in its atmospheric flight configuration to a Klingon bird-of-prey.
* ShootTheDog: [[spoiler:In ''Unrelenting'' Kris is forced to destroy a squadron of alien ships that appear to be trying to surrender, since they're refusing, or possibly don't understand due to the LanguageBarrier, her commands to shut down their reactors, and could wreak havoc in the Alwa System if allowed to continue their course towards the jump point. When she relates this to Vicky in ''Bold'', Vicky thinks she made the only call possible in that situation.]]
* SpaceColdWar: Between the Longknife-ruled Wardhaven and the Peterwald-ruled Greenfeld Empire. Both sides dislike each other, and Greenfeld launches an attack on Wardhaven itself in ''Defiant'' in hopes of taking over. The Cold War thaws after [[spoiler: Hank Peterwald's death]], and after Kris saves Emperor Peterwald from assassination.
* SpaceFighter: Averted. The fast patrol boats Kris pilots in ''Defiant'' fill a similar role, but with a crew of 15 and non-reloadable lasers, they tend to be more Space Torpedo Bombers/Boats.
** The torpedo-bomber role is further suggested by having Kris command [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VT-8 Attack Squadron Eight]] from aboard [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_Torpedo_Boat_PT-109 PF 109]].
* SpaceIsCold: {{Averted}}.
** It's part of the reason Kris is able to win the Battle of Wardhaven. [[spoiler:Trying to shoot down the myriad small targets she sends after the oncoming Peterwald battleships leads to them overheating their weapons, and precision hits under those circumstances cause chain reactions that blow the battleships apart.]]
** The crystal armor introduced when Earth joins the war against the aliens works by converting incoming laser fire to heat and then using the entire hull as a radiator to get rid of it. Unfortunately, the first few ships off the line have some problems: several Earth ships randomly explode under heavy fire, which Kris's people trace to micron-size irregularities in the length of the crystals causing the heat to spread unevenly (this is solved by improving quality control). In "Kris Longknife's Bad Day", some genius at Wardhaven Main Navy suggests adding a double layer, which Kris suspects will just make it harder to cool off the armor.
** In ''Kris Longknife's Relief'', Sandy Santiago encounters alien ships that have had additional cooling fins added so they can better perform high-''g'' burns and extended laser barrages.
* SpaceMarine: Jack is transferred to the Wardhaven Marines to allow him to protect Kris when deployed, and she ends up commanding several companies of them.
* SpaceNavy: What Kris joins, much to the dismay of her parents: her mother considers it unladylike and her father wanted to use her as a campaigner, having groomed her older brother Honovi to be a politician like himself. Kris joined partly to get away from them.
* SpaceOpera: While the series is marketed as MilitaryScienceFiction, there are so many sprawling civilizations and empires, political conflicts and intrigues with a good dose of romantic tension, that the series would be better described as new SpaceOpera that combine fast-paced adventure plots with some degree of hard SF rigor.
* SpannerInTheWorks:
** Sheer dumb luck saves Kris's life in the opening sequence of ''Mutineer'': the kidnapped child held for ransom turned out to bait in a trap for her personally, set by Peterwald assassins. The assumption was that Kris would [[ItsRainingMen drop with the Marines]] per Society of Humanity SOP right onto the kidnappers' doorstep and into the minefield that had been set for them, but a critical part fails on Kris's LAC during reentry and she ends up making an emergency landing several hours' march wide of the target.
** Vicky Peterwald for her own family's plot in ''Audacious''. Her haphazard attempts on Kris's life not only fail but inadvertently lead Kris straight to the Peterwalds' plan to overthrow the government of New Eden.
* SpoiledBrat: Hank's sister Vicky in her original appearance, with shadings of RichBitch. She gets better.
* SubspaceAnsible: Of a sort. There actually isn't technically faster-than-light communication, but messages can be passed between systems by automated buoys that loiter at jump points (helping to mark their locations for ships) and pop through them to re-transmit the message.
* SurvivorGuilt: Kris has this big time and knows it. The only reason she wasn't snagged by the same kidnappers that killed her brother Eddy was that she had stepped out for five minutes to buy ice cream. It took a considerable amount of therapy before she could admit to herself that even if she had been there, there was nothing a ten year old girl could have done that would have made any difference.
** Again after ''Defiant'', where hundreds of civilian volunteers and her just-married best friend were killed in the Battle of Wardhaven.
** Vicky falls into the state as the number of people dying due to failed assassination attempts on her keep piling up.
* SweetPollyOliver: Kris dresses as a man on several occasions in the second novel, when she has to do some undercover work.
* TakeAThirdOption: The Wardhaven and Greenfeld units cooperating to take down a planet being run by pirates and slavers run into a problem: the BigBad is [[spoiler: a highly-connected Greenfeld businesswoman]] who claims the planet's ownership has been properly filed as a [[spoiler: Greenfeld possession]], and the heroes are faced with either taking them down and possibly starting a war between Wardhaven and Greenfeld, or going away and not stopping their operation. Admiral Krätz solves the issue by [[spoiler: vaporizing the pirate's headquarters, leaving no evidence of the woman or her staff to raise a political stink, while some creative hacking removes all evidence that a claim on the planet was ever filed]].
* TeleFrag: There's an occasional reference to a NoodleIncident involving two ships trying to pass through a jump point in opposite directions. We aren't told what happened exactly, but whatever it was led to the use of jump point buoys that act as traffic lights and double as a SubspaceAnsible.
* TeleporterAccident: In addition to the potential for TeleFrag, it's possible, given the speed-of-light lag, that what you can see of a star that a jump point leads to is severely out-of-date. In ''Redoubtable'', Kris discovers a ship's exhaust trail leading to an unexplored jump point. After a buoy sent through the jump doesn't come back, ''Wasp'''s scientists invent a sort of telescope to look through a jump point, and realize that the star on the other side has become a nova.
* TooDumbToLive:
** Emperor Henry I is so wrapped around the little finger of his new wife he's apparently oblivious to the fact that she's trying to kill his daughter (which everyone else in the Empire knows), that she and her family are rotting his empire into destruction (which people in the Empire are finding out), and that she's probably setting him up to be killed by a jealous husband or lover (which a great many observers have concluded is happening).
** Kris happens upon a Nuclear Age species in ''Tenacious'', the Sasquans, and Solzen, the president-for-life of the nastiest of the three major national blocs, fires nuclear missiles at her squadron of frigates when they come into orbit. Kris blows them up at a very safe distance with laser fire, so what does Solzen do? [[MacrossMissileMassacre She fires even more missiles!]] After lasering these missiles, too, Kris doesn't give her a third chance, instead rather thoroughly ''melting'' the mountain that Solzen and most of her government are hiding inside of.
* TookALevelInBadass: Vicki Peterwald - glorified bimbo and spectacularly incompetent assassin to [[spoiler: {{Princess}}, rebel leader, increasingly competent military officer and BadassBureaucrat]].
* TradeSnark: It's [[{{Nanomachines}} Smart Metal™]]. Even when spoken.
* TranquillizerDart: An available ammunition type for the standard-issue assault rifles, regular darts tipped with InstantSedation knockout drugs and fired with a reduced load. They not perfect however, using them at point-blank range will break bones or even kill someone outright, the reduced load makes them inaccurate at long range, and there's no (publicly available) studies on the effects of multiple shots or what they do to Iteeche.
* UndercoverAsLovers: Not quite lovers. In order to free Tom, who is being held captive in a motel, Kris and Jack pose as a prostitute and her client to get into the place.
* UnfriendlyFire: Sandy once sees an alien ship blow up its own fleet's flagship after the Enlightened One chickens out during a fight with a human force, then comes back to try and regain command. For her part, Sandy doesn't give the new commander time to turn it into a KlingonPromotion.
* UnluckyChildhoodFriend: Kris has apparently been on the receiving end of this ''a lot'': she complains about the number of bridesmaid dresses in her closet. During the series it's Tommy Lien, whom she met in OCS and wonders if they could be something more, but he marries intelligence officer Penny Pasley in ''Defiant'' [[spoiler:and then is killed in action three days later]]. She later begs off attending Ron Torn's wedding at the end of ''Audacious'' after having kissed him a couple times in ''Resolute''.
* UnresolvedSexualTension: Kris and Jack for several books. [[spoiler:They become a couple in ''Furious'' and marry in ''Defender''.]]
* TheWarOfEarthlyAggression: The first book takes part with the backdrop of "devolution", the impending breakup of [[TheFederation the Society of Humanity]] after eighty years of peace and mounting cultural-political tension between the urbanized, overpopulated, crime-ridden welfare states of the early planets (e.g. Earth and New Eden) and the less populous, more conservative Rim. But actual war is {{defied}}: [[spoiler:Kris leads a mutiny when the commanders of Attack Squadron Six try to attack an Earth fleet and start war between the core worlds and the Rim (with the suspected connivance of Greenfeld), and devolution happens peacefully as a result. Earth awards Kris the Order of the Wounded Lion, its highest decoration for valor, for this.]]
* TimeSkip: Five years pass between ''Bold'' and "Kris Longknife's Bad Day", during which [[spoiler:Kris and Jack]] have had a second child and which we're told that:
** No major battles have happened at Alwa Station.
** Kris's cousin Meg Longknife, an ensign and Kris's ''aide-de-camp'' when we saw her in ''Bold'', has served a tour in the fleet and is now a full lieutenant.
* WeComeInPeaceShootToKill: {{Justified}}: The humans and Iteeche first encountered each other when human and Iteeche SpacePirates started hitting each others' unrecorded colonies, then lied to their respective governments about what they themselves were doing (piracy being a capital offense for both species). After months of bloody war, Ray Longknife and Roth'sum'We'sum'Quin managed to make contact with each other and negotiate TheNeutralZone. The two species did their best to ignore each other for the next eighty years, [[NotSoDifferent all the while convinced that the other side had intended their extermination and they had survived by the skin of their teeth]].
* WeddingDeadline: In ''Defender'', [[spoiler:Kris and Jack]] have their wedding planned, scheduled and performed in a single afternoon, so that they can get married before orders can be cut that place them in the same chain of command, which would make their relationship against Navy regulations.
* XDaysSince: At the end of ''Intrepid'', Kris asks Nelly to keep track of her time between people trying to kill her. Nelly snarks that she doesn't think she can count that ''low''. At the start of ''Undaunted'' she's made it 63 days, on account of her explorer ship USS ''Wasp'' not having met a single living soul since her last port.
* YouKilledMyFather: In their first meeting in ''Audacious'', Vicky Peterwald is convinced that Kris murdered [[spoiler:her brother Hank]]. During their second meeting in ''Intrepid'', Kris finally manages to get across that 1: There was a battle going on at the time, and things like that happen in battles. 2: It was [[spoiler:Hank's]] fault that the battle happened in the first place. 3: Even given both of the above, he would have had a decent chance of surviving had he not been equipped with a defective survival pod (which was suspiciously from a different production run than every other pod on the ship). [[spoiler:After this conversation, Kris helps foil a ColonyDrop that would've killed Vicky's father and started an all-out war between Wardhaven and Greenfeld, and they become not-quite-friends.]] Also the cover of ''Kris Longknife's Assassin'' (told from Vicky's perspective around the time of ''Audacious'') includes the comment, [[Literature/ThePrincessBride "Kris Longknife / You killed my brother / Prepare to die"]].
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