A Spin-Off of the Honor Harrington series centering on one of Honor's ancestors and officially titled the Star Kingdom series, this is a series of Young Adult novels taking place several centuries earlier, during the original series' Back Story.Stephanie Harrington is a young girl whose family has recently arrived on the frontier world of Sphinx. Having been uprooted from her homeworld and her social life there, she is not pleased to be living on a homestead in the middle of the woods on a boring backwater planet. All that will change when she meets Climbs Quickly, a Treecat scout, and life on Sphinx becomes much more exciting...This series is notable among the Honorverse books for radically limiting the scope of the series' universe, restricting the action to the planets of Sphinx and Manticore, and for being entirely divorced from the high-wire military and political Space Opera of the mainline novels. As such, it's often recommended as a starting point for younger readers, and for those who want a more gentle introduction to the Honorverse.Current Books:
A Beautiful Friendship
Stephanie Harrington features examples of the following tropes:
Abandon Ship: The Damp Ground Clan is forced to abandon their new home, despite the efforts of Stephanie and her friends to fight the fire. They elect to hitch a ride in the Two Legs' aircars.
Alien Non-Interference Clause: The humans are not sure how intelligent the Treecats are, and opinions vary on how much contact the humans should have with them. As it happens, the treecats' ranges are all on Crown Lands (not by design; the Treecats avoid the humans when they can, and the Crown Lands are mostly unsettled), one Xeno-Anthropologist arging against human "contamination" of Treecat culture ends up posing a scenario where a Treecat, living in a human's heated home, would fail to grow his winter fur, and asks if the humans would then end up making him a sweater. Treecat Sweaters become a go-to Running Gag for the heroes when they want to poke fun at this trope.
An Axe to Grind: In Fire Season, Stephanie, Karl, and many of the other forest rangers keep Pulaskis on hand to use to clear out underbrush and create firebreaks.
Ape Shall Not Kill Ape: Treecats, being telepathically and empathically linked, are very good at settling differences before it reaches the point of open hostility, and thus have a taboo against killing each other. The plot of Treecat Wars centers around neighboring clans being driven to the point of breaking this trope due to famine caused by the events of Fire Season.
Artificial Gravity: Inverted with anti-grav devices that allow non-Heavy Worlders to move freely on Sphinx's higher-than-Earth gravity. While it is possible to function without the anti-grav device running, most folks end up physically exhausted very quickly.
Axe Crazy: In Treecat Wars, Swimmer's Scourage is revealed to have gone this way. And in a telepathically linked society like what Treecats have, this functions like a Hate Plague until his clansmen realize what is going on.
Awesome, but Impractical: The anthropological team purchased a set of the latest Unicomms before setting out on their expedition... but did not first check that they would work properly with Sphinx's data network. They end up entirely unable to call for help.
Badass Adorable: The Treecats as a whole, as well as the primary heroine of the book.
Bavarian Firedrill: Stephanie needs to extract Toby from a bad situation without picking a fight or risking humiliating him. So she runs into the middle of the group of bullies troubling him excitedly babbling about passing her driving test before grabbing Toby and dragging him off to go for a drive.
Both Stephanie and the Treecats are far more dangerous than they look. The Hexapuma was at least Genre Savvy enough to make sure Climbs Quickly was alone before pressing its attack, but assumed (wrongly) that Stephanie was harmless, nearly losing a leg for the misjudgement.
This trope is also why some folks have a hard time buying Stephanie's story about wounding the Hexapuma or the 'cats coming to her rescue, the assumption being that a kid like Stephanie or anything as small and fluffy as the Treecats should not be able to threaten something as big as a Hexapuma. Particularly given that what was left of the 'puma could only be identified as such using forensic methods.
Bio-Augmentation: Stephanie is what is known as a "Genie", a genetically enhanced human. In her case, she is stronger than she looks, with a much faster metabolism, and is able to move about freely in Sphinx's higher gravity without the aid of Anti-grav devices.
A Bloody Mess: Stephanie is mortified when she mistakenly falls for this trope in her forensics class. Karl points out that everybody in the class, himself included, were most likely fooled as well, she just happened to be the one the professor called on to give an answer. The point of the lesson, as it turns out, was not jumping to conclusions. It's mentioned that all of the other evidence suggested it would be blood.
Bond Creature: Sphinxian Treecats, who can form empathic bonds with certain psychically gifted humans.
Brick Joke: Early in Treecat Wars, a Xeno-Anthropoloigst (arguing against human contamination of Treecat culture) poses a potential scenario where Treecats would become dependent on humans for sweaters. By the end of the book, they end up having to do exactly that for a treecat whose fur they had to trim to treat injuries he suffered, and mention is made of sharing the pattern used so that other humans can create similar sweaters for nearby Treecat clans as needed.
Cat Scare: Two Probationary Rangers flying an airtruck are nearly given a heart attack when a Treecat scout leaps from a tree branch to land on top of their vehicle. The 'cat, for his part, manages to act like he leaps onto flying vehicles all the time.
The first two books each have an example of the Treecats filling this role in the climax, in different ways. A Beautiful Friendship has several hundred Treecat hunters and scouts from the Blue Mountain Dancing Clan tearing Hexapuma apart in defense of Stephanie and Climbs Quickly, and Fire Season has the Damp Ground Clan fending off a Swamp Siren to protect another group of stranded humans.
Meanwhile, Stephanie and her friends, acting in the role of Probationary Forest Rangers, arrive just in time to help protect the Damp Ground Clan from a forest fire, and then to evacuate them to safety.
Averted in Fire Season with Stephanie's literal gun. The one opportunity she has to use it, she decides against it because she would be too likely to hit the people she's trying to protect.
And again in Treecat Wars. When Jessica and Nimble Fingers are attacked by Swimmer's Scourage, Anders quickly realizes that his opponent is entirely too small and fast for a gun to be of use, and instead goes hand-to-hand.
Played straight with the pulaskis that all of the Probationary Rangers carry. They're mentioned the first chapters of the book, and are employed during the climax.
Chekhov's Gunman: In Fire Season, Left-Striped and Right-Striped, the two Treecat scouts that Stephanie and Karl rescue early in the book, find Anders and company trapped in a bog near their old nest, and send for help.
Continuity Lockout: Generally averted, due to the Time Shift. Nothing going on in the Honor Harrington books that were published before this series have any real bearing on the plot, since they take place four centuries later, apart from some of the short stories about this era, one of which was expanded into the first book.
Death World: Sphinx. A very harsh planet with little tolerance for poor judgement or inexperience in the wilderness, even before you consider The Plague that wiped out most of the first wave of settlers. Higher gravity also means that most people have to wear anti-grav devices to move freely and that falls can be very dangerous. All that said, it is of course fairly safe in the cities where the wilderness isn't a concern.
Doomed by Canon: Readers familiar with the Honor Harrington universe know something that the characters of this series have not realized yet: Pre-prolong Humans have a much shorter lifespan than Treecats. Even as young as she is, Stephanie is likely to die well before Climbs Quickly, her bondmate, comes near the end of his natural lifespan. One of the short stories explicitly mentions that Climbs Quickly chose to die after Stephanie died of extreme old age.
Stephanie makes a habit of abusing any loopholes she can find in the wording of her parents' instructions to her, which tends to get her into trouble.
Climbs Quickly and his sister intentionally mislead their clan when they tell them that Climbs Quickly is injured and protecting an injured youth from a Hexapuma, not clarifying that it is a human youth and not a Treecat youth, knowing that they would be less likely to help the Two Leg.
Friendless Background: Stephanie, due in part to her family moving from the relatively metropolitan Meyerdahl to the frontier world of Sphinx. Her parents recognize that Stephanie's attitude and assumptions towards others is reinforcing this trope, and force her through various forms of mandatory socialization, ranging from starting a hang-gliding club to inviting several of her peers to a birthday party (this latter backfires somewhat: Stephanie's mom unwittingly invites Trudy Franchitti.)
Green-Eyed Monster: When Stephanie becomes twitterpated over Anders Whittaker in Fire Season, her best friend Karl is noticeably put out (at least, it's noticeable to everyone but Stephanie). Astute readers — which is to say, all of them — almost instantly get the hint that Karl rather wishes Stephanie was twitterpated over him.
Heavy Worlder: Stephanie. Her family has been genetically tweaked to give them denser bones and muscles, faster reflexes, and an increased metabolism. Thus, Stephanie only uses an anti-grav device while hang-gliding.
Heroic BSOD: Anders's father does not take the news that they are stranded in the wilderness very well, and ends up alternating between verbally abusing the others and defaulting to obsessing over his studies instead of helping out.
Hidden Depths: In the denouement of Fire Season, Stephanie learns that Trudy risked her life to save her pets from a major fire.
House Fire: Or rather, a Forest Fire. Given the fact that many of the trees on Sphinx are directly connected to each other, forest fires are a huge concern on Sphinx. Fire Season, of course, feature two such fires as plot-driving elements, along with several of the characters being trained and equipped for fighting fires.
Humans Through Alien Eyes: The Treecats don't know what the humans call themselves, and so give them the descriptive name of "Two Legs". Treecats call themselves "People", naturally. Treecats also have absolutely no understanding of the mind-blind two-legs' mouth noises, since they themselves rely entirely on their natural telepathy.
Kids Wilderness Epic: A Beautiful Friendship had shades of this in the original short story: Stephanie goes out in a hang glider to find Climbs Quickly, but crashes in a storm and is nearly killed except for the intervention of the Treecats.
Leeroy Jenkins: Stephanie has a bad habit of jumping into action before thinking the situation through. Karl does his best to keep her out of trouble, and much of the reason for her getting training as a Probationary Forest Ranger is to at least equip her with the knowledge to make better informed decisions.
Starting with Fire Season, Stephanie has become twitterpated over Anders, the son of an anthropologist leading an expedition to Sphinx. Meanwhile, she's confused by the way her buddy Karl is acting uncharacteristically gruff towards the newcomer.
Things get even more complicated in Treecat Wars when Stephanie leaves for a ranger course on Manticore and Anders falls in love with her best friend Jessica.
Meaningful Rename: After Karl talks to Stephanie about Sumiko, and unloads the unwarranted guilt he's been carrying in regards to her death for years, his Treecat name changes from "Shadowed Sunlight" to "Shining Sunlight".
Morton's Fork: Ranger Shelton reverses the trope at the end of Treecat Wars: Either the Treecats aren't sentient, in which case they're obliged to help a starving clan like they would any other distressed animals under their responsibility, or they are sapient beings, in which case the rangers are obligated to help like they would any of the humans on the planet.
One Degree of Separation: The main characters of quite a few of the Worlds Of Honor short stories from this time period are acquainted with each other. Justified due to the fact that Sphinx is a relatively lightly populated world, and many of the characters know each other specifically because they are bonded to Treecats and thus get together to try and see what they can learn about their new friends.
Panthera Awesome: Hexapumas are six-legged felinoid creatures that look a bit like oversized treecats, growing up to three meters and several hundred kilograms in size. They're decidedly less cuddly, though: hexapumas are vicious predators that will happily kill things for the heck of it.
Paranoia Fuel: Anders suspects that Treecats are telepathic, and wonders if they might be able to read human thoughts. Considering the thoughts that a teenage boy tends to have, he finds himself terribly concerned at how protective Lionheart might be when Anders is around Stephanie.
Protected by a Child: Climbs Quickly is badly injured defending Stephanie from a Hexapuma. Stephanie in turn fights to protect Climbs Quickly, and is almost killed except for the timely intervention of Climbs Quickly's clan.
Quicksand Sucks: The anthropological team in Fire Season land on what appears to be a clearing, but soon realize it is a bog. The vehicle sinks, along with a team member who was tryign to rescue their equipment (he survives, but spends the rest of the book in a coma).
Ranger: Stephanie is a Probationary Ranger with the Sphinx Forestry Service. A role largely created to try and keep her out of trouble.
The Reveal: In Treecat Wars, the fact that Swimmer's Scourage has gone mad enough to kill his own kin.
The Rival: Trudy Franchitti, who takes every opportunity to remind Stephanie that the Franchittis are first generation settlers on Sphinx while the Harringtons are merely Yeoman settlers who received a stake of land simply because they had skills that the planet desperately needed (Stephanie's father is a veterinarian, her mother a botanist.)
Scout Out: The Probationary Rangers are something between this and Space Cadets, a group of youths trained in wilderness skills and used to augment the ranks of the over-stretched Sphinx Forestry service. Stephanie is the first such Probationary Ranger, though by Fire Season there are several others who have joined the ranks.
Settling the Frontier: The Manticore system has only been recently settled, and many of the original settlers died off due to a rampant disease that took very well to human biology. The Harringtons are part of a later wave of settlers, offered plots of land in return for desperately needed skills they possess. Stephanie is somewhat put off that she had to be uprooted from her social life at their previous home on Meyerdahl.
Small Girl, Big Gun: Stephanie gets training in the use of an 11-millimeter gun that's basically almost as big as she is (she's physically capable of wielding it because she's a Heavy Worlder). It's completely justified by the presence of hexapumas on Sphinx — Steph manages to kill one with her outsized gun, but it still takes three shots before it goes down. And that one was a juvenile.
Start X to Stop X: The Forest Rangers use blowtorches, along with their pulaskis, to create fire breaks and protect certain areas from forest fires. Stephanie and her friends employ this tactic in defense of a Treecat colony. It doesn't work, and one of Stephanie's friends is injured saving a treecat from a falling tree. The Treecats end up abandoning the colony, being evacuated by the aircars Stephanie and company were traveling in.
Stay in the Kitchen: Reversed. Jessica decides that she is going to become a doctor. Her boyfriend Anders suggests that he could learn how to be a receptionist so he can help her.
Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: At the end of Treecat Wars, Ranger Shelton decides that it would simplify things if, rather than officially helping the Landless Clan, they instead distract the xeno-anthropologists taking them on a tour elsewhere, while Stephanie and her friends all happen to have the day off to do as they please.
Suicidal Overconfidence: Stephanie is at that stage in her life where her ambitions and confidence far outreach her actual level of experience and judgement, which nearly gets her killed in A Beautiful Friendship.