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These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
The destruction of the starships Sovereignty of the People and Equality by State Sec during the coup that put Saint-Just in power.
Also, just about anything to do with politics. The good guys' political opponents tend to be horribly stupid and foolish, except for those who are actively evil. Socialism and the decay of the educational system are things that make a Republic into a People's Republic, and helpful military actions are always stymied by people railing against "imperialist adventures".
And then there is the Solarian League: "But the Constitution was what accepted practice made it, not some dead-letter document which hadn’t functioned properly in over six hundred T-years!" from A Rising Thunder. The parallel with the US and the 'living Constitution' argument is unmistakable.
Shadow of Freedom gives us the fact that a repressive government's first action was to abolish the Right to Bear Arms.
Perhaps as a response to people who see the People's Republic of Haven as a criticism of the welfare state, House of Steel mentions that several other star nations created their own versions of the Basic Living Standard, but they actually managed to make it work, providing everyone with a reasonable standard of living without trashing their economies... until they got conquered by the PRH. Weber specifically noted that the PRH welfare system was a deliberate illustration of what happens when the welfare state goes wrong.
Internal Deconstruction: Echoes of Honor climaxes with Honor's ragtag fleet of prisoners managing to completely surprise and destroy the Havenite task group coming to recapture and/or kill them. They don't even get a single missile off.
Honor spends most of the next book, Ashes of Victory, as an instructor at the Naval academy. When she makes a point about how complete surprise is more or less impossible, a student cites the previous point. In response, she makes several counterpoints. Primarily that she had several unusual advantages. Most importantly, her plan was completely insane. Which made it unpredictable.
And then, Honor asks her best friend, Michelle Henke, to list some of the many, many ways the plan could've gone wrong. Henke shreds Honor's battle plan like tissue paper, notes that she could go on, and then says the following:
Henke: All things considered, Her Grace's plan may not have been the single rashest, most foolhardy, do-or-die, all-or-nothing throw of the dice in the history of the Royal Manticoran —- or Grayson -— Navy. If it wasn't, however, I have so far failed to find the plan that was.
Honor then proceeds to point out that a conventional battle plan would've resulted in a loss (due to not really having proper crews), and if she had failed, her entire force would've lost anywaynote And if they had stayed on the planet, the narrative implied, they would've likely either been recaptured or killed — or both.. She also says that if any of the students try anything like that in class, she'd say things that make Henke's criticisms look nice.
Later in the book, a Manty commander and his subordinate note that the enemy force is approaching them in a cautious manner. The subordinate quips that they may be trying to avoid any tricks like Lady Harrington tried. The commander asks why on Earth the Peeps would think he'd gone insane.
Awesome Music: In-universe example. Later on, Havenite units start using music in place of standard shipboard alarms for things like General Quarters or Battle Stations. One ship uses "Ride of the Valkyries" for the Battle Stations alarm. In context, it is awesome.
A frequent accusation leveled at Honor, occasionally even in the books themselves, depending on how you interpret the lines in question. She even seems to have a 'specialness field', so to speak, which makes people who respect her tend to be more important to the plot and world. Pavel Young and William Fitzclarence ruminated about it at length, but Oscar Saint-Just sums it up best near the beginning of Ashes of Victory:
She's just happened to be in the right places—or the wrong ones, I suppose, from our perspective—for the last, oh, ten years or so. That's the official consensus from my analysts, at least. The other theory, which seems to have been gaining a broader following of late, is that she's in league with the Devil.
Samantha. Yes, a treecat Canon Sue. 'Cats that have the ability/need to bond with humans are rare, and female ones are even rarer. 'Cats capable of becoming memory-singers are rare. 'Cats capable of innovative thought are rare. Samantha is all three. On top of that, she's one of the only bonded female cats ever to leave Sphinx, she's part of the only human-bonded, mated pair in history, and she's one of the few 'cats to survive losing a partner and forge a second bond. Oh, and she's the leader of the movement to get treecats to start their diaspora, she's right at the heart of treecats learning to speak with humans, and her children may be part of a new generation of human-acclimated, innovative 'cats. If she weren't a side-character, she'd be a perfect shoe-in. Oh wait, she in fact is the main character of the short story, Changer of Worlds.
Cargo Ship: Well, not quite cargo, but there is a certain subset of fans that subscribe to the idea that Thomas Theisman's one true love will always be the Republic of Haven.
Complete Monster: Most of Honor Harrington's enemies have been fairly complex adversaries with understandable or even altruistic goals. Not so in the case of Andre Warnecke, former dictator of the Chalice Cluster. Taking control of the Cluster during a revolution, Warnecke promised reform, but delivered oppression so severe that three million people died. After being run out of the system, he turned to piracy, robbing and stealing from merchant ships in order to finance a return to Chalice. Coming upon the pacifistic world of Sidemore, Warnecke took power, executed all senior officials, and placed nuclear warheads in all major cities in order to ensure the population's loyalty. When Honor and the HMAMC Wayfarer arrived on Sidemore to bring him to justice, Warnecke detonated one of his nukes to show that he wasn't bluffing, then offered to exchange the lives of Sidemore's urban population for his own personal safety.
Continuity Lockout: The eleventh book, At All Costs, marks the point where David Weber officially started assuming you've read all the spinoffs: events from both the Zilwicki/Cachat novels and the first of the new Saganami Island gaiden books are integral to a full understanding of the plot, and yet are not Infodumped by the book itself, merely alluded to in passing. Thank the Intercessor for The Wiki Rule.
Early Installment Weirdness: On Basilisk Station has a bit of this. The extremely short-ranged Grav Lance that is one of the central plot elements of the book is gone from later installments, as weapon ranges extend from tens to hundreds of thousands to hundreds of millions of kilometers, and while Admiral Dame Sonja Hemphill remains quite enamored of her own genius in her later appearances, she is not (unlike in the first book) inclined to take out her frustrations over the failures of systems she developed on the officers trying to employ them in the field.
Ensemble Darkhorse: "Tac witch" Shannon Foraker for her plucky, geeky cheer even under a tyranny that distrusts its officers, for the "Oops!" CMOA, and for almost single-handedly being responsible for the Republic of Haven catching up to Manticore in their Arms Race. The prospect of her teaming up with (a thoroughly redeemed over the last dozen books, thank you) Admiral Sonja Hemphill was enough to have readers in literal Tears of Joy.
At the end of Flag In Exile, Weber's Author Note points out an uncomfortable parallel between the Oklahoma City bombings—which occurred after the manuscript had been finished—and the Mueller dome collapse. Readers after 2001 may notice a few parallels with 9/11 as well.
In Field of Dishonor, Queen Elizabeth's refusal to divert Honor from challenging Pavel Young, Earl of North Hollow, to a duel takes on a stronger tone after reading the story "Queen's Gambit", in the Worlds of Honor anthology. Elizabeth was herself prevented from seeking justice for the assassination of her father by the People's Republic of Haven, prior to the outbreak of the war.
Rereading Honor of the Queen after At All Costs, many of the idiotic and ridiculous maneuvers ordered by Masadan officers look less "idiotic" than "premature":
The idea of using hyper-capable warships to carry LACs with their tractor beams is seen as an ingenious solution to a nonexistent problem ... but it presages both tractored missile pods and LAC-carriers.
One officer is criticised for relying on weight of fire to try and overwhelm Honor's defences, which is odd when later books are so much about Manticoran Missile Massacre. (Although, in Theisman's defense, he'd previously demonstrated the proper way to increase weight of fire when his destroyer effectively fired a double-broadside by spinning his ship and delaying the ignition of the drives of his first broadside — thereby anticipating both the off-bore launchers and the stacked salvos of later books.)
Simonds' decision to use his battlecruiser in a missile duel against Harrington's heavy cruiser and destroyer instead of closing to energy range flies in the face of all received wisdom about heavier ships fighting lighter ones ... because prior to the development of podlaying ships, missiles couldn't be stacked heavily enough to make them more effective than energy weapons.
Although this puts the fumble-fingered Masadans on the other side of the equation, the Hail-Mary salvos Hamish Alexander fires from beyond the range of their drives at the end of the book end up being unexpectedly effective, as their lack of drives means that their target can't detect them ... much like an Apollo missile with a long ballistic stage in its trajectory.
In The Short Victorious War, the idea of battlecruisers trumping ships of the wall is dismissed as impossible. Several books later, Manticore does just that against the Sollies.
Crown of Slaves, Berry Zilwicki claims that the only two things she would be good at are being a housewife or a queen. Guess what.
Ho Yay: Although Scotty Tremaine and Horace Harkness are "officially" Heterosexual Life-Partners, there is the rare ... hint ... of something more. Like in In Enemy Hands, when they were captured and Tremaine had thought Harkness had turned traitor, but then discovered it was only a ruse so Harkness could gain the Peeps' trust and engineer an escape:
Aside from five of the noncoms, [Harkness] was junior to every one of them, but he had their undivided attention. Especially that of Scotty Tremaine, who couldn't seem to take his glowing eyes off him.
The Graysons also have some accidental fun with the decision to describe their religious establishment as "Father Church." It fits with their patriarchal society, but the reason us Old-Earth Christians call our faith "Mother Church" is because it is described in Ephesians as "the bride of Christ" and is married to Jesus. Who would've thought the Grayson church Had Two Daddies!
Idiot Ball: Steadholder Mueller is a pretty canny operator in Flag in Exile who, while an opponent of both Honor and Protector Benjamin, emerges from the events of that book with his hands apparently clean. By Ashes of Victory he expresses no doubts when a group he's never heard of suddenly offers him a sack of cash. Did it not occur to him that they might have ulterior motives? Spoiler: They do. (He also has a spy on his staff, but that's more reasonable as that's what undercover agents are trained to do). The plot even notes that until the penny is dropped - hard - he thinks he's controlling them.
I Knew It: The end of Mission of Honor features Haven and Manticore allying against Manpower and the Solarian League.
A character in Basilisk is given a full three pages of backstory before being "killed" while trying to escape. Anyone with any Genre Savvy at all doubtless figured out it wasn't him. He is shown later escaping Basilisk thanks to his use of the craft that everyone thought he was in as a decoy. He shows up again in Field of Dishonor, and is hired by Pavel Young to kill Paul Tankersley and Honor in duels. Succeeds at the first, but the second... not so much.
Despite the author's insistence that Anyone Can Die, there is a distinct pattern of Plot Armor around Honor and her family. Yes, nearly the entire Harrington clan is wiped out in Oyster Bay, but miraculously almost all the ones we've actually met onscreen escape with their lives.
There's a similar tendency for crew members with a lot of Character Development to survive at the least the book they're introduced in. There was no way that, say, a young techie who takes a level in ass-kicking and puts the ship's bullies in their place is going to buy the farm in the inevitable Honor Death Ride at the end of Honor Among Enemies, for example. After their introductory book, however, they're as fair game as anyone else.
Honor considers Thomas Theisman to be one and Theisman seems to return the favor. Then there is Victor Cachat who proves to be a heavy weight contender for the title with his actions in Crown of Slaves.
While above examples are just contenders, Oscar Saint-Just and Albrecht Detweiler are the ones. With emphasis on the "bastard" part.
Mary Tzu: Agree or disagree, there are certainly those who see Honor as a text book example.
The Masadans, who prior to that point had just been fairly generic religiously oriented bad guys, crossed the MEH with what they did to the crew of the HMS Madrigal.
Burdette's faction of Steadholders crosses it when they sabotage a dome over a middle school.
Andrew Warnecke casually nukes a city on a planet he's holding hostage just to show he's serious.
Francisca Yucel, who arrives in orbit over Mobius and proceeds to destroy multiple cities with orbital kinetic strikes, causing civilian deaths in the millions, in order to put down a popular revolt against the Solarian-backed government. Aivars Terekhov destroys her entire headquarters with an orbital strike when he sees what she's done.
The Solarian League's "Operation Raging Justice," an all out attack on Manticore in the wake of the Yawata Strike, becomes this in-story for characters. For Manticore, it's the point at which they stop pussyfooting around the League. While they still make every effort to end the conflict without bloodshed, they also plan to force Admiral Filareta to surrender if he goes through with the attack, rather than simply let him leave as has been attempted prior. Also for Beowulf, it and Admiral Tsang's actions are the final proof that the Solarian League doesn't care about its own Constitutional law.
Cordelia Ransom's plot to Loophole Abuse the Deneb Accords so she can have Honor killed. A scummy move from every angle, it results in no fewer than fourHeel Face Turns among the Havenite characters, who do things like actively participate in Honor's escape (Warner Caslet, hide the fact she survived her escape attempt (Tourville and Foraker), and spur the fourth into action that would eventually topple the Committee for Public Safety (Theisman).
Although they had arguably long since left the horizon in their rear-view, The Mesan Alignment definitely crosses a whole new one when they launch a terror bombing campaign against the citizens of Mesa as part of a False Flag Operation, incurring civilian casualties in the tens of thousands... all so they can fake the deaths of their conspirators and smuggle them away elsewhere.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When High Ridge forms a gov't from disparate Opposition parties, Queen Elizabeth predicts that they'll fall apart in months due to conflicting beliefs. They don't. Because they're terrified of what she'll do to them, politically, if they do.
Nightmare Fuel: the "Rat Poison" nanomachines. You can be programmed to kill yourself. You can be programmed to kill others. You can be programmed to press a button that starts a war. You will be programmed to do these things in ways that guarantee lethal reprisals, conveniently removing you from the equation. And you are conscious of your body doing it and unable to prevent it.
Protection from Editors: Mission from Honor and A Rising Thunder have firmly moved the series from its Horatio Hornblower focus on single deployments with a traditional narrative arc (setup, rising conflict, climax, aftermath) to an unwieldy "record of an ongoing period of time" format that embodies this trope. For example, if A Rising Thunder didn't have P v. E, it might not have taken a third of the book to reach the main cast, nor would the first three chapters have focused on one-shot Lower Deck Episodes that basically came down to "Operation Lacoön upsets Solarians and Manticoran shipping companies."
It started in War Of Honor, which revolves around the political tensions between the Pritchart administration, who want to end the First Havenite-Manticoran War, and the High Ridge government, who want to prolong it to remain in power. This dialogue, despite having been easily described in one sentence and a Pot Hole, takes forty-nine chapters to resolve.
Squick: One frequently overlooked effect of prolonged therapy is that it extends all stages of human development. Which, basically, means that legal adults still look like a bunch of middle school kids. It's specifically noted in War of Honor that one minor character, Anita Eisenberg, age twenty-eight, looks like she's about twelve (which incidentally makes the effects more pronounced than the prolong used in the usually-more-advanced Manticore; by comparison, Ragnhild Pavletic, age twenty-one and a recipient of third-generation prolong at a much earlier age than usual, looks thirteen)... and then Crown of Slaves goes and makes it clear that most people are sexually active by age sixteen. Furiously lampshaded in The Shadow of Saganami, where the people from backwater planets (where prolong hasn't been available yet) were acutely disturbed by this, and was noted in The Honor of the Queen (the second book, and first where prolong was brought up) when the Grayson characters first meet the Manticorans. This was later Retconned when it's mentioned that a part of prolong is receiving treatments in childhood that accelerate aging so that until adolescence is over, chronological and physical ages roughly match.
Admiral Sonja Hemphill is the leading advocate of the jeune école school, which advocated using small ships with revolutionary new and powerful weapons in semi-sacrificial raids against much larger ships. At first, Honor is horrified by the callousness of the idea when applied to light cruisers. Later, when the same concept is revitalized by LAC carriers, it's painted in an entirely positive light. (To be fair, the ratio of losses was much better there, and the new LACs are designed to be able to close with enemies, whereas a light cruiser has about a snowball's chance of getting into "knife range" of its intended targets.)
In general, the jeune école believed that new weapons could produce wholly new tactics and revolutionize war. However, her faction had a tendency to shoot itself in the foot by embracing anything just because it was new (and because its leader had all the social skills of a particularlyexcited terrier). Once reined in a little, they proved absolutely right and turned centuries of military doctrine completely on its head.
Captain Oversteegen assigns Abigail Hearns to talk with a group of Space Amish, ostensibly because she could relate with them best, being born something of a Space Amish herself. She takes offense at this, until the ship's XO asks her if she knows of anyone else who might be better qualified to meet with them. She doesn't.
Mesa, who, as Weber went on record to point out, is actually right about the right and useful nature of transhumanism ideas (not genetic slavery, though). They're just being dicks about it — and that's where slavery comes in.
Theme Pairing: Pretty much the entire basis for Sonja Hemphill/Shannon Foraker. Lesbian technological geek geniuses? The idea was inevitable.
Mesan Alignment's Long-Range Planning Board. Not only have those guys deviated significantly from their founder's original vision (their current modus operandi surprisingly resembles the one of one Gilbert Durandal), but the whole snafu in Torch of Freedom was created exclusively by their actions. If they hadn't insisted on culling Herlander Simões' autistic daughter as a failed experiment, the guy in question wouldn't have had the nervous breakdown that brought Jack McBryde into the picture and made him his friend. And it all went downhill from there. Isabel Bardasano, of all people, described their actions in almost the same language, when she discussed that problem with Jack. In the end, their insistence on "proper procedure" has led to the complete unraveling of the Alignment's "onion" and gave the Manties and Havenites the smoking gun they've needed. Together with several more critical secrets, like the streak drive and the man who friggin' made it. The outcome is debatable, and may even be a case of Doomed by Canon, as those critical secrets are being revealed too late to do anyone any good due to a Phlebotinum Breakdown keeping Herlander Simões from getting anywhere useful to prevent Oyster Bay, aka Pearl Harbor IN SPACE.
Pavel Young, Eleventh Earl of North Hollow, who was so stupid and petty that he sent everything his Affably Evilancestors worked for centuries on down the drain in his feud with the main character.
Cordelia Ransom, chief propagandist for the Rob S. Pierre regime. When she learned that Harrington had been captured, she decided to rush to the scene to indulge her sadistic streak, triggering no less than four major Heel Face Turns among her notional comrades:
Warner Caslet aided and abetted Honor's crew breaking her out of the supermax brig on Ransom's State Sec ship. Blowing Ransom and her entire ship to kingdom come in the process.
Lester Tourville (see his entry on the characters page) erased the evidence that Honor and company had survived and succeeded in their escape attempt. (Just to add to the mix, Tourville and his people were next in line on Ransom's "Make Them Suffer" list.)
The Woobie: Admiral Allen Higgins. The first time he appears, he's forced to nuke the incredibly important naval base of Grendelsbane (so it won't fall into enemy hands) and order an immediate withdrawal when he encounters overwhelming Havenite forces. In his second appearance, it gets worse; he's the commanding officer of Manticore's Home Fleet during Operation Oyster Bay, where he is once again forced to stand by and watch helplessly as virtually all of Manticore's military infrastructure is destroyed in minutes. The general fan consensus is that Allen Higgins needs a goddamn hug like nobody else in the Honorverse.