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  • Sabotage to Discredit:
    • A tactic employed by the opponents of the LAC carrier concept in Echoes of Honor, by adding to handicaps against the LAC team's testing against more traditional warship doctrine to the point of pretty much making it Unwinnable by Design for LACs. A surprise Havenite attack in the star system used for the tests gives them a chance to demonstrate their worth under real combat conditions — and demonstrate it they most certainly do.
    • Much of the plot of Flag in Exile centers around Grayson reactionaries attempting this against Honor, including the sabotage of a school building project that led to many deaths of young children.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Was a character introduced that actually did have some screen time with the titular character? Well, the odds are about 50/50 that they won't make it to the next book, and about the same that they'll get killed off somewhere later. Not just Anyone Can Die, since in several cases these characters (who often die spectacularly) are given no further mention.
  • Samurai: Grayson based a large part of their pre-technological culture on the Samurai and Japan in general, with the twist that their tradition is based on dimly-remembered cultural recollections of Akira Kurosawa samurai movies which had themselves been lost to time. Ultimately, they bore about as much resemblance to real historical samurai as Xena: Warrior Princess does to ancient Greece. When Honor actually dug up said movies out of archives on other worlds, Abigail Hearns noted, modern Graysonites felt they were actually rather silly.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: Refreshingly averted.
    • Space is really HUGE in the Honorverse, and times and distances stay the same from one appearance to the next...well, MOSTLY averted. There was the Great Resizing, in which the Superdreadnoughts of the early books have smokelike densities. This is retconned later on, to give them the same masses but much shorter lengths which provide more realistic densities.
    • Also in the first novel, it gets pointed out that even after 600 years of development, three planets that are 1.2 times the size of Earth is a lot of space to grow for the Manticoran Empire.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • On a race-wide scale. Treecats have been exempt from the Navy's no-pets policy ever since one adopted the Crown Princess of Manticore, who proceeded to make her views on the subject exceedingly clear after she took the throne.
    • It also shows up with human characters, with decidedly less positive connotations, mainly because the reason said people are screwing the rules tend to be entirely self-serving.
    • Michael Oversteegen cheerfully admits that he plays the patronage game just as hard as he can on behalf of talented officers — and that he wouldn't be playing it quite so hard if other, less scrupulous people weren't playing the same game on behalf of officers who weren't nearly so good. He figures he owes it to the Royal Manticoran Navy to make sure those with talent get put in a place where they can use it.
    • Honor herself occasionally plays the patronage game — although being Honor its never for her own benefit, but for her subordinates'.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!:
    • The general attitude behind corrupt regimes like the High Ridge Government, Legislaturalists, and most recently the Five Mandarins of the Solarian League. Their common mistake is their tendency to overestimate just how much people are willing to follow their rules, believing they can game the system to their liking without consequences.
    • For a heroic example, when it is suggested that he will need to call a session of the Council of Steadholders in order to authorize sending the Grayson Space Navy into battle at the outbreak of the second Havenite-Manticoran War, Protector Benjamin points out that he is the Protector, and the Navy will go wherever the hell he says they will. The navy, of course, does exactly that.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • Saltash's Lieutenant Governor tells the Solarian Governor this when Dueñas' plans to provoke Manticore escalate from merely foolish to Too Dumb to Live.
    • In War Of Honor, Admiral Chakrabarti, the Only Sane Man of the Janacek Admiralty resigns his post (as First Space Lord, the senior uniformed officer of the entire navy) when it becomes obvious that his superiors are about to steer the Star Kingdom into disaster for short-term political gain.
  • Secret Police:
    • Havenite State Security. Also the Mental Hygiene Police and Internal Security, SS's predecessor services under the Legislaturists.
    • Many of the worlds in The Verge (the fringes of Solarian space) that are effectively enslaved to Solarian Mega Corps, have their own secret police forces used to suppress anything that might threaten the regime or their megacorp masters in the League proper.
  • Secret Relationship: Javier Giscard and Eloise Pritchart were in one. The price of their being found out would have been certain death. (They stayed in the relationship, but the reason they had to keep it secret... went away.)
  • Secret Weapon:
    • The grav lance in On Basilisk Station. It is devastatingly effective, but only at 1/4 (or less) the range of all other weaponry and assuming it doesn't malfunction all on its own. Also, Manticore's FTL communication technology.
    • In Ashes of Victory, there were three: Project Ghostrider as a whole and the compact fusion reactors developed under that program in particular, the podlaying superdreadnoughts, and the Shrike-class LACs.
    • Later, we get the Keyhole system and the FTL Apollo guidance system, which allow for an incredible expansion of the maximum range at which missiles can successfully engage their targets by giving near real-time targeting information updates far beyond what's practical with lightspeed limitations on more conventional communication systems.
    • And then there's the one Manricoran secret weapon everyone forgets about: the Sphinxian treecats. Their telempathic abilities make them excellent judges of character, able to sense deception, malice, or psychological tampering with unerring accuracy. Against an enemy whose main weapons are secrecy and subterfuge, they are the best defense one could wish for.
    • The Mesan Alignment has the spider drive, streak drive, and their mind-control nanites. The graser torpedo is an aversion: while it is technically a weapon which is secret, it's not especially important, and doesn't rely on any real breakthroughs save for the spider drive. Foraker and Hemphill could probably crank one out based on a Ghostrider drone over a long weekend.
  • Sequel Hook: Uncompromising Honor brought Honor's story to an end, but the Mesan Alignment is still out there - with Cachat and Zilwicki trying to track them down. There could be one more Wages of Sin book...
  • Serendipitous Survival: When the Manticore System is hit by the Oyster Bay attack in Mission of Honor, the space station Weyland suffers the least fatalities because its commanding officer scheduled a surprise evacuation drill that day. Sadly, the CO had been on the station overseeing the exercise and was killed when Weyland was destroyed.
  • Ship Tease:
    • A particularly cruel one in Shadow of Saganami. While about to board the Jessyk freighter Marianne, Ragnhild Pavletic (one of the viewpoint characters) notices that one of the Marines is rather attractive — and that his position in the ship's Marine contingent meant that he wasn't off-bounds under regulations. On top of it, boarding the ship would be the perfect opportunity to introduce him as a viewpoint character in his own right. Then the freighter's tactical officer panics and blows them both away for no good reason.
    • In a more traditional (and much less heartbreaking) example, Shadow of Victory seems to tease at a future relationship between Michelle Henke and Lester Tourville when the latter is sent off to reinforce her at Mesa with a good chunk of Haven's Second Fleet. While they've only just met by the end of the book, Michelle is mentally lamenting the complete dearth of anyone male with whom she can have a relationship that doesn't fall afoul of Article 119note ... just before Tourville, who is emphatically not even a member of the Royal Manticoran Navy, turns up to join her. Both also mentally note how eager they are to meet each other at last, and when they finally do, there's a definite undercurrent of flirtation both in their dialogue and in the narration surrounding it.
  • Shipper on Deck: In "Fanatic," Cachat makes Yuri Radamacher his assistant, thereby removing from the chain of command, partially because of Yuri's competence, but also, it's implied, so that Yuri would be able to go a date with his former second-in-command without violating regulations.
    • When Honor becomes romantically entangled with Paul Tankersley, pretty much everyone ships them. Even an Admiral who dislikes Honor on account of her fame, as he suddenly decides he needs to send Paul back to Manticore, and coincidentally Honor is about to do the same, so he decides to plant Paul on Honor's ship and sends them on their merry way.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Happens a lot in the later books as the scope of the story expands to show how War Is Hell or the sheer scope of conflict with the Solarian League and Mesa's plans within plans. You will be introduced to a character and given their backstory, only for them to die in the same chapter. Notably, the introductory chapter of Shadow of Freedom is this. The jacket of the book lays out the plot, and you are lead to believe the characters appearing there are going to be the focus of it, but they aren't.
  • Shoulder Teammate: An adopted (or more properly mind-bonded) treecat prefer to ride on the shoulders of their human companion. They started as borderline examples of the Parrot Pet Position, but their in-story development puts them clearly within this trope.
  • Shout-Out: See the Honor Harrington Shout Out page.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • There are references to the adventure series Preston of the Spaceways in several books.
    • In Mission of Honor one character is reading a book about a psychic detective named Garrett Randall by one Darcy Lord.
    • Torch of Freedom introduces The Adventures of Fung Ho, the longest-running TV series in history (except for soap operas). It was some sort of Baron Münchausen ripoff (IN SPACE!) and ran for 47 seasons, interrupted only by two strikes and a natural disaster.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Weber went to great length to figure out appropriate scales for vessels, distances, travel times, etc, with one notable exception (see the Great Resizing up in Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale), and he also goes at great length to give you every fact and figure, to the point of near incomprehensibility. Nobody in the series will ever say "about two minutes" when "one-hundred-nineteen seconds" is more accurate, and they use appropriate military procedure when doing so, too.
    • When the Treecats learn a variant of sign language, Weber will frequently thereafter describe the motions for each sign in detail as they speak, apparently to let you know he is not simply handwaving it. This leads to situations where half a page or more is dedicated to a 'cat saying something that would otherwise have taken up five words. (And due to the necessarily abbreviated and interpolatory nature of sign language, often the description involves signs for a few letters separated by other gestures, which are treated as Intelligible Unintelligible by the character they are speaking to. In fact, compared to the number of complete sign descriptions, passages in which treecat sign language is directly translated to English are pretty rare (prior to Mission of Honor, at least, after which he assumes that readers have got the point).
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • Michael Oversteegen gives an absolutely brilliant one to the Mesan Navy commander in Crown of Slaves.
      "At least, Sir, the uniform of the Queen of Manticore has never been sold t' the service of whoremasters, murderers, pedophiles, sadists, and perverts. I suppose, however, that those of you who choose t' serve in the navy of Mesa feel comfortable amid such company."
    • Aivars Terekhov gets a similar one in The Shadow of Saganami.
      "And honesty compels me to add that neither I nor any other Manticoran officer have conspired with genetic slavers, pirates, terrorists, and mass murderers to commit acts of war on the sovereign territories of at least two independent star nations. Your government has done precisely that. My responsibility to see to it that those unprovoked and murderous assaults end now overrides any responsibility I may have towards your personnel."
    • And Augustus Khumalo gives one to President Tyler of Monica in Storm from the Shadows.
      "Obviously, I am deeply distressed by the loss of life, both Monican and Manticoran. The destruction of so many ships, and so much damage to the public property of the Union, are also deeply distressing to me. And I must inform you that Captain Terekhov, by his own admission to me in his formal reports, acknowledges that his actions were completely unauthorized by any higher authority.... Unfortunately, Mr. President, while all of that is true, I am also of the opinion that what my Queen would even more strongly desire is for you and your government to explain to her why you have been directly assisting efforts to recruit, support, encourage, and arm terrorist organizations engaged in active campaigns of assassination, murder, and destruction against the citizens of other sovereign star nations who have requested membership in the Star Kingdom of Manticore."
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Crown Prince Roger and his girlfriend Rivka in Ashes of Victory, though they're not actually seen onscreen; Colonel Ellen Shemais, the Queen's chief bodyguard, describes them as "unbearable adolescent goo". By the time they do appear onscreen for their wedding in A Rising Thunder seven in-story years later, they've gotten over the worst of it.
  • Significant Monogram: Honor Harrington's initials are a Shout-Out to Horatio Hornblower.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Honor gets involved in a truly classic example in Flag In Exile, thanks to Grayson basing its close-combat doctrine on Seven Samurai. It's directly mentioned that, both in ancient Japan and on Grayson, any real battle between competent swordsmen would begin and end with a single strike. Technically, she used TWO strokes, but the second was just a decapitating Coup de Grâce, so it's there in spirit.
  • Sink the Lifeboats:
    • PRH propaganda claimed that Manticore would shoot up escape pods of destroyed PRN warships.
    • In the David Drake short story "A Grand Tour", the escape pods and shuttles of the crew of the Manticoran destroyer that was taken out by a Havenite cruiser were then shot up, the Havenites not wanting word to get out of their attack given that it happened before the start of the actual war.
    • The Deneb Accords specifically prohibit shooting at a crippled enemy ship, which is unable to defend itself. Such an act (when intentional) is considered to be a war crime. A Solarian admiral violates it when he orders the largely dead Manticoran flotilla that has just crippled his fleet with a surprise attack destroyed with a follow-up launch. To be sure, everyone knows it's an illegal order, but no one has the guts to refuse it. Later, when a subordinate asks for assistant in recovering the few remainins Manticoran escape pods, the admiral refuses and demands they be picked off with lasers as they get closer.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: The People's Republic of Haven might be corrupt, decadent, pseudo-democratic and expansionist, but they absolutely hate genetic slavery at least as much as Manticore does.
  • Slave Brand: The identification number keyed onto the tongues of genetic slaves. The Audubon Ballroom makes it their trademark to stick their tongues out to show these marks off whenever they kill slavers.
  • Sleazy Politician: Exemplified by the High Ridge government in War of Honor, but found throughout the series as a whole. Given the bureaucratic hell that is the Solarian League, they are rife in the parts of the series that have contact with the SL.
  • Sleeper Starship: For the first millennium or so of interstellar travel hyperspace wasn't particularly safe thanks to Grav Waves. So most colony ships were sub-light cryo ships.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Lester Tourville smokes cigars as part of his "cowboy" image. Modern medicine has rendered it harmless, but flicking ashes off his clothing and always having to sit under the air intakes is still a pain. He would like to quit, but he figures it would ruin his reputation... besides, he eventually realizes that he is become addicted.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Many politically-appointed higher-ups qualify, but Pavel Young is probably the most shining example.
    • Solarians in general, to the nth degree. "Neo-barb" (neo-barbarian) is a common slur used against anyone who isn't Solarian, and that's pretty much just the tip of the iceberg. Bonus points for thinking of themselves so highly while the reality couldn't be further from the truth.
    • The Mesan Alignment is this as well, and they're supremely full of the inevitablility of their take-over-the-galaxy plan.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Jeremy X, leader of the Audubon Ballroom. An escaped genetic slave, engineered to be a sort of court jester; now he is kind of the bastard love child of the Joker and the Punisher. He does Very Bad Things to Very Bad People, laughing and cracking wise all the while.
  • Space Amish:
    • The Grayson colonists tried to create a low-tech colony to obey their religion's tenets; their choice of a Death World forced them to compromise.
      • The fanatics from early Grayson who split off and got exiled to Masada felt that the mainstream Graysons weren't low-tech enough. Naturally, they built a space fleet and waged many decades of interstellar war with the Graysons over the issue. The hypocrisy inherent in such an action is lampshaded.
    • The planet Refuge, in the novella The Service of the Sword located in the anthology of the same name, which was founded by religious dissidents from Haven.
    • There is one mentioned in The Shadow of Saganami that once again had the misfortune to choose a Death World. While Grayson had a religious schism, the other colony went atheist — and rather cheerfully so.
  • Space Battle: Although not the only aspect of this series, it is a regularly featured one, although less so as time goes on given that the title's character has advanced in rank too far to go out and captain a warship.
  • Space Cadet Academy:
    • The Royal Manticoran Naval Academy, aka Saganami Island, where the officers of the Royal Manticoran Navy and some officers of associated navies in the Manticoran Alliance are trained, and where Honor herself was an instructor for a while.
    • Grayson, which sent its officers to Saganami Island while they brought the curriculum up to modern standards, has Isaiah Mackenzie Naval Academy, though as it's still much smaller than the rapidly-expanding GSN needs, most of their officers still attend Saganami Island.
    • Haven has one, though all we know about it is that Thomas Theisman had the second-worst drunken night of his life there while in his third year.
  • Space Cold War: Between Haven, which since before the start of the series has been conquering its neighbors to prop up its inflated, cancerous economy, and Manticore, their most temping (and most dangerous) target. Both sides spend decades building up their military and maneuvering themselves into better positions for when the cold war inevitably turns hot, including an attempted takeover of Manticore's Basilisk terminus on On Basilisk Station and a proxy war between Grayson and Masada in The Honor of the Queen.
  • Space Is an Ocean: One of the biggest (ab)users. The series treats all naval conflicts as if they were conducted with cannons blazing, and Weber designed the technological paradigm in the series to do just that. One notable exception is that ships are often maneuvering 'vertically' in relation to the local star system and are not locked into a strictly horizontal movement scheme. It is somewhat lampshaded in-story: many Manticoran Navy officers are fanatics of Joseph Conrad and other marinistic literature. Weber is also a naval historian, so certain inventions get large discussion on what is and is not a historical parallel. LACs are not fighters and CLACs are not carriers, LACs are torpedo boats, and CLACs have no straight parallel, but do share functions of both amphibious assault ships and Carriers. Apollo is Radar Gunnery, and David Weber admits he uses The Battle of Surigao Straits as a model for Apollo actions.
    • Warships even form "walls of battle" — a direct 3D extension of the "lines of battle" used in sea combat during the age of Wooden Ships and Iron Men — and large warships are even sometimes called "ships-of-the-wall", in parallel to the "ships-of-the-line" that formed the backbone of old-time navies. During combat, warships explicitly exchange broadsides (and their Deflector Shields are written to work in just such a way as to make this plausible.)
  • Space Marine: Given the spaceship focus of many of the combat scenes, most of the boarding parties are manned by Marines. In a subversion, Grayson's Marines are really just Army soldiers with secondary training in shipboard infantry combat, instead of a dedicated force all their own.
  • Space Mines: Much of the defenses of Hades are based on fields of space mines, with discussions by the former prisoners, after their mass jail break, about the limitations of the configuration.
  • Space Navy: The be all and end all of the series.
  • Space Pirates:
    • The Silesian Confederacy is rife with these. In Honor Among Enemies, their existence prompts the RMN to reinstate Honor Harrington for anti-piracy duty.
    • Part of a plan by the Mesan Alliance involves hiring on pirates to destabilize frontier regions, and others who weren't into piracy before but act in the role on the behalf of their employer.
  • Space Plane: Downplayed with naval pinnaces and their larger assault shuttle cousins. While they include beta-grade impeller bands and reaction thrusters for sublight space flight, because impeller wedges are disastrous to anything they intersect with (including the thicker parts of planetary atmosphere) they also include variable geometry airfoils and conventional (if advanced) air-breathing jet engines with wide-gimble vectored thrust that allows them to operate like a hypersonic airplane with Vertical Take-Off and Landing capability. The downplaying comes from the inclusion of counter-grav technology that allows them to pull maneuvers like low-speed and low-thrust hovering that a strictly conventional plane would be unable to do.
  • Space Western: The planet Montana. The original colonists even made sure to stock the planet with horses.
  • Spanner in the Works: Occurs quite frequently in various circumstances.
    • No less than three of them in the first book, On Basilisk Station!
      • The first, of course, is Honor Harrington herself. The Havenites' banked on the self-serving laziness of its commanding officers such as Pavel Young. Then Honor came around and actually started doing the job, and ultimately found herself in prime position to take out the Q-Ship the Peeps had been using.
      • Denver Summerdale—he was hired to help the Havenites against Manticore, and he was only too happy to do so. He has a MASSIVE grudge against the Navy and makes a raid literally blow up in the Marine's faces—which causes disaster for his Havenite employers.
      • The Medusans, who were given rifles that looked like they themselves made them as part of a plan to cause an uprising to push Manticore out of Medusa. Then they really started making them!.
    • In The Honor of the Queen, the coup attempt by Maccabeus (which would have murdered the Protector of Grayson and his family, using Honor as the Scapegoat) fails thanks to Nimitz, who realized the "security men" entering the room were actually assassins, and attacked them, giving Honor and the Protector's bodyguards enough of a warning to stop the murder attempt.
    • The start of the War with Haven kills Rob S. Pierre's son, leading to Rob S. Pierre allying with the fringe CRU groups and overthrowing the government and the Mesan Alpha Lines whose actions were critical for long term Mesan plans
    • In Enemy Hands features Lester Tourville & Shannon Foraker deleting evidence that Honor and her crew survived the escape attempt off of the Tepes, which wound up coming back to bite the Committee of Public Safety in a big way.
    • In Shadow of Saganami, the Hexepuma stumbles onto the Manpower plot at Monica solely because a bored officer on watch was scanning ships in the system and came across one they'd met previously using a different name. While they don't know the specifics, even those who crafted the plan acknowledge this was a complete freak coincidence.
    • The death of Arnold Giancola in At All Costs. Up until this moment, the Havenite government's investigation on the issue about the diplomatic correspondence was still open until they could find the evidence. This death, a completely genuine drunk driving accident, derailed the investigation as it took the most likely suspect away and did it in such a way nobody would believe it wasn't a case of Make It Look Like an Accident.
    • Herlander Simões' decision to defect away from the Mesan Alignment is a big one. Eloise Pritchart's response to finding out what the Mesan Alignment has really been up to, from Simões: Personally going to Manticore to propose a military alliance.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: While the wedges for warships larger than light cruisers tend to be too cumbersome for this tactic to be practical, a targeting drone used in a gunnery exercise in the novella The Service of the Sword used this tactic to frustrate the graser crews trying to hit it. It is also mentioned in A Rising Thunder that missiles on final approach spin and twist to minimize exposure to point-defense fire.
  • Spiritual Predecessor: David Drake's story "A Grand Tour" in the More Than Honor anthology could be mistaken for a Serial Numbers Filed Off version of his own RCN series, if one didn't know that the short story came first.
  • Spy Ship: It presented many variations on this:
    • Dedicated spy ships disguised as merchant vessels, sometimes trolling around for suspiciously long periods of time waiting for a cargo to arrive.
    • Actual merchant vessels collecting what information they could for their government, including merchant ships captained by reserve officers from their home navies). These ships would sometimes be fitted out with better communications equipment or engines to help them gather info and run it home, in addition to carrying out their actual freight-hauling business.
    • Fast Courier Boats, either operating in an official diplomatic capacity or simply under the employ of a merchant or journalist agency that would have legitimate need to send messages quickly.
    • Merchant ships trying to shadow a military force on the move is much rarer (as it is very difficult behavior to justify In-Universe). The one time it happens, the Havenite warship being tailed turns around and attacks their follower once it becomes clear there is no legitimate reason for them to be following them. Unfortunately for the destroyer crew, the merchant ship was actually a heavily armed privateer, and the ensuing battle is a short one in the Privateer's favor.
  • Starfish Aliens: The natives of Medusa have trilaterally symmetrical bodies (giving them three eyes, arms and legs each evenly distributed around the central body), their mouths are between the legs (medusans eat by first expelling digestive fluid over their food, then squatting down over it), they have a form of locomotion that is apparently rather disturbing for humans to watch (their "knee" joints swivel instead of bending) and they communicate using a combination of gestures, sounds and scent emissions. They are mentally close enough to humans that most concepts of their society translate easily enough into human terms, but their appearance is very alien indeed.
  • State Sec: The trope namer is the Peoples' Republic of Haven's internal security police, who by the time of the fall of the Committee for Public Safety have their own army and navy with which to police the military as well as the PRH's empire in general.
  • Standard Human Spaceship: The series' Minovsky Physics are specifically designed to justify why spaceships so resemble Earth's slender wet-navy ships when the original reasoning (the need to cut easily through water) does not exist. Specifically, a ship's axis of acceleration is the only one that cannot have gravitic shielding — either a gravity band or sidewall — so it makes sense to give that axis the smallest cross-section possible.
  • Standard Starship Scuffle: Many of the standard tropes about ship-to-ship space combat are used straight — and since the books aim to transfer as many aspects of sea warfare to space as possible, this is pretty much unavoidable. Some aspects are averted, however — ships battle across great distances, far outside visual range, for example. Still, they explicitly exchange broadsides, and even form "walls of battle" (a direct 3D extension of the "lines of battle" of old-time sea warfare).
  • Stealth in Space:
    • While a starship with its impeller drive active can be detected all the way across the solar system, a ship with its drives turned off ("lying doggo") can only be seen if an enemy bounces a radar beam off of it.note  ECM technology even allows a ship to remain undetected with its impellers running, provided they are at very low power.
    • At one point normal reaction thrusters are used as a stealthy alternative to the standard impeller wedges, and the plan succeeds in sneaking several warships to within a few hundred thousand kilometers of their targets. Lampshaded in the next book as being a desperate tactic that was lucky to have worked.
    • The Mesan Alignment Navy's new ships use an entirely new type of propulsion, referred to as the "Spider Drive," instead of the more traditional and easy-to-detect impeller wedge. This makes their ships nigh-undetectable by gravitic sensors - but in exchange of a lower velocity and worse inertial dampeners.
  • Stealth Pun: The inner circle of the Renaissance Factor conspiracy contains a few names that might seem familiar to a student of 20th-century cinema, like Hitchcock, Tarantino, Stone and Kubrick. It's a Board of Directors.
  • Stern Chase: Happens anytime one ship is trying to flee from another. The biggest one is the climactic battle from On Basilisk Station, where Harrington's Fearless must chase down the retreating Peep Q-ship Sirius as both fling missiles at each other.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Rob S. Pierre. If you recognize this name, a great deal of the Havenite side of the plot becomes highly predictable. Also, Admiral Tourville (except in his case the author did not even bother to cosmetically change the name), Admiral DuQuesne who came up with the plan of financing Havenite economy by conquest two centuries ago, and Oscar Saint-Just.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: In Field of Dishonor, Michael Janvier, Baron High Ridge, is described as being the complete embodiment of the overbred, effete, arrogant aristocratic clique that makes up much of the Star Kingdom of Manticore's nobility. Lord William Alexander, himself of noble birth, thinks that if he had been sent to a casting director to play the part of such an aristocrat, the casting director would send him back with a note about harmful stereotypes and typecasting.
  • Strategy Schmategy: The climactic battle in The Honor of the Queen between Honor's Fearless and the hijacked Peep Saladin should have been a Curb-Stomp Battle in the latter's favor, except that the Masadan crew have no idea how to handle such an advanced warship. Still, their ineptitude does confuse Honor enough that she makes one mistake — letting them break off to Read the Freaking Manual instead of pressing her advantage — with the result that both ships fight each other to (almost) mutual annihilation at their next encounter.
  • Straw Misogynist: The Masadans. They are a culture of Knight Templar religious fanatics, based on an extreme Judaizing Christian sect that has disowned the New Testament and uses only the Old, and have institutionalized polygamy and misogyny as their major characteristics. This rather predictably does not agree well at all with the feminist military policies of Manticore when they encounter each other, and leads to actual war crimes as well as resentment.
  • Strawman Political: Played straight, but not in the way that most readers seem to expect. Most of the "bad" politicians really are idiotic, self-centered bastards who should not be trusted to govern an after-school club, but they were never meant to be representative of real-world political ideologies in the first place, despite the fact that they share the names with real-word ideologies (i.e. "liberal" and "conservative"). The politicians are still primarily strawmen, but they are not strawmen for real-world politicians.
  • Stray Shots Strike Nothing: Particularly given how much energy is dedicated to anti-missile ECM, the various navies are quite conscious of the danger of misses striking the wrong target. The tactics in a number of battles are shaped by the need to be sure that a missile fired at a defending fleet doesn't accidentally hit a planet.
  • Subspace Ansible: Gravitic detectors can be used to receive faster-than-light messages, but only at relatively very short distances, through the generation of gravitic pulses in a precise sequence (It was originally described as a return to Morse-code style transmissions). These pulses, though not instantaneous (Their "speed" is given at 64c, or sixty-four times the speed of light) cause "ripples" along the edge of hyperspace that can be detected and decoded by ships who are familiar with the precise patterns used by the transmitting ship. Weber initially described FTL communication as a direct detection of the gravitic impulses, but when a now famous experiment showed quite convincingly that speed of gravity equals speed of light, he retconned it to the "ripple along hyperspace" idea.
  • Super Soldier: What the Scrags were originally supposed to be, although by the time of the novel's settings they have devolved into none too bright thugs. Thandi Palane and her wrecking crew are a much more traditional example of this trope. Mesa has been hinted to have combat line clones, though we have not seen them in action yet.
    • The key problem with the Scrags is that they took the fact that they were super soldiers too seriously. It eventually gets brutally pointed out that all this really means is that the average Scrag is physically superior to the average normal person. When going up against a baseline human whose physique and combat skills are above average...
    • Honor and her father are effectively this trope, but not by design: They were descended from colonists who received genetic enhancements to allow them to thrive on relatively high-gravity worlds. As a result, they are very strong and have very fast reflexes, in exchange for very high caloric requirements. For similar reasons, many Sphynxians and San Martinese characters fit this role as well.
  • Superweapon Surprise: This trope should have been averted, if not for the Solarian League's military complacency and general laziness, which keeps them ignorant of how radically the Haven-Manticore war has altered both the technology and doctrine of space warfare. When their ire eventually falls on those "uppity neobarbs" who refuse to worship the ground they walk on, they are so utterly outclassed that it takes at least three Curb-Stomp Battles for it to sink in that the "absurd" reports of Manticoran superweapons are anything but.
  • Supreme Chef: Honor has had no less than three of these in her household(s): Her steward James MacGuiness, her Grayson cook Mistress Thorne, and her father Alfred Harrington (who has a Friendly Rivalry with Mistress Thorne).
  • Sweet Home Alabama: In addition to their obvious link to Meiji-era Japan, Graysons also exhibit many of the more positive clichés and tropes of the southern US while largely averting the negative ones.
  • Synchronous Episodes: Starting with At All Costs, Shadow of Saganami, and Crown of Slaves, these main series books and spin-off sequels all run concurrently, with occasional scenes from the others pasted in verbatim to let readers know where in the timeline each book is.
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    T 
  • Take Our Word for It: Massimo Filareta is one of the first Solarian Admirals that we meet who seems to have a reputation as a solid commander with no blinding bigotries towards "Neo Barb" nations such as Manticore or Haven. That said, he is indicated to have a Dark Secret that leaves him in Mesa's pocket early on, and as time goes on, we get more and more details from the handful of characters in the know about him, culminating in the indication that he is into "sick games with little boys and girls".
  • Taking You with Me: Grayson armsmen believe it is their responsibility to take any attackers with them if killed in the line of duty. One book has a group outright cheering when they learn how many bodies surrounded an ambushed colleague.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Well, thinking in your head is. Characters will regularly break in the middle of a conversation to reflect on paragraphs or pages of inner monologue / Info Dump. Rarely does this get acknowledged as an actual pause in the conversation.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: Havenite beer, according to Honor, could be poured back into the horse and leave the universe a better place.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Sphinxian Treecats love celery, particularly the breed of it the colonists adapted for cultivation on Sphinx. Pretty much everyone who knows this makes a point to carry some celery in their pockets when meeting with people bonded to Treecats (usually Honor). In the novella A Beautiful Friendship (later expanded into the first novel of the Stephanie Harrington Young Adult series), First Contact between the two species happened because a human colonist caught a Treecat pilfering a greenhouse's collection of celery.
  • Technically a Smile:
    • During the Leveller coup on Haven, Esther McQueen breaks it to her subordinates that they will need to kill large swathes of the rioting population in order to stem the fighting, and her mask slips for the first time.
      McQueen's face showed expression for the first time in the meeting. The gesture that drew her lips back over her teeth was not in the least a smile.
    • The exact words are used to describe Honor's communication at the end of the Battle of Manticore.
      The expression she produced was technically a smile, but it was one that belonged on something out of deep, dark oceanic depths.
  • Technology Porn: Every starship description and hyperspace jump, ever.
  • Technophobia: The Church of Humanity Unchained started out this way. After landing on Grayson, the church split between the mainstream Graysons who saw technology as a tool (and an essential one if they wanted to survive) and the Faithful who still called for the destruction of the colony's technology.
  • Tempting Fate: Dame Estelle Matsuko is responsible for one of the worst cases in the entire series in Shadow of Saganami:
    "I'm glad there's not going to be any more spectacular bloodshed and explosions coming out of the Cluster." note 
  • Ten Paces and Turn: The only kind of legal duel in the Star Kingdom of Manticore. Two protocols exist: The Dreyfus Protocol, in which each duelist gets five rounds and has to pause between each shot to ask if satisfaction was attained; and the Ellington Protocol, in which each duelist gets ten rounds and can shoot as often as they like until their target falls or drops his weapon. In Field of Dishonor Pavel Young turns early and shoots Honor in the back, wounding her shoulder, whereupon Honor turns and kills him an instant before the Marshal can execute him for violating the protocols.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The members of the council that runs the Mesan Alignment all have last names like Polanski, Stone, Hitchcock, Kubrick, and Tarantino.
    • All of Manticore's system planets (and each of their first-gen CLACs) are named after mythological monsters. Their primary shipyards are named after various smithing gods. Their ship classes also largely owe names to Greek mythology; see the Nike- and Agamemnon-class battlecruisers, the Medusa-class podlayer superdreadnought...
    • Many planetary systems have themes: the Lovat system's planets Forge, Furnace, Anvil; the Spindle system's planet Flax and capital city Thimble; etc.
    • The SLN's Scientist-class superdreadnoughts are all named after famous scientists, and SLN Warrior-class destroyers are famous military leaders. The Maya Sector's new Marksman-class light cruisers and Masquerade-class missile freighters are types of ranged troops and types of theater or misdirection respectively. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The SLN (and renegades equipped with SLN ships) are apparently in love with this trope.
    • Every even numbered novel in the main series has the word 'Honor' in it in some context. Shadow of Freedom is not actually an exception — though it is marketed as a main-line novel, content wise it is part of the Shadow spinoffs.
  • Theme Song: In In Enemy Hands, the band greeting Honor's mother played the Harrington Steading Anthem. Since Honor founded the steading and was its living embodiment, this is only a short step away from an outright Honor Harrington theme song. (Weber never specified the melody or lyrics, leaving the fans to fill in the blanks for themselves — for all we know it could sound like this, or even this.)
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • 8th fleet (RMN) versus 5th fleet (RHN) with over 37,000 laser warheads versus 85 ships. That's after 30% of the missiles were taken out by point defenses, though the very fact that 30% were taken out by point defense shows that it was not in fact overkill.
    • See also the later stages of Operation Buttercup, where the engagements are stupendously tilted in Manticore's favor thanks to the fruits of their Ghost Rider program and having the only "podnoughts" (AKA Manticore Missile Massacre delivery system) at the time.
    • Discussed after the Yawata Strike; they figure that their unknown attacker cannot have a lot of ships, as the attack only involved the minimal amount of force necessary to do the job. If they had enough ships, they would have seen overkill to achieve redundancy.
  • Think Nothing of It: Honor refuses her first Parliamentary Medal of Valor for orchestrating the escape from Hell because the PMV is specifically issued for going above and beyond the call of duty, and as far as she was concerned, what she did was simply her job under the Navy's regulations and the laws of war. She can't get away with this excuse after her attempted Heroic Sacrifice, where she saved the Queen and the Protector from death by blocking a missile with her yacht; there was no way anyone would classify that as within the scope of her duties.
  • This Is Not a Drill: On Basilisk Station features "Case Zulu," which is a signal never used in drills. It means "Invasion Imminent."
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Cauldron of Ghosts has this invoked by several of the gangs in Mesa's capital of Mendel after a brutal government crackdown that includes murdering women and children in the streets. The result is a massively violent backlash by the surprisingly well-armed gangs.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Pirates do it all the time, and slavers have their ships designed to space their "cargo" in the event of boarding or mutiny in order to avoid being caught in the actual technical act of slaving. Because of this, Manticoran law specifies that any ship with the auto-spacing facilities is a slaving ship, even if no slaves are found aboard her (And consider the absence of slaves to be proof that they already spaced their cargo). The Havenites are described as being even tougher on pirates and slavers than the Manties are, and prescribe this as the summary sentence for any that they catch in the act. Mind you, they make a point of shooting the guilty party as a necessary mercy before dumping their bodies into space. Manties too, usually.
    Hearns: "... And be sure you tell [Major Pole] what will happen if any of our people are hurt along the way. I wouldn't want him to wonder why he's being kicked out an airlock without a skinsuit."
  • Thwarted Coup de Grâce: In The Honor of the Queen, at the end of the fight against the team of Maccabeus assassins, she goes down after being hit by the fringes of a sonic disruptor blast, but remains conscious just long enough to see her would-be killer shot down by Benjamin Mayhew.
  • Time Dilation: Ships can travel as fast as their particle shielding will allow; in the case of military ships, the top speed is 0.8c. At that speed, one second of "proper time" passes aboard ship for every one-and-two-thirds seconds that passes dirtside. This even affects ships traveling in hyper, since their "local space" velocity in any of the hyper bands still follows Newton's (and Einstein's) laws.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl:
    • Honor Harrington and her first lover, Paul Tankersley, with her being described as a full head taller than him.
    • Anton Zilwicki and Cathy Montaigne: Anton is short and stout, Cathy is tall and lanky, though their difference is not that much pronounced as some other examples.
    • Victor Cachat is of average height, but his girlfriend Thandi Palane is from Ndebele and is positively huge by any standard.
  • Token Good Team Mate: Deconstructed in Cauldron of Ghosts. The story briefly follows a squad of MISD goons during a crackdown in the Seccie districts of Mesa. The grunts are all eager to crack skulls and kill civilians, while their sergeant tries and fails to get them to stay in line and obey the letter of the law. Her commander is an idealistic Lieutenant who is trying to get everyone to live up to the ideals that he believes Mesan security forces should follow. After a massacre of women and children, the troops immediately turn on and murder their commanding officer to avoid him turning them in for punishment. The sergeant is left to keep her mouth shut lest she suffer a similar fate.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Pavel Young, much of whose monumental evilness stemmed of his equally monumental stupidity. As he's literally seen everyone around him as a cadboard cutouts, he simply cannot imagine anyone not driven by only the basest of desires, which not only made him even more detestable, but also blinded him towards many of his enemies' actions, which less one-dimensional thinkers could clearly foresee.
    • Surprisingly, Mesan Alignment, or at least its Long-Range Planning Board. Technically, though, they're not so much dumb, as they are too clever for their own good, and too enamoured with their self-image of the Chessmasters par excellence, but the result is largely the same.
    • The majority of the SLN's senior officer corps is the living embodiment of this trope. Not only are they willfully ignorant about "neobarbs" possibly having an advantage in technology and war-fighting experience, they are militantly ignorant — even after having the evidence rubbed in their faces. Most SLN officers who can read the writing on the wall have either had their careers marginalized for their "alarmism" or are keeping their traps shut to avoid the same fate.
    • Brigadier Francesca Yucel in Shadow of Freedom, while talking to a severely pissed-off hostile commodore in orbit above her, threatens to massacre thousands of civilians — after mentioning that the building she is in contains not only herself and her staff but also the entire political and military leadership of the planet, and no innocent people. She is promptly vaporized by a kinetic orbital strike, compliments of the aforementioned commodore and the Royal Manticoran Navy. Also counts as Hoist By Her Own Petard since part of the reason said commodore is so willing to blow her up is that she ordered megaton-range orbital kinetic strikes against civilian targets earlier.
    • In Mission of Honor, the techies of the research station Weyland not only ignore the alarm of an emergency drill, but turn it off so they can continue their discussion of their current problem. However, this led to much more stringent drills by the new station CO, which ended up saving all their lives later in the book.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • A major subplot in Honor Among Enemies is an electronics tech doing just this, with the assistance of Horace Harkness and the ships on-board Marines.
    • Carson Clinkscales never gets anything right, until the entire crew's life depends on the one person who can fit into a stolen uniform. Thereafter he becomes The Big Guy with the BFG.
    • The Graysons as a whole do this, going from being a minor backwater world of religious throwbacks to being one of the galaxy's major league heavy hitters (still religious throwbacks, but they won't hold it against you for not being as enlightened as they are).
  • Tractor Beam: Gravity control technology is used to help spacecraft maneuver during docking, and to tow missile pods behind a warship (at some cost to the ship's acceleration). It is too short-ranged to use as a weapon, however, and probably wouldn't interact with an object inside an impeller wedge anyway.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • In Flag In Exile, when Protector Benjamin Mayhew informs the conclave of Steadholders of an assassination attempt on Honor in which the Grayson Church's First Elder is collateral damage, "Benjamin hadn't even raised his voice."
    • Eloise Pritchart is notable for this. Unfortunately, this leads directly to Arnold Giancola drastically misinterpreting her level of rage and therefore provoking her into a resumption of hostilities between Manticore and Haven.
    • In the finale of Uncompromising Honor, Honor is leading a direct attack on the Sol system itself and, because she believes the Solarians' latest actions led directly to the death of Hamish among millions of others and did indirectly cause the death of Emily, Honor is in such a state of Tranquil Fury that every character that interacts with her during this period quickly realizes that she is only just holding back her desire to wipe out the enemy wholesale and the sole thing preventing her is that nobody has yet to give her a reason, an excuse, to do exactly that. Only discovering Hamish was still alive pulls her back from the brink, and that only happened because Hamish bee-lined his way to Honor because he knew exactly what state of mind she would be in.
  • Trope 2000: The Solarian League Navy has a program called "Fleet 2000"note , which is supposed to be a significant upgrade of combat capability. While there are improvements in the hardware, much of it is merely window dressing, modifying the outwardly visible aspects of the hardware like displays and such to be more photogenic. Unfortunately, this makes it harder for a commanding officer to see the tactical and astrogation displays.
  • Trope Overdosed: Are you starting to get the feeling the HH series contains examples of just about everything? You are not alone.
  • True Companions: Human-treecat bonds are invariably described as profoundly deep and meaningful, particularly to the treecats, who in most cases lose their will to live if they outlive their partner (which, tragically, was very common prior to the invention of prolong). In the later books, when treecats volunteer as bodyguards against Mesa's Trojan Horse assassins, they find their charges quite companionable even unbonded.
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: Since Manticore is based on 18th century Britain, people there tend to accumulate formidable arrays of fancy titles.
    • As of last count, the title character's full name is "Admiral of the Fleet and Captain HMS Unconquered Lady Dame Honor Stephanie Alexander-Harrington KGCRnote  SGnote  MCnote  PMVnote  CGMnote , Duchess and Steadholder Harrington, Countess White Haven". And that doesn't even include her Treecat name, Dances On Clouds. The list of medals and knightly orders after her name is probably longer than that by now, too.
    • Queen Elizabeth's full name is, quoted directly from Mission of Honor, "Elizabeth Adrienne Samantha Annette Winton, Grand Commander of the Order of King Roger, Grand Commander of the Order of Queen Elizabeth I, Grand Commander of the Order of the Golden Lion, Baroness of Crystal Pine, Baroness of White Sand, Countess of Tannerman, Countess of High Garnet, Grand Duchess of Basilisk, Princess Protector of the Realm, and, by God's grace and the will of Parliament, Queen Elizabeth III of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, and Empress Elizabeth I of the Star Empire of Manticore." It takes up a 13-line paragraph all by itself in the paperback.
  • Tuckerization: Examples abound throughout the series:
    • Heavily present in War of Honor, which has a number of character names suspiciously similar (or outright identical) to other fantasy/scifi authors, like Tim Zahn, Merlin Odom, and Governor Zelazney.
    • Joe Buckley, the Designated Victim of many Baen books, gives his name to half a dozen Solarian warships. (But only four were lost on active service.)
    • Several presidents of star nations secretly part of the Mesan Alignment and their families are named for 20th-century American movie directors.
  • 2-D Space: Averted tactically, but played straight strategically. Ship-to-ship battles often hinge on attacking from different planes, and the standard formation is the three-dimensional "wall of battle" (the 18th-century line-of-battle, extended). However, the overall map of the galaxy and strategic thrusts and counter-thrusts indicate that empires and other multi-system nations are flat rather than spherical.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: One of the books even has an appendix explaining the different calendars in use for some of the primary worlds at that time in the series. By far the most important is the translation from whatever local accounting is to t-time period for Earth time. It's used thoroughly enough to be distracting sometimes, yet the terminology will be stuck to even in emotional speeches or casual conversation.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: After the death of the Duke of Cromarty (a Reasonable Authority Figure) the High Ridge government comes to power. It was cowardly in the conflict with Haven, treated its allies badly and mismanaged its navy. The end of the Tyrant story arc comes with resignation of Lord High Ridge and the succession of the Grantville Government.

    U-V 
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • The second novel includes an assassination attempt on Honor, Protector Benjamin of Grayson, and a few other dignitaries that greatly underestimated Honor and Nimitz's ability in close quarters, the former dismissed as "just a woman" (Grayson society being rather misogynistic at that point) and the latter as "just a pet".
    • In the backstory, Pavel Young once tried to rape Honor, only to be surprised when her heavy-worlder physique and her martial training meant the encounter ended with him getting his arse kicked.
    • Besides all the individual underestimated badasses populating the novels (starting with Honor Harrington herself), the outcomes of not a few battles are radically affected by one side learning that the other's fleet hardware is a lot better than anticipated — starting in the very first book, when the Manticoran light cruiser Fearless goes toe-to-toe with a massive Havenite Q-ship. The Lensman Arms Race that follows results in a lot more such surprises from both sides.
    • Later books in the series have this for the Solarian League as a whole to both Haven and Manticore — everyone in a leadership position thinks all the tales they've hears about the Manty superweapons are just exaggerations. The Solarian Navy quickly finds itself completely outmatched in every single battle they have against Manticore ships, often humiliatingly so.
    • Unusually for the trope, Admiral Augustus Khumalo, station commander of the Talbott Quadrant, experienced this from his own Navy and associated government officials — they had considered him a by-the-book administrator lacking both imagination and experience until his handling of the Monica crisis established that he was tough-minded enough for any three officers and willing to back his subordinates to the hilt.
  • Underground City: So far, we've seen only Old Chicago up and close, but probably most of the surviving cities of the Old Earth are at least partly underground — what with them being in the forty first century, and the development of countergrav changing the architectural sensibilities. Much of the modern Chicago is (while still inhabited) deep underground, with the newer construction literally built over it — why demolish the old buildings when you still have to suspend your new skyscraper on the countergrav: you can build right over, as you don't need any foundation anyway.
  • Undying Loyalty: Andrew LaFollet's loyalty and devotion to Honor Harrington transcends every conceivable obstacle to such an extent that it is nearly superhuman.
  • The Unfettered: Victor Cachat will do nearly anything in the name of his nation, no matter how heinous or "dirty" it may be.
  • Ungovernable Galaxy: Downplayed with the Solarian League, whose problems with governance have less to do with physical distance and more to do with its gargantuan size and impotent legislature, which adopts the Polish Parliament approach to veto power. As a result, it has grown over the better part of a millennium into an enormous mass of entrenched bureaucratic organs that gradually expand its borders by absorbing frontier worlds through sheer economic weight. The lack of oversight leads to huge amounts of corruption and graft, though the League is so enormous and wealthy that people barely notice.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Albrecht Detweiler may be in charge of a centuries-long conspiracy to conquer the known universe, but there's really no denying that he and his wife Evelina are very happy together.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Common especially with combat planning.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: If a chapter opens with the good guys in the middle of a pitched battle that we didn't see the lead-up for, it's almost always one of these.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Then-Lieutenant Elvis Santino plays this role in the short story "Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington", set during Honor's Midshipwoman Cruise aboard War Maiden. While the ship is posing as a freighter to bait pirates, his stupidity allows an approaching unidentified contact to get a glimpse of what she really is. This later causes a brutal short-range battle between War Maiden and a Prism Separatist warship which believed it was facing a Silesian cruiser, simply because no Manty crew would have been dumb enough to expose themselves like that. A large number of War Maiden's crew and all of the separatists die, while Santino goes on to become a Rear Admiral (where his stupidity finally gets him and his entire command killed in Echoes of Honor).
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • Manticore and Haven do not know it for most of the series, but much what they've done has been playing right into the hands of the Mesan Alignment. The first thing they do when they find out is the last thing the Alignment wants; sign a military alliance. The Alignment craps its collective drawers, and the Grand Alliance, who now blames the Alignment for everyone who died in both wars, start making battle plans.
    • In the later books, the Unwitting Pawn role is placed firmly in the hands of the Solarian League and Mesa, as The Alignment prepares to abandon their old home and hide themselves amid the confusion they have wrought.
    • Josef Byng in Storm from the Shadows is an especially unwitting Solarian pawn. Every other Solarian flag officer is suspected, if not confirmed, to have been paid off by Mesa to do what they did. Byng never is. Everyone assumes (correctly) that Byng was simply put into a position where his anti-Manticore bigotry would do the rest.
  • Uriah Gambit:
    • Thomas Theisman suggests this as a way for Oscar Saint-Just to deal with politically suspect Admirals Giscard and Tourville. Either they manage to slow down the apparently unstoppable Manticoran fleet and save the People's Republic, or they die in battle and cease to be a problem. Interestingly, Theisman does this to help the admirals in question: The solution favored by Saint-Just would be to simply have them shot, and at least this approach gives them a small fighting chance.
    • Honor's political enemies in Honor Among Enemies pull one of these on her by sending her to the Silesian sector. They don't want her to gain any more fame—and some of them want her dead—but at the same time they don't have the resources to properly police the place and they're smart enough to realize Honor might be the only person who could get the place under control. So in sending her there, they figure she will either do so, or get herself killed trying, either one being considered a net gain. Honor realizes this, but accepts anyway, because whatever her superiors' motives, Silesia does need policing, and she is the one with the best chance of pulling it off with such limited resources.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The Mesan Alignment aims to better humanity through genetic modification — even if they have to kill a few billion to achieve their aims.
  • Vehicular Turnabout: Most space battles result in the complete destruction of enemy ships, however on several occasions, enemy ships are captured and then used against the enemy.
    • Earl White Haven gave Grayson ships he captured in The Short Victorious War, boosting the Grayson Space Navy while they built up shipyards for more capable designs.
    • The ships Honor captured at Hades for the mass Jail Break in In Enemy Hands were first turned against the Havenite force coming to recapture the system, and then later were made a group that answered only to the Protector of Grayson (called "The Protector's Own"), to avoid trouble with Grayson laws limiting the armed forces legally available to Steadholders (like Honor).
  • Victory by First Blood: Duels on Manticore have two protocols, one for "first blood" (although death is still possible) and one for "until one is dead or both are out of ammo".
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: The Solarian League Navy has spent literally centuries as the biggest, baddest navy out there. In their arrogance over that fact, they never developed much in the way of new technology themselves (so as not to change their own balance of power) and disregarded anything Manticore and Haven came up with as inherently inferior. They're learning the hard way just how far behind the curve they are now as every battle they've fought with Manticore has been a Curb-Stomp Battle in Manticore's favor. Unfortunately for them, the hole they're in just got a lot deeper — those two navies have since signed a military alliance.
  • Villain Has a Point: 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.
  • Virtual Training Simulation: Throughout the series, these are shown being used both at Saganami Island and by ships in space to train personnel, used at times as a Danger Room Cold Open. The gravity manipulation that's de rigeur for the series allows them to simulate things like losing gravity generation and the ship shaking when taking significant damage.

    W 
  • War Is Hell: Every single book hammers home the point that in war, people die, and not just the people that deserve to, either. The emotional toll this takes on those who survive is portrayed in excruciating detail. Suffice to say that the idea that war is glorious doesn't survive contact with the first book. People can do glorious things in war, but not without paying a heavy price, and usually the ultimate price. Weber notes that military fiction in which the only characters who die are the characters readers want to die isn't actually military fiction; it's military pornography.
  • The War to End All Wars: The Final War, a conflict that nearly destroyed the Earth (and would have, if it weren't for the colonies sending aid). It was begun by 'Scrags', genetically modified soldiers made by Eastern European scientists. We don't have many details beyond that, but as is typical, instead of being an actually final war it sowed the seeds for the next great conflict; it led to prejudice against genetic enhancement of almost any kind since then. That set the stage for the schism that led to the Mesans leaving Beowulf to start a hundreds of years long conspiracy to remake the whole galaxy by force.
  • The Watson: PRH Citizen Commissioners often play this role, usually in a more menacing way than usual.
  • Wave Motion Gun: Somewhat viciously subverted in the first book. The grav lance that Honor's ship is fitted with has all the hallmarks of the trope: It's huge, taking up most of the ship's mass, and has equally huge power-requirements. It's highly experimental, fresh on the bleeding edge of development. It's capable of ''shredding' the shields of even a super-dreadnought with a single hit. And it's got a badass name. Unfortunately, BECAUSE it's highly experimental, it's also highly unreliable, and has a criminally short range compared to other spaceborne weapons — under normal circumstances, a ship simply won't ever survive to close enough range to deploy the grav lance. On top of that, the space it takes up strips the ship of most of the weapons that actually WORK, leaving the whole thing firmly in the Awesome, but Impractical bucket for anything but Superdreadnaughts with the space and protection needed to employ the device. The fact that Honor manages to actually make it WORK a couple of times is entirely down to the fact that no enemy commander could even CONCEIVE of a ship being built around such a completely retarded loadout.
  • We Have Become Complacent: A realization occurring to a lieutenant and some low-ranking flag officers in the Solarian Navy around the time of Storm from the Shadows and Mission of Honor — because "everybody knows" not to mess with the Solarian Navy, and that the Solarian Navy's tech is "the best in the galaxy," they lost the incentive to improve — and now the Manties and Havenites, who have been engaged in a hot war for the last twenty years that has poured plenty of water and fertilizer onto their respective Tech Trees, have joined up and are about to kick their tails. These officers' superiors tend to consider this a Cassandra Truth, however.
  • We Have Reserves:
    • The People's Navy, and later the Republican Navy, manages to stave off defeat at the hands of the technologically-superior Manticoran Alliance by virtue of their vast territory and seemingly limitless supply of replacement ships and personnel.
    • The Solarian League has more superdreadnoughts in their navy than Manticore has destroyers; the idea of anybody challenging the League is considered preposterous due to just how superior their numbers are. Early on, immediately after Oyster Bay, the relative lack of production means that even though the RMN can blow away SL ships with near-impunity due to their comparatively advanced technology, they literally don't have enough ammo to take them all out. However, once Haven and Grayson join Manticore in a military alliance, their technology more than counter-balances those numbers, and the League suddenly has no viable combat strategy.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Through much of the main series' timeline, Manticore and Haven have either been bitter rivals or outright enemies. The Manticore Ascendant prequel series reveals that they used to be friendly trade partners, with Haven even being the primary producer of Manticore's warships. The main series eventually reveals that the Mesan Alignment had been working to drive the two nations apart for centuries to disrupt the balance of power. By the end of Mission of Honor, thanks to a very gutsy move from Haven's President, they're friends again.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future:
    • Averted with Manticore, whose unit of currency is the dollar. Other star nations have their own currency also named the dollar, as numerous characters specify that they are using Manticoran dollars when naming a price.
    • Grayson uses the austin, which has an exchange rate with the Manticoran dollar of 1:1.3. It was named after Austin Grayson, the founder of their religion and leader of planet colonization.
    • The trope is played straight with the Solarian League, and there exists the saying "credits for carrots" instead of "dollars for donuts".
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Mesa's primary "product line" is slaves for use as physical labor in all facets of personal life and industrial production. Apart from the moral abhorrence that Manticore and Beowulf feel for the use of slaves on general principles, they also find their use in manual labor to be inefficient and unnecessary. This is one of the first clues the protagonists have that Mesa is up to something larger than simple crime and money, as slavery just makes no sense on any functional level.
  • Welcomed to the Masquerade: At one point in Honor Harrington, President Pritchart discusses (and lampshades) this trope while talking about Mesan Deep Cover Agent families.
    Pritchart: "Oh, by the way. We're actually secret agents of the Mesan Alignment. Here's your secret decoder kit. Be ready to be contacted by the Galactic Evil Overlord on Frequency X with orders to betray the society you've been raised all your life to think of as your own."
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Rob Pierre and Oscar Saint-Just are legitimate (for a liberal interpretation of the word) examples.
    • This is, at least, how the Mesan Alignment thinks of itself. Weber holds that Mesa has a legitimate point on transhumanism, and are being actively discriminated against. However, their plans are a result of wanting to prove everyone else wrong by force.
  • Western Samurai: Grayson is a Cult Colony whose founders came from North America who attempted to abandon technology and learned sword fighting from Seven Samurai.
  • Wham Episode: Mission Of Honor. This book sees a dynamic shift in the relationship between all interacting nations. Manticore and Haven are allied against the Solarian League after learning of the truth behind the Mesan Alignment. The Alignment itself has launched a successful attack on Manticore and Grayson with Operation Oyster Bay, which killed over five million people (many of them civilians), crippled their industrial capacity and killed several long-term characters from the novels.
  • Wham Line: In Honor of the Queen, there is a scene where Alfredo Yu and the Havenite ambassador to Masada discuss how to salvage the current Havenite operation, which will entail deceiving the Masadans. Just when the scene seems to be coming to a close, you read "Elder Sands switched off the recorder." Turns out the scene has actually been the Masadan Council of Elders listening to a recording of the earlier conversation. The subsequent scene pretty much puts an end to the alliance between Haven and Masada.
  • What an Idiot!: The Manticoran, Havenite and Grayson government all point out that if the leadership of the Solarian League had any grasp of the tactical situation, or drew the logical conclusion from any of their military encounters, they would back off from their conflict with Manticore. The entire war, which will lead to millions of deaths, is all because the bureaucrats leading the League are too dumb to prevent it. invoked
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After dispatching Adm. Byng, Mike Henke seizes his remaining ships, and orders their crews to land on New Tuscany. The Manties and and Sollies aren't yet at war, so she can't take them prisoner. They're never mentioned in the next four books, which cover the next year.
    • The prologue to War of Honor has an Andermani ship encountering a freighter whose transponder is sending a code that means " I have been boarded and taken by pirates". The Andies move to intercept and... cut away. They never come back.
  • What You Are in the Dark:
    • When Honor is captured by StateSec in In Enemy Hands she is placed through psychological torture (with isolation, malnourishment, full-body searches and lack of sleep) that eventually does defeat her sense of duty to the Navy and Queen. However, she does not give up because she realizes that, even if she cannot rely on her external duty at this point, she has a duty to herself to resist StateSec, even if nobody outside her own cell ever learns of it.
    • Albrecht Detweiler is unknown to the galaxy at large, his enemies, and even most of his allies. His plans will not come to fruition until long after he is dead, at which point he will still be unknown as figureheads make all the public moves. However, despite the fact that he will never even be acknowledged as existing, he follows through on his plans because he believes they are the right thing to do. Too bad he is the villain.
  • White Sheep: The prominent families of the manticoran opposition (and the government during War of Honor) tend to be composed of somewhat unpleasant types, but even among them there's a few exceptions. Michael Oversteegen (relative of textbook Corrupt Politician Baron High Ridge) turns out to be an excellent and morally upstanding officer, and the Houseman family (a prominent Strawman Political clan in the Liberal party) has produced Frazier Houseman, a competent officer in Admiral Henke's fleet in Talbott. Interestingly, both look very much like the worst their respective families have to offer: Oversteegen looks like a younger High Ridge, and Frazier closely resembles his Smug Snake cousin Reginald.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: Admiral Byng from Storm from the Shadows says something to this effect, thinking that Mike Henke would not dare to go through with her warnings of punishing Sollie aggression, in part due to the Solarian League's "800 megaton gorilla" status. In Mission of Honor Admiral Crandall makes the same mistake, though she has slightly more room for arrogance because Admiral Henke was commanding a battlecruiser group against her superdreadnoughts, whereas Byng only had battlecruisers. Nevertheless, it does not end well for either Solarian.
  • Why Won't You Die?:
    • Asked inwardly about Honor's ship Fearless in the first book by a Havenite Q-ship commanding officer.
    • Honor herself in Flag in Exile after her shuttle is shot down, it explodes, an assassin shoots at her and she still doesn't die.
    • In Echoes Of Honor, multiple Peep and RMN commanders, who have seen Honor executed on the news, have to confront the fact that she's alive and talking to them.
  • Wine Is Classy:
    • William Alexander is a real connoisseur of the fine vintages and explicitly calls other drinks uncultured and low-class. Played with in that it is his older brother, Hamish, who holds the family title, and he doesn't drink anything except beer. Ham even hangs a lampshade over his brother's love of wine in one of their frequent after-dinner banters.
    • Honor's father Alfred is a self-professed wine snob and gourmet; Honor refuses to follow in his shoes, instead preferring beer.
    • Dresdeners, who probably consider "classy" an insult, also prefer beers.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask:
    • Elizabeth III in her early life. Not so much later, but it still shows sometimes.
    • To a slightly lesser degree (as she is not a Queen), Eloise Pritchart.
    • Honor herself is made of this trope, given how much focus the writer puts on describing the cold, professional mask she has to hide her emotions behind to prevent people from seeing how much she really cares.
  • The Women Are Safe with Us: Most of the time, this is the case, but in The Honor of the Queen, the women are definitely not safe with the Masadans. Thomas Theisman, their Havenite advisor, immediately makes plans to kill whoever thought up allying with these madmen.
  • World of Badass: The series contains a staggering number of over-the-top badass characters. Even Mauve Shirts tend to be pretty badass.
  • World of Snark: There is a lot of deadpan sarcasm floating around this 'verse, from almost every character with so much as a line of dialogue.
  • Worthy Opponent: Several Havenite officers, to the RMN, and vice versa ... at least until the end of Mission of Honor gets rid of the "opponent" part.
  • Wretched Hive: The Silesian Confederacy. A weak, deeply corrupt central government, equally corrupt local governors, seperatist movements (typically of the less pleasant variety) waging guerilla campaigns everywhere, rampant piracy (which is frequently backed by planetary governors in exchange for a cut), slavery, other forms of organized crime...definitely not a nice place to live. When Manticore and the Andermani Empire eventually annex the area, the general reaction is pretty much 'about damn time'.

    X-Z 
  • You Are in Command Now: Happens at least once a book: the flagship of a formation is destroyed, or battle damage kills the captain of a spaceship. Sometimes things work out fine; usually they do not.
  • You Are Number 6: Manpower's genetic slaves.
  • You Do NOT Want To Know: Pops up towards the end of the short-story Fanatic, when Commissioner Yuri finds himself contemplating the rather complicated relationship between Victor Cachat and his boss, Kevin Usher's hot young wife, Ginny...note  owing to his knowledge of a number of passwords used by Victor, including 'Ginny', 'Tongue', 'ShakeHerTail' and 'HotelBed'. Noticing his curiosity, a State Sec marine major of his acquaintance leans over and whispers...
    Major: You really don't want to know, Yuri. I mean, you really really really really don't want to know.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • The Masadans consider any failure to be "treason against the Faith."
    • Haven's Committee for Public Safety also send officers (and their families) who fail in their duties to a gulag in a move reminiscent of Stalin's WW2 policies.
    • Albrecht Detweiler has a reputation of executing those who fail him, but once Aldona Anisimovna is promoted to the inner circle he confesses that his bark is a lot worse than his bite, at least when it comes to higher-ranking operatives, since he knows there is a difference between failure and gross incompetence/treason. In fact, her failure ends up getting her promoted, as he concludes that she would have had a better chance of success if she knew about the Mesan Alignment.
    • Once the Solarian League starts getting its butt kicked by Manticore, they quickly acquire a reputation for scapegoating the Solarian admirals in charge of any failed attack, even if the admirals were hopelessly outgunned and had made the best of a bad situation.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Thought about; Lord William Alexander regards Michael Janvier, Baron High Ridge, as such an embodiment of negative stereotypes regarding Manticoran nobility that he thinks a casting director would turn him down for the role of such a character. He also imagines that the hypothetical casting director would include a note about harmful stereotypes and typecasting.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: Lt Abigail Hearns, who's been described as "cute as a button", uses this to lighten up the briefing to her boarding party.
    "If any of you don't come back in one piece, I'm going to be really upset with you, and you won't like me when I'm upset. Understand?"
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters:
    • Haven goes through several cycles of revolution and new governments, each time legitimizing the previous rebels as freedom fighters and fighting new "terrorists."
    • Features heavily in the resistance on Verge worlds against the Solarian League's Office of Frontier Security and with resistance movements in the Talbott Sector (both used as proxies by Mesa against Manticore). These groups span a range from well-intentioned freedom fighters who try to keep collateral damage to a minimum while seeking to discredit their enemies to genuine terrorists who bomb civilian targets - and leave a second set of bombs in place to kill the first responders.
    • The Audubon Ballroom, an organization of former genetic slaves dedicated to eliminating the slave trade. Although their motives are quite justifiable, their methods are notoriously ruthless. Even those who share their goals aren't always comfortable associating with them. When you throw in all the propaganda, subterfuge, and false flags surrounding the Ballroom, it becomes impossible to definitively label them.
  • You Shall Not Pass!:
    • Honor has a tendency to end up in situations where she has to put her command into life-or-death battles against overwhelming odds in order to do her duty and protect a helpless target. In fact, she does this so often that the media calls her The Salamander, her enemies view her as a bloodthirsty commoner/plutocrat with delusions of glory and several crewmen explicitly note that since they are on her ship, their chances of dying like animals have gone up significantly.
    • Grayson Armsmen in general will fight against incredible odds just to keep hostiles away from their protectee. Due to their tendency to throw themselves between their charge and whatever is threatening them, the armsmen of those who go into harm's way or have powerful enemies tend to wind up dead quite regularly, as exemplified during Honor's escape from the Tepes by Armsman Robert Whitman, who knowingly charged into the crosshairs of two State Sec guards just to clear the way for her.
  • Zeerust: "Newsfax", data storage on "tape".
  • Zerg Rush:
    • In On Basilisk Station, the drug-crazed Medusan natives try to do this. It does not work for them thanks to Manticoran air support, but they manage to horribly kill some Red Shirts first.
    • The sheer numbers of the People's Republic of Haven are the primary thing that make them a significant threat to Manticore. The Battle of Manticore itself is classic Zerg Rush strategy: Hit the enemy as hard and with as much as you can before they can get their tech upgraded to unbeatable levels.
    • Duplicated by the Solarian League in Mission of Honor — their strategy appears to be throwing ships at Manticore and seeing if Manticore runs out of missiles before they run out of ships. Anyone with any smidgen of sense who learns this is appalled, because it would cost both sides millions of people before they're done.
    • And after Oyster Bay and the events following on thereto, even that strategy is no longer an option. The combined forces of Manticore and Haven, along with other allies like Grayson, are so much an overmatch for the Solarian fleet that it isn't even funny.
      • Aivars Terekhov runs the numbers for one particularly obtuse Solarian commander in the Shadow Of Freedom, arriving to the conclusion that the Solarian Battle Fleet (including the huge Reserve) outnumbers the Grand Alliance by about the factor of ten, but this doesn't matter zilch, because the Solarian ships are So Last Season that even the Alliance screen can destroy the Battle Fleet in its entirety about three times over.
      Let's do some math here, Brigadier. If two of our ships can kill seventy of yours, and we've got five hundreds of them, that means we can kill every superdreadnaught in Battle Fleet, including the Reserve, about three times each.

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