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A prequel series of three books with at least one more coming taking place in the Honor Harrington universe. Focusing on the early years of the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the career of one Travis Uriah "Travesty" Long, this book portrays the Royal Manticoran Navy before it became the interstellar juggernaut seen in the primary series.
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Travis Long, dissatisfied with his lack of purpose in life, enlists in the Royal Manticoran Navy after meeting a beautiful recruiting officer who tells of intensive training, a chance to serve and protect the Star Kingdom, and most importantly the discipline he feels he has been missing in his home life. After joining, he finds that the Navy is rife with laziness, nepotism, dishonesty, and a lack of respect for the rules, with rare exceptions.

Meanwhile, his half-brother Gavin Vellacott, a Baron serving in the House of Lords, is enlisted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to aid in a campaign to defund and dissolve the Royal Manticoran Navy and pool its resources into the Manticoran Patrol and Rescue Service, which just so happens to fall under the authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, rather than his arch-rival, Earl Dapplelake, the Minister of Defense.

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While Manticore's nobility debate and try to outgambit each other, with the men and women of the RMN and MPRS caught in the middle, outside threats to the Kingdom loom near unknown to all of them...

As this series takes place well before the main timeline, expect many cases of Dramatic Irony and Call-Forward, similar to the Stephanie Harrington series.


Manticore Ascendant contains examples of the following tropes:

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     A Call To Duty 
  • Abandon Ship: After the Space Pirates seize Péridot, they take pains to prevent the ship's crew from attempting this by booby-trapping the life pods. Later, they're forced to abandon the ship themselves after Guardian disables her with a missile.
  • Ambadassador: When Captain Eigen shows an unflinching willingness to die rather than help the Space Pirates, they turn to their other hostage, the Havenite ambassador, hoping he'll be more reasonable. He cooly explains that a career in state diplomacy carries similar risks to service in the military, and implies that the pirates can go get stuffed.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: A common, but not universal case for high-ranking officers and noncoms. Of particular note is Commodore Flanders of the Republic of Haven Navy, who mentions an old Havenite tradition that officers should be able to do anything their men can do. And that Havenite spacers were nuts. Captain Eigen of the Manticoran Navy manages to be similarly formidable, despite being a hostage for most of the third act's action.
  • Badass Army: Subverted by the RMN as a whole. In contrast to the navy of Honor Harrington's day, the fleet is understaffed and facing further cuts, the academy is a joke where over half of the students cheat their way through exams and nobody (except Travis) cares, the majority of their battlecruisers are in mothballs, and Manticore's tradition of naval heroism hasn't begun to form yet.
  • Badass Crew: The officers and crew of the Guardian are a highly competent unit from the captain on down, and the crew's cohesion and intelligent approach to the rules helps finally give Travis the chance to develop into the spacer he's destined to become.
  • Badass in Distress: Captain Eigen. The lead pirate, despite his initial evaluation of RMN officers, is unnerved by Eigen's ability to seem more like a caged tiger than a trussed up hostage. When a Manticoran boarding party manages to sabotage the ship's reactor cooling system, forcing a ship-wide power-outage, Eigen siezes the moment to reveal he had removed his bindings a chapter or two previously, and chokes the villain to death.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Travis possesses a spectacular inability to disobey rules and regulations, which causes him quite a bit of friction with his more lax comrades and a fair bit of internal conflict when many of the rules prove to be quite misguided at best.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Travis notes that the lag caused by light-speed communication is a constant pain in the butt, alluding to the development of FTL comms in the main series.
    • One chapter has Travis making an in-depth explanation of why multi-drive missiles aren't possible, annoying an officer who's been trying to get the funding to develop one. It would take several centuries of technologies advances and Sonja Hemphill to get around all the hurdles Travis pointed out, and one of them — that an MDM would have to be significantly larger than a SDM, and thus would have a different sensor return — is still true even then.
    • Near the end, Travis comes up with the idea to disable a ship without destroying it by clipping its nascent wedge with a fully-powered one, similar to what Harrington later did in On Basilisk Station to disable a Peep courier boat.
  • The Cavalry: In the end, HMS Guardian is saved in the nick of time by Péridot, retaken off-screen by her Cascan and Havenite crew after the pirates abandoned her.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage: The RMN suffers from, among many other problems, a constant manpower shortage due to The Plague. To make matters worse, this problem affects all of the Star Kingdom, resulting in large immigration incentive drives as well as constant internal squabbling over manpower assignments. The most obvious demonstration of this manpower shortage is the RMN's fleet of battlecruisers, most of which sit in orbit over the homeworld, largely unmanned.
  • Death by Irony: A poorly designed and built MPRS sloop predictably suffers a catastrophic mishap the first time she tries to respond to a ship in distress.
  • Dramatic Irony: Many examples, in particular a conversation between Havenite and Manticoran officers where they laugh at the ridiculous idea that they might ever need to be wary of each other. Further, a gang of Space Pirates are dismissive of the Manticorans, considering the RMN as a sailing club for Upper Class Twits. And certain portions of Manticore's government share that assessment.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Petty Officer Johnny Funk. Don't you dare joke about his name.
  • Foregone Conclusion: This book was published after A Call To Arms, but takes place before it. It should not come as a surprise that Travis is chosen for officer training by the end of the book.
  • Friend or Idol Decision: Two Manticoran ships respond to a civilian ship in distress, and one of them suffers a catastrophic mishap en route. The other ship must choose to either rescue the civilian spacers or the crew of the other ship, many of whom they are longtime friends with. The Captain weighs the options, and leaves his comrades to die in order to rescue the civilians.
  • Gone Horribly Right: After Phobos's mishap which resulted in her loss with all hands, it is revealed that someone in the RMN chain of command knew the ship was dangerous, and rather than insist her problems be corrected, instead quietly equipped one of the RMN's own ships for the inevitable rescue mission.
  • Gravity Screw: The Manties figure out that if they can get a gravity wedge close enough to another ship without actually touching it, it will play merry havoc with numerous sensitive pieces of equipment.
  • Hands-Off Parenting: Travis's mom seems to take a near-total disinterest in anything he does, ultimately giving him both ultimate freedom and ultimate lack of guidance. The result is a young man who feels lost in the world.
    • Shown to be more in the order of parental neglect as of book 3, as it is revealed that she didn't even both to check if he'd lived or died after the battle in book 2.
  • Heavy Worlder: Any Sphinxian characters will tend to fill this role, often resulting in them being various types of The Big Guy. This causes problems at Boot Camp when a directive is issued that all recruits be given the same portions of food, despite Sphinxians requiring more caloric intake than Manticorans. This inevitably results in recruits being forced to steal food to avoid starvation.
  • Honor Before Reason: Commander Ouvrard is quite aware of HMS Phobos's many technical failings, but she also knows that accepting her assignment as commanding officer to the sloop is her only chance at a command of her own.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Between the Royal Manticoran Navy and the Manticoran Patrol and Rescue Service, as a result of each service falling under a different (and competing) pork barrel. This proves to have disastrous consequences.
  • "Join the Army", They Said: Travis joins the RMN on an impulse after seeing the recruiting posters (and the beautiful recruiting officer) advertising an exciting career defending the Star Kingdom and learning valuable skills. As it happens, the RMN of this time period is a demoralized undermanned service seemingly lacking any actual purpose.
  • Noodle Incident: Manticore's run-in with an organization known as the Free Brotherhood is mentioned often, but never elaborated upon. Evidently they roamed from system to system, ravaging them before moving on, and the RMN proved tough enough to ward them off, but did not defeat them conclusively.
    • Word of God is they were a nomadic pirate group operating using early hyper capable ships operating on the edges of settled space, going from world to world and plundering resources. Two of Manticorian frigates fought them doing surveys near Manticore, with the main fleet attacking Manticore. The Manties prove too hard for an easy victory, with the brotherhood moving deeper into the Haven Sector as a response. Most of the RMN was bought in response to this incident.
  • Prequel: To A Call To Arms
  • Punny Name: Travis Uriah Long, sometimes known as "Travesty", due to one reading of his name being "Travis U. Long", as in Oolong Tea. Travis Tea.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The damage control efforts aboard Phobos, and later on Captain Jalla's hard work to set up and launch an anti-ship missile at HMS Guardian. A Havenite cruiser aces Jalla's ship in one shot just before they can launch the missile.
  • Space Marines: The Manticorans don't have very many of them, and the sole Marine officer we see is actually imported talent from the Solarian League. She is very good at what she does.
  • Space Pirates: A gang hoping to pull off an audacious plan to seize a pair of Havenite warships. Their leader is surprised to hear hints that they're not the only such group in the region.
  • Theme Naming: An old RMN battlecruiser is cut apart and turned into a pair of sloops for the MPRS. The battlecruiser was called HMS Mars, and her offspring became Phobos and Deimos.
  • Three-Act Structure: "A Call To Duty" is divided into three books, with the third act being the most action-packed.
  • What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: Phobos, named for the Greek mythological personification of fear, proves to be a nightmare for her crew.
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     A Call To Arms 

Originally published as a short story in Beginnings, the sixth Worlds Of Honor anthology, A Call To Arms originally focused on Lieutenant Travis Long and his part in the Battle of Manticore. It was later expanded into a full-length novel as the second part of the Manticore Ascendant series. Some tropes below may only apply to the short story or the book.

  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Ensign Locatelli, who apologizes for being such a pain in the butt just before his Dying Moment of Awesome.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Travis is able to figure out that one of the enemy ships has a malfunctioning autocannon due to the way it is maneuvering to keep one side facing their attacks. They exploit this to sneak a missile past that ship to lay in a sucker punch on the battlecruiser it was screening for.
  • Call-Forward: Missile Tech Townsend manages to send a Covert Distress Code by using the RMN equivalent of FUBAR when speaking under duress with a superior. The code is "Zulu", which evolves from the name of a grueling and unloved exercise (as Zulu Omega), to FUBAR equivalent, before finally ending up as "Case: Zulu" in the main series, the most serious signal in the RMN: "Invasion Imminent".
  • David vs. Goliath: Casey, a fairly modern and well-armed destroyer, ends up going toe-to-tie with a full-blown battlecruiser, and due to some quick thinking and improvisation, is able to get close enough to lay in a plasma torpedo broadside, destroying the larger ship.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Admiral Locatelli gives Admiral Gensonne the option to retreat rather than face further battle against the RMN. Gensonne dismisses this as bravado. Later, Captain Hardasty of the MPRS approaches a pair of Volsung destroyers with two corvettes and orders them to surrender or be destroyed. The Volsung destroyers ignore Hardasty's corvettes and focus on the nearby HMS Damocles instead, exactly as Hardasty hoped, having mistakenly assumed the MPRS ships were unarmed. The MPRS corvettes manage to sucker-punch both destroyers and save Damocles.
  • Ensign Newbie: Ensign Locatelli has more bravado than sense, much to the chagrin of many of his noncoms and Lieutenant Long. As he is the nephew of Admiral Locatelli, he is also mostly untouchable. When he is about to die helping Senior Chief Petty Officer Osterman to jury-rig and fire a laser to destroy a Volsung battlecruiser, he apologizes for being a pain in the ass.
    • Lieutenant Long himself is still antagonizing others by his tunnel vision view on regulation. He is at least aware of his faults.
  • Genre Blind: Few of the RMN officers and crew take their jobs seriously, due largely to Manticore's being an unimportant backwater. Unfortunately, the bad guys know that Manticore has an as-yet uncharted Wormhole Junction, and have hired a powerful mercenary force to seize the star system for them.
    • Several characters wonder if Long realizes that at least part of his problems with his fellow officers is due to his family connections to the faction of Parliament attempting to defund the RMN in favor of the MPRS. For his part, Long seems to assume they are all just covering for well-connected layabouts.
    • Similarly, Long fails to realize how much of his own advancement has been the direct result of his own connections, as various superiors pull strings to help him along after recognizing his talents. In fact, much of the string-pulling in his favor is in response to string-pulling used against him by others due to his family connections.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Deconstructed: For whatever reason, the Mantie spacers don't don their helmets during the climactic space battle. The entire command staff of one ship is killed when their section is opened to the vacuum of space. This is in direct contrast to the main Honor Harrington series where one sign of military competence is when a character dons their helmet immediately at the start of battle.
  • Honor Before Reason: Admiral Gensonne's evaluation of the Manticorans' refusal to surrender, despite having a weaker force. If the Manticorans surrender, they lose fewer lives and their population is left intact under new management. If they continue fighting, they lose more lives and risk violent retribution.
  • Lethal Joke Character: A pair of MPRS corvettes happen to find themselves in an ideal position for an up-the-kilt attack on a pair of Volsung destroyers which assumed the MPRS ships to be unarmed.
  • Not So Harmless: The RMN ends up tossing several practice missiles without warheads, either as decoys or in one case to spoil an enemy's shot.
  • Obi-Wan Moment: Ensign Locatelli apologizes to Senior Chief Petty Officer Osterman for being such a pain just before they both die firing a jury-rigged laser cannon.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The short story is limited to Long's point-of-view, and is colored by his interpretation of events. The book adds many other points of views, and in particular show how off-base Long was in his judgement of others.
  • Private Military Contractor: A fleet of mercenaries hired by a corporate interest on Old Terra intend to steamroll the Royal Manticoran Navy.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Inverted, as pointed out by one of Travis's shipmates. After he refuses to back off on a well-connected junior officer who refuses to learn his job properly, thus earning him some powerful enemies... he is reassigned to HMS Casey, the newest and most advanced ship in the fleet.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The MPRS is ordered to stand down once the battle breaks out, because they are in no way prepared to fight a battle, despite having recently being authorized to begin arming their ships for system defense. Two MPRS corvettes find themselves in a position to assist an RMN destroyer and destroy a Volsung destroyer and damage a second one which dismissed them as harmless due to not knowing about the MPRS's recent armament program.
  • Three-Act Structure: Similar to the first book.

     A Call To Vengeance 
  • Abusive Parents: This book cements that Travis's mother isn't just the Hands Off Parent presented in book 1. She outright doesn't care about her second son, much to Gavin's horror when he realizes this.
  • Batman Gambit: The Manties try to bluff their opponents in one early confrontation by overdriving their impellers to make their handful of smaller warships look like battlecruisers it works, because nobody's been foolish enough to try the tactic in several centuries. They try it again in the climax, but Lynn receives intelligence on the actual breakdown of the enemy forces, which he decides to keep from Gensonne out of spite anyways.
  • Central Theme: Growing up and adapting to new responsibilities. Travesty and Donnely both receive promotiosn and new jobs, the Royal Manticoran Navy is establishing their anti-piracy operations, including a deployment to Silesia, and it is lampshaded that the Andermani and Havenite officers that the RMN crews find themselves working with are mentoring the inexperienced Manties. Plus, Queen Elizabeth II's unexpected rise to the throne brings her no shortage of new problems to deal with.
  • Chekhov's Gun: It turns out, the evidence Gavin finds which helps to eliminate Breakwater as a political threat to the Queen relates to the loss of the MPRS corvette Phobos way back in the first book. Several of Breakwater's associates were complicit in the course of events leading to her loss, and Breakwater became an accessory rather than turn on them.
    • Another example going back to the previous book, regarding HMS Jason's missile launchers. They use railguns instead of fusion boosters to launch missiles, meaning she can launch a salvo of missiles without the tell-tale fusion flare that most tactical officers are trained to look for.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: A second-hand example. Travis's mother breeds dogs, and Travis is able to use his knowledge from growing up around them to deal with a pair of guard dogs.
  • Driving Question: Several, with the main ones being "Who is attacking Manticore, and what do they want?" and "Why did the Prime Minster include those seven specific names on the list he left for the Queen after he died?"
  • Evil, Inc.: Axelrod. While Lynn doesn't quite reach Corrupt Corporate Executive territory, he is a ruthless corporate hatchet man who doesn't think twice about killing countless people to further his bosses' goals.
  • Gambit Pileup: It's what gets most of the bad guys killed this time around. With everyone planning to stab each other in the back, they end up bringing each other down when it all goes to hell.
  • Generation Xerox: Averted. We are introduced to one of Hamish Alexander's ancestors, a flag officer in the Royal Manticoran Navy who is considered incompetent by her fellow officers.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Gavin pulls a moral 180 after Breakwater goes after the Queen. Turns out, he does have limits.
    • Heel Realization: Gavin discovers just what Breakwater and his partners are willing to do to secure their power, and is disgusted. He launches his own private investigation and gets the evidence into the hands of one of the Queen's allies in the House of Commons.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Inverted. Rather than trusting people who are out to use him, Travis tends to assume that everyone has it out for him, when the opposite is usually true. In particular, he assumed that Chomps Townsend had been holding a grudge against him for shipwrecking his career, when in fact Chomps held him in high regard and had been (secretly) enjoying a very successful career as a Navy Intelligence spook. In fact, Chomps was doing what he could to help Travis along.
  • Inter Service Rivalry: While the RMN and MPRS rivalry is still mentioned, it is massively downplayed. As it happens, the Navy leadership decides that giving Breakwater what he wants to establish dedicated training facilities for the MPRS in the short term will pay dividents in the long-term for the Navy as it will eventually free up training resources the Navy had been sharing. Plus, with so much of the RMN's fleet in need of repair after the previous book's battle, they have plenty of idle officers to spare as instructors. They still make a show of arguing about it, knowing that Breakwater won't be satisfied unless he thinks the Navy actually lost something they wanted.
    • That said, This book focuses on a political version of the trope, with the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Queen Elizabeth II finds herself forming an alliance with several influential members of the Commons, thus securing the Crown's power base vs the Lords as seen in the Honor Harington series. Further, Gavin ends up going to one of the Queen's allies in the Commons to pass evidence of Breakwater's conspiracy to her.
  • Pet the Dog: Lynn is rather supportive and protective of the very small number of people he actually trusts and respects.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Travis and Donnelly are both assigned to instructor duty with the MPRS. Travis naturally assumes this is a punishment due to his brother being one of Breakwater's allies, but soon learns he loves teaching. Donnelly meanwhile hates teaching despite being generally good at it. Naturally, Travis is given a transfer to the Bureau of Personnel, where naval careers go to die, but this is a front for his real assignment with a new secret intelligence section.
  • Smug Snake: Gensonne is not as clever as he thinks he is, possessing a great many smart tricks which he tends to lean on too heavily, making him very predictable to pretty much anyone who knows him. Lynn shows signs of this as well. He really is as clever as he thinks he is, but constantly underestimates his opponents (which for Lynn, consists of close to everyone he deals with.)
  • Succession Crisis: King Edward and Princess Sophie die in a boating accident, leaving Edward's sister Elizabeth to take the throne. Unfortunately, the Constitution requires the Heir to marry a Commoner, and for the Heir to be a blood descendant of a previous Crown, while Elizabeth's late husband was a noble and she has no children. Naturally, Breakwater doesn't hesitate to try and use this as leverage against the Queen, leading directly to his own undoing when this drives Gavin to turn on him.
  • Unexpected Successor: Queen Elizabeth II.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Princess Sophie's relationship with her father has suffered ever since he took the throne, and this has become only worse with her older brother's death at the Battle of Manticore. King Edward works to fix this, culminating in the two of them going on an outing together in speed boats resulting in both of their deaths in an accident.

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