Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

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Ahriman238
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Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

And now we enter what I think of as the middle period. The series definitely shifted in style with Field of Dishonor, with the exception of that book the next few aren't bad exactly. But it feels like the series was trying new things, looking for something to be about now that a starship captain was off the table. Flag in Exile has Honor as a Grayson Steadholder, and gives the Graysons a lot of sorely needed development.

Our story begins roughly nine months after the last book. Since the Ominous Council of Haven Leaders was deposed, we instead intro with White Haven at the Battle of Nightingale.
The rest of Battle Squadron Twenty-One fired with her, and all eight superdreadnoughts simultaneously flushed the missile pods towing astern of them. BatRon Eight and BatRon Seventeen's dreadnoughts followed suit, and thirty-two hundred impeller drive missiles lanced out across five and a half million kilometers of vacuum.
8 SDs and 16 DNs, heavy with pods launch an opening salvo of 3200 missiles. Get used to it.

"New contact! Multiple contacts—multiple capital ship impeller sources at zero-four-six zero-three-niner! Range one-eight million klicks and closing! Designate this force Bogey Two!"

White Haven's head snapped around to the main plot as the passionless computers updated it. Two dozen fresh lights glowed crimson off Queen Caitrin's starboard bow as a second force of Peep superdreadnoughts lit off their drives, and his nostrils flared in sudden understanding.

No wonder that wall had closed so steadily! White Haven extended his enemies a single moment of ungrudging respect as he recognized the trap into which that unflinching Peep formation was herding his own. Another fifteen minutes, and he would have been hopelessly boxed, committed to close action against Bogey One even as Bogey Two came boring into his flank from above, and he'd walked straight into it.

But they didn't have him boxed yet, he thought grimly. The new Peep government's purges of its officer corps had cost them dearly in experience, and it showed. Bogey Two's commander had jumped the gun, possibly out of panic at the losses Bogey One was taking, and lit off his drives too soon. A more experienced CO would have waited, whatever happened to Bogey One, until he had the Manticoran wall at point-blank, trapped between both enemy walls and with its long-range advantages negated in an energy weapon engagement.
White Haven nearly gets mousetrapped at Nightingale when the locals come out to meet him in an organized military fashion, don't break after the first massive broadside and nearly herd him into their comrades waiting in concealment. Hamish gets out fine of course, but this can only mean one thing.

The war had just changed, he thought distantly, watching the exchange of fire grow still more furious. The Peeps were back on balance. They were initiating, no longer reacting with clumsy panic to Manticoran attacks. He'd known it was coming, that the People's Republic was simply too vast to be toppled in a rush, but he'd prayed for it to take longer. Now he knew it hadn't, and he drew a deep breath.
The People's Navy is back in business, and set a deliberate trap at Nightingale. After nine months of uncoordinated local and system defense forces, resistance is stiffening. For those nine months the Manties have been driving as fast and hard as they dare for Trevor's Star and San Martin, the system on the Haven side of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction. Wormholes are the absolute last word in moving supplies and ships forward quickly and in total security, taking Trevor's Star would ensure the security of the Junction, and it makes a decent forward position to move against Haven itself. All excellent reasons for Manticore to want it, and the Peeps are as familiar with the situation as their opposite numbers.

Like all public buildings on Grayson, Protector's Palace lay under a controlled-environment dome, but a corner of the grounds held another, smaller dome, as well. It was a greenhouse, and High Admiral Wesley Matthews braced himself as an armsman in the House of Mayhew's maroon and gold opened its door for him. An almost visible wave of humid heat swirled out, and he sighed and unhooked his tunic collar, but that was as far as he intended to go. This time he was going to stay in proper uniform if it killed him.
Most public buildings in Grayson are domed, but the Protector of Grayson has a special thing for gardening and flower arranging.

"The Manticorans will have to pull their last capital units out of Yeltsin within two months, Your Grace," the admiral said quietly.
Units needed on the front, and well, Grayson is just about the only Alliance world that can really look out for itself.

"In the war's first six months," he said, "Manticore captured nineteen Havenite star systems, including two major fleet bases. Their total capital ship losses during that time were two superdreadnoughts and five dreadnoughts, against which they destroyed forty Havenite ships of the wall. They also added thirty-one capital ships to their own order of battle—twenty-six captured units, exclusive of the eleven Admiral White Haven gave us after Third Yeltsin, and five more from new construction. That put them within roughly ninety percent of the Peeps' remaining ships of the wall, and they had the advantage of the initiative, not to mention the edge the People's Navy's confusion and shattered morale gave them.

"In the last three months, however, the RMN's captured only two systems and lost nineteen capital ships doing it—including the ten they lost at Nightingale, where they didn't take the system. The Peeps are still taking heavier losses, but remember that they have all those battleships. They may be too small for proper ships of the wall, but they provide a rear area coverage the Manties can't match without diverting dreadnoughts or superdreadnoughts, which frees a higher percentage of the Peeps' ships of the wall for front-line use. Put simply, the Peeps still have more ships to lose than Manticore does, and the war is slowing down, Your Grace. Peep resistance is stiffening, and the Manties are transferring more and more of their own strength to the front in an effort to hang onto their momentum."
Progression of the First Haven War, and pretty much all we're going to get for the time between books four and five.

tl;dr- Manticore is up 22 systems, including 2 fleet bases, and 26 captured wallers. They built 5 more capital ships since the war started, but have lost 26, mostly in the last couple of months. They've more-or-less leveled their tonnage disadvantage against Haven, discounting battleships. Since Haven can assign arbitrarily large numbers of BBs to system defense or patrols though, ALL Peep wallers can go directly to the front line. Do not pass go, do not collect a BLS stipend.

"I knew things were slowing down, but I hadn't realized how drastically. What's changed, Wesley?"

"That's hard to say, Your Grace, but I've been in correspondence with Admiral Caparelli, and Admiral Givens at the Manties' ONI confirms that this Committee of Public Safety that's running the PRH has consolidated all previous security organs under one new, monster umbrella. You'd have to look back to Old Earth's Totalitarian Age for a parallel to how ruthlessly they've purged their officer corps, and there are rumors they're sending out 'political officers' to watchdog their fleet commanders. Their purges cost them virtually all their senior—and experienced—flag officers, and the officers they haven't killed off are competing out of their class against the RMN, but the ones who survive are learning . . . and they know what'll happen if they fail the new regime. Add in some sort of political commissars to remind them of that, and you get a navy with a powerful will to fight. They're far clumsier than the Manties, but their navy's still bigger, and once some of their new admirals start lasting long enough to gain the experience their predecessors had—"
One "reform" of Rob Pierre's was to fold all the many spy and secret police groups running around Haven (seriously, 3 secret police are too many) into one body, State Security, or StateSec. Statesec also provides the commissars to stand on starship bridges with a hand on their holstered gun. All in all, everyone is highly motivated to prove their loyalty, competence and energy to the new regime.

I'm assuming the rebellions mentioned last book are crushed or got 'liberated' by Manticore.

Oh, and future history includes an Age of Totalitarianism, which I'm thinking means the 20th Century.

"First, there'll be a period of stalemate, with both sides skirmishing for advantage but with neither daring to withdraw too many ships of the wall from the main combat area. Second, the Alliance will get its industry fully cranked up. The Manties are already there. They had eighteen of the wall under construction in the Star Kingdom itself from prewar programs; those units are now proceeding on a crash priority basis to commission over the next six months, and their new war program will start delivering additional units within ten months. Our own yards will complete our first home-built SD about the same time, and the Manty yards in Grendelsbane and Talbot will do the same. Once we hit our stride, we'll be turning out four or five of the wall a month.

"On the Peeps' side, they've already effectively lost their advantage in ships of the wall, and the Manties have taken out a half dozen of their major forward service bases. That means simply repairing battle damage will put a greater strain on their building yards and, in turn, slow construction rates. Despite its size, their industrial plant's less efficient than the Alliance's, and I don't think they can outbuild us. On the other hand, we can't outbuild them, either, certainly not by a decisive margin, and they still have the battleships I already mentioned. Which means, three, that this is going to be a long, long war unless one side or the other completely screws up.

"In the long run, the decisive factor will probably be the relative strengths of our political systems. At the moment, Pierre and his Committee have instituted what amounts to a reign of terror. Whether or not they can sustain that, or find something more stable to replace it, is the critical question in my own view, because this war isn't about territory anymore. It's become a war for survival; someone—either the Kingdom of Manticore and its allies, including us, or the People's Republic of Haven—is going down this time, Your Grace. For good."
High Admiral Matthew's take on how the war is going to go, which he stresses is just his opinion.

Also, an expert's look at the industrial output of both sides. Manticore had 18 capital ships in production when things went down, they've delivered five and are due to turn out the remaining 13 six months after this chat, 15 months after the war started. Granted that's an emergency ram-through, and their next ships, the ones laid after the war started, will be out in another 10. It's taking 19 months since the war began to finish the first capital hulls at the new yards at Grayson, Talbot and Grandelsbane. Grayson believes they'll eventually hit 4 or 5 wallers a month, implying a lot of berths. I believe Talbot and Grendelsbane can reach similar output and Mantiocre should be far ahead. All in all, even Roger probably never dreamed of the fleet sizes we're going to see by the end of this thing. comparatively, Haven is inefficient enough to only about match that, despite their greater size and resources, neither side is going to be decisively outbuilding the other, and the whole thing will hit more or less a stalemate, WWI in space unless one side comes up with a technical edge or falls to internal forces. Or both.

"And that, Your Grace," Matthews said quietly, "is why we need Lady Harrington. Virtually our entire cadre of senior officers was wiped out in the Masadan War, and we're promoting men who've never skippered anything heavier than a light attack craft to command destroyers and cruisers—even battlecruisers. My own experience is limited enough by Manticoran standards, and when the Manties pull out, I'll be the most experienced officer we've got . . . except for Lady Harrington."
If the Manticoran Navy had growing pains with the build-up, the Grayson Navy has exploded. 80+% wiped out two or three years ago, then growing to over a hundred times it's original size. Experienced personnel are vanishingly rare, hells they had less than two surviving flag officers, and the fact that they're even considering giving LAC skippers battlecruisers should say a lot. Manticore has helped some, lending out experienced people and technical advisors over the years, but their own needs are showing now. Honor, on the other hand, has more experience with command and modern hardware than most of the Navy, and more battle experience than virtually anyone in the Alliance (though, 9 months into the war that's probably less true.)

But let's check in on Honor and her various wacky hijinks.

The major had been horrified when he learned his Steadholder intended to deliberately immerse herself in over three meters of water. Swimming was a lost art on Grayson; LaFollet hadn't known a single person who'd ever acquired it, and he'd been unable to imagine why any sane individual would want to. Grayson's high concentration of heavy metals meant even its "fresh" water was dangerously contaminated. In all his thirty-three T-years before entering Lady Harrington's service, Andrew LaFollet had never drunk or even bathed in water which hadn't been distilled and purified, and the notion of putting thousands of liters of precious water into a hole in the ground and then jumping into it was . . . well, "bizarre" was the kindest word which had sprung to mind when Lady Harrington ordered her "swimming pool."

-snip-

His own concepts of propriety had been—"expanded" was the best word for it—as her armsman, but he was still a Grayson. He'd tackled the task of learning to swim and completed a life-saving course out of grim devotion to duty and, to his own surprise, found he enjoyed it. Most of her security detail did, though Jamie Candless still harbored pronounced reservations. They'd even taken to spending many of their own off-duty hours in the Steadholder's pool, but Lady Harrington's swimsuit was an armed assault on Grayson mores. LaFollet's standards had become progressively less "proper" over the past year—which he was prepared to admit, intellectually, was probably a good thing—yet he was guiltily aware of the ingrained criteria of his rearing whenever he watched his Steadholder swim.

He knew she'd made concessions. Her one-piece suit was positively dowdy by Manticoran standards, but the corner of his mind where the most basic elements of socialization lived insisted she might as well be naked.
Honor's Grayson armsmen first considered swimming something between suicidal and a criminal waste of clean water. She seems to have splurged on an Olympic-sized pool, which probably didn't help. Still, they all went through lifeguard training and most have learned to enjoy themselves along the way. Now, if they could only find swim-wear that wasn't offensive, or really, if anyone could design feminine swimwear that wasn't offensive.

I do like how Weber is thinking about how the Graysons would view things like swimming though, it really helps to flesh them out.

Swimming was bad enough, but at least she did that on a nice, flat piece of Harrington House's protectively domed grounds—which made it infinitely preferable to her other pursuits. Hang-gliding was a planetary passion on her home world, and LaFollet cringed every time he thought of it. He knew she'd been an expert glider before he learned to walk, yet her refusal to so much as consider taking along an emergency counter-grav unit was less than reassuring to the man charged with keeping her alive.

Fortunately, hang-gliding was as out of the question on Grayson as skinny dipping. Over the course of their thousand-year history, Graysons had developed higher tolerances for heavy metals than most humans. Lady Harrington hadn't, and—praise God fasting!—her career as a naval officer had given her a healthy respect for environmental hazards. Which, unfortunately, wasn't much help on her rare visits to her parents. LaFollet and Corporal Mattingly had spent an absolutely horrifying afternoon following her fragile glider around Sphinx's craggy-peaked Copper Wall Mountains and far out over the Tannerman Ocean in a tractor-equipped air car, and thoughts of what an ill-intentioned person with a pulse rifle might have done to such a sitting target were not calculated to help a bodyguard sleep soundly.

Her passion for mountain climbing was even worse, in a way. He was willing to accept her assurances that other people did "real" rock climbing, but scrambling up and down steep slopes and along the brinks of towering precipices with her—and on a 1.35-gravity world, at that—was quite enough of an adventure. Then there was the ten-meter sloop she kept in her parents' enormous boathouse. Even counter-grav life jackets had seemed dreadfully frail props to people who hadn't had the least idea how to swim as she sent it skimming over the waves and they clung white-knuckled to stays or cleats.
And on at least a couple of occasions Honor dragged the armsmen home to Sphinx to indulge in some of her other hobbies, hang-gliding, mountain climbing and sailing, all relatively unknown on Grayson. Well, I could seem them rock-climbing or sailing a ship from necessity, but between dust and frothing wave that's probably a bit too much risk for casual fun. One really wonders where a career military officer from a middle-class background found time for all these hobbies.

Of course, she wasn't just doing this to give her bodyguards heart attacks, she was out to prove to herself and them that hauling an armed entourage everywhere was not going to stop her from doing the things she loves.

"You spoil us, Mac," she said, and MacGuiness shook his head fondly. He poured rich, dark beer into her stein, and she selected a cheese wedge and nibbled it appreciatively. She still had to approach Grayson foods with care—the Diaspora's two millennia had taken Terran vegetables to very different environments, and subtle variations between nominally identical species could have unfortunate consequences—but the local cheeses were delicious.
The book will mention a few times how plants brought to Grayson by the original settlers adapted to the heavy metals and are no longer safe for off-worlders, besides looking and tasting different. Which is to be expected, it's been thousands of years and seeds from Old Earth have been scattered to a wide variety of environments.

"Andrew, we've been over this. I know it bothers you, but we can't go around arresting people for exercising their right of assembly."

"No, My Lady," LaFollet replied with deferential obstinacy, resisting the temptation to point out that some steadholders could—and would—do just that. "But we certainly can exclude anyone we think is a security risk."
It seems reactionary protesters have lined up outside Honor's house. As a Steadholder, she can absolutely have security wade out there and crack some heads, as a middle-class daughter of a constitutional monarchy, she believes in freedom to assemble and orders LaFollet to do nothing as long as they break no laws.

She supposed she couldn't blame the dissenters, though it was sometimes hard to remember that. Their attacks could hurt—badly—yet a part of her actually welcomed them. Not because she liked being vilified, but because her desperate, back-to-the-wall defense of Grayson against the fanatics of Masada gave her a stature with the majority of Graysons which she still found an uncomfortable fit. The honors with which they'd heaped her, including her steadholdership, sometimes left her feeling uneasily as if she were playing a part, and the proof that not all Graysons saw her as some sort of holo-drama heroine could be almost reassuring.

It was unpleasant, to put it mildly, to be called "the Handmaiden of Satan," but at least the street preachers' ranting cut through the deference others showed her. She remembered reading that one of Old Earth's empires—she couldn't recall whether it had been the Roman or the French—had placed a slave in the chariot of a victorious general as he paraded triumphantly through the streets. While the crowds screamed his praises, it was the slave's function to remind him, again and again, that he was only mortal. At the time she'd read it, she'd thought it a quaint custom; now she'd come to appreciate its fundamental wisdom, for she suspected it would be seductively easy to accept the endless cheers at face value. After all, who didn't want to be a hero?
One of those oddly humanizing moments honor gets sometimes, like her repeated nightmares of all the people she's lost on her various death-rides. Honor is obscurely comforted that not all Graysons love her.

Her small smile thanked him, and he smiled back, grateful once again that Nimitz wasn't a telepath. After all, what the Steadholder didn't know wouldn't upset her, and Colonel Hill's intelligence net had identified the agitators most likely to inveigh against her for the "lechery" of her unmarried affair with Paul Tankersley. They were the truly dangerous ones, he thought, for the sanctity of marriage—and the sinfulness of unmarried sex—were part of Grayson's religious bedrock. Most (though certainly not all) Graysons reserved their contempt for the man when such things occurred, for female births outnumbered male on Grayson by three to one, and Grayson was a hard world, where survival and religion alike had evolved an iron code of responsibility. A man who engaged in casual dalliance violated his overriding obligation to provide for and protect a woman who gave him her love and might bear his children. But it wasn't entirely one-sided, and even the Graysons who most respected the Steadholder were often uncomfortable over her relationship with Tankersley. The majority of them seemed to accept the self-evident fact that Manticorans had different standards and that, by those standards, neither she nor Tankersley had done wrong, but LaFollet suspected most of them did their best not to think about it at all. And he more than suspected that the handful of fanatics who hated her for simply being what she was knew it, too. Sooner or later one of them would use it against her where she could hear it, and the major knew how cruelly that would wound her. Not just politically, but inside, where the loss of the man she loved had cut so deep into her soul.
Oh, it seems that LaFollet and the armsmen (to say nothing of Mac) know all about Nimitz's ability to share his sense of empathy with Honor, having figure it out on their own. They aren't positive why she's so dedicated to keeping it a secret (because it keeps people from blasting Sphinx from orbit?) but they're just as happy to have the trump card.

Honor's 'living in sin' with Tankersley is a fairly major point against her with most Graysons, and so the lever her critics and political opponents love to reach for.

Harrington House was entirely too large, luxurious, and expensive for her own taste, but she hadn't been consulted when it was built. The Graysons had intended it as a gift to the woman who'd saved their planet, which meant she couldn't complain, and she'd come to a slightly guilty acceptance of its magnificence. Besides, as Howard Clinkscales was fond of pointing out, it hadn't been built solely for her. Indeed, most of its imposing space was given up to the administrative facilities of Harrington Steading, and she had to admit that there seemed to be precious little room to spare.
It's still a vast manor, befitting a global savior.

She'd never really considered it before she was pitchforked into the steadholdership, but once she'd come face-to-face with her role as one of Grayson's autocratic Keys she'd recognized the true reason she'd always disliked politics. She'd been trained all her life to seek decision, to identify objectives and do whatever it took to attain them, knowing that any hesitation would only cost more lives in the end. The politician's constant need to rethink positions and seek compromise was foreign to her, and she suspected it would be to most military officers. Politicos were trained to think in those terms, to cultivate less-than-perfect consensuses and accept partial victories, and it was more than mere pragmatism. It also precluded despotism, but people who fought wars preferred direct, decisive solutions to problems, and a Queen's officer dared settle only for victory. Gray issues made warriors uncomfortable, and half-victories usually meant they'd let people die for too little, which undoubtedly explained their taste for autocratic systems under which people did what they were told to do without argument.

And, she thought wryly, it also explained why military people, however noble their motives, made such a botch of things when they seized political power in a society with nonautocratic traditions. They didn't know how to make the machine work properly, which meant, all too often, that they wound up smashing it in pure frustration.
Honor's thoughts on the differences between politicians and soldiers. A bit that I admit stuck with me the first time I read it, and which I feel is still valid.

"There are some . . . people with signs at the East Gate," he said.

"Are there, Sir?" Mattingly said slowly.

"Indeed there are. Of course, the Steadholder says we can't touch them, so . . ." LaFollet let his voice trail off, and he could almost see the corporal nod in comprehension of what he hadn't said.

"I understand, Sir. I'll warn all the boys to leave them alone before I go off duty."

"Good idea, Simon. We wouldn't want them involved if anything untoward were to happen. Ah, by the way, perhaps you should let me know where to find you if I need you before you're due to report back."

"Of course, Sir. I thought I'd go see how the Sky Domes' construction crews are coming. They're finishing up this week, and you know how much I love watching them work. Besides, they're all devoted to the Steadholder, so I try to sort of keep them up to date on how things are going for her."
After Honor forbids her armsmen from breaking up the protest outside, they find enough concerned citizens to start a counter-protest and run off the imported protesters all on their own. The end result is this happens for four days straight and Honor finally bans the protests because they lead to riots.

Honor's refusal to surround herself with the army of servants steadholder tradition required irritated some members of the Harrington House staff, who felt it reduced their own consequence. That view left Honor unmoved, yet she'd capitulated—unwillingly—to the demand that she retain at least one female servant. None of her household dared comment on the fact that MacGuiness was a man, which automatically made him totally unacceptable as a woman's personal attendant, but it had offered her public critics ready-made ammunition. Besides, Mac was fully occupied as her majordomo, and he'd been no more familiar with Grayson notions of style than she when they arrived.

She'd expected it to be hard to find a maid she could stand, but then Andrew LaFollet had somewhat diffidently suggested his sister Miranda. The fact that she was the major's sister automatically recommended her to Honor, and if Miranda wasn't the woman to storm the bastions of male supremacy, she was a sturdy-minded, independent sort.


Honor gets a personal maid to help her look after her appearance, LaFollet's sister Miranda.

Upper-class Grayson women reminded Honor irresistibly of Old Earth peacocks. They were gorgeous, colorful, lively . . . and too baroque for her tastes. Their jewels were ornate, their loose-fitting vests rich with brocade and embroidery, their gowns a billow of body-shrouding skirts and pleats and lace. Honor's were none of those things, and not by happenstance. Such styles would have made someone her height look as huge as a house, she thought, and she hadn't needed Miranda's painfully tactful expression to tell her she lacked the native Grayson's ability to manage such costumes gracefully. She was working on it, but those skills were harder to acquire than they appeared, especially for someone who'd spent a lifetime in uniform, so she'd reminded herself that a good tactician overcame disadvantages by maximizing her advantages. If she couldn't cope with local fashion, then it was time to trade ruthlessly on her steadholder's status to set fashion, instead, and Miranda had dived into the project with enthusiasm.
:lol:


Harrington City would have been only a large town on Manticore, but it seemed much bigger, for Grayson architecture reflected the limits of Grayson's pre-Alliance tech base, with none of the mighty towers of most counter-grav civilizations. Its buildings were low-growing and close to the ground—thirty stories was considered a monster—and that meant the same amount of housing spread out over a far wider stretch of ground.

Honor still found that a bit odd as her ground car purred down Courvosier Avenue and she gazed out at her capital. She'd gotten over her discomfort (not without a struggle) at learning any steading's capital always bore the steading's name, but watching the buildings pass reminded her yet again of the vast differences between Graysons and Manticorans. It would have been far more efficient to use the newly acquired technologies to build proper towers—one tower would have held Harrington City's total population with ease, and it would have been easy to seal it against the hostile environment, as well—but Grayson didn't do things that way.

Honor's subjects were a baffling mix of obstinate tradition and inventiveness. They'd used the new technology with impressive innovation to build this entire city from the ground up in barely three T-years, which had to be a record for a project of such size, but they'd built it the way they thought it should be, and she'd been wise enough not to argue the point. After all, it was to be their home. They had a right to make it one they were comfortable in, and as she gazed down broad cross streets and green swathes threaded through the city grid, she had to admit it felt right. Different from any city she'd ever before known, but curiously and completely right.
Yes, Harrington Steading consists mostly of the city of Harrington and surrounding lands. And it's a proper sprawling city and not one or two megascrapers.

They'd had to, for it was physically impossible to completely decontaminate planetary farmland and keep it that way.

Or it had been, she reminded herself, glancing up at the towering crystoplast dome that covered the entire city and several thousand hectares of as yet empty ground. People on Grayson lived more like the denizens of an orbital habitat than a normal planetary population, and their homes were sealed enclaves of filtered air and distilled water, but Harrington City was different. For the first time, Grayson architects had been able to design a city as a living, breathing unity—one whose people could walk its streets without emergency breath masks—and the same technology would soon be extended to the agricultural sector, as well.

Food production had always been a major limiting factor on Grayson's population. Not even its natives could survive for long on vegetables grown in unreclaimed soil, and keeping farmland decontaminated was a nightmare task, so over two-thirds of their food was grown in space. The orbital farms were far more productive, on a volume-for-volume basis, than any dirt-side farm, but building them had been hideously expensive, especially with pre-Alliance technology. Historically, simply feeding its people had soaked up something like seventy percent of Yeltsin's gross system product, but that was about to change. Sky Domes' projections indicated that food could be produced in domed farms—essentially nothing more than vast, self-contained greenhouses—for little more than two-thirds of the orbital habitats' ongoing production costs and with far smaller startup investments.

The consequences, both economically and for the population the system could support, would be stupendous. Sky Domes wasn't merely going to make Grayson cities nicer; it was going to eliminate factors which had forced Grayson to practice draconian population control throughout its history, and only the influx of Manticoran technology and Honor's own financial backing had made it possible.
Harrington is the first city on Grayson to be completely domed. Between the difficulties of farming on the ground and the expense of farming in space, 70% of Grayson GDP goes into agriculture to feed their 2 billion residents. There's also a mention of draconian population control, I had thought the Graysons were more about R-strategy, haven enough kids and maybe some will live. Well, at least in the early days, they do have a thousand year history and all. Confirmation of 3 T-years since the second book, curious.

Honor's interest in military history meant she knew only too well how often the intolerance of religious bigotry had exacted its price in blood and atrocity, how seldom a single faith had enjoyed universal acceptance without becoming an instrument of repression. And she knew how fanatical the original Church of Humanity had been when it shook the dust of Old Earth from its sandals to found its own perfect society on this beautiful, deadly planet. Yet somehow the Church had avoided repression here. There had been times, in its past, when that was not true. She knew that, too, for she'd applied herself to the study of Grayson history with even more intensity than she had to that of Manticore. She had to, for she must learn to know and understand the people accident had called her to rule. So, yes, she knew of the periods when the Church had ossified, when doctrine had hardened into dogma. But those periods seldom lasted, which was all the more surprising in such a deeply traditional people as those of Grayson.

Perhaps it was because the Church had learned from the horrors of Grayson's Civil War, when over half the planet's total population had perished. Surely that terrible lesson had cut deep, yet she thought it was only half the answer—and that the very world on which they lived was the other half.

Grayson was its own people's worst enemy, the invisible threat perpetually waiting to destroy the unwary. That wasn't unique to Yeltsin's Star, of course. Any orbital habitat offered its inhabitants countless ways to do themselves in, and many another planet was equally, if less insidiously, dangerous. But most people in such environments either became slaves to the traditions they knew spelled survival or else developed an almost automatic, instinctive rejection of tradition in eternal search for better ways to survive. What made the Graysons different was that, somehow, they'd done both. They did cling to the traditions they'd tested and found good, yet they were simultaneously willing to consider the new in ways even Manticorans were not, for the Manticore System's three inhabited worlds were friendly to Man.
Again something of Grayson's history (good job, studying Honor!) and something of their character and what generally happens to people living in places where the entire world is literally trying to kill them.

"As of this morning, Sky Domes has received definite construction commitments worth over two hundred million austins, with more to follow."

The dome itself seemed to quiver with the volume of the shout that awoke. The entire Sky Domes project had been a risky venture for a fledgling steading, and only Honor's off-world wealth had made it possible. She'd used her prize money and the income from its investment to bankroll the company to the tune of twelve million Manticoran dollars—over sixteen million austins—and Sky Domes had built Harrington City's dome at cost, expressly as a demonstration project, but the gamble had paid off. Sky Domes, Ltd., had a lock on the new dome technology, which meant income and investment and jobs for all of Harrington Steading's people.
Looks a damn fine return on that particular investment. Though last book she was just going to invest $7.5 million Manticoran, or 10 million austins. She seems to have invested more, and the exchange rate is reasonably consistent.

"Repent, I say!" the black-clad man thundered. "Down on your knees, Honor Harrington, and beg the forgiveness of the God you so grossly offend by your damnable transgressions against His will!"

His contemptuous words burned like acid, and something happened inside her. Something she'd thought lost forever snapped back into place like the resocketing of a dislocated limb . . . or the click of a missile tube loading hatch. Her chocolate-dark eyes hardened, and Nimitz reared high on her shoulder. He hissed an echo of her sudden rage, flattening his ears and baring his fangs, and she felt Julius Hanks stiffen beside her as the happy crowd noise faltered and people looked back. One or two Harringtons started angrily towards the speaker, only to stop as they saw his clerical collar, and she sensed Andrew LaFollet reaching for his com. She reached out and intercepted his wrist without even looking.

-snip-

"Let me deal with him, My Lady," Hanks whispered. She glanced at the old man, and his eyes burned with anger. "That's Brother Marchant," Hanks explained. "He's an ignorant, opinionated, intolerant, closed-minded bigot, and he has no business here. His congregation is up in Burdette Steading. In fact, he's Lord Burdette's personal chaplain."

"Ah." Honor nodded. She understood Hanks' anger now, and she clamped down an iron control as her own stirred. So that was how all those demonstrators had gotten here, she thought coldly.

William Fitzclarence, Lord Burdette, was probably the most prejudiced of all Grayson's steadholders. Some of the others might be in two minds about accepting a woman steadholder; Burdette wasn't. Only Protector Benjamin's personal warning had kept his mouth shut during her formal investment, and he ignored her with icy contempt whenever he couldn't completely avoid her. There was no way Marchant had come here without his patron's permission, which suggested Burdette and those of like mind had decided to openly support the opposition and probably explained the source of the funds which had brought so many outside protesters to Harrington.
Meet Brother Marchant and Steadholder Burdette. If you haven't figured it out by now, they'll be the villains of this piece. In this case, Marchant has crashed the 'finished the city-dome' party to denounce Honor. Of course, attacking Honor non-fatally is a pretty bad move, and all he really achieved was to give her her moxie back.
"You had something you wished to say, Sir?" she invited, and the clergyman flushed as she goaded him with her very courtesy.

"You are a stranger to God, Honor Harrington!" he proclaimed, waving his book once more, and Honor felt LaFollet bristle afresh at his repeated use of her first name. As his omission of her title, it was a calculated insult from a man who'd never even been introduced to her, but she simply reached up to soothe Nimitz once more and waited. "You are infidel and heretic, by your own admission before the Conclave of Steadholders when you refused to embrace the Faith, and one not of Father Church is no fit protector for God's people!"

"Forgive me, Sir," Honor said quietly, "but it seemed to me more fitting to state openly, before God and the Conclave, that I had not been raised in the Church of Humanity. Should I have pretended otherwise?"

"You should never have profaned by seeking worldly power!" Marchant shouted. "Woe be unto Grayson that a heretic and woman should claim the steadholder's key as God's steward! For a thousand years, this world has been God's—now those who have forgotten His law profane it by turning to foreign ways and leading His people into the wars of infidel powers, and it was you, Honor Harrington, who brought these things to us! You corrupt the Faith by your very presence, by the unclean example and ideas you carry like pestilence! 'Beware those who would seduce you, my brothers. Heed not those who would defile the temple of your soul with promises of material things and worldly power, but hold fast to the way of God and be free!' "

Honor heard Hanks inhale between clenched teeth as Marchant quoted from The Book of the New Way. It was the second most sacred of all Grayson texts, and she felt the Reverend's fury as Marchant twisted it to his purpose. But Honor had spent hours poring over The New Way herself in an effort to understand her people, and now she blessed the sharpness of her own memory.

"Perhaps you should finish your citation, Sir," she said to Marchant, and her prosthetic eye showed her the shock on his face. "I believe," she continued calmly and clearly, "that Saint Austin ended that passage with 'Shut not your minds to the new because the chains of the past bind you tight, for it is those who cling most desperately to the old who will turn you from the New Way and lead you once more into the paths of the unclean.' "

"Blasphemy!" Marchant shrieked. "How dare you set your tongue to the words of the Book, heretic?!"

"Why should I not?" Honor returned in a tone of deadly reason. "Saint Austin wrote not simply for those who had already accepted the Church, but for those he sought to bring to it. You call me heretic, but surely a heretic is one who claims to accept your Faith and then twists it to his own liking. I make no such claim, for I was reared in another faith, but should that prevent me from reading and respecting the teachings of yours?"

"What do you know of the Faith?!" Marchant spat. "You parrot the words, but their meaning is not in you! The very key about your neck proclaims it, for woman was never meant to rule. 'Gather your sons to build the world God ordains, and guard your wives and daughters well. Protect them and teach them, that they may know God's will through you.' Through you!" Marchant repeated, glaring furiously at her. "God Himself tells us Woman is to be governed by Man, as a father governs his children, not to violate His law by setting herself against His will! You and your accursed Star Kingdom infect us all with your poisons! You lead our young men into godless war and our young women into the sins of pride and debauchery, turning wife against husband and daughter against father!"

"I think not, Sir." Honor allowed an edge of ice into her own voice as she met the clergyman's glare and chose another passage from The New Way. " 'Fathers, do not close your minds to the words of your children, for they are less fixed in the old ways. Nor should there be strife between a man and his wives. Love them and heed their council. We are all the Sons and Daughters of God, Who created us Man and Woman that we might comfort and aid one another, and a day will come when Man will need Woman's strength as well as his own.' "
It's always fun to quote scripture at the fire-and-brimstone zealots. Anyway, they keep the quotation game up for a while, and Honor seems to be winning, because he shifts to attacking her relationship with Tankersley and while she defends her love and intention to eventually marry with tear-filled eyes he suggest her lover was smote for his sins and she will likewise bring ruin to all she touches, and that's all it takes a trigger a riot as the god-fearing residents of Harrington city try to beat a man of the cloth to death. Honor gets her armsmen to rescue to him, and both sides consider the thing a sort of no-score win.

Now, if Mattews had asked Honor that morning to join the Grayson Space Navy, I don't know she would have been ready. But facing an enemy gave her back her focus, so congrats Burdette and Marchant, thanks to you Honor's back in black (well, blue. Which is a new color for her.)
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Ahriman238 wrote:8 SDs and 16 DNs, heavy with pods launch an opening salvo of 3200 missiles. Get used to it.
That's about 130 missiles per ship, suggesting 9-10 pods per capital ship.
No wonder that wall had closed so steadily! White Haven extended his enemies a single moment of ungrudging respect as he recognized the trap into which that unflinching Peep formation was herding his own. Another fifteen minutes, and he would have been hopelessly boxed, committed to close action against Bogey One even as Bogey Two came boring into his flank from above, and he'd walked straight into it.
This is very close to the signature "defenders tucked away in hyper" move we see later in the series. Also, I love the phrase "boring into his flank from above;" it's a good three dimensional passage.
"In the last three months, however, the RMN's captured only two systems and lost nineteen capital ships doing it—including the ten they lost at Nightingale, where they didn't take the system. The Peeps are still taking heavier losses, but remember that they have all those battleships. They may be too small for proper ships of the wall, but they provide a rear area coverage the Manties can't match without diverting dreadnoughts or superdreadnoughts, which frees a higher percentage of the Peeps' ships of the wall for front-line use. Put simply, the Peeps still have more ships to lose than Manticore does, and the war is slowing down, Your Grace. Peep resistance is stiffening, and the Manties are transferring more and more of their own strength to the front in an effort to hang onto their momentum."
Progression of the First Haven War, and pretty much all we're going to get for the time between books four and five.
Also note- Weber makes a big thing about the RMN's "traditional" love of battlecruiser raids. Against Haven, mass availability of old battleships that can outshoot any prewar battlecruiser would pretty much neutralize that tactic of Manticore's. Which probably cramps the RMN's style badly against this new, powerful opponent.
Honor's Grayson armsmen first considered swimming something between suicidal and a criminal waste of clean water. She seems to have splurged on an Olympic-sized pool, which probably didn't help.
The technical capability to build such a plant certainly exists on Grayson, at least if you're a millionaire- but the long period in the distant past when it was NOT possible seems to have killed off the sport.

It says the pool is Olympic-sized, though? Wow. Scratch "thousands of liters," try "millions."
Swimming was bad enough, but at least she did that on a nice, flat piece of Harrington House's protectively domed grounds—which made it infinitely preferable to her other pursuits. Hang-gliding was a planetary passion on her home world, and LaFollet cringed every time he thought of it. He knew she'd been an expert glider before he learned to walk, yet her refusal to so much as consider taking along an emergency counter-grav unit was less than reassuring to the man charged with keeping her alive...
And on at least a couple of occasions Honor dragged the armsmen home to Sphinx to indulge in some of her other hobbies, hang-gliding, mountain climbing and sailing, all relatively unknown on Grayson. Well, I could seem them rock-climbing or sailing a ship from necessity, but between dust and frothing wave that's probably a bit too much risk for casual fun. One really wonders where a career military officer from a middle-class background found time for all these hobbies.
What startles me is that Honor would refuse to take a grav-thing that sounds like the equivalent of a parachute. However, as to when she found the time...

One, Alfred and Allison Harrington are both highly skilled physicians- a brain surgeon and a master geneticist from the greatest world of geneticists in known space. While they may not be nobility, I'm sure they were never hurting for money, even slightly.

Two, "middle-class" in Manticore can include things like a largish rural house that's been in the family for centuries, your own supersonic flying car... both of which Honor's family has.

Three, Harrington can't really be more than 20 years older than Andrew LaFollet, because LaFollet was in Palace Security in 1903 PD, at which time Honor was 44 years old. The age difference is probably less than 20 years, even- which suggests that Honor was hang-gliding as a minor, which explains when she put in a lot of the time learning it. The sailing, who knows, but we also know Honor did that at the naval academy as part of the curriculum. So that may not have taken a big bite of her time as a youth.
Most (though certainly not all) Graysons reserved their contempt for the man when such things occurred, for female births outnumbered male on Grayson by three to one, and Grayson was a hard world, where survival and religion alike had evolved an iron code of responsibility. A man who engaged in casual dalliance violated his overriding obligation to provide for and protect a woman who gave him her love and might bear his children. But it wasn't entirely one-sided...
Honor's 'living in sin' with Tankersley is a fairly major point against her with most Graysons, and so the lever her critics and political opponents love to reach for.
Also, for a highly religious planet, Grayson is unusual in that the burden of adultery is mainly on the man- although the pre-Restoration culture still shelters and cloisters women to the full extent possible given the need to keep its economy alive.

This may also explain why, looking back, men could get in trouble for adultery on Masada. It's a holdover; no matter HOW misogynistic the culture gets, the assumption that the man has both the agency and the responsibility to provide for his (multiple) wives still applies. On Earth there was a tendency to assume that it was the woman's responsibility to remain chaste, and not the man's fault for failing to do so... and the male-female ratio was such that it was childbearing-age females who were scarce, not breeding-age males.
Harrington is the first city on Grayson to be completely domed. Between the difficulties of farming on the ground and the expense of farming in space, 70% of Grayson GDP goes into agriculture to feed their 2 billion residents. There's also a mention of draconian population control, I had thought the Graysons were more about R-strategy, haven enough kids and maybe some will live. Well, at least in the early days, they do have a thousand year history and all.
In the very early days, when there was no way to decontaminate farm soil anyway, they probably were stuck with the usual pre-industrial R-strategy: have lots of kids and hope enough of them make it to adulthood without crippling damage from heavy metal poisoning.

But the planet has had industrial technology for something like 600 years- remember that they ended the Grayson Civil War by building an STL starship to move off-planet the faction which had built a planet-ruining nuclear arsenal. So their social mores have had plenty of time to settle into a modern, post-technological equilibrium.

Also note that their technology is significantly better than that of 2000-era Earth; even before contact Grayson probably knew more about things like decontaminating things of heavy metals than we've ever known on Earth today.
It's always fun to quote scripture at the fire-and-brimstone zealots. Anyway, they keep the quotation game up for a while, and Honor seems to be winning, because he shifts to attacking her relationship with Tankersley and while she defends her love and intention to eventually marry with tear-filled eyes he suggest her lover was smote for his sins and she will likewise bring ruin to all she touches, and that's all it takes a trigger a riot as the god-fearing residents of Harrington city try to beat a man of the cloth to death. Honor gets her armsmen to rescue to him, and both sides consider the thing a sort of no-score win.

Now, if Mattews had asked Honor that morning to join the Grayson Space Navy, I don't know she would have been ready. But facing an enemy gave her back her focus, so congrats Burdette and Marchant, thanks to you Honor's back in black (well, blue. Which is a new color for her.)
Also interesting to note in there- Marchant said a grammatical variation of "this world is God's." Which you may remember as the slogan of the Masadan fifth columnists.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

simon wrote:
8 SDs and 16 DNs, heavy with pods launch an opening salvo of 3200 missiles. Get used to it.
That's about 130 missiles per ship, suggesting 9-10 pods per capital ship.
Don't have support right at hand, but that sounds about right, maybe a bit on the light side.

This is very close to the signature "defenders tucked away in hyper" move we see later in the series. Also, I love the phrase "boring into his flank from above;" it's a good three dimensional passage.
Yes it is, even if they're just stealthed instead of hiding in hyper.

Progression of the First Haven War, and pretty much all we're going to get for the time between books four and five.
Also note- Weber makes a big thing about the RMN's "traditional" love of battlecruiser raids. Against Haven, mass availability of old battleships that can outshoot any prewar battlecruiser would pretty much neutralize that tactic of Manticore's. Which probably cramps the RMN's style badly against this new, powerful opponent.
Quite likely. On the hand one is almost tempted to dismiss the taking of less than 2 dozen systems where the enemy more or less left them alone for a decent chunk of a year. Then again, a single system and planet can be a really tough nut to crack, particularly if you're going to try and take time to consolidate and actually control it.

Honor's Grayson armsmen first considered swimming something between suicidal and a criminal waste of clean water. She seems to have splurged on an Olympic-sized pool, which probably didn't help.
The technical capability to build such a plant certainly exists on Grayson, at least if you're a millionaire- but the long period in the distant past when it was NOT possible seems to have killed off the sport.

It says the pool is Olympic-sized, though? Wow. Scratch "thousands of liters," try "millions."
It doesn't explicitly say that, for some reason I keep walking away with that impression. Maybe it's the three-meter depth, though that holds true for several public pools I've been to that weren't Olympic-sized by any stretch.

I suspect, though they use water to bathe, the idea of hopping into a freestanding body of water would seem profoundly unsafe and unnatural to a Grayson. Even knowing it's clean, at least one armsman is still distinctly uncomfortable with the whole idea.

And on at least a couple of occasions Honor dragged the armsmen home to Sphinx to indulge in some of her other hobbies, hang-gliding, mountain climbing and sailing, all relatively unknown on Grayson. Well, I could seem them rock-climbing or sailing a ship from necessity, but between dust and frothing wave that's probably a bit too much risk for casual fun. One really wonders where a career military officer from a middle-class background found time for all these hobbies.
What startles me is that Honor would refuse to take a grav-thing that sounds like the equivalent of a parachute. However, as to when she found the time...

One, Alfred and Allison Harrington are both highly skilled physicians- a brain surgeon and a master geneticist from the greatest world of geneticists in known space. While they may not be nobility, I'm sure they were never hurting for money, even slightly.

Two, "middle-class" in Manticore can include things like a largish rural house that's been in the family for centuries, your own supersonic flying car... both of which Honor's family has.

Three, Harrington can't really be more than 20 years older than Andrew LaFollet, because LaFollet was in Palace Security in 1903 PD, at which time Honor was 44 years old. The age difference is probably less than 20 years, even- which suggests that Honor was hang-gliding as a minor, which explains when she put in a lot of the time learning it. The sailing, who knows, but we also know Honor did that at the naval academy as part of the curriculum. So that may not have taken a big bite of her time as a youth.

In point of fact, Honor is 13 years older than La Follet, and by the beginning of Short Victorious War was climbing and gliding in the mountains near her home before she turned twelve. I actually forgot about the Island teaching sailing. I'm just a bit surprised she's a climber/glider, a pilot, a sailor, a martial artist, an expert markswoman, an amateur but reasonably dedicated student of history, on top of having two full-time jobs and now she's taking up fencing. Though at least 3 of those hobbies she can't really pursue on Grayson, so I suppose in a way it balances out.

Most (though certainly not all) Graysons reserved their contempt for the man when such things occurred, for female births outnumbered male on Grayson by three to one, and Grayson was a hard world, where survival and religion alike had evolved an iron code of responsibility. A man who engaged in casual dalliance violated his overriding obligation to provide for and protect a woman who gave him her love and might bear his children. But it wasn't entirely one-sided...
Honor's 'living in sin' with Tankersley is a fairly major point against her with most Graysons, and so the lever her critics and political opponents love to reach for.
Also, for a highly religious planet, Grayson is unusual in that the burden of adultery is mainly on the man- although the pre-Restoration culture still shelters and cloisters women to the full extent possible given the need to keep its economy alive.

This may also explain why, looking back, men could get in trouble for adultery on Masada. It's a holdover; no matter HOW misogynistic the culture gets, the assumption that the man has both the agency and the responsibility to provide for his (multiple) wives still applies. On Earth there was a tendency to assume that it was the woman's responsibility to remain chaste, and not the man's fault for failing to do so... and the male-female ratio was such that it was childbearing-age females who were scarce, not breeding-age males.
Ah yes, the "men are out-of-control rapists waiting to happen" model of human behavior. Women, despite lacking physical and social power need to have control because men don't. In this way at least, Grayson is MUCH better off than actual 'medieval' cultures.

In the very early days, when there was no way to decontaminate farm soil anyway, they probably were stuck with the usual pre-industrial R-strategy: have lots of kids and hope enough of them make it to adulthood without crippling damage from heavy metal poisoning.

But the planet has had industrial technology for something like 600 years- remember that they ended the Grayson Civil War by building an STL starship to move off-planet the faction which had built a planet-ruining nuclear arsenal. So their social mores have had plenty of time to settle into a modern, post-technological equilibrium.

Also note that their technology is significantly better than that of 2000-era Earth; even before contact Grayson probably knew more about things like decontaminating things of heavy metals than we've ever known on Earth today.
... and even then, there are probably some hard restrictions on living space, where everything needs to be filtered and emergency masks are still usually kept close at hand.

For that matter, there's a brief passage on the Last Stand of the Fifty-Two in the last book. When the Faithful launched their initial coup they drove a tank down the hall to the Conclave chambers to finally bust through the doors. Which is why despite getting called 'neobarb' all the time, Graysons are actually fairly sophisticated, even the sword duel at the end is a callback to a defunct tradition only relevant because the Protector is claiming ancient powers and prerogatives and that Trial by Combat was the check on period Protectors.

It's always fun to quote scripture at the fire-and-brimstone zealots. Anyway, they keep the quotation game up for a while, and Honor seems to be winning, because he shifts to attacking her relationship with Tankersley and while she defends her love and intention to eventually marry with tear-filled eyes he suggest her lover was smote for his sins and she will likewise bring ruin to all she touches, and that's all it takes a trigger a riot as the god-fearing residents of Harrington city try to beat a man of the cloth to death. Honor gets her armsmen to rescue to him, and both sides consider the thing a sort of no-score win.

Now, if Mattews had asked Honor that morning to join the Grayson Space Navy, I don't know she would have been ready. But facing an enemy gave her back her focus, so congrats Burdette and Marchant, thanks to you Honor's back in black (well, blue. Which is a new color for her.)
Also interesting to note in there- Marchant said a grammatical variation of "this world is God's." Which you may remember as the slogan of the Masadan fifth columnists.
Where it's one line in a rant about how this world has always been God's and then alien women, I can more easily dismiss it. I really doubt Marchant was in any way associated with Maccabeus, else I've forgotten far more of the book than I'd imagined. I doubt it was even a deliberate association, just one more bit of the drivel coming from his mouth.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

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Ahriman238 wrote:Where it's one line in a rant about how this world has always been God's and then alien women, I can more easily dismiss it. I really doubt Marchant was in any way associated with Maccabeus, else I've forgotten far more of the book than I'd imagined. I doubt it was even a deliberate association, just one more bit of the drivel coming from his mouth.
Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if Weber stuck that in on purpose, just to be sneaky. I've got this pet theory that Weber meant for the "Icarus" in Operation Icarus (In Enemy Hands IIRC) to refer to the Manticorans overextending themselves or something to that effect.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

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Ahriman238 wrote:Quite likely. On the hand one is almost tempted to dismiss the taking of less than 2 dozen systems where the enemy more or less left them alone for a decent chunk of a year. Then again, a single system and planet can be a really tough nut to crack, particularly if you're going to try and take time to consolidate and actually control it.
Also, Manticore has... how many capital ships? To avoid getting squashed if a PN fleet actually does rally and counterattack, they have to operate in groups of 3-5 squadrons of capital ships, I'd say... which means there are really only a limited number of effective offensive fleets in the Manticoran Navy. Each fleet can only capture planets so fast.
I suspect, though they use water to bathe, the idea of hopping into a freestanding body of water would seem profoundly unsafe and unnatural to a Grayson. Even knowing it's clean, at least one armsman is still distinctly uncomfortable with the whole idea.
Yes.
In point of fact, Honor is 13 years older than La Follet, and by the beginning of Short Victorious War was climbing and gliding in the mountains near her home before she turned twelve. I actually forgot about the Island teaching sailing. I'm just a bit surprised she's a climber/glider, a pilot, a sailor, a martial artist, an expert markswoman, an amateur but reasonably dedicated student of history, on top of having two full-time jobs and now she's taking up fencing. Though at least 3 of those hobbies she can't really pursue on Grayson, so I suppose in a way it balances out.
Indeed, although it seems like she only seriously pursued some of those hobbies at any given time.
Ah yes, the "men are out-of-control rapists waiting to happen" model of human behavior. Women, despite lacking physical and social power need to have control because men don't. In this way at least, Grayson is MUCH better off than actual 'medieval' cultures.
I don't think it's that so much as... hm. How do I put this.

Basically, every Grayson man is expected to be a capital-F Family Man from a young age. The skewed gender ratio means that no Grayson man is going to have trouble finding a wife (or multiple wives). A Grayson man who does not settle down and start raising kids is being irresponsible and failing his first duty to the continued survival and function of Grayson society. A Grayson man who starts having sexual relations with women not his wives, instead of making honest women of them and marrying them so he can become a Family Man, likewise.

While him being some kind of out-of-control rapist makes this basic fact worse, it's still bad. The problem is not so much about control of sexual intercourse or prudishness as such. It's that the institution of marriage is a huge thing in Grayson society, and the limited supply of males are chiefly involved in making it work. Thus, their responsibility in such matters is great, and in any act of adultery their irresponsibility is great. Social stigma attaches accordingly.
For that matter, there's a brief passage on the Last Stand of the Fifty-Two in the last book. When the Faithful launched their initial coup they drove a tank down the hall to the Conclave chambers to finally bust through the doors. Which is why despite getting called 'neobarb' all the time, Graysons are actually fairly sophisticated, even the sword duel at the end is a callback to a defunct tradition only relevant because the Protector is claiming ancient powers and prerogatives and that Trial by Combat was the check on period Protectors.
Although one key point here is that they kept the swords and the oligarchy of the steadholders, simultaneous with their command of industrial technology. I've always gotten the idea that "neobarbarian" in the Honorverse is mostly meant to refer to people who have primitive social organization, and technology primitive compared to 'first galaxy' standards, but not necessarily pre-industrial or even pre-spaceflight.

Cheap interstellar travel makes it relatively hard for planetary societies to regress that far, after all, even with messed up government, as illustrated in real life by the fact that places like Zimbabwe still have cars and cell phones no matter how corrupt and screwed up the system gets.

By that standard the Graysons totally were "neobarbs," just not cavemen.
Where it's one line in a rant about how this world has always been God's and then alien women, I can more easily dismiss it. I really doubt Marchant was in any way associated with Maccabeus, else I've forgotten far more of the book than I'd imagined. I doubt it was even a deliberate association, just one more bit of the drivel coming from his mouth.
I like the idea that it's a Grayson-fundie dogwhistle phrase, the sort of thing that the Maccabeans say because they believe it, not just because it's part of their organization.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Terralthra »

Indeed. Doesn't someone (in one of the short stories? Maybe The Honor of the Queen?) refer to chem-burning reaction drive nuclear missiles as "neobarb" at some point? If a wedge-powered ship firing nuclear missiles is "neobarb", perhaps the phrase barbarian needs air quotes.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

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I really do think 'neobarb' refers more to social organization than to technology.

A planet with an utterly primitive economy might nevertheless be able to afford someone's cast-off hyper-capable starship, if they have an export commodity of sufficient value, just as there are countries at the low end of the Third World with utterly barbaric and primitive governments... but which nevertheless have (a few) tanks and jet fighters in their military.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

Quite likely. On the hand one is almost tempted to dismiss the taking of less than 2 dozen systems where the enemy more or less left them alone for a decent chunk of a year. Then again, a single system and planet can be a really tough nut to crack, particularly if you're going to try and take time to consolidate and actually control it.
Also, Manticore has... how many capital ships? To avoid getting squashed if a PN fleet actually does rally and counterattack, they have to operate in groups of 3-5 squadrons of capital ships, I'd say... which means there are really only a limited number of effective offensive fleets in the Manticoran Navy. Each fleet can only capture planets so fast.
That, at least, I can quickly answer. As of SVW, the Manticoran Alliance had 309 wallers. Haven had 460. Discounting battleships and BCs. Both sides are more weighted towards superdreadnoughts but while just over half (188) of Manticore's wallers are SD, the People's Navy had just under 50 active service dreadnoughts in the entire fleet, creating something close to a 2:1 tonnage disparity.

Since the war started, as noted above Manticore finished building 5 more of the wall, captured 26 Peep capital hulls, and lost 26 in action, so that balances out and at this point the Alliance is 314 capital ships, with 13 more due in the next 6 months.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Right. But as of the beginning of the war, the RMN had 309 of the wall. Bearing in mind that an offensive fleet pretty much has to have at least... 25-40 of the wall in its own right, figure an average of about thirty, that conceivably means up to ten offensive fleets capable of attacking an enemy star system. But that makes no allowance for ships undergoing maintenance that keeps them drydocked in the opening month or two of the war, and more to the point no allowance for defensive fleets.

The fact that White Haven and others were able to detach 32 of the wall from Home Fleet to reinforce Grayson in the runup to Third Yeltsin, and that while this was considered a gamble it wasn't a huge gamble, suggests that Home Fleet alone totals something like 100 of the wall if not more, and that another sizable fleet* is forward deployed to Grayson on a direct line between Haven and Grayson.

*(more than 32 since it was credible to Haven that four squadrons of the wall could be withdrawn from that fleet)

So by itself, that accounts for something like half the RMN order of battle, and Home Fleet at least cannot be moved away from the home system even to capitalize on Havenite weakness in the opening month of the war. The force available for mobile operations into Havenite space might well be as little as 120-180 of the wall, broken down into, say, four to six offensive fleets.

Suddenly, having "only" seized twenty systems or so is more reasonable.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Esquire »

Plus, I suspect there's a lot more work that goes into taking and securing a system than RTS games imply - first, defeat any enemy garrison, then rush up reinforcements against possible/probable counterattack (depending on what stage of the war we're in), then repair inevitable battle damage, which will almost certainly require travel time back to a fleet base and yet more reinforcements, then any ground invasion that might be needed, and since orbital bombardment is really seriously discouraged in this universe that could be quite involved. Then you set up for the next one, and since strategic positioning matters with Honorverse FTL speeds, you have to fight through Haven's considerable defense in depth instead of just going around it.

All that in mind, 20 systems taken in a year or so is really good, and better than pretty much any historical force has managed as far as I'm aware, if we take systems taken as roughly equivalent to battles won or cities captured in historical wars, which seems reasonable enough.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

Simon_Jester wrote:I really do think 'neobarb' refers more to social organization than to technology.

A planet with an utterly primitive economy might nevertheless be able to afford someone's cast-off hyper-capable starship, if they have an export commodity of sufficient value, just as there are countries at the low end of the Third World with utterly barbaric and primitive governments... but which nevertheless have (a few) tanks and jet fighters in their military.
I half-suspect neobarbarians was a phrase coined by the Sollies to refer to everyone else, who they'll have seen as flying far off from Earth and regressing, or at least not advancing, with the rest of humanity.

Esquire wrote:Plus, I suspect there's a lot more work that goes into taking and securing a system than RTS games imply - first, defeat any enemy garrison, then rush up reinforcements against possible/probable counterattack (depending on what stage of the war we're in), then repair inevitable battle damage, which will almost certainly require travel time back to a fleet base and yet more reinforcements, then any ground invasion that might be needed, and since orbital bombardment is really seriously discouraged in this universe that could be quite involved. Then you set up for the next one, and since strategic positioning matters with Honorverse FTL speeds, you have to fight through Haven's considerable defense in depth instead of just going around it.

All that in mind, 20 systems taken in a year or so is really good, and better than pretty much any historical force has managed as far as I'm aware, if we take systems taken as roughly equivalent to battles won or cities captured in historical wars, which seems reasonable enough.
Indeed, I know of no real life military that has managed to conquer so much as a single planet in less than a year. :)

Well, there are provisions for limited bombardment, more like Rods from God with kinetic impactors than nukes. I think a crater half-a-mile across is acceptable. True, it's not Armageddon from orbit, but I'd consider it a heck of an incentive to behave. Maybe more than nukes, since a commander would likely hesitate at that level of mass destruction but might feel a lot freer with something closer to conventional bombs.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

She removed her own mask and mopped her face on the sleeve of her fencing tunic. It was similar in cut to the gi she wore for her coup de vitesse workouts, but stiffer and heavier. Grayson had long ago adopted high-tech substitutes for more traditional fencing armors, and the tunic was designed to let her move easily yet absorb blows which could easily break unprotected limbs.

Unfortunately, it was not so well designed as to prevent bruising, for Grayson's swordmasters subscribed to the theory that bruises taught best.
Futuristic fencing gear. My own experience is that while there is some restriction of movement, you adapt pretty quickly. The real problem with padded suits is they get hot pretty quick.

"Perhaps against someone else, My Lady, but I know you too well. You forget this isn't a real battle, and you think in terms of decision. Given an opportunity to achieve outright victory, your instinct is to seize it even at the expense of taking damage yourself, and in a real fight, I'd probably be dead now, while you would simply be wounded. But in the salle, you must always remember that it's the first touch which counts."
I'm just going to slide this in here, to show that Weber did some covering of himself before the duel.

Honor had accepted willingly, and not just because she loved teaching the coup. For most Graysons, the sword was simply another form of athletic competition, and that, in great part, was how Honor saw it, too. Yet it was more than that for her, as well. She was the only living holder of the Star of Grayson, which, by law, made her Protector's Champion, and the Protector's symbol was not a crown, but a sword. It had been a bit difficult for Honor to learn the trick of substituting "the Sword" where a subject of Queen Elizabeth would have said "the Crown," but she was getting the hang of it, just as she'd learned that Graysons used "the Keys" to refer to the Conclave of Steadholders.

But the point was that Benjamin Mayhew's symbol was a sword, and that archaic weapon had a very special significance here. Any Grayson could learn the sword, but the law allowed only those who'd attained at least the rank of Swordmaster—or those who were steadholders—to carry a live blade. And while Grayson had no equivalent of Manticore's code duello, its fundamental law still enshrined any steadholder's right to trial by combat against the Protector's decrees. No one had resorted to it in over three T-centuries, yet the right remained, and such challenges could be settled only with cold steel.

Honor had no expectation of ever being called upon to fulfill her obligation as Benjamin IX's champion, but she didn't believe in surprises, either. Besides, it was fun. Her own training had never included weapon work, for the coup was strictly an unarmed style, but it had given her a firm basis for Master Thomas' lessons, and she'd found the elegance of steel suited her, though it wasn't a bit like the sports of foil and épée fencing still practiced in the Star Kingdom of Manticore.
Honor understands that her duties as Protector may at some point, require ritual combat with swords. Hasn't happened in her lifetime, but she wants to be prepared anyway.

Grayson's original colonists had fled Old Earth to escape its "soul-destroying" technology, and the first few generations had renounced technological weapons. But they'd still been products of an industrial society, with absolutely no background in the use of primitive weapons, so when the sword reemerged among them, they'd had no basis on which to build the techniques for its use. They'd had to start from scratch, and, according to Master Thomas, tradition held that they'd based their entire approach on something called a "movie" about someone called "The Seven Samurai."
Yep, the Grayson sword is a katana variant reverse-engineered from a classic samurai flick. In fact...
She still hadn't tracked down the word "movie," but the connotations suggested some form of visual entertainment medium. If so, and if the Graysons had based their own swordplay on such a thing, its creators seemed to have done their research more thoroughly than modern HD writers did theirs. King's College had sent along a description of the traditional swords of ancient Japan, and the Grayson weapon bore a pronounced resemblance to the katana, the longer of the two swords which had identified the samurai. It was a bit longer—about the same length as something the records called a tachi—with a more "Western-style" guard and a spine that was sharpened for a third of its length, which the katana's hadn't been, yet its ancestry was evident.

Master Thomas had been fascinated to learn the samurai had actually carried two swords, and he was experimenting with adding the shorter of them—the wakizashi—to his own repertoire, evolving his own techniques for fighting with both of them. He had visions of introducing them as an entirely new school, but he'd also been delighted by the university librarians' inclusion of background on a fencing style called "kendo." Kendo was similar to existing Grayson styles, but he'd licked his chops as he identified differences between them. He was already developing a brand-new series of moves by combining them, and he looked forward to next year's planetary finals and an overdue settlement with Grand Master Eric.
Right, the greatest fencer on Grayson wouldn't lower himself to teach a woman, so her teacher is the runner-up. Who is probably about to move up in the standings based on his open-mindedness.

"You know our beliefs—that God tests His people, that it's by rising to the Test of Life that we nurture and develop all we can be. Your Test has been far harsher and more demanding than most, My Lady, but you've risen to it as you always have, with a courage any Grayson not poisoned by bigotry and blind fear of change can only admire. It may not seem that way to you at this moment in your life, but just this once, trust our judgment more than your own, please."
First mention I could find of the Doctrine of the Test, the belief that Grayson has that God (or "the Tester") bombards people with thousands of tests of their character, faith, and general worthiness and humanity. Probably a post-Austin Grayson doctrine, as no equivalent seems to exist in Masadan theology.

"Desperately, My Lady. Think about it. You know how tiny our Navy was before we joined the Alliance, and you were here when Masada attacked us. Only three of our starship captains survived, and we never had the experience with modern weapons and tactics the Manticoran Navy takes for granted to start with. I think we've done well, but aside from those officers like Captain Brentworth with limited experience in antipiracy operations, none of our new captains have ever commanded in action, and all of them are very, very new to their duties. More than that, we've suddenly found ourselves with a fleet more huge than any Grayson officer ever dreamed of commanding. We're stretched to the breaking point, My Lady, and not one of my officers—not even me, their commander-in-chief—has a fraction of the experience you have. I don't believe for a moment that the RMN will leave you dirt-side long. Their Admiralty's not that stupid, whatever the political situation in the Star Kingdom. But it's absolutely imperative that, while we have you, you pass on as much as possible of that experience to us."
The argument for shanghaiing Honor, also, three surviving captains of the ambush of First Yeltsin and the Battle of Blackbird.

"I said I was giving you Terrible," Matthews said, "but not as her CO. That will be up to your flag captain, Admiral Harrington; I'm giving you the entire First Battle Squadron."
Honor's bump to admiral. Having just 11 SDs for their wall, Grayson has organized them into two short battle squadrons of 6 and 5 ships respectively. Honor will command the larger squadron.

Pierre couldn't have accomplished all he had without the rot spreading from the Legislaturalists' policies, yet the very thing which had made their overthrow possible also made it all but impossible to fundamentally change the system they'd spent two centuries building. They'd created a vast, permanently unemployed underclass, dependent upon the Republic's stupendous welfare machine for its very existence, and in so doing, they'd sown the seeds of their own destruction. No one could place two-thirds of a world's population on the Dole and keep them there forever without the entire system crashing . . . but how in hell did one get them off the Dole?


Like I said, once Pierre got shackled with responsibility for Haven, he found himself saddled with all Harris' problems and the same highly limited toolbox to deal with things.

He swore softly and raised his fists above his head, planting them against the window, and leaned into the tough plastic. He pressed his face to it and closed his eyes and swore again, more viciously. The rot had gone too far. The Legislaturalists' parents and grandparents had taken too many workers out of the labor force in the name of "equality," debased the educational system too terribly in the name of "democratization." They'd taught the Dolists that their only responsibilities were to be born, to breathe, and to draw their Basic Living Stipends, and that the function of their schools was to offer students "validation"—whatever the hell that was—rather than education. And when the rulers realized they'd gutted their own economy, that its total collapse was only a few, inevitable decades away unless they could somehow undo their "reforms," they'd lacked the courage to face the consequences.

Perhaps they, unlike Pierre, actually could have repaired the damage, but they hadn't. Rather than face the political consequences of dismantling their vote-buying system of bread and circuses, they'd looked for another way to fill the welfare coffers, and so the People's Republic had turned conquistador. The Legislaturalists had engulfed their interstellar neighbors, looting other economies to transfuse life back into the corpse of the old Republic of Haven, and, for a time, it had seemed to work.

But appearances had been misleading, for they'd exported their own system to the worlds they conquered. They'd had no choice—it was the only one they knew—yet it had poisoned the captive economies as inexorably as their own. The need to squeeze those economies to prop up their own had only made them collapse sooner, and as the revenue sources dried up, they'd been forced to conquer still more worlds, and still more. Each victim provided a brief, illusory spurt of prosperity, but only until it, too, failed and became yet another burden rather than an asset. It had been like trying to outrun entropy, yet they'd left themselves no other option, and as conquest bloated the People's Republic, the forces needed to safeguard those conquests and add still more to them had grown, as well.
A brief history of Haven.

He'd meant to introduce genuine reforms, he thought wearily. He truly had. But the mob wanted simple solutions, uncomplicated answers, and it didn't care that the real world wasn't like that. Worse, it had tasted blood and discovered the pleasure of smashing its enemies, and it sensed—dimly, perhaps, yet sensed—its own immense, latent power. It was like a homicidal adolescent driven by urges it didn't understand, without the self-discipline that might have controlled those urges and unconcerned with consequences, and the only way to avoid becoming its target was to give it other targets.

And so he had. He'd pointed at the Legislaturalists as traitors who'd battened on the wealth that should have gone to the Dolists, denounced them as profiteers and grafters, and the undeniable wealth of the great Legislaturalist families had made it work, for they had siphoned off immense fortunes. But what he hadn't told the mob—what the mob hadn't wanted to hear—was that all the wealth of all the Legislaturalists of the PRH was meaningless against its debts. Nationalizing their fortunes had provided a temporary relief, a fleeting illusion of improvement, yet it could be no more than that, and so he'd given the mob the Legislaturalists themselves. He'd loosed Oscar Saint-Just's new Office of State Security upon them and watched the "People's Courts" condemn family after family to death for "treason against the people." And as the execution totals rose, he'd learned a terrible truth: bloodletting simply begat more bloodletting. The conviction that the mob had a right to vengeance upon its "betrayers" only fanned the frenzy with which that vengeance was demanded, and when the supply of victims ran short, new ones were required.

And when Pierre realized the impossibility of fulfilling even the modest promises of reform he'd made upon seizing power, he'd also realized that sooner or later, as the latest savior to fail the mob, he must become its victim unless, somehow, he could find someone else upon whom to fix the blame.
And now Pierre finds himself a slave to public opinion, staying up late worrying about the mob and when they'll turn their wrath on him. And offering up victims to sate their bloodlust.

The extremism that possessed the Republic like a blood fever demanded proof of its leaders' commitment, and since the Navy had been branded with responsibility for the Harris Assassination, the Navy must prove its worthiness by winning victories. Any who failed the people in their time of trial must be punished, both for their own crimes and as a warning to others, and so Pierre had embraced a public policy of collective responsibility. The officers of the Navy were all on trial; any who failed in their duties must know that not just they but their entire families would suffer for it, for somehow this had become a war of extermination, and no quarter could be given to enemies—foreign or internal—when the stakes were victory or annihilation.
"Collective Responsibility" failure is equated to treason and treason is punishable by the death not only of the individual, but his entire family.

It was the purpose of the operations outlined on Pierre's terminal to provide that distraction, and despite his weariness, he felt his own interest rousing as he reread the file. It could work, he thought, and even if it failed, it would cost little that truly mattered. The People's Navy had immense reserves of battleships, units that were too weak to face the shock of combat in the wall of battle but which, properly utilized, could nonetheless exert a tremendous influence on the course of the war.

He sat back, gazing at the data on his terminal, and nodded slowly. The time had come to put those battleships to use, and Thurston's plan was not only the most audacious suggestion of how to do that but also offered the richest prize if it succeeded.
At least SOMEONE is thinking of constructive uses for Haven's vast fleet of obsolete battleships.

Classical Grayson music was based on an Old Earth tradition called "Country and Western" and took some getting used to, but she was developing a taste even for it, and she was delighted by Grayson's popular music, while its sacred music was breathtaking.
GAHH!! Why did you even save these people, Honor?!?

Honor made a point of attending services regularly. Member of the Church or not, she was obligated to protect and defend it, and there were other, equally pressing reasons to be here. Her public respect for the Faith was an answer to her critics' charges that she disdained it, and her willingness to take her place in the Stranger's Aisle rather than insist upon occupying the box set aside for the steadholder in any steading capital's cathedral had won her even more acceptance. Her subjects' native Grayson stubbornness respected the honesty of a ruler who accepted the stigma of the Aisle rather than pretend to embrace their Faith. And the fact that she, who wasn't a member of the Church, was a regular attendant underscored the fact that she, in turn, truly respected the Faith which was not hers.
Honor is a regular churchgoer, which is a lot more courteous than I'd probably be to a faith not my own. She also has a bit of political theater in always sitting in the area for unbelievers instead of the swanky Steadholders seat.

Each of Grayson's eighty steadings had its own capital cathedral, and by ancient tradition, the Reverend celebrated service in a different one each Sunday, working his way through every steading in turn. It must, Honor thought, have been an incredibly wearing cycle once, though modern transport had made it much easier. But Reverend Hanks had rearranged his entire schedule to be here today, and she—like everyone else in the cathedral—wondered why he had.
80 Steadings on Grayson, presumably each a city and surrounding environs. Also, I should clarify the Reverend thing. All clergy are Brothers, the collection of senior Brothers are the Sacristy, and the leader of the Church of Humanity Unchained alone gets the title of Reverend.

"No man is without error; therefore let him not assail his brother or sister with intemperate words, but reason with them, remembering always that whatever our words may show forth, God knows the thought behind them. Think not to deceive Him or to preach divisiveness or hatred cloaked in His word, for all who are clean of spirit—yea, even those who remain strangers to the New Way—are His children, and he who seeks with malice or hatred to wound any child of God is the servant of corruption and abhorrent in the eyes of He Who is Father to us all.' "
I can think of one Holy Book that could really, really use a passage like this.

She'd been as stunned as any native-born Grayson at the speed of the Church's actions, and deep inside, she feared the consequences. The Sacristy, as the Church's highest governing body, had every legal right to act as it had, yet the defrocking of a priest could not but be the gravest of steps. And, she thought, one which would goad every reactionary on the planet to fury. Few of them would believe she hadn't had a thing to do with the decision . . . and none of them would care. They would see only that the off-world corruption they feared had reached even into the Sacristy, and the potential for a violent reaction from fanatics who already viewed themselves as a persecuted minority was terrifying.
The Sacristy votes to defrock Brother Marchant on the basis of his attacks against Honor.

Even if it didn't, Burdette Steading was one of the five original steadings. It was densely populated and immensely wealthy, by Grayson standards, and the Fitzclarence family had held steading there for over seven centuries. That gave the current Lord Burdette immense authority and prestige, whereas Harrington was Grayson's newest and, so far, least populous and poorest steading. Honor was realist enough to admit that whatever authority she possessed sprang from who she was and the way mainstream Grayson opinion regarded her. That was a much more fragile thing than the dynastic prestige Burdette was heir to, and with her off-planet and out of mind, there was no telling how public opinion might be swayed.


Honor has a lot of credit with the Grayson on the street, but it's not unlimited. Apparently there were originally 5 Steadings, whether these were pre-planned colonial cities of they just expanded enough to have to start dividing areas is unclear.

Her lips twitched at the thought, and the bleakness faded in her eyes. No wonder she and her Harringtons got along so well. Whether she shared their Faith or not, they were too much alike not to get along. The Church of Humanity didn't demand an individual triumph in the tests God sent her; it demanded only that she try. That she give it her very best shot, whatever the cost or outcome, and that was a code any warrior could appreciate.
More on the Test. You know you've been on the internet too long when your first thoughts go to This.

"I take it, then, that they aren't planning to go out and stage a riot after all?"

"No, My Lady. Although," the major grinned, "I've seen a few games where the losing side did just that. We take baseball seriously on Grayson. It's our planetary sport. That's just a pickup game," he jabbed a thumb at the gate through which the . . . baseball players had disappeared, "but you should see one of the professional teams. Every steading has a franchise. Do you mean they really don't play it at all in the Star Kingdom?" The notion seemed to be beyond his grasp, and Honor shook her head.
Later it is revealed that Grayson is one of just three planets to play baseball. Or know what baseball is. It seems the revered Saint Austin Grayson, author of the Book of the New Way and founder of the Church of Humanity Unchained was also a fanatic about the sport. Consider yourselves redeemed for the music, guys.

"Never heard of it?" Honor frowned, but then her brow cleared. Of course Graysons didn't play golf any more than they swam. The mere thought of trying to maintain a proper golf course on a planet like this was enough to make her dizzy. None of which brought her any closer to understanding what in heaven's name Andrew was talking about.
Graysons also don't golf. Seriously decontaminating a huge patch of ground just for a game would be fairly nuts.

A soft tone alerted the passengers in the VIP lounge to their transportation's arrival, and Admiral Lady Dame Honor Harrington, Grayson Space Navy, glanced at the ETA board, drew an inconspicuous breath, and climbed out of her chair. She tried not to grimace as she adjusted her unfamiliar cap, but she'd served her entire military career wearing the simple, comfortable beret of the RMN. The high-peaked, visored cap of Grayson uniform seemed to weigh at least three kilos, and it would be utterly impossible inside a helmet. Of course, the GSN didn't wear headgear under its helmets, but that didn't prevent her from feeling that it ought to.

She snorted at her own perverse ability to worry about such minor points, yet the truth was that she felt like some sort of actress in the strange uniform. No doubt she'd grow accustomed, but so far she'd worn it for less than three hours, aside from fitting sessions, and Grayson had some peculiar notions of military tailoring.

The uniform was blue, for one thing, which could only strike any professional spacer as an unnatural color for naval uniform. The short-waisted tunic was a lighter blue than the trousers, as well, which seemed an equally unnatural reversal of the way things ought to be, and the gold leaves on her cap's visor made her feel like some comic-opera costumer's idea of a prespace military dictator. And what had possessed the GSN to use buttoned collars instead of the comfortable practicality of the RMN's turtlenecks or at least a simple pressure seal? And if they simply had to inflict buttons on people, couldn't they at least spare her this never-to-be-sufficiently accursed "necktie"? Not only did it serve absolutely no practical purpose, but they insisted that it be hand-tied, which made it an unmitigated pain in the posterior. Why anyone should put a noose around her own neck just to suit some centuries-out-of-date concept of military fashion surpassed Honor's understanding, and after trying for ten solid minutes to get its knot properly adjusted, she'd finally given up and had MacGuiness tie it for her. From his expression, Mac found it as ridiculous as she did, but he'd had the free time to practice with the thing, and she hadn't.
Weber admitted fairly easily that the GSN uniform is pretty much a US Air Force dress uniform except for some of the insignia. I never thought about it before, but yes, you could likely wear an RMN beret under a space helmet. Be a bit awkward if it got dislodged and slid over your face or something, but I think of two easy ways to fix that.

A Manticoran uniform would have had only three nine-pointed stars on its collar, not the four six-pointed ones she wore, but the four broad gold cuff rings were the same in both navies, and the notion of Honor Harrington in an admiral's uniform was still so ridiculous she half-expected to wake up any second.
Manticoran and Grayson insignia for an admiral.

The pad ramp locked in place, and she lifted Nimitz to her right shoulder. Despite Matthews' undoubtedly correct reading of the strategic situation, Yeltsin's Star was almost two light-centuries behind the front, and it would take far more audacity than the Peeps had yet demonstrated to try any sort of operation that far in the Alliance's rear. No, unless the situation changed radically, the probability of anything major happening here was negligible—which was just as well, since the entire Grayson Navy would be basically one huge training command while it figured out what to do with its new wall of battle. If there were any problems, she told herself firmly, there'd be plenty of time to sort things out.


The front has moved off a ways from Grayson, it's unclear right now how much, because we don't know how far Grayson was from the frontier before.

"Good morning, Captain Yu," she replied. His handclasp was firm, and something that wasn't quite a smile flitted across his lips as she cocked her head.

"I thought it would be a good idea to come dirt-side to meet you, My Lady," he said, answering the unspoken question. "I'm your new flag captain."
Yup. Alfredo Yu defected, well technically he requested asylum knowing what fate awaited him at home, and ONI was thrilled to debrief him. Given the crunch for officers, Grayson was happy to have him as both an officer and a citizen after he helped clear up some questions of Haven ship design while Grayson's first wallers were on the drawing board. Ever get that feeling when you realize a frighteningly competent adversary is on your side now?

She was enormous, eight million tons of starship—over four kilometers long and with a maximum beam of six hundred meters, jeweled with the green and white lights of a moored starship—and Honor stared raptly out the view port as the pinnace spiraled along the superdreadnought's length to show her every detail.
I'm thinking this is pre-Great Resizing too.

Her trained eye picked out differences between Terrible and her Manticoran-built counterparts—the more numerous, closer-spaced tubes of her missile armament, arranged on a single deck rather than intermixed with her energy weapons; the numbers of small craft docking points that supplemented her boat bays; the arrangement of her running lights—and the depths of her mind flickered with first impressions. Terrible's missile armament would give her a heavy throw weight, but she had less magazine space for a sustained engagement than a Manticoran SD. The tubes' tight arrangement made a single hit more likely to take out multiple launchers, as well, Honor mused, then nodded to herself. Peep walls had always seemed overly loose to her, but now she understood. With that missile layout and their poorer point defense, they'd have to maintain separation so ships could roll to interpose their impeller wedges against incoming laser heads or see their own missile batteries blown away from outside energy range, and—
Haven design. More punch but less endurance, and in a way more vulnerable, at least to a mission-kill.

A shouted command sounded as Honor swam the last few meters of the tube and caught another grab bar to swing herself over the interface into Terrible's onboard grav field, and she braced herself as the golden notes of a bugle washed over her. Most admirals would have been greeted with the bosun's pipe she was used to; Honor, unfortunately, was a steadholder, which meant she was doomed to hear the fanfare from the Steadholders' March whenever she boarded or left. Under normal circumstances, she rather liked old-fashioned, lung-powered brasses, and she knew the exuberant march was impossible to render on a bosun's pipe, but she made a mental note to have them point the bugle in another direction. The tube made an excellent amplifier.
Given the blizzard of Earth influences on Grayson, I've always imagined the Steadholder's March as the Imperial March, which would granted sound pretty horrible on a bugle.

"I see." Honor returned his smile and wondered just what his relationship to the high admiral was. The conditions of Grayson's settlement had resulted in enormous, intricately linked clan structures, and she knew the Matthews family was one of the larger ones, but aside from his coloring, the lieutenant commander looked enough like High Admiral Matthews to be his son. He was too old for that—she thought—but the resemblance was almost uncanny.
Grayson families, with the polygamy and all, tend to the large and complex.

Honor shook her head and turned in place in the center of her day cabin. She'd always thought Manticoran flag officers were magnificently housed, but this surpassed anything she'd ever imagined. The day cabin was at least ten meters on a side—stupendous for any warship—and the sleeping cabin, just visible through an open hatch, was on the same lavish scale. She waded across the thick, rich carpet of GSN-blue to open a closed hatch and shook her head again as she found a dining cabin large enough to host a state dinner. The original Havenite fittings had been stripped during refit, but the Grayson Navy had refurnished in palatial style, and she pursed her lips as she examined her enormous desk and discovered it was made of natural wood.
Peep flag officers ride in style, far more so than Manticorans. Of course, anyone above a Rear Admiral in the old order was a Legislaturist and would expect comfort.

"Have you been to Masada since the occupation, Ma'am?"

"No." Honor shook her head. "I've considered it, but never very seriously. If there's one person in the galaxy those lunatics really hate, I'm her, and Andrew would shoot me himself—somewhere harmless, like an arm or a leg—to keep me out of their range."

"That would be wise of him, Ma'am. You know, before I saw the place myself, I wondered why the Kingdom should have to shoulder the full burden of occupying it. I mean, we're stretched way too thin as it is, and Endicott's just a hop and a skip from Yeltsin, so why not let the Graysons supply the troops? But those people—"
Yes, Manticore is keeping Masada under military occupation, considering they tried to nuke a friendly state into oblivion, it's sort of the least that could be done. The troops are all Manticoran, too inflammatory to use the Apostate Graysons.

I also agree that Honor popping in to visit would be a terrible idea.

"Remember when we first came out here? How hard we found it to understand how Grayson women could accept their status?" Honor nodded, and Mercedes shrugged. "Compared to Graysons, Masadan women are downright scary. They're not even people. They're property . . . and ninety percent of them seem to accept that that's the way it's supposed to be." She shook her head. "Of the few who don't, half aren't sure the occupation's going to last. They're too terrified to do anything about the way they've been treated, but the ones who aren't afraid are almost worse. The homicide rate on Masada doubled in the first six months of the occupation, and something like two-thirds of the extra bodies were 'husbands'—if you can call the pigs that—who'd been murdered by their 'wives.' Some of them were rather artistic, too, like Elder Simonds' wives. The cops never did find all of his body parts."

"Good Lord," Honor murmured, and Mercedes nodded.

"It hasn't just been limited to women getting even with 'husbands,' either. The overwhelming majority of Masadans still believe in their so-called religion, but a lot of those who don't have some pretty nasty personal scores to pay off. A quarter of the church elders were murdered by their parishioners before General Marcel put the others into protective custody . . . and that only started the survivors howling about the 'oppression of the Faith'! The whole place is still under martial law, General Marcel's had a hell of a time finding anything resembling a body of responsible moderates to act as the local government, and no one on the planet has any idea how to run a nontheocratic state. Under the circumstances, the mere thought of putting in Grayson occupation troops would touch off an explosion, and there's no way Marcel's MPs have managed to confiscate all the weapons on the planet."
The occupation... is not going well.

Honor leaned further back and steepled her fingers under her chin as she frowned at her chief of staff. The Grayson 'faxes reported on Masada regularly, but they'd taken a distinctly hands-off approach. That had surprised her, given the centuries of hatred between the two planets, and her frown deepened as she wondered for the first time if perhaps the Council hadn't "convinced" the reporters to don kid gloves in hopes of sedating public opinion. Of course, the Star Kingdom, not Grayson, had officially claimed the Endicott System as a protectorate by right of conquest. That gave the Graysons a certain insulation from the Masadan occupation . . . and from what Mercedes was saying, that might be the smartest thing anyone had done yet. It was a pity anyone had to occupy the place, but the Alliance couldn't afford to leave a strategically located planet full of implacably hostile fanatics unoccupied.
The press and the occupation.

Maybe worse, some of them have figured out we don't like killing people in job lots. We're seeing some really ugly 'peaceful demonstrations,' and their organizers keep pushing. I think they're trying to see how far they can go before someone on our side pulls the trigger and creates a brand new crop of martyrs."

"Wonderful." Honor pinched the bridge of her nose and grimaced. "If they do push that far, it'll give the Liberals and Progressives back home another reason to moan about our 'brutal, imperialist' policy in the system!"

"Just thank God the Masadans haven't figured that out, Milady," Mercedes said darkly. "Their traditions are so different from ours that they don't seem to realize our government actually has to listen to people who disagree with it. If they ever do realize, and start playing to the newsies . . ."
The Masadans remain unable or unwilling to accept how fundamentally different other societies are, as Mercedes said, the very concept of a secular government is alien to them, much less a government that must yield to public pressure.
"Any plan which requires the direct intervention of any deity to work can be assumed to be a very poor one."- Newbiespud
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Terralthra »

I'd hardly describe the Imperial March as "exuberant." If it's something suited for a bugle, I always picture a Sousa march like The Washington Post, which could be passably rendered on a single horn.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Music by Sousa is appropriate; as I repeat below, the American influences in Grayson culture are quite clear, even if the governmental structure is totally unrecognizably different.
Ahriman238 wrote:Right, the greatest fencer on Grayson wouldn't lower himself to teach a woman, so her teacher is the runner-up. Who is probably about to move up in the standings based on his open-mindedness.
Story of GLORIOUS KERBAL GRAYSONS' lives. :D
First mention I could find of the Doctrine of the Test, the belief that Grayson has that God (or "the Tester") bombards people with thousands of tests of their character, faith, and general worthiness and humanity. Probably a post-Austin Grayson doctrine, as no equivalent seems to exist in Masadan theology.
The Graysons came to terms with the 'Promised Land' of Grayson being practically uninhabitable by thinking in terms of it being an infinite sequence of Tests, designed to hammer out their weaknesses and make them better people. The Masadans came to terms by saying that the reason it was uninhabitable was that the original settlers hadn't had enough faith, hadn't believed hard enough, and that a miracle would have made the planet an Eden had they truly been faithful enough.

You can sort of see how the two ideas might diverge from the same basic doctrine, that God tests us and uplifts us if we pass.
GAHH!! Why did you even save these people, Honor?!?
She hadn't listened to their folk music at the time? :D Besides, country isn't necessarily that bad even...
Graysons also don't golf. Seriously decontaminating a huge patch of ground just for a game would be fairly nuts.
A baseball diamond is bad enough, although at least baseball is small enough that a society with modern technology CAN build a domed baseball stadium. Somehow I suspect that the Grayson concept of a 'home run' has been modified accordingly.
Weber admitted fairly easily that the GSN uniform is pretty much a US Air Force dress uniform except for some of the insignia. I never thought about it before, but yes, you could likely wear an RMN beret under a space helmet. Be a bit awkward if it got dislodged and slid over your face or something, but I think of two easy ways to fix that.
It's sort of appropriate; in real life an evolution of the Air Force uniform would be a pretty credible thing for the "US Space Force" if one existed, and Grayson is a pretty obviously America-descended polity even if their governmental structure isn't recognizable as such.
She was enormous, eight million tons of starship—over four kilometers long and with a maximum beam of six hundred meters, jeweled with the green and white lights of a moored starship—and Honor stared raptly out the view port as the pinnace spiraled along the superdreadnought's length to show her every detail.
I'm thinking this is pre-Great Resizing too.
Ayup. The ships got shrunk to about 1/3 the length and width; I believe there are figures for this class in that post I made recently about captured Havenite ships.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

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"Um." Honor rubbed her temple while her mind juggled the date. Like every other extra-solar planet, Grayson had a local calendar, but unlike most such planets, its people used it only to keep track of the seasons. Nor did they date things from their first colonists' landing as most other systems did. Instead, with a degree of stubbornness unusual even for Graysons, they clung to the ancient Gregorian calendar of Old Earth, which was totally unsuited to the length of their planet's day, much less its year, for official dating. Worse, they retained the old Christian Era date . . . and just to make things really confusing, they followed it with "A.D.," for "Anno Domini," while everyone else used that to indicate "Ante Diaspora"! It was enough to thoroughly bewilder any hapless newcomer, and, for some reason, Honor always had trouble remembering whether this was the year 4009 or 4010, despite all the official documents she had to sign. But at least they also used Old Earth's twenty-four-hour day aboard their warships, as well, so she didn't have to convert different day lengths. She only had to remember how many days each month had.
Grayson still counts years from the birth of Christ, even after the rest of the universe moved on to the Common Era and then Post-Diaspora. And they still use the same calendar for dates, though sometimes December is boiling hot and on other years it's freezing cold. Present dated to 4009 or 4010 in the calendar we presently use.

Preznikov's eyes flashed at the mention of the Malagasy System, but Thurston knew he'd scored a point. The squadrons he'd originally been promised were "unavailable" because Malagasy had exploded in the Committee of Public Safety's face. He didn't know precisely what had provoked it, though it seemed likely the officer corps purges had backed someone into too tight a corner. Shortly after Secretary Ransom had started whipping up the Proles, some of the SS "reeducation teams" had taken to shooting suspect officers' families, as well as the officers themselves. It had been among the stupider of many stupid things State Security had done, and he knew the maniacs responsible had exceeded their own authority when they did it, but moderation wasn't in great demand in the People's Republic just now, and he doubted they'd be punished for it. Not, he thought bitterly, until someone realized that little things like wrecking ops plans by diverting desperately needed warships to suppress local revolts were likely to have an adverse effect on the war effort, at least.
Another open rebellion, this time inspired by StateSec's "collective responsibility."

"And it was Mayhew who made that possible," Burdette added in a softer, more persuasive voice. "He was the wedge, and he did it for his own selfish reasons. For over a hundred years, the Protector's Council governed Grayson. That bastard used the 'crisis'—the crisis he created in the first place by convincing the Council to consider allying with Manticore—to turn the clock back and force us all to accept 'personal rule' again. Personal rule!" Burdette actually spat on the library's expensive carpet. "The man's a damned dictator, Samuel, and you and John want to talk to me about 'legal' options?"

Mueller started to speak, then stopped and took yet another swallow of wine. The implications of Burdette's tirade were frightening, and he wasn't at all certain he shared Marchant's dismissal of Haven's ambitions. On the other hand, he thought suddenly, how likely was the People's Republic to strike at an ex-ally of Manticore? Wouldn't they be more inclined to leave Grayson alone? To adopt a hands-off policy to encourage other Manticoran allies to consider the advantages of neutrality? And intemperate as Burdette's description of the domestic situation might be, there was a core of truth to it. A hard and painful core.
In Burdette's world, there never would have been a Masadan fleet (or perhaps, just one with Haven tech) trying to conquer Grayson if Mayhew had just told Manticore where to stick it. He may be right about Haven leaving them alone, in the short term, if they leave the alliance, but all that shiny new industry would bring Haven back to that tiny system sooner or later.

Still, nice to know what the opposition thinks.

The Council had reduced the Protectorship to figurehead status long before Benjamin Mayhew's birth, and the Conclave of Stead-holders had liked it that way, for they had controlled the Council. But Benjamin had remembered something the Keys had forgotten, Mueller thought bitterly. He'd remembered that the people of Grayson still revered the Mayhew name, and in the crisis of the Masadan War, while the Council and Keys had dithered—Mueller's face burned with shame as he recalled his own panic, but he was too honest with himself to deny it—Benjamin had acted swiftly and decisively.

That probably would have been enough to shatter the Council's power by itself, but then he'd survived the Maccabeans' attempted assassination, as well, and Manticore had gone on to destroy the Masadan threat forever, a combination of events which had devastated the old system. No Protector in centuries had been as popular as Benjamin now was, despite his unholy social "reforms," and, Mueller thought bitterly, the Conclave of Steaders had embraced the renewed power of the Protector with enthusiasm. The Chamber's lower house had become almost as irrelevant as the Protectorship itself as the Council secured its control. Now, in alliance with the Protector, it held the balance of power in the Chamber, and if it had been both respectful and moderate in its demands so far, it had also made it clear that it intended to be treated henceforth as the Conclave of Steadholders' equal.

And the worst of it was that there seemed to be nothing anyone could do about it. Lord Prestwick remained Mayhew's Chancellor. Indeed, he'd become one of Mayhew's champions, claiming that a stronger executive was critical in time of war, which was a direct slap at his fellow steadholders' failure to provide a strong foreign policy. But there'd been no need for a foreign policy, a corner of Mueller's brain protested angrily. Not until Manticore had brought its damned war to Yeltsin's Star—and that was Mayhew's fault, not the Keys'!
First mention of a Conclave of Steaders as opposed to the Conclave of Steadholders. It seems that like Manticore and England, Grayson has a council of hereditary nobles, and a popularly elected Commons for balance. History of how the Protector became a figurehead, you've already seen how it ended.

The Steadholder's head ached, and he massaged his closed eyes while his mind raced. He was a man of the Faith, he told himself. A servant of God who'd never asked to be born into a time of such turmoil. He'd always tried to live by God's will, to meet the Tests God sent him, but why had God chosen to send him this Test? All he'd ever wanted was to do God's will and, someday, in God's good time, pass his steading and his power on to his son and his son's sons.

But Benjamin Mayhew wouldn't let him do that, and Mueller knew it. The Protector couldn't, for the old tradition of steadholder autonomy was anathema to the ugly new world he strove to build in despite of God's will. His reforms were but the tip of an iceberg whose true peril was obvious to any discerning pilot. To make them work, they must be applied across the length and breadth of Grayson, and enforcing them would require an enormous increase in the Sword's authority. The Protector would intrude more and more deeply into each steading—always politely, no doubt; always with a pious appeal to the rectitude of his actions in the name of "equality"—unless the power of the Sword was broken soon, decisively. And the Havenite War. The need of a wartime leader for unquestioning obedience. That would be another potent weapon in Mayhew's arsenal, and the only way to take that weapon from his hands was to force a break with Manticore. But the only way to do that . . .
Steadholders Mueller and Burdette make for interesting bedfellows. Burdette is a hardline religious fanatic, supremely confident in his own moral rectitude and place in the universe, and absolutely certain that which is distasteful to him runs counter to God's Plan. Mueller is a more secular and pragmatic figure, but terrified of centralized power, government intrusion into his affairs, and no longer having unlimited ability to do whatever he wants as long as he doesn't burn his steading to the ground. They each despise each other, but with their powers combined, they could form a strong base for the Republican party.


"But this world is God's." Burdette's soft voice shivered with passion, and his blue eyes blazed like sun-struck sapphires. "What do we have to fear from any empire if God is our Captain?"
Okay, maybe not a coincidence.

The Protector's personal armsmen had actually cringed when his daughters first discovered Nimitz's sinuous agility and willingness to play, for all of them had seen Palace Security's tapes of him ripping out assassins' throats with gory efficiency, but Honor hadn't been concerned. Treecats were sturdy enough to survive anything even a human two-year-old could dish out, and they loved the uncomplicated delight of children's emotions.
I mentioned this before, but if security was my job I'd be very worried about letting my principal within arm's reach of an animal that killed or blinded over a dozen men, however intelligent or well-behaved it otherwise seems.

And, like her, Paxton was deeply troubled by Steadholder Burdette's stubborn refusal to accept the Sacristy's decision on Edmond Marchant. More, he'd pulled together some other alarming indicators she would otherwise have missed. Like how the number of outside protesters being shipped into Harrington Steading had actually increased despite her absence. She'd known that from Colonel Hill's reports, but what she hadn't considered was the cost behind the effort. The "protests" were increasingly well organized, their propaganda steadily more sophisticated, and the numbers suggested the protesters' hidden patrons were pouring even more financial support into the effort.


Honor debatably abuses her position and staff by having her intelligence officer keep her updated on events at home. Mr. Paxton is the first to realize that someone is funding and organizing the protesters that have been harrying Honor.

Only Jeanette was "hers" in a biological sense, but it made absolutely no difference to any of them, and Honor had to admit that Grayson children had secure childhoods. Any Grayson child had as many mothers as her father had wives, yet it went further than that. The brutality of the Grayson planetary environment, especially in the first terrible generations, had created an infant mortality rate which still harrowed the Grayson soul. They regarded children as the most precious gift God had ever created, and that produced an awesomely nurturing mode of childrearing.
Graysons tend to large, complicated, but loving and stable families. They're also really protective of their children, which makes sense for anyone living in a toxic environment.

Fontein smiled at her with his habitual air of slight befuddlement over all things naval, and the satisfaction it woke in her eyes irritated him. He no more enjoyed being thought a fool—especially by someone who hid it so poorly—than the next man. On the other hand, he'd worked hard to convince McQueen he was only one more ignorant Prole who'd risen to his level of incompetence, and he had no intention of revealing how well he actually understood her command's routine operations . . . or how much more thoroughly than she he understood her mission and its implications.

State Security had selected Erasmus Fontein carefully for McQueen's commissioner, though Citizen Secretary Saint-Just had disliked letting him go. Fontein was a wizened little man who looked like someone's harmless uncle, but appearances were deceiving. Most of the citizen commissioners (and, of course, one had to call them all "Citizen" today, Fontein thought dourly; "Prole" was, after all, a plutocratic, elitist denigration) came from the ranks of those who'd most hated the Legislaturalists before the Harris Assassination. In some cases their hatred had been a reasoned thing stemming from the inequities of the old order, but people were people. Most of the Committee's official spies had hated the old regime not on the basis of reason, but solely because they'd been losers under it. Too many of them took a fierce satisfaction in cracking the whip now that it was in their hands, despite the fact that the officers they were charged with overseeing were no more the old regime's minions than they were. An officer was an officer, and if they couldn't avenge themselves on the ones they believed had injured them, then they would assuage their hatred by sneering at the ones they could.

To a certain extent, that attitude was fine with StateSec and the Committee, neither of whom trusted the military, anyway. The animosity between the Navy's officers and the citizen commissioners both warned those officers that anything which even looked like treason would be fatal and insured that they and the commissioners were unlikely to join forces against the new regime.
Fontein pretending to be less intelligent for McQueen's benefit. But I actually quoted it for the rare glimpse into the evolving StateSec culture. The organization we know has wide-eyed believers sincerely trying to protect the People's Republic that suddenly belongs to the people again from a military coup, and it has a lot of the old regime's spies who aren't too sure about the new one but for now have security and a pay check. But more and more the organization is getting dominated by the petty vicious thugs and the people who drink Cordelia Ransom's Kool-Aid.


It irked Stanton to be this far from the action while Admiral White Haven's forces skirmished back and forth with the main Peep fleet between Nightingale and the Alliance's advanced base at Thetis. Minette wasn't exactly of vital strategic importance. It served as an advanced picket, helping the enormous Grendelsbane fleet base cover the Alliance's southern flank against the Peep bases in Treadway and Solway, but those systems had been stripped of mobile elements as White Haven's offensive headed for Trevor's Star, and their immobile fixed defenses posed no threat. Stanton agreed that Minette's billion inhabitants had to be protected—the Minetians were charter members of the Alliance, and the Star Kingdom had a responsibility to look out for them—but his four ships of the wall represented a lot of firepower to waste a hundred and fifty light-years from the real action.
The Minette system and planet Everest, founding member of the Alliance, a billion residents. Before the War broke out, an essential forward picket and provider of metals. The still do lots of asteroid mining, but the front has left them far behind. Hence Manticore securing it with just a small division (half-squadron, 4 ships) of DNs and a thin screen.

He sipped more coffee and watched the light dots of impeller-drive freighters plying back and forth between Minette's two asteroid belts and Everest's orbital smelters. Minette's industry was unsophisticated, but the system was an important source of raw materials and heavy industrial products, and there'd been plans, once, to upgrade its defenses by adding a powerful shell of orbital fortresses around Everest itself. Like much else, however, that project had been overtaken by the war. Although it required massive fixed defenses to cover the repair and maintenance bases that supported the Fleet in wartime, they were only built during peacetime. Once the fighting actually started, they cost too much, for not even the Star Kingdom could afford to build everything.
I hear that. Everest was going to get some serious orbital defenses but then the war actually started and the money and materials were urgently needed elsewhere. Probably on that crash program to rush out every SD that was in production.

It was remarkable that the prewar arms race hadn't wrecked the Manticoran economy, Stanton mused. Although it had been a boom for the armaments industry and done amazing things for applied research, the monetary cost had been staggering. Only the Star Kingdom's enormously productive industrial base and vast merchant marine, coupled with its control of the Manticore Worm Hole Junction, had given it the wealth to absorb such huge peacetime military budgets without major disruptions.

It was getting worse now that the war had actually begun. Taxes and toll fees on the Junction's merchant shipping had already been raised twice. No doubt they'd be going up yet again soon, and finding the trained manpower to simultaneously crew the Fleet and merchant marine and sustain the work force might become a problem, but things might have been far worse. No one else in the Peeps' path had possessed the capability to build a war machine that might stand up to them. Only Manticore had been able to do it . . . and even then only with the Liberal and Progressive Parties screaming like gelded hexapumas at "diverting" so many tax dollars into "alarmist, unproductive military hardware."
A generation-long build-up to withstand the largest military power in local space is very much not cheap. Nor is fighting a war of survival against said power. The build-up we know was an enormous political and economic strain, and the war effort is already hurting for money and men.

He grimaced at the familiar thought and ambled back to his command chair. He couldn't avoid the conclusion that White Haven was right, that this penny-packet dispersal of ships of the wall hurt the Alliance more than it deterred the Peeps. Manticore was on the offensive—for now, at least—and White Haven needed those ships to maintain his momentum. The Admiralty ought to stop frittering away detachments in every hole-in-the-wall system and concentrate larger forces in nodal positions responsible for covering several systems each.

Minette itself was an ideal example of what was wrong with the RMN's current strategy. TF M-01 was strong enough to quash any thoughts of a hit-and-run Peep raid, but if the Republic managed to send in a real offensive, Stanton could never stop it. With fewer but more powerful forces covering larger spheres of space, counterattacks could easily squash any Peep activities in the Alliance's rear and simultaneously free dozens of ships of the wall for White Haven, which would let him keep the Peeps far too busy fighting to protect the heart of their empire to poke any hornets' nests in the Alliance's rear areas, anyway.
As the omniscient audience, we know the Admiralty is detaching ships everywhere they think they can spare them to try and keep the offensive going a bit more, just to Trevor's Star. Stanton doesn't know that, just that his task force is generous for deterring pirates and general trouble, might stop a BC raid, but is wholly inadequate if the Peeps come in force.

Citizen Vice Admiral Diego Abbot concealed a grimace as his ops officer corrected herself. The only individuals the People's Navy was allowed to call "Sir" or "Ma'am" these days were its citizen commissioners, and while Abbot was no Legislaturalist, there was such a thing as carrying egalitarianism too damned far. Military discipline required a certain degree of autocracy, and he resented the constant reminder that he was effectively junior to someone else even on his own flag deck. Especially when the someone in question had been an environmental tech (and not, Abbot thought nastily, a particularly good one) one bare T-year before. Not that he had an intention of letting Citizen Commissioner Sigourney recognize his resentment . . . assuming the woman had the intelligence to do so.
More fun, because 'comrade' was taken, a military officer is properly referred to as 'Citizen [RANK]' or 'Citizen [RANK] [NAME]' including one case of an unfortunate Citizen Major Citizen. Elitest titles such as 'sir' or 'ma'am' are reserved for the People's Commisioners (commissars.) Which does seem self-defeating.


The Manties remained better than her people—she didn't like admitting that, but there was no point lying to herself—yet that was beginning to change. Their technological superiority might be insurmountable, for now at least, but they weren't five meters tall, and a lot of what had happened to the People's Navy had resulted from more mundane factors. Put simply, the Manticorans not only had better equipment, but they were better trained and much more confident, as well.

Well, they also had a five-T-century tradition of winning every war. And though it would never do to say so where someone like Fontein could hear, their better education system explained why their R&D establishment was so much better than Haven's. But the PN was learning, and McQueen's officers were about to receive another lesson in the only school that really mattered. Assuming Intelligence was right, they had enough firepower to annihilate the Manty picket in Minette whatever the enemy tried, and every battle the PN fought gave it that much more insight into Manty doctrine and capabilities. And more experience and confidence in itself.
Reasons for Manticoran superiority, mostly education though with Haven's inefficiencies and Manticore's unusual wealth they're probably pretty near parity there. Point is, Haven can eventually figure things out, and as they get more information and start winning the odd fight, they're doing better all the time.

"That depends on how stupid their CO is, Citizen Commissioner." McQueen was damned if she would call this man "Sir." "He'll have the initial advantage, thanks to his sensor net. I understand Intelligence thinks it's figured out how they can use real-time tactical data on us, but until we manage to produce matching systems, we can't do the same thing to them."

Fontein frowned, but McQueen wasn't worried. What she'd said was self-evident and not quite a criticism of her own superiors, but if Fontein reported it, it might just goad some of those same superiors into finding a way to match the Manties' technology. Their new com system was technically elegant, if Intelligence was right about how they were doing it, and McQueen had her own ideas about how to deal with the Republic's own R&D types' inability to duplicate it. The Solarian League had embargoed technology and war materials to both sides in this war, but the human race had sought an FTL means of communication for almost two thousand T-years. If the Republic could give the League a hint about how the Manties were doing it, then some greedy bastard in one of the League's member navies would be delighted to work a deal that guaranteed the PN an equal share in the hardware its raw information allowed the Leaguers to produce.
See, they figured out the FTL comm, and if they can't duplicate it just yet, they're close. McQueen's idea almost certainly would have worked, yet is clearly not how it was done. Perhaps Haven R&D was close enough they figured they didn't need help, or the higher-ups latched onto it as a point of patriotic pride. Or maybe they just wanted to keep this advantage to themselves after beating Manticore.

Not good, he thought. Not good at all. Manticoran missiles were at least thirty percent more effective than Peep missiles, and Stanton's ECM and point defense had similar, if slimmer, margins of superiority. But his biggest ship was a mere dreadnought, and he had only four of them, while there were sixteen Peep superdreadnoughts out there. Those odds would make even a missile duel suicidal, and if he tried to defend Everest, they could pin him against it and close to energy range. In that sort of engagement, his task force might last twenty whole minutes. He'd hurt them before they killed him, but the loss of his own ships would hurt the Alliance worse than whatever he did to them . . . and buy Everest less than half an hour.
Outnumbered four to one by SDs is not a good sign, clearly. Estimated margin of Manticoran missiles superiority, I'm assuming effectiveness is numbered in how many missiles get through, is thirty percent.

"George, you and Pete set up for a passing engagement on a direct reciprocal. There's no sense thinking we can hold 'em, but I want them hurt as we go by. Plot a course that will bring us past them at a range of five million klicks. If they decide to maneuver against us, it'll buy Jones and the evacuation ships a little more time; if they don't maneuver, I want to burn past them with the max possible velocity. They'll probably decel to increase the engagement window, but they won't be able to stretch it too far, and I want our magazines emptied into them on the way by. Rapid fire with everything we've got till the tubes run dry."
Combining the best elements of firing a broadside 'for the flag' and a drive-by shooting. Quoted because Manticoran ships apparently can rapidly empty their magazines on rapid-fire. Just how rapidly is up for debate but I think there's a passage later with more details on this particular engagement.

"Once you and Pete work out the rough plan, let him finish it up while you make sure Tracking Central blows all the inner-system platforms, George. Tell Central I want them to confirm their own scuttling charges before they bail out, then detach Seeress and Oracle to pick them up and get them the hell out of here while the rest of us deal with the Peeps. I do not want any of those grav techs winding up as Peep POWs, understood?"

"Aye, aye, Sir." Truscot nodded grimly. Blowing the FTL sensor platforms would cost Stanton a major tactical advantage, but he wasn't planning on standing and fighting, and the grav-pulse transmitters were one of the RMN's most closely held secrets. None of them were to be allowed to fall into Peep hands. In the case of a ship like Majestic, that would require massive internal destruction to wreck her own com section beyond reconstruction; in Tracking Central's case, it would require total destruction. Even more to the point, perhaps, among them, the techs in Tracking Central had the specs on the system filed in their brains, as well as their computers.
Measures to protect the secrets of FTL comms. I grew up on similar stories about US bomb-sights in WWII.

"he's always maintained that the Sacristy erred in instigating Marchant's removal. Now he's broadened that position by claiming that, quite aside from the rectitude of the Sacristy's decision, you lacked the legal authority to implement it."

"Indeed?" The single word demanded explanation, and Prestwick sighed.

"Essentially, he's called your reassumption of personal rule unconstitutional, Your Grace, and that's scary. I know the High Court disagrees, but though the Keys have never explicitly challenged that opinion, they've never formally accepted it, either. If the reactionaries can use the religious outrage he's generating to push a challenge to it, they can argue that every action you've taken since reassuming power was illegal, as well."
Burdette reinstates Brother Marchant, denying the power of the Sacristy, and placed the replacement they sent out under careful, respectful house-arrest when he wouldn't leave the cathedral. He also challenges the authority of the Sword which is spelled out pretty clearly in the Grayson Constitution, as you'll shortly see.

"Your Grace, if my predecessors and I intended to establish permanent ministerial control of the government, we made a serious error—as the Court reminded us—in not amending the Constitution." His smile grew a bit wider, and Benjamin returned it tightly, but then Prestwick leaned forward with a more serious air.

"The problem, Your Grace, is that for over a hundred years, precedent said the Protector was the symbolic guarantor of a stable continuity, but that the actual business of running the government was his Council's affair, while the Constitution still said he was the head of government, not just the state." He shrugged. "When you reasserted your authority, you certainly violated that precedent, but the written Constitution—which every Grayson steadholder and military officer is sworn to uphold—gave you every right to do so. We simply never anticipated that you would."
To be clear, there was an unwritten tradition that the Protector did not interfere too much in the running of his government, but the letter of the law remains on his (Mayhew's) side.

That's it for today, I'm done. Next time, Weber infodumps us on Grayson history and how it formed the situation we saw in HotQ. Expect a bit of a rant from me.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

The truth, as the Protector now knew both of them realized, was that Grayson's steadholders had slipped steadily back into a dangerous, autocratic autonomy over the last century and a half. It hadn't been anything clear-cut and overt—the process had been too gradual for that—but the great feudal lords had slowly yet inevitably reasserted their independence of central authority.

It was understandable, if one was a student of Grayson history, for the struggle between the Sword and the Keys had been a long, often bitter one, and the Keys held several advantages. From the colony's earliest days, it had been the steadholders who'd led their people's grim fight for survival. Someone had had to make the hard decisions, to determine who died so that others might live, and that someone had been the steadholder. Even today, a steadholder's decree had the force of law within his steading, so long as it did not conflict with the Constitution, and there'd been a period, known by Grayson historians as the Time of the Five Keys, when there was no Constitution. When the great steadholders, dominated by the lords of the five original steadings—Mayhew, Burdette, Mackenzie, Yanakov, and Bancroft—had ruled as independent kings in all but name. When their power had been checked only by the Church, and the Protector had been simply first among equals, without even an army he could call his own. If he happened to be Steadholder Mayhew, as well as Protector (a state of affairs the other Keys saw to it seldom applied), he could utilize the Mayhew Guard, but that was all the military muscle the most powerful Protector could command, and it was scarcely enough to challenge the Keys as a group.

Custom had decreed that the Protector be a Mayhew, for it had been Oliver Mayhew who'd almost single-handedly preserved the original colony from destruction. But for four centuries, the Protector had been elected from all the adult males of the line by the Conclave of Steadholders, and the Keys had chosen weakness, not strength. They'd wanted a Protector unable to challenge their own power, and if they accidentally got one who was too strong for them, there'd been ways to correct the situation. Benjamin II, Oliver IV, and Bernard III had all died by assassination, and Cyrus the Weak had actually been imprisoned by an alliance of steadholders. Every Protector had known he would reign only so long as the Keys permitted it, and it had taken four hundred T-years—and the ghastly carnage of Grayson's Civil War—to change that state of affairs.

The Keys had been virtually annihilated in the first hour of the Civil War. Fifty-three of Grayson's then fifty-six steadholders, all with their heirs in attendance, had assembled for the special Conclave summoned by Protector John II on the petition of Jeremiah Bancroft. There'd been some surprise when Steadholder Bancroft sent word he and two of his fellows had been delayed, yet no one had guessed the true reason for their tardiness. All had known Bancroft for a zealot, but none had known he was also a traitor . . . and because they hadn't known, all of them had died when the Faithful's armsmen stormed the Chamber. Of all Grayson's steadholders, only Bancroft, Oswald, and Simonds, the leaders of the Faithful, had survived, and there'd been no one left to rally their murdered peers' steaders—or armsmen—against them.

No one, that was, except the Protector's son Benjamin.
Grayson history, for the first 400 years the Steadholders wielded enormous power, and the Protector was first among equals without any actual lands or armies. The Steadholders of the original five steadings were the decision makers. Until the Faithful launched their coup, killing all the Steadholders and their immediate heirs, except the Protector's son. Also, details on that coup.

The Mayhew armsmen had been as surprised as any, but somehow—to this day, no one knew how—a handful of them had cut a way out of the trap for John's son. The opening was brief, however it was created, but John's armsmen had died to a man, with their Protector fighting at their head, to cover Benjamin IV's escape from the murderers of the Fifty-Three and their heirs.

But he was the only escapee, and Mayhew Steading was the very first one the Faithful occupied. He'd been only seventeen, a mere boy who no longer had a single armsman to call his own, and the Faithful had dismissed him as a threat . . . but that seventeen-year-old boy was to go down in Grayson history as Benjamin the Great. He fled to Mackenzie Steading, and, somehow, he rallied the shattered remnants of the other steadholders' Guards to him. The Faithful controlled two-thirds of the planet before he could do it, but he built an army of those leaderless men. It was his army, one which would have followed him into the jaws of Hell itself, and in fourteen savage years of war, he and that army retook their planet one bloody meter at a time, until they drove the Faithful into total rout and exile to Masada.

It was an incredible achievement, and the written Constitution which emerged from the horrors of the war had recognized Grayson's debt to the man who accomplished it. It had merged the confiscated steadings of Bancroft, Oswald, and Simonds into a single demesne held by the Protector (not Steadholder Mayhew), made his title hereditary, restricted the size of the Keys' personal guards, and created a standing planetary army under his command.

Benjamin IV had sworn upon his father's grave to defer his official investment as Protector until the Faithful were defeated, and, like every other promise he ever made, he kept that oath. But when at last he was proclaimed Protector, it was not "by acclamation of the Conclave" but "by God's grace," and at his investiture he also passed the Mayhew Key to his eldest son and chose a new symbol for himself. The key had always symbolized a steadholder's authority, and the fact that the Protector carried it had only emphasized his coequal status with his peers. But the Protector no longer had a legal peer, and no one had misunderstood Benjamin IV's meaning when he exchanged his key for a bared sword.
Benjamin the Great rallies the armies of the fallen Steadholders against the faithful, who by this point controlled most of Grayson, and drove them back and finally off in a brutal 17-year sectarian war before drafting the new constitution and being formally acclaimed Protector. Could we have a book about him?

Yet that had been six hundred T-years ago, and the steadholders had only been humbled, not broken. Nor had all Protectors been Benjamin the Great's equal, and by Benjamin IX's birth, the Keys, through the Council, had once more asserted de facto control of Grayson.

Benjamin had read, during his years at Harvard University's Bogota campus, of the parliament of the ancient Kingdom of Poland in which every baron had a seat and unanimous consent was required for any decision, with the predictable result that nothing ever was decided. Grayson's situation hadn't been quite that bad, but it had been bad enough, for the members of the Protector's Council had to be approved by the Conclave of Steadholders. That ancient right was still reserved to it under the Constitution, and over time, a succession of weak protectors had permitted the Keys to assume outright control of the Council's membership. The great steadholders of their day—men like Burdette, Mueller, Mackenzie, and Garth—had divided the Council among themselves and doled out the ministries like conquered fiefs. Each of them, with a small group of lesser allies, had controlled the appointment of the Councilman who headed "his" ministry, and those ministers, each responsible to his own patron steadholders, had controlled the appointment of the men who staffed their ministries. It had been a simple progression, a matter of who actually commanded the loyalties of each shell of the government and its bureaucracies, which had extended itself insidiously until the Protector had controlled only his own household. As in the Time of the Five Keys, it had been the steadholders who formulated domestic policy, and that policy had been directed towards insuring their own autonomy. As for foreign policy, there simply hadn't been one—aside from the traditional hostility to Masada—for no one had been interested in making one until the confrontation between Manticore and Haven had suddenly given their star system crucial strategic importance.

But, the Keys had failed to amend the Constitution . . . or to recognize the prestige the Mayhew name still commanded among their steaders. When the Council found itself paralyzed by Haven's attempt to seize Yeltsin's Star through its Masadan proxies, it had been a Mayhew who broke the paralysis. And, once again, that act had made a man named Benjamin Protector of Grayson in fact, as well as name.

The Sword had regained its keenness, and there was nothing—legally—the Keys could do about it. At one time, Grayson's Church and civil law had been identical, with the Sacristy as the planetary High Court. But the same carnage which had produced the Constitution had taught the Church a painful lesson in the consequences of religious interference in secular matters. Grayson law still enshrined the theocratic tenets which had always infused it, but for six centuries, sitting judges had been legally barred from Church office. A distinctly secular element had crept into the law as a result, but the Church still trained the planet's jurists. And it also retained the right to approve appointments to the High Court, which, among other things, exercised judicial review of constitutional matters.
Separation of Church and State, eh sort of, followed the war with the Faithful. How the Steadholders again chipped away at the Protector's power until there was little left, at least until Mayhew restores personal rule two books ago. I'm sure not ALL Grayson history has been about the Keys trying to restrict the Protector, but I can understand how history would look that way to the man who sits on the throne.

The Steadholder spoke for the large minority who feared change, and by couching his opposition in religious terms, he'd appealed to a mighty force. The Grayson belief that each man must face his own Test, holding to his own view of God's will for him, whatever the cost, lent him a dangerous legitimacy, and if he was reaching for yet another weapon, his argument shed a suddenly much more ominous light on the public positions men like Lord Mueller had taken of late. Whether they acted from religious conviction or in a cynical bid to regain the power they'd lost, an organized opposition within the steadholders—especially one with any claim to legitimacy—would be a perilous adversary.

Yet Benjamin held potent cards of his own. The Masadan threat had been ended at last, after half a dozen wars (which had been "minor" only by major star nations' standards) over more than two centuries. Despite the social strains of his reforms and the war against the Peeps, Grayson's economy was stronger than it had ever been and growing stronger by the week. More than that, modern medicine—less outwardly spectacular, perhaps, than the glittering machinery of "hard" technology—had come to Grayson, and people now living, like his own brother Michael and his daughters, would live for two or even three centuries. Benjamin IX was less than forty, yet that was still too old for prolong to be effective, and despite a certain bittersweet regret, he accepted that he would not live to see the end result of his reforms. But his brother and his children would, and the implications were staggering.

All of those things had resulted directly from Benjamin's policies, and the people of Grayson knew it. More, they knew they'd been born into a time of tumult and change, of danger and uncertainty, and, as Graysons always had, they looked to their Church and the Mayhew dynasty for safety. If Lord Burdette allowed himself to forget that, Benjamin thought grimly, the consequences for his own position would be profound.
The relative advantages of each side. Each can claim a traditional precedent for their actions, and a religious basis too. But Mayhew has brought Grayson serious industry, and prolong and off-world medicine. He appeals to people's hope, while Burdette appeals to their fear, a very familiar equation in politics which usually comes down firmly on Burdette's side.

Also, 6 Masadan invasions, and there was something like a four hundred year gap between the original exile and the Masadan's vengeful return. We know during at least one of these they got close enough to nuke Grayson from orbit.

Fortunately, Harding's job wasn't all that complicated, for his Manticoran-built power bore was designed to be user-friendly. Its software was carefully crafted to provide quick, positive control, with hardwired safety features to make its operation nearly foolproof, and Harding was a fast learner. He'd needed less than three weeks to master his new duties, and he'd passed the final safety check that cleared him to operate without close supervision just in time for assignment to the lead team for Sky Domes' latest project.

Now he sat in his comfortable control chair, overseeing the operation of his quarter-million-austin machine, and watched the remote view as Power Bore Number Four's refractory alloy cutting heads sliced through bedrock like so much crumbly cheese. The racket was appalling—he knew, for part of his training program had included direct, on-site observation, though his actual operating station was three kilometers from the bore's present activity—and he watched the visual display beside him with something very like awe. The bore was sinking its meter-wide shaft at almost ten centimeters per minute, and, at that, it had slowed by over sixty percent when it got through the last clay and hit solid rock.

It truly was a magnificent tool, he thought, eyes on the cloud of dust and debris fountaining from the discharge hopper as the screaming, bellowing bore chewed rock. Lumps of stone spat from the hopper like bullets; long, agile "fingers" of battle steel moved with darting speed and micrometric precision, picking the spinning cutting heads' teeth on the fly lest their own voracious appetite jam them with pulverized rock; and high-pressure coolant circulated through channels in the heads lest even their alloy overheat and shatter. The cutting teeth whirled faster than the turbine of Harding's new, Manticoran-built air car, and he turned his head slightly to check the bore's actual performance against the profile in his computer.
Manticoran power bore, a meter every ten minutes through solid stone. No mention of how wide the shaft is. And it's remote-driven from miles away.

He typed a brief correction into his terminal, resetting the bore's parameters. It wasn't a large change, but it was enough. The shaft Harding was sinking would soon provide the footing for one of the new dome's primary load-bearing supports . . . but that shaft would be ever so slightly off profile. Not by much. In fact, it would take careful measurement by someone who expected to find a problem to detect one.

In itself, the discrepancy would hardly matter, but Samuel Harding would be drilling two more shafts this afternoon and five more every day after that, until the project was completed. Each of them would be the least bit off profile, as well, and Harding knew he wasn't the only man who knew they would be. When the crew responsible for setting the supports in place moved on-site, certain of its members would have a detailed list of the holes Harding had drilled and precisely how each of them differed from the original specifications. Those supports were fabricated from yet another of Manticore's marvelous alloys, and each was a precision part of the intricately interlocking structure Adam Gerrick and his team had designed. Once in place, buttressed by minutely calculated stress and counter-stress, they would provide the dome with walls stronger than steel. And because those walls were elastic, with many separate supports woven into a single whole, they would have the flexible redundancy to survive anything short of an earthquake without so much as cracking a single crystoplast pane.

Except for the supports in the holes Harding had drilled, where the ceramacrete footings would be fused almost correctly in shafts which were almost perfectly aligned. The ones whose load-bearing ability had been just as precisely calculated as their fellows, but toward a very different outcome.
Boo!

Steadholder Burdette's agents infiltrate Honor's company, Grayson Sky Domes Ltd. so they can sabotage a dome going over a school and create the appearance of substandard components, corners cut in the construction.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Terralthra »

Ahriman238 wrote:
The bore was sinking its meter-wide shaft at almost ten centimeters per minute, and, at that, it had slowed by over sixty percent when it got through the last clay and hit solid rock.
Manticoran power bore, a meter every ten minutes through solid stone. No mention of how wide the shaft is. And it's remote-driven from miles away.
Ahriman238 wrote:
The bore was sinking its meter-wide shaft at almost ten centimeters per minute
Manticoran power bore, a meter every ten minutes through solid stone. No mention of how wide the shaft is.
Ahriman238 wrote:
The bore was sinking its meter-wide shaft
No mention of how wide the shaft is.
Ahriman238 wrote:
meter-wide shaft
how wide the shaft is.
Ahriman238 wrote:
meter-wide
how wide
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Crazedwraith »

It's a good thing you didn't pointlessly draw that out. You might have looked like a dick or something.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Ahriman238 wrote:Grayson still counts years from the birth of Christ, even after the rest of the universe moved on to the Common Era and then Post-Diaspora. And they still use the same calendar for dates, though sometimes December is boiling hot and on other years it's freezing cold. Present dated to 4009 or 4010 in the calendar we presently use.
More frustrating than summer in December (g'day, mate!) is the fact that the Graysons are using a calendar on which days are exactly 24 hours long, on a planet where days are not 24 hours long. In other words, not only is December a month in winter one year and summer the next, but noontime on Christmas falls in the middle of the day one year, "the ice" the next, and some bizarre bargain the time after that.
First mention of a Conclave of Steaders as opposed to the Conclave of Steadholders. It seems that like Manticore and England, Grayson has a council of hereditary nobles, and a popularly elected Commons for balance. History of how the Protector became a figurehead, you've already seen how it ended.
I wonder what Burdette was doing- he seems to decisive to be just another ditherer during the events of Book Two.
The Minette system and planet Everest, founding member of the Alliance, a billion residents. Before the War broke out, an essential forward picket and provider of metals. The still do lots of asteroid mining, but the front has left them far behind. Hence Manticore securing it with just a small division (half-squadron, 4 ships) of DNs and a thin screen.
Even so, that's over 1% of the Manticoran wall of battle right there. Multiply by a dozen or more such minor star systems, and the need to adequately secure the Manticore Binary System against attack, and you begin to see why the RMN doesn't actually have that many ships left over for offensive operations.
I hear that. Everest was going to get some serious orbital defenses but then the war actually started and the money and materials were urgently needed elsewhere. Probably on that crash program to rush out every SD that was in production.
Especially since an 'orbital fort' in this era is basically a superdreadnought with tiny tiny engines- a BIG superdreadnought. One that can't move, and has to be assembled on site.

So it is almost always a better deal to build a ship that can actually move from star to star... unless you're talking about a target that will ALWAYS need heavy defenses regardless of the situation at the front line, like the Manticore Wormhole Junction.
As the omniscient audience, we know the Admiralty is detaching ships everywhere they think they can spare them to try and keep the offensive going a bit more, just to Trevor's Star. Stanton doesn't know that, just that his task force is generous for deterring pirates and general trouble, might stop a BC raid, but is wholly inadequate if the Peeps come in force.
Given how easily Bellerophon swatted four PN battlecruisers two books ago, I think it's safe to say that Stanton's force could handle any battlecruiser attack Haven is likely to send, or at least prevent them from getting anywhere close to the planet and key orbital facilities in the Minette system.
More fun, because 'comrade' was taken, a military officer is properly referred to as 'Citizen [RANK]' or 'Citizen [RANK] [NAME]' including one case of an unfortunate Citizen Major Citizen. Elitest titles such as 'sir' or 'ma'am' are reserved for the People's Commisioners (commissars.) Which does seem self-defeating.
Citizen Captain Caslet or whatever is authentic in the context of the French Revolution; at that time the idea that every person was a 'citizen' of equal legal footing to every other one was... revolutionary. It's hard for us to grasp just how big a deal it was when the revolutionaries called King Louis XVI "Citizen Louis Capet" on his way to the guillotine.
See, they figured out the FTL comm, and if they can't duplicate it just yet, they're close. McQueen's idea almost certainly would have worked, yet is clearly not how it was done. Perhaps Haven R&D was close enough they figured they didn't need help, or the higher-ups latched onto it as a point of patriotic pride. Or maybe they just wanted to keep this advantage to themselves after beating Manticore.
I get the impression that designing the comm system is not so hard in and of itself. The problem is miniaturizing the system, which is where high-density Manticoran power supplies help make it practical to fit the comm system into ships. And, more to the point, recon drones- we've seen that it takes 10-15 years or so for Haven to shrink the FTL comm transmitter into something as small as a LAC. And if they can't fit it on a LAC, they can't fit it on a recon drone of useful size either, which greatly reduces the effectiveness of the system.

On the other hand, an FTL receiver might be a lot smaller than a transmitter, or something Haven can do simply by integrating their existing gravitics sensors, which we've already seen are quite capable of picking up on RMN grav-pulse transmissions.

I wonder when FTL transmitters first appear on Havenite capital ships? I'm not sure Weber ever bothered to mention it...
Combining the best elements of firing a broadside 'for the flag' and a drive-by shooting. Quoted because Manticoran ships apparently can rapidly empty their magazines on rapid-fire. Just how rapidly is up for debate but I think there's a passage later with more details on this particular engagement.
That tech manual (which postdates this novel by at least fifteen years) states that the RMN standard is one broadside per minute for a two hour engagement- in other words, 120 missiles per broadside launcher. But we've seen broadside tubes fire with a cyclic rate of roughly three rounds per minute, so in principle a ship should be able to empty its magazines in about 40 minutes. Maybe a bit less.

Note that the 'drive-by missileing' is also a good way for the RMN to make maximum use of its missile pods. We earlier figured 9-10 pods per capital ship, perhaps a bit more in a pinch- Stanton's heaviest plausible salvo from his capital ships is 500-600 missiles. That is... probably not enough to seriously hurt a force of sixteen Havenite SDs, although if it was all concentrated on one target they MIGHT score one kill.

Meanwhile, McQueen has sixteen ships with, probably, 30-36 missile tubes each... she can manage as many missiles from her broadside salvoes as Stanton can with the 'Sunday punch' of his missile pods. Wow.

This also helps to communicate the advantages and disadvantages of missile pods. They help, but they don't let a naval force punch THAT far above its weight, nor do they let it do so for any real length of time.

Do we ever get an after-action report that tells us how much (if any) damage McQueen and Stanton's fleets took at Minette? Hm. [looks up] The "Honorverse wiki" says that McQueen lost one SD and took heavy damage to another, while badly damaging two of the RMN dreadnoughts.
Benjamin the Great rallies the armies of the fallen Steadholders against the faithful, who by this point controlled most of Grayson, and drove them back and finally off in a brutal 17-year sectarian war before drafting the new constitution and being formally acclaimed Protector. Could we have a book about him?
This would actually be very fun, probably more so than the Honorverse material Weber actually writes. We'd also need to get a very close look at Grayson culture, which would be interesting, to see how Weber would handle it without alienating his reader base. :D
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Terralthra »

Crazedwraith wrote:It's a good thing you didn't pointlessly draw that out. You might have looked like a dick or something.
Thanks for the compliment! I always like hearing positive feedback.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by eyl »

Simon_Jester wrote:On the other hand, an FTL receiver might be a lot smaller than a transmitter, or something Haven can do simply by integrating their existing gravitics sensors, which we've already seen are quite capable of picking up on RMN grav-pulse transmissions.
IIRC the FTL receivers are the standard gravitic sensors, probably with a software update.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

Terralthra wrote:
Ahriman238 wrote:
meter-wide shaft
how wide the shaft is.
Ahriman238 wrote:
meter-wide
how wide
Ah. I had thought there was a reference in there I couldn't find. Would you all excuse me for one moment?

:banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

I'm good.

Okay, after publicly embarrassing myself for the umpteenth time (and this one didn't even have to do with math!) I'm still sticking with my strange little hobby of expositing on fictional people, cultures and technologies like they were real things. If any of you care to listen or not is up to you.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

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I like your analysis threads. I was just having a bit of fun. :)
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Yeah, I'm glad you have them, because it gives us a chance to really talk about these settings in detail and try to understand them. Also for me to reassure myself that I'm not the only one who actually reads these things and is on the whole glad he did so. ;)
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Batman »

Personally I welcome the excuse to revisit the Honorverse so I can keep up with the discussion, and I actually think this is the first time the Honorverse as a whole is under scrutiny rather than select aspects of the technology used therein. Personally, I like having a place where I can air my thoughts and complaints about a universe I still enjoy to a not inconsiderable extent, even if they turn out to be so much baseless garbage.
Can't speak for any of the other analysis threads on account of knowing jack all about the universes involved but if they're like this one, the percentage of people who do enjoying them I expect to be pretty damn high.
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