|Honor Stephanie Alexander-Harrington|
|Created by||David Weber|
|Occupation||Manticoran/Grayson Naval Officer,
|Title||see Summary, below|
|Religion||Third Stellar Missionary Communion (Reformed)|
|Born||October 1, 3961 AD (Gregorian Calendar)|
|Affiliation||Star Kingdom of Manticore/Protectorate of Grayson|
|Position||see Posts, below|
|Rank||see Summary, below|
Honor Stephanie Alexander-Harrington (née Honor Stephanie Harrington) is a fictional character invented in 1992 by writer David Weber as the heroine of the eponymous "Honorverse", a universe described in a series of best-selling military science fiction books set between 4003 and 4025 AD, in which mankind has spread through the galaxy for 1922 years since the first slow ships left Earth.
Harrington is an officer in the Royal Manticoran Navy (RMN), the space navy of the Star Kingdom of Manticore. She has a genius for tactical command, often overcoming significant odds (and sometimes causing significant loss of life), which results in her receiving numerous awards and promotions. She is a skilled martial artist and through her association with her treecat companion, an empathic sense that assists her in understanding the emotions of those around her.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 2.1 At the Academy
- 2.2 In command
- 2.3 Summary
- 3 Posts
- 4 Character trademarks
- 5 Honor Harrington in other media
- 6 Concept and creation
- 7 Parallels to real world history
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Honor was born on October 1, 3961 AD (1859 PD), at Craggy Hollow (the municipal suburb community of the Harrington family home), County Duvalier, in the Duchy of Shadow Vale on the planet Sphinx, in the Manticore binary star system. Sphinx is the second inhabited planet with a long slow orbital year and long seasons orbiting around the star 'Manticore A' of the three inhabited planets of Star Kingdom of Manticore, located much farther out in the liquid water zone than the planet Manticore, which is nearer the inner margin of inhabitable zone, whereas the third inhabited world Gryphon orbits 'Manticore B'. Her ancient house and the Harrington family seat dates back to the second migration and first settlements of Sphinx and is located near the city of Yawata Crossing, which will become nearly destroyed by huge pieces of the destroyed Vulcan space station during the sneak attack by the Mesan Alignment in 4020–21 PD. She is the daughter of neurosurgeon Alfred Harrington and physician/geneticist Allison Benton-Ramirez y Chou Harrington, both with towering renown and fame of their own among the Manticore and Beowulf medical establishments; and her father is known to have one of the most beneficial and dominant genetically modified gene variations that he has passed onto Honor. A former officer in Manticore's Naval Medical system, he is well regarded by the Manticore admiralty as well.
Socially, by virtue of her father's ancestry, she was born a yeoman—meaning that she is a descendant of paying settlers of the second wave of settlement of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, not a member of the nobility—who for the most part can claim descent from the first colonists who invested in the joint venture purchasing settlement rights to the new system and who subsequently underwrote the migration of that first wave of colonists in slow ships to Manticore. Yeomen are socially ranked above a 'zero balancer' — someone who could not afford to buy passage to Manticore during the second 'faster than light' migration wave, nor had valuable skills that the colonial government induced to migrate with favorable terms, but whom the administration offered passage with a term of indenture required to pay back the colony.
Officially, yeomen have ancestors whose skills were in enough demand that Manticore paid their way. Her mother is a direct immigrant from the long settled planet Beowulf, which is known for its strong research and practice in the life sciences, and it is revealed in A Rising Thunder, her brother is one of its planetary directors—and both siblings are from Beowulf family famous for its intellectual, especially medical abilities, making them something of a noble house in Beowulfian regard. Beowulf was one of Earth's original daughter colonies in the early diaspora which is dated to have begun in 2102 AD, and further Beowulf connects directly to Manticore via a Wormhole, the 'Beowulf-Manticore Bridge' and the two populations have much intermarried and cross-migrated, giving Beowulf and Manticore an extremely close interstellar relationship.
Since Honor Harrington's paternal ancestors were "genies", people genetically engineered (specifically with the Meyerdahl Beta modification) to survive on high gravity planets such as Sphinx, she not only benefits from the enhanced intellect associated with that genetic heritage but is even stronger and quicker than non-genies who grow up in the heavier gravity of Sphinx. As revealed in In Enemy Hands, this Meyerdahl Beta modification gives her more efficient muscles, enhanced reaction speed, stronger bones, tougher cardiovascular and respiratory systems, high metabolic rate, and a higher than average intelligence quotient. She was raised in the Third Stellar Missionary Communion (Reformed), but is only privately religious, as the sect is not evangelistic. Her behavior on Grayson as a Steadholder and when marrying in Mission of Honor demonstrates she has a quiet personal faith she has the good taste to not push on others.
Ironically, the Mesan Alignment is conducting its string pulling behind the interstellar political events in an attempt to overthrow the Solarian League and its early laws outlawing genetic engineering upon man and genetic slaves in general as pushed into law by the highly prestigious daughter colony Beowulf after "Earth's Final War" where genetically altered soldiers and their genetically enhanced leadership played a horrific role and took decades to defeat. It took further decades, even centuries, for Beowulf and sister colonies to undo much of the genetic damage that had occurred to Old Terra's population during the long chain of prelude conflicts leading to the final war.
Influenced by Treecats
Honor is one of the few people adopted by a Sphinxian treecat, an telempathic intelligent indigenous species—who spent much of their history with humanity scouting and concealing their true abilities from mankind. The adoption process is involuntary and uncontrollable and strikes like 'Love at First Sight', known to human experience, but strikes much more powerfully. The bonding is more of a recognition of something that was missing suddenly being complete and so right that life without the new bond is unthinkable. So striking suddenly, the mutual adoptions are essentially an empathic life-bond, and hers occurred during Honor's childhood (age 11 Earth years), a rarity since most adoptions involve adult humans. She had dubbed her 'cat Nimitz (after World War II Admiral Chester W. Nimitz), although to his own people he has been known as "Laughs Brightly", a member of a clan that lives near her home, and in the treecat community, formerly being one of their scouts by occupation, as are most adopted cats since they most often interact with the humans they are spying upon.
Honor is known to the treecats as "Dances on Clouds" for her frequent climbs up into the Copperwall Mountains overlooking her parent's house to launch a hang glider with Nimitz on her back. Having conducted considerable research, she is one of the foremost experts on treecats, and is a descendant of and in-part named after Stephanie Harrington—who was the first human to bond with Treecats when she figured out what was occurring in the Great Disappearing Celery mystery and ambushed Climbs Quickly in the act of treecat burglary—surprising both races with the resultant bonding that nearly ended the life of both sapients.
Improving upon all her ancestor's knowledge, for many other ancestors had been subsequently adopted in the intervening centuries and these kept diaries or journals, Honor enjoys an closer empathic link with Nimitz than any before known link between the two species. Her link to Nimitz had initially grown over thirty some T-years to become so deep as to allow her to "taste" the emotions of other humans around her through Nimitz in the earlier works of the series—for example when she foiled the attempt to assassinate the Protector of Grayson in the second novel, The Honor of the Queen. Later books dropped hints that Honor may be developing empathic talents of her own even as her life became complicated by the courtship, marriage and pregnancy of Nimitz's mate Samantha in Honor Among Enemies. This hint of psi talents blossomed under stress during her captivity on the way to the prison planet Hades when she was held far apart from Nimitz (in In Enemy Hands), and thereafter gradually became an overt capability she initially preferred not to have, then accepted by Honor and subsequently figured out by her very closest associates. The ability grew gradually into a formidable ability to "read people correctly" as perceived by outsiders, but was from the start always a closely guarded secret as it gradually became suspected by friends and associates as the extraordinary capability it has become. Her legend was also picked up by foreign flag diplomatic and intelligence appreciations about her, especially from Manticore and in private back channels of the Manticorian Admiralty. Eventually, it became overtly recognized by her closest confidants and suspected by a few selected foreigners.
Weber then further segued the ability during political crises management into a nearly open secret acknowledged to various other high-ranking allies in the novels after Ashes of Victory. For example, in A Rising Thunder this point is directly addressed in dialog with the Haven diplomatic delegation visiting Manticore in the discussion about whether the Mesan Alignment could actually exist—in short for her to detail what she sensed from the just concluded briefing by Herlander Simões, the Mesan physicist who had defected from the Mesan Alignment when the diplomats were again alone in session.
Honor's career and the success of the collected works in the honorverse really can't be understood without her association with Nimitz and then, through him, her association to other Treecats—including to all of the Treecat race, as is gradually revealed through stories such as Changer of Worlds where the Treecat community is seen to be endorsing Samantha and Nimitz's decision to migrate with volunteers and their kittens off planet. The encounter and other short stories in the anthologies provides much deep background about human-treecat relations, and reveal, as explicitly stated in A Rising Thunder in exposition to the Haven delegation, the Treecat elders and society as a whole have effective recordings of their experiences with humanity through the offices of their Memory Singers, like Samantha, and further they confer planetwide about decisions regarding their relationships with humanity. In that thirteenth Honor Harrington novel, the Treecat Memory Singers are explicitly examining their collective memory to aid the alliance forming to oppose the Mesan Alignment cum Solarian League war. One result is the Treecats 'enlist' in the alliance to act as truth detectors and as a counter to the demonstrated Mesan ability to cause many trusted individuals to perform adverse functions that are concurrently suicidal, they are a new type of security for the new alliance—counter-anti-nanite-controlled-assassins and spy detectors.
At the Academy
Harrington attended the Royal Manticoran Navy's Saganami Naval Academy on Manticore's Saganami Island, and became an officer in the Royal Manticoran Navy. One of the RMN's best tacticians, she can make effective tactical evaluations, often quickly and intuitively. She also became a sailplane pilot. Her mathematical aptitude and navigational skills are excellent, but her poor performance in mathematics courses was the source of much irritation, and more than a few problems, while at the Academy. At Saganami Island, her roommate and best friend was Michelle "Mike" Henke, paternal first cousin of Queen Elizabeth III of Manticore. Having been shy and lacking in self-confidence, Harrington learned much from "Mike" Henke during those years.
Also at the Academy, Harrington unwittingly became the target of a perverse, boorish midshipman, Lord Pavel Young, heir to the Earldom of North Hollow. When he attempted to rape her in the showers, she defended herself, sending him to the hospital. Although the Academy Commandant suspected the truth, her shame and low self-esteem kept her from disclosing the details or pressing formal charges. Young thus escaped with a reprimand for conduct unbecoming rather than dismissal from the Academy. Her outstanding abilities (along with some behind the scenes maneuvering by her mentor, Raoul Courvosier) enabled her career to progress steadily, if erratically, despite the enmity of the Young clan and various attempts by it and its allies to sabotage her RMN career.
Her midshipwoman or "snotty" cruise aboard HMS War Maiden under Captain Bachfisch allowed her to demonstrate her ability as a combat tactician when, during an engagement with Silesian rebels, the rest of the command team was killed, disabled, or cut off from the rest of the ship. She assumed command, and after finishing off the opposing ship, was promoted ahead of her class to ensign.
Harrington's first command is a Light Attack Craft; she is later given command of the destroyer HMS Hawkwing, and after a year of service goes to the RMN's Advanced Tactical Course. Harrington graduates high in her class from the ATC, and immediately assumes command of the light cruiser HMS Fearless as a Commander. Her exploits while posted at Basilisk Station bring her widespread fame — and an in absentia sentence of death from the People's Republic of Haven. Now firmly on the fast track to senior rank, she proves to have something akin to the Nelson touch, earning the devotion of her officers and enlisted personnel, as well as the high regard of both Manticore's allies (especially Grayson), and her military opponents. However, she also makes new political enemies and suffers several personal losses, including the murder of her lover by a professional duelist sent by Pavel Young.
In the news
During the closing events in the second novel, The Honor of the Queen, Harrington received a letter of reprimand for striking a crown envoy and a cautionary and serious but almost pro-forma dressing down by Admiral of the Green Hamish Alexander. The dressing down was very public, witnessed by the Manticore Ambassador to Grayson and the Grayson head of state. Its sting was reduced, however, by Harrington's knighting moments later by the Ambassador. At the same time, Harrington was awarded several medals, ennobled by Grayson as one of its few Steadholders, and further ennobled in the Star Kingdom as Countess Harrington.
The crown envoy in question was Reginald Houseman, who had ordered the illegal evacuation of Manticorans from Grayson after the First Battle of Yeltsin. Houseman had made the mistake of personally threatening to ruin Harrington's career for refusing to abandon Grayson to her enemies; Harrington lost her temper and slapped Houseman hard enough to fling him across the room with a bloody nose and mouth. After a year's convalescent leave, having lost her eye among other damages in the engagements in Yeltsin in defense of Grayson, she was given the newly commissioned state-of-the-art Battlecruiser Nike and made flag captain of a new squadron, both professional plums demonstrating the high regard she'd earned in her first navy, before again encountering Captain Pavel Young—whose career was decidedly going the other direction.
Attached to a cruiser squadron assigned as screening elements for her Battlecruiser squadron in The Short Victorious War, Young demonstrated cowardice in the books' finale as Haven finally began the war long expected by both sides in its opening bid to conquer Manticore and its alliance against Haven. Prior to Young's arrival on the forward base called Hancock Station, Honor had become romantically entangled with his former executive officer stationed there as engineering staff and whom Young blamed in part for troubles he'd experienced after trying to stick it to Honor in the first book. He took note of their relationship during his court martial, seeing them holding hands.
A political target
Thus, Field of Dishonor begins with his court martial and cashiering, and continues with his decision as Lord North Hollow to take revenge upon Honor, the navy, and his former executive officer and Honor's de facto fiance, Paul Tankersley. North Hollow pays an assassin to have Tankersley killed in a staged duel so as to hurt Harrington, expecting the killer to also kill Honor afterwards. She'd taken leave to be invested as and undertake her Grayson duties as Steadholder Harrington while Nike was being repaired after the battle for Hancock. Captain Tankersley was killed while Honor was over a week away on Grayson, but North Hollow was deliberately betrayed by his own security chief and direct action specialist, a woman whom he held to his service under threat of blackmail—a family specialty that gave the Earldom much political power for it held the much feared 'North Hollow Files' with devastating dirt on many Manticorian politicians. She was also forced to service his rather sickening and exotic sexual appetites and the thought of endless years of having to service him made it easy to betray him.
An infamous duelist
With this plot uncovered and herself named as North Hollow's next victim, Honor felt she had no choice but to challenge him directly to a duel when he'd attempted to murder her by employing a crew of other paid assassins in a public restaurant. Because he was a sitting member of Parliament, the opposition parties united in protest so Harrington was beached by the Manticoran Navy for her duel with Pavel Young on political grounds setting the backstory for Flag in Exile. Moving to Harrington Steading during her unemployment, she finds herself at the heart of political dissent, turmoil, discord and counter-cultural forces opposing the reforms instituted by Protector Benjamin Mayhew and especially opposing such ungodly concepts such as female Steadholders and women officers. The conspiracy hopes to discredit her by sabotaging the work performed by one of her companies while the Grayson Space Navy (GSN) eventually recruits her, making her the second ranking admiral in their young, rapidly expanding navy. The sabotage works in part, killing hundreds for which Honor is blamed for a time but the conspiracy is revealed through good engineering and is then dealt with effectively just in time for a battle fleet to come calling on the GSN. Wounded and exhausted from events on the ground over the preceding week, Harrington gets up after only an hour's sleep and again saves the planet from invasion, this time by hoodwinking a superior Haven task force into a tactically bad position then defeating it, earning the Swords (a repeat of the decoration) to her Star of Grayson. After three years as a key figure in the burgeoning Grayson navy, units are available for other than system defense and begin joining the RMN which is straining to maintain offensive momentum against Haven. Honor is again offered starship command in the RMN; offered the ability to 'redeem' her place in the RMN through a proposal made by her political enemies who have become desperate to do something, anything to oppose the costly crippling piracy in the Silesian Confederation.
Rehabilitated by the opposition
She is given command of four Q-ships as a de facto Commodore and starship captain— four converted merchant ships turned into merchant cruisers, but given impressive missile and energy armaments, an improved inertial compensator system, particle shielding scaled up to go with the increased acceleration abilities, and sidewalls allowing head to head combat with light combat units up to Battlecruiser grade opponents. These cruisers were also made into light carriers similar to the escort carriers created on merchant hulls during World War II, and able to carry a dozen of new and advanced of light attack craft. Her experience with these units, results in the militarily revolutionary pod-superdreadnaught classes which will come to dominate the new military reality. In this command, she rescues a planet from a pirate flotilla, defeats a Havenite commerce raiding fleet and makes a relationship with a senior officer of the Andermani Empire.
When Harrington is captured by Haven en route to a new command in In Enemy Hands (HH-07), the death sentence for the Basilisk Station action—delivered in absentia in a show trial under the pre-revolutionary government of old Haven—is ordered to be carried out by the new revolutionary regime. En route to the secret prison planet of Hades, Chief Petty Officer Horace Harkness, who'd been dissembling as a traitor, hacks into the ship's computers and stages a well timed jail break when Tepes arrives in orbit. Honor loses an arm in the ensuing action, an action which also takes the lives of a number of subordinates dear to her heart. However, after coaxing one shuttle to mimic a pilot attempting to flee, and another to bring up its impeller drive inside the boat bay, her party manages to escape when the drive wedge of the shuttle-turned-bomb destroys the PNS (People's Navy Ship) Tepes and kills the worst member of Haven's ruling triumvirate, Cordelia Ransom, whose specialty is class warfare. Harrington's shuttles escape and hide on the planet's surface, going unnoticed in the debris field, save for suspicions by the tactical officer and commander of a PNS navy vessel friendly to Honor.
As Echoes of Honor begins, assuming Harrington was also killed on Hades, the PRH propaganda office releases a fake video recording of her "execution". As a result, simultaneous state funerals were staged for her on both Manticore and Grayson, while she is recuperating and formulating plans to take over the planet's management. The Royal Manticoran Navy renames the new Medusa class she had helped inspire to the Harrington class in her honor, although she convinces them to retract the change when she returns. The Grayson Space Navy christens their lead starship in their parallel class the GNS Honor Harrington. Despite her similar protests upon her return, the Graysons find various inventive reasons to avoid renaming it, or for removing the 4 meter tall heroic statue sitting atop an 8 meter column depicting her martyred self outside the main entrance to Grayson's Parliament building –— much to her embarrassment.
Working with the equipment of the two fully outfitted assault shuttles her crew had escaped with, the escaped prisoners monitor Hell's communications bands and develop a picture of normal operations on the prison world. In the process, they find the enemy has concentrated the one group of individuals they most want to enlist to aid them in a single camp. These prisoners are the recalcitrant troublemakers who are also ex-military officers from the various planets the Peoples Republic had conquered in recent decades. After using this group as an assault force, the one shuttle with working IFF successfully masquerades as a guards unit and drops the force inside the defense perimeter of the base, successfully capturing it. The other shuttle drives up to orbit and neutralizes the People's courier boat before it can leave orbit and raise an alarm. Superior Manticore educations again give the party an edge allowing the new management to successfully hack into the planetary computers where they successfully capture a PNS fleet with transports and escape to allied territories with a record number of prisoners, including political and military figures the universe believes executed in the revolution long before. They also have records and interviews revealing who is really behind the revolution and the bloody attack on the former government of the People's Republic of Haven.
Forced to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery for the missing limb and re-rehabilitate the prior reconstructive surgery to her face and eye which the Peep guards had short circuited, Ashes of Victory (HH-12) assigns the newly minted Duchess Harrington to teach at the alliances premier naval academy Saganami Island, and to command the Advanced Tactical Simulator (ATC) which is co-sited on the base. She is jumped three grades in Manticorian service (skipping the ranks of rear admiral and vice admiral), giving her the rank necessary for the post. Her involvement with fleet is indirect but extensive from both these training commands as she is also tasked with modeling and simulating the mix of advanced weapons that have suddenly become available from development of a small fusion reactor that can ride on a missile or other small platform. Her team at ATC thus develops and games the fleet doctrines soon used by the upgraded fleets in being, and especially the offensive arm, the Eighth Fleet under Admiral Alexander. ATC is normally a senior Admiral's billet, and the Admiralty insists she not complain for achieving the rank the command believes she would have achieved without the political opposition in her past.
Her tactics and strategies developed at ATC are adopted almost without change by Eighth Fleet in its new offensive using the new technologies of Ghost Rider, LAC strike Carriers, and Pod-Superdreadnaughts. At the end of Ashes of Victory, Honor pilots her intersystem yacht to prevent a missile strike launched by assassins against the Queen's spaceship, thereby saving Queen Elizabeth and Protector Benjamin, but not preventing the missile targeted on the ship containing the two star nation's prime ministers and other cabinet rank officials. The government falls, and the new government is made up of a coalition of parties inimical to Honor and the Queen with no real interest of settling the war with Haven, and the new management in the Admiralty puts Honor and Admiral White Haven on half pay, so the two become the voice of the loyal opposition in the upper house of the Manticoran Parliament.
Honor the politician
The new government is corrupt and venal, looking for ways to take money from military projects and under the slogan of 'building the peace', divert the same tax base to pet projects where they can have minions siphon off funds to contributors and personal wealth, while simultaneously maintaining the state of emergency that prevents an automatic election because of pending changes in the house of Lords due to the annexation of Trevor's Star into the Star Kingdom. Having become a political thorn in the side of the government for over three years, the government concocts ways to eliminate the popularity of Honor and Hamish Alexander, promoting a slime campaign depicting the two as sexual partners, and when that blows up, decides the deteriorating situation in Silesia warrants sending Honor in command of a fleet to check expansionist activity by the Andermani Empire. War of Honor details this political backstory and the military build down by the corrupt government which is also antagonizing its allies as well as the new Haven government under President Eloise Pritchart which is trying to make a peace settlement. While most spending programs are corrupt, one which was designed to siphon funds to the government's special interests, actually pays off by discovering a new wormhole terminus. The new government of Haven is tired of being put off in the peace talks and having received tech upgrades from a secret research and development program feels they can restore their fleet to primacy by taking out construction suspended by the High Ridge government and attacking the weakened Manty garrison forces in a strategic order. Hearing that Honor is being given a weak fleet in Silesian space, the planners reason that they can also attack there and neutralize that bogie-man and deal a blow to Manicorian morale.
Honor is sent with an inadequate RMN force, but Protector Benjamin insists on reinforcing her with the special unit, The Protector's Own, of which she is the permanent commanding officer. Getting a whiff from an intelligence source, she mousetraps the Havenite Fleet even as all the other Haven attacks go home successfully pushing the Manticoran Fleet back from all the systems they'd conquered and destroying their picket units. The worst damages are to the extensive satellite ship yards in the Grendlesbane Star System where much new construction was suspended and had to be destroyed before the Havenite Fleet could capture it.
RMN Fleet Admiral
The corrupt government seeks to form a coalition war cabinet, but the Queen blocks the effort, so the government falls, returning the Crown Loyalists and Centrist coalition to power under the brother of Hamish Alexander, who is made First Lord of the Admiralty—with the government needing someone trustworthy to undo the damage imposed by the High Ridge administration.
In At All Costs, Honor is given command of the Eighth Fleet, a heavy assault force of advanced capital ships, and new weapons of unmatched abilities. But overall, the Manticoran fleet has become severely weakened, and she must devise a strategy to keep the Republic of Haven off balance until the fleet can be built up. Under her leadership, the fleet begins a campaign to dismantle the industrial base of the Republic of Haven, by sailing deep behind enemy lines and raiding Havenite space based infrastructure, forcing the republic to go on the defensive and worry which of its systems will suffer next. Haven deploys a counter strategy that eventually causes severe damage to Eighth fleet during one raid when they use her own tactics from Silesian space against her forces, and the offensive campaign is temporarily put on hold. During this battle, Michelle Henke is captured by the Republic of Haven, setting the stage for Storm from the Shadows.
Manticore then fields a new weapon system, "Apollo", that not only neutralizes the new system defense systems Haven is deploying, but also turns the tide of the war, as it renders modern missile defensive systems effectively worthless, and further, capitalizes on the new MDM Ghost Rider missiles that have been in the field by enhancing their long range accuracy. Realizing his nation's poor strategic position, Admiral Thomas Theisman of Haven resolves to launch one final massive, desperate strike on the Manticore system itself, hoping to end the war before Apollo can be widely distributed in the field to all units by the Royal Manticoran Navy. This attack almost succeeds and completely destroys most of the Manticoran fleet protecting the home system, and almost as much of Third Fleet, normally deployed to defend the Trevor's Star wormhole terminus deep within the spacial volume of the Republic of Haven.
At the last moment, Honor and Eighth Fleet arrives coming through the wormhole from Trevor's Star as well and equipped with Apollo, use it to decimate the sole strong remaining attacking Havenite fleet and threaten the remnant forces still in the battleground—forcing their capitulation and capture. Involving hundreds of ships of the wall on both sides, the Battle of Manticore is the largest naval engagement in human history, and it is extremely costly for both sides. Honor's long time friend Alistair McKeon is killed, and most of the Manticoran Navy's non-Pod capital ships are destroyed (Eighth Fleet is the only remaining combat ready force, aside from miscellaneous units—garrison, in transit, in refit, ...). Eighth Fleet assumes the duties and title of Home Fleet (the defense of the Manticore system itself). Haven loses more than 90% of the forces deployed during the attack, and its best tactician, Lester Tourville, is captured after he surrenders what remains of his force to Honor. An effective truce between the two sides goes into effect, as neither nation possesses the capability to continue offensive operations. Honor mourns McKeon's death in a dramatic scene at the end of the novel.
Honor the Diplomat
Events in a new addition to the Star Kingdom, the Talbott Cluster, grow more problematic. The megalomaniac outlaw corporation Manpower Incorporated and the planet 'Mesa' continue their plans to dislodge Manticore from the cluster, and they immediately put another plan into action, following the failure of their first attempts as recounted in The Shadow of Saganami. They seek to start a conflict between Manticore and the Solarian League in order to remove the Cluster from the Star Kingdom and for other, as yet unknown, reasons. Despite Haven's attack on Manticore, Honor is shown in Storm from the Shadows as an advocate for at least partial reconciliation with Haven, as it increasingly appears that war with the Solarian League is inevitable. During her brief appearance in Storm, Honor discusses potential long-term strategy against the Solarian League with the Manticoran leadership, including Queen Elizabeth, whom she persuades to give the Solarian threat a priority over Haven.
In Mission of Honor, Admiral Harrington is assigned as envoy to Haven. After a successful attack by the Mesa Alignment Navy on the Space Stations of the Manticore home system, Harrington helps bring about an alliance between the Star Empire and Haven against Mesa / Manpower. She subsequently becomes the first commanding officer of the newly created, multinational Grand Fleet.
In the course of her career, Honor Harrington becomes a Duchess of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, a Grayson Steadholder, and an Admiral in both the Grayson Space Navy and the Royal Manticoran Navy. She also earns several medals for bravery, including the Parliamentary Medal of Valor for saving both Queen Elizabeth III and Protector Benjamin Mayhew IX (the heads of state of Manticore and Grayson respectively) from a surprise attack. She earned the Star of Grayson for saving Grayson from a Masadan attack as well as saving Protector Benjamin and his family during the Maccabeus coup assassination attempt. She is the only living holder of the Star of Grayson, and the first in six hundred years to receive it twice, as noted by the crossed swords beneath. She receives the Monarch's Thanks on several occasions, including her role in search and rescue efforts during an avalanche on Gryphon and her handling of an accident on HMS Manticore.
Honor Harrington's rank and titles as of the end of the events in At All Costs include Admiral of the Fleet and Captain HMS Unconquered Lady Dame Honor Stephanie Alexander-Harrington, Steadholder Harrington, Duchess Harrington, Countess White Haven. This makes her the fifth highest-ranking person in the Manticoran aristocracy (only the Grand Dukes of Manticore, Sphinx, Gryphon and Queen Elizabeth rank higher). Her claim to "Countess White Haven" is unclear but arguable, since she is Earl White Haven's second wife (a case of polygamy), but in any event is not held in her own right. In many respects, Steadholder Harrington, Duchess Harrington, and each of the Admirals Harrington are different entities inhabiting the same body. Due to recognition of her status as Steadholder by the Manticoran Foreign Office and the backing of the Queen, Steadholder Harrington's Grayson armsmen (personal bodyguards mandated by Grayson law) are permitted to accompany her armed on RMN vessels, as required by Grayson law. This has led to several situations in which Honor has been accompanied by armed men in her service to places where such would never be ordinarily permitted, such as the Queen's residence at Mount Royal Palace.
- Midshipwoman, RMN Naval Academy, Saganami Island, c1876 P.D.
- Midshipwoman, Assistant Tactical Officer (acting), Assistant Tactical Officer, HMS War Maiden, CA-39, c1880 P.D.: Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington
- Artillery Officer Candidate, Second Assistant Artillery Officer, HMS Royal Winton, DN-12
- Sailing Master, HMS Osprey, FG-1069
- Second Assistant Tactical Officer, Assistant Tactical Officer, HMS Manticore, SD-01
- Commanding Officer, HM LAC 113
- Executive Officer, HMS Trenchant, CL-19
- Executive Officer, HMS Broadsword, CA-47, c1890 P.D.: The Hard Way Home
- Executive Officer, HMS Perseus, CL-92
- Tactical Officer, HMS Basilisk, SD-105
- Student, Ship Commanders Course, Saganami Island
- Commanding Officer, HMS Hawkwing, DD-1213 c1899 P.D.: "Let's Dance!"
- Student, Advanced Tactical Course, Saganami Island
- Commanding Officer, HMS Fearless, CL-56, Commanding Officer (acting), RMN Basilisk Station, c1900 P.D. (March 3) - c1901 P.D. (January): On Basilisk Station
- Commanding Officer, HMS Fearless, CA-286, c1901 P.D. - c1903 P.D.: With One Stone, The Honor of the Queen
- Commanding Officer, HMS Nike, BC-413, c1904 P.D. - c1905 P.D.: The Short Victorious War - Field of Dishonor
- Commanding Officer, GSN's First Battle Squadron, c1907 P.D.: Flag in Exile
- Commanding Officer, RMN Task Group 1037, Commanding Officer, HMAMC Wayfarer, AMC-, c1908 P.D. (September) - c1910 P.D. (March): Honor Among Enemies
- Commanding Officer, RMN Cruiser Squadron Eighteen, c1911 P.D.: In Enemy Hands
- Commanding Officer, allied and non-allied members of armed forces on planet Hades, Elysian Space Navy, 1911 - 1913 P.D.: Echoes of Honor
- Commandant, Saganami Island Advanced Tactical Course, Tactical Instructor, RMN Naval Academy, c1913 P.D. (December) - c1915 P.D. (May): Ashes of Victory
- Commanding Officer, GSN's Protector's Own Squadron, since c1914 P.D.: Ashes of Victory–At All Costs
- Commanding Officer, RMN Sidemore Station, Commanding Officer, RMN Task Force 34, c1918 P.D. - c1920 P.D.: War of Honor
- Commanding Officer, RMN Eighth Fleet, c1920 P.D. (July) - c1922 P.D. (May): At All Costs, Mission of Honor
- Commanding Officer, HMS Unconquered, since c1920 P.D. (July): At All Costs
- Commanding Officer, RMN Home Fleet, since c1921 P.D. (August): At All Costs
- Commanding Officer, RMN Eighth Fleet: War of Honor
- Commanding Officer, Allied Grand Fleet: A Rising Thunder
Honor is physically very tall (over six feet in height). This is a source of much humor in the series, especially when compared to her "tiny" mother Allison Harrington.
Honor is recognized as a great teacher both in the classroom and shipboard environments and has a calm, tolerant management style. Her subordinates have ample opportunity to learn from their mistakes and improve performance; the Bureau of Personnel has noted a distinct increase in efficiency from her subordinates. She rarely loses her temper without severe provocation (although when she does get angry this usually results in devastating if not fatal consequences for the object of her anger). Warning signs include a flat, deadly calm tone in her voice, a facial tic in the right corner of her mouth and more obvious warning signals that Nimitz gives such as flattened ears, hissing, and tail twitches that are exactly in time with Honor's facial tic. Her most loyal subordinates, including Scotty Tremaine, Alistair McKeon and Andrew LaFollet, are very aware of these warning signs and will sometimes intervene to stop her. (The Honor of the Queen, Echoes of Honor).
Honor loathes coffee and considers hot cocoa far superior.
She regularly is seen drinking "Old Tilman" beer from a bottle.
She owns and practices with a replica Colt M1911 .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol, a weapon considered to be an anachronistic "hand cannon" by her contemporaries, who prefer pulsers, which fire small-calibre high explosive darts at extremely high velocity using a gravitic propulsion system. She acquired a taste for obsolete handarms from her uncle, Jacques Chou, who is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. His training made her a pistol expert (useful on Sphinx outside its protected areas, given its native predators).
Honor lost her left eye while defending Protector Benjamin Mayhew from an assassination attempt. The eye was replaced with a prosthetic, though on occasion it has been disabled (as when she was captured and transported to Hades). Additionally, some of the nerves on the left side of her face were damaged during the same incident, and were replaced with artificial nerves.
Most of her left arm was lost during the escape from the PNS Tepes and was replaced by a cybernetic arm which, among other interesting features, contains a hidden pulser pistol inside the index finger. Its sight is slaved to her prosthetic eye via a small video camera embedded in the cuticle.
Honor practices a fictional martial art known as coup de vitesse (French for blow of speed). This is a fusion of several western and Oriental martial arts, where emphasis is placed on offense at the expense of defense, resulting in a very brutal and effective style. As of War of Honor, Honor has earned an eighth level black belt. There is only one higher rank. Her proficiency has saved her and others several times.
Honor has become proficient with the Grayson style of swordplay, involving a blade very similar to the katana, which by a quirk of history is used ceremonially by Steadholders and is the center of a martial art on Grayson. The sword style of the Graysons is derived from the film The Seven Samurai - presumably the Kurosawa version - the only recording of swordplay that existed on Grayson once their culture had devolved to the point where swords were desired.
Honor has a mental block regarding mathematics, despite her high intelligence and kinesthetic aptitude. This has absolutely nothing to do with her ability to perform; on at least one occasion she has instinctively computed complex four-dimensional intercepts in her head during combat. In a normal situation even simple mathematics are challenging for her at times. Honor's problems with mathematics almost resulted in her failing out of Saganami Island.
Honor Harrington in other media
An Honor Harrington movie was announced by Echo Valley Entertainment. However, later information suggested that it would actually be a television series, to be written and produced by Peter Sands. When David Weber was asked which actress he envisioned as Honor Harrington, he replied, "I don’t think there’s anyone out there who has the proper combination of height, physicality, and demonstrated acting ability to be 'perfect' for the role, so my mind is fairly open on this topic." Actress Claudia Christian, who plays Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, has been suggested as a potential candidate; Weber says "She’s much shorter than Honor, but so are most women, and I think she could handle the physicality... I think it’s more important to have someone who can portray Honor’s character and command style than it is to have someone who is six feet two inches tall." Weber's concern is that the director would push Christian to re-create Ivanova's character while playing Honor and "Ivanova’s command style is totally different from Honor’s."
Concept and creation
David Weber didn't set out to create a female protagonist; "it was the way the character came to me," Weber explains. "I didn't set out to do it because I thought that it was especially politically sensitive on my part or because I thought it was likely to strike a chord with female readership or be a financial success. It was just the way that the character first presented herself." Weber doesn't find writing a female character particularly challenging, because, he says, "I'm writing about a human being who happens to be female." When he first started writing, he had developed her entire back story before he started the first book. However, since he knew from the beginning that these books would become a series, he deliberately set Honor up as a character who changes and grows. One example Weber offers is that in The Short Victorious War, Honor off-handedly refers to her genetically enhanced metabolism, which isn't fully explored until In Enemy Hands: "It was one of those little things that I knew about or that I was holding in reserve," Weber says.
The first name of his character - Honor - had come to Weber long before the last name did. Weber knew that if the Honor novels worked, she was inevitably going to be compared to C.S.Forester's Horatio Hornblower, therefore he chose Harrington's name so that she had the same initials. He says, "There are certainly, clearly, similarities between the two. There are also huge differences. And Honor has never been as neurotic as Hornblower was. Hornblower always carried a massive sense of inferiority around with him. Honor never did." Weber also feels that in the later books in the series, Honor has more in common with Admiral Horatio Nelson than Hornblower. Weber revealed in the foreword to Storm from the Shadows that it had originally been his intent to kill Honor off in the Battle of Manticore, thus further mimicking Nelson's life (he died in his greatest battle, Trafalgar) and have the emerging Mesa problem be dealt with by the next generation, specifically, Honor's children. When writing At All Costs, he decided instead to keep her alive, and move the Mesan-related events up, to be Honor's problem.
Parallels to real world history
||This section possibly contains original research. (July 2013)|
The Honor Harrington universe shares other parallels with our real history including religious strife, bigotry of many kinds, ignorance and malfeasance and the political situation—both domestic in both of Honor's governments, but also internationally. During much of Harrington's career, her native Star Kingdom of Manticore is at war with the neighboring People's Republic of Haven (PRH), a conflict that has some similarities to the Napoleonic Wars between the British Empire and its various alliances during the long struggle to oppose the revolutionaries of France.
Given a faster than light technology and weapons scaled similar to those of the Age of Sail, some of the battles described in the Honor Harrington series resemble real-life sea battles in our historical record. For instance, the long stern chase described in On Basilisk Station has some parallels with the actions of HMS Kent at the Battle of the Falklands during World War I. Similarly, the deathride by Sarnow's battlecruisers in The Short Victorious War bears a resemblance to similar manoeuvres by Admiral von Hipper during the Battle of Jutland. The final actions in The Honor of the Queen contain elements from the battles of the Barents Sea and North Cape during World War II, as well as the Battle of the River Plate. The final actions in Echoes of Honor are a recreation of the actions of Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar except for the stealth in which it was conducted. Further, Weber's choice of interstellar technology forces trade to pursue established trade routes, and creates strategic shipping nexus that are similar to key strategic ports of the days of the Colonial Era when the sailing ship of the line was king of the sea, and Captains, Admirals and Fleets had to operate out of touch with the home government for months, even years at a time.
- "Shadow of Freedom". "New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and international bestselling phenomenon David Weber delivers book #18 in the multiple New York Times best-selling Honor Harrington series"
- Mission of Honor, Honor Harrington #12 (HH12)
- World's of Honor #1, More Than Honor, 'A Beautiful Friendship'.
- "Honor Harrington". Hollywood.com. Archived from the original on 2006-12-14. Retrieved 2006-04-28.
- VisionFire Films. "Peter Sands: Biography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2006-04-28.
- Weisskopf, Toni (September 2003). "David Weber Internet Interview". Baen.
- "Saganami Island Tactical Simulator". Ad Astra Games. Retrieved 2006-06-22.
- Wilson, Alyce. "Interview with David Weber". Wild Violet 6 (1).
- Interview by Stephen Hunt
- "Series listing". Baen Books. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
- Honor Harrington artwork at cover illustrator David Mattingly's website
- Honorverse Index
- The David Weber web site