Storm from the Shadows
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|Series||Honor Harrington series|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|February 2009 (official March 3, 2009)|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|LC Class||PS3573.E217 S76 2009|
|Preceded by||The Shadow of Saganami|
|Followed by||Shadow of Freedom|
Storm from the Shadows is a novel by David Weber, released in February 2009 (but with an official publication date of March 3, 2009), and set in the Honorverse and the second in the Saganami Island series, spun off from the main Honor Harrington series. In this volume, the spin-off series is re-integrated with the main series as several scenes were repeated either exactly or from a different point of view. The actions in this book overlap those in At All Costs and Torch of Freedom.
The book begins with a retelling of several events that took place in At All Costs, from the point of view from main character Admiral Michelle Henke. As Honor Harrington's Eighth Fleet continues its devastating deep-strike raids into the territory of the Republic of Haven, Haven's technical wizard Admiral Shannon Foraker develops a defensive weapons system that she names Moriarty, after the malevolent archenemy of Sherlock Holmes. Moriarty, essentially a deep space station devoted entirely to missile fire control, enables Havenite planetary defenses to fire previously unmatched masses of missiles at invading forces.
This system enables even Eighth Fleet, which has exceedingly capable anti-missile defense systems, to be attacked successfully, as not even Manticoran missile defense systems can stop tens of thousands of missiles targeted on the same ship. On one mission, Havenite Admiral Javier Giscard organizes an ambush in several systems expected to be attacked by Eighth Fleet. Three Havenite forces corner the Manticoran force when it arrives in one of the systems. After the Moriarty station fires a massive amount of missiles from pods in orbit around the system's planet, Eighth Fleet is heavily damaged. One of Harrington's super dreadnoughts is destroyed outright, and many more are damaged beyond repair.
Henke's force of battlecruisers also takes heavy damage, to the point where her flagship HMS Ajax loses the capability to flee the system with Harrington. The ship's "boat bays" are also damaged to the point where shuttles cannot leave, trapping the crew aboard. All appears lost for Henke, but the ship's crew manages to repair the ship to the point where shuttles can be used to evacuate it. Henke orders the evacuation, and simultaneously plans a counterattack using all of the ship's remaining offensive capability. Originally intending to sacrifice herself to see the plan through, the ship's flag captain orders her and her staff off just before the attack begins. As the Havenite fleet approaches an apparently evacuated Ajax, the ship fires all remaining missile pods into them, catching them by surprise. Damage comparable to that suffered by Eighth Fleet is sustained by the Havenites, who quickly completely destroy Ajax and all else that remains of Henke's force with vengeful fire.
Henke is presumed dead by the Manticorans, as it is believed she did not make it off Ajax before it was destroyed. In reality, however, she got aboard the last evacuating shuttle with two of her officers, and was heavily injured as her ship exploded around them. The persons on board the shuttle, including Henke, are then picked up by the Havenite fleet, and they become prisoners of war.
Henke's injuries, which include a shattered right knee, are treated by the Havenites. Admiral Thomas Theisman, the Havenite Naval Commander in Chief and a longtime respected adversary of Manticore, has mandated that all prisoners of war in the renewed conflict between Manticore and Haven are to be treated as fairly and humanely as possible. Henke recovers in a comfortable military hospital, during which time she is visited in turn by Theisman and Eloise Pritchart, President of the Republic. At one point Theisman even invites her to a formal dinner with him and his staff. After she recovers, Henke takes command as the senior Manticoran Prisoner of War on an island on the planet Haven.
Henke discovers, to her surprise, that Haven has adopted a completely unorthodox approach to handling PoWs. The Manticorans present on the island are essentially left to their own devices, under the watchful eye of one Havenite officer, who is responsible for providing what is needed to Henke and the other PoWs under her responsibility to live in relative comfort. Although it appears that any time the PoWs on the island could just build a boat and leave, the island is actually under round-the-clock surveillance from space and, if necessary, a team of Havenite Republican Marines are ready at all times to prevent an escape in less than fifteen minutes. This experience significantly changes Henke's view of Haven. She realizes that Theisman and Pritchart really have restored the honor of the Havenite military, which previously had been considerably less noble in its treatment of prisoners.
Henke spends six months as commanding officer of the Manticoran PoWs. One day, the Havenite military sends an aircar to the island, and she is summoned once again to the company of Theisman and Pritchart. Henke is informed that she will be paroled by the Havenite military, a practice previously unheard of. In return, Pritchart asks Henke, a close relative of Queen Elizabeth III of Manticore, to petition the Manticoran leadership for a peace summit between the Star Kingdom and the Republic. There is one more stipulation: Henke must give her legally binding oath that she will not command a force against the Havenite military, or otherwise act against the interests of Haven. This she does, and Henke is sent back to Manticoran territory.
Henke convinces a reluctant Queen Elizabeth to personally meet with Pritchart on the capitol planet of the neutral Kingdom of Torch, which had been established by a covert joint effort between Manticore and Haven in the book Crown of Slaves, during the truce that preceded the current conflict. In the meantime, Henke and Manticore are put in a dilemma: she cannot go back to war against Haven, or else violate her parole. Yet, she is one of Manticore's finest tacticians, and the Manticoran Bureau of Personnel recognizes that her talents should not be wasted. Thus, she is assigned to become second in command to Vice Admiral Khumalo, in the distant Talbott cluster, which, in The Shadow of Saganami, successfully petitioned via plebiscite to become annexed by the Star Kingdom.
While Talbott on the surface seems to be a relatively quiet and peaceful place far away from the titanic conflict between Haven and Manticore, things are not as they seem. In Saganami, the malevolent interstellar slaver corporation known as Manpower Unlimited attempted to use a local nation known as Monica as a proxy to force the Star Kingdom from Talbott, and take control of the lucrative wormhole terminus located there. By convenient chance, Captain Aivars Terekhov, commander of the heavy cruiser HMS Hexapuma stationed in Talbott, uncovered the plot and in a daring assault on the Monica system, completely destroyed Monica's military, thus ending the threat it posed to Manticoran control of Talbott.
Despite a loss that results in Monica becoming a vassal of the Star Kingdom, and the public embarrassment of all involved in the plot, including Manpower and the Solarian League's Office of Frontier Security, Manpower almost immediately launches another plan to force Manticore from Talbott, and cause a conflict between the Star Kingdom and the League to serve its own mysterious ends.
Taking advantage of widespread arrogance in the OFS and the Solarian League Navy towards (apparently) "lesser" nations like Manticore, Manpower manipulates the only star nation of the Talbott cluster that declined to participate in the annexation, the New Tuscan Republic, to engineer a false conflict between itself and Manticore. Manpower operative Aldonna Anisimovna meets with the New Tuscan leadership, confesses her organization's involvement in the Monica incident, and persuades them to support a new plot that she tricks them into believing will help preserve New Tuscan sovereignty.
After a series of deliberately provoked incidents between New Tuscan merchant ships and Manticoran forces charged with inspecting them as they enter Manticoran territory, a fleet of ships under the command of one Admiral Josef Byng, a viciously anti-Manticoran and incompetent Solarian League Naval Officer, is dispatched to Talbott by the League.
That Byng himself is even in command of this force is the work of Manpower and the OFS, who expect that in one way or another Byng will act irrationally when dealing with Manticore, and start a conflict. Byng himself is completely oblivious to the plot, and honestly believes that his true purpose for being sent to Talbott is to check Manticoran aggression against New Tuscany. Henke encounters Byng and through a Manticoran Naval Intelligence dossier on the Solarian Admiral, and after rather frosty conversation with the man, discovers Byng's nature and arrogant attitude towards all things Manticoran. However, she is powerless to do anything about the Solarian presence in the area.
In the wake of this crisis, the reader is taken through several mysterious interludes on the planet Mesa, the homeworld of Manpower Unlimited. The overall leader of Manpower (and Mesa), Albrecht Detweiler, is shown discussing Manpower (and Mesa's) plans with various persons, including his several "sons" (actually clones). In each interlude, more and more is revealed about Mesan plans to finally come out of the shadows and launch a direct attack on the Manticore system with a secret weapon; stealth ships that travel without an Impeller drive and thus are completely undetectable by conventional means. Furthermore, it is revealed that "Manpower Unlimited" is actually just a front for the Mesan star nation itself, the Mesan Alignment, which is run by Detweiler and a cadre of other genetically engineered oligarchs set on galactic domination.
The Mesan plot involving New Tuscany and Admiral Byng comes to a head. In the system where most of the engineered diplomatic incidents between Manticore and New Tuscany have taken place, New Tuscany scuttles one of their merchant ships as a Manticoran vessel is approaching for boarding and inspection, in an attempt to frame Manticore for its destruction. It is blatantly obvious that the detonations which destroyed the freighter were caused internally, but Byng wastes no time upon hearing of the incident to protect them against further Manticoran "aggression".
Admirals Khumalo and Henke, unaware of Byng's presence in the system, send a small fleet of three destroyers to New Tuscany to officially complain about their actions. As soon as the destroyers arrive, Anisimova, using a nuclear device, destroys the largest New Tuscan space station in orbit around the planet, killing tens of thousands of New Tuscans instantly. Admiral Byng automatically assumes that the Manticoran destroyers are responsible, and orders his forces to open fire upon them in retaliation. As the destroyers are completely unprepared for combat and do not have their defensive systems activated, they are quickly wiped out by Byng's large fleet. Manticore is thus propelled into a state of war with the Solarian League.
For Manticore, the events could not have come at a worse time. As most of the book takes place simultaneously with At All Costs, at this time Lester Tourville's massive attack on the Manticore system itself takes place, prompting the Battle of Manticore and the near-complete elimination of the offensive capabilities of Manticore and Haven. Recognizing his huge opportunity, Detweiler orders the deployment of his secret weapon on Manticore far earlier than he had originally intended. Commanded by one of his son-clones, the new Mesan Alignment Navy embarks on the stealth ships for the Manticore system.
Admiral Henke, via a distress signal that was sent back to the Talbott Quadrant, learns shortly afterward of the Manticoran ships' massacre at New Tuscany. She immediately assembles all of her ships and embarks for the system. Upon her arrival, she orders Byng to stand down, warning him that Manticoran naval capabilities far exceed that of the Solarians on a qualitative basis. Byng, who considers this warning a desperate bluff, as he believes that the Solarian Navy to be invincible, instead of vastly inferior on technical grounds as it really is, refuses. After reiterating her warning several times, and being ignored each time, Henke launches a mass of missiles at Byng's ship from far outside the engagement range of the Solarian forces, completely destroying it. Recognizing their complete tactical deficit, Byng's second in command complies with Henke's demands. The Solarian Navy is dealt its first defeat in centuries.
On planet Manticore, Queen Elizabeth meets with her inner circle to discuss the events that have taken place. During this meeting, Honor Harrington remarks that she believes conflict with the Solarian League had been inevitable, and the only way Manticore is going to survive is going to be to destroy the League as it is and break it up into several successor star nations which Manticore can deal with individually. Elizabeth initially rejects this new approach, believing that Haven, in the wake of that nation's devastating assault on Manticore, must be dealt with to prevent further assaults of that nature. However, Honor through her status as an empath, reveals that she has discovered via an extensive investigation that the renewed conflict between Haven and Manticore was engineered by Mesa to keep the two sides, both enemies to Mesa, distracted. Using the evidence she has uncovered, Harrington convinces Elizabeth to see things her way and attempt to reconcile with Haven.
Events come to a climax. The OFS administrator responsible for his organization's involvement for the new Mesan plot with New Tuscany meets with a Solarian officer who has a powerful fleet of capital ships stationed relatively near Talbott. Taking advantage of the Solarian Admiral's own prejudices towards "neo-barbarian" nations like Manticore, and her rage over the destruction of Admiral Byng's flagship, he surreptitiously convinces her to prepare to attack Manticore in the Talbott cluster. Simultaneously, The Mesan Alignment Navy's stealth ships arrive in the Manticore system, and deploy many missile pods before turning to leave. The commander of this force remarks that in a period of weeks, Manticore will be dealt a devastating blow.
The book then suddenly ends on a cliffhanger.
- Official website
- Storm from the Shadows title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Galley Proof of Storm From the Shadows, chapters 1-30 as of this writing.
The Shadow of Saganami
|Honor Harrington books||Succeeded by
Shadow of Freedom