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A Beautiful Friendship (novel)

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A Beautiful Friendship cover
Name: A Beautiful Friendship
Author: David Weber
Publisher: Baen Books
Publication Date: 4 October 2011
ISBN: 1451637470
Series: Star Kingdom
Next: Fire Season

A Beautiful Friendship is a young adult novel by David Weber, released in October of 2011. It is the first book of the Star Kingdom series. At Chicon 7, it was awarded the Hal Clement Award for Young Adults as part of the Golden Duck Awards.

Based on the short story of the same name, it details the first meeting and relationship between Stephanie Harrington and her treecat, Lionheart.

Timeframe: 1518 – 1521 PD

Cover Summary Edit

Stephanie Harrington absolutely hates being confined inside her family’s compound on the pioneer planet of Sphinx, a frontier wilderness world populated by dangerous native animals that could easily tear a human to bits and pieces. Yet Stephanie is a young woman determined to make discoveries—and the biggest discovery of all awaits her: an intelligent alien species.
Treecats are creatures that resemble a cross between a bobcat and a lemur (but with six legs and much more deadly claws). Not only are they fully sentient, they are also telepathic, and able to bond with certain gifted humans such as the genetically-enhanced Stephanie. But Stephanie's find, and her first-of-its-kind bond with a treecat, brings on a new torrent of danger. An assortment of highly-placed enemies with galactic-sized wealth at stake is determined to make sure that the planet of Sphinx remains entirely in human hands—even if this means the extermination of another thinking species. Stephanie and Lionheart are about to undergo the greatest test two alien species can ever face together: how to survive first contact and win a future with liberty and justice for all!
The first entry in a new teen series and the origin saga for the incredibly-popular, multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling Honor Harrington adult science fiction adventures. Young Stephanie Harrington is none other than the founder of a pioneering family dynasty that is destined to lead the fight for humanity’s freedom in a dangerous galaxy.

Plot Edit

Unexpected Meetings Edit

Climbs Quickly, a young treecat scout of the Bright Water Clan, has come to one of the "two-leg" (human) settlements that have recently appeared on the surface of his world. Intrigued by the telepathically conveyed memories of the strange beings' first arrival, he wants to learn more of them. The greenhouses they build to grow plants in the middle of winter especially interest him, as they are said to hold "cluster stalk", a plant unlike any known to the 'cats, with a delicious taste.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Harrington, an eleven-year-old girl whose family has recently migrated to Sphinx from the planet Meyerdahl, has an argument with her father, who does not allow her to go out and explore the surroundings as she would like to do. Bored by the long Sphinxian winter, she is determined to find out who keeps stealing celery from greenhouses and gardens all over Sphinx.

In the middle of a nightime thunderstorm, Stephanie finally catches Climbs Quickly sneaking out of the greenhouse. The two young beings experience a moment of deep psychic connection – unknown to both of them, the first bonding between a human and a treecat has just occurred.

Celery Stalker by Zenzmurfy

Climbs Quickly contemplating "cluster stalk" in the Harrington greenhouse.
(Art by Zenzmurfy)

Back in the nesting places of his clan, Climbs Quickly is reprimanded by the Elders for letting himself be detected by the humans. Even though the criticism angers him, his mind is mostly occupied with the memory of Stephanie Harrington's mind glow. The same applies to Stephanie, who to her own surprise can find no hint to the existence of creatures such as the one she encountered in any of the planetary databanks. Seemingly to get her mind of things, she continues her hang gliding lessons. In truth, she goes looking for her newly found soulmate, as the two youngsters have discovered an inexplicable ability to feel each other's presence and direction. Realizing that she might well discover the nesting places, Climbs Quickly leads her away from them, into the wilderness.

Taking too little care of the wind, Stephanie crash lands in the picket wood. Climbs Quickly swiftly comes to her aid. He soon realizes that there is a hexapuma's nest full of young nearby, and calls his sister Sings Truly, a memory singer, for aid. She sounds the alarm, sending the scouts and hunters of Bright Water his way to save her brother and Stephanie, whose bond deepens with every minute.

Eventually, a hexapuma arrives and attacks them. Climbs Quickly defends his human friend, mainly distracting the attacker until his sister and the others arrive, but is gravely injured. Now Stephanie in turn defends the treecat, using a vibro blade to mortally injure the hexapuma. Bleeding to death slowly, the beast still charges after her, but is overwhelmed and torn to shreds by the arriving scouts and hunters of the Bright Water Clan.

While Richard and Marjorie Harrington finally realize that their daughter is missing, the treecats discuss the consequences of recent events. Feeling the special bond between her brother and his "two-leg", Sings Truly convinces the others that the time has come to reveal their existence to the other species. Soon after, the Harringtons arrive, finding their daughter amidst a small army of "tiny hexapumas". Stephanie's father, a veterinarian, decides to take the wounded Climbs Quickly with them. The young human and the treecat settle into a friendship, and Stephanie gives her treecat a new name: Lionheart.

With Friends Like These... Edit

Some sixteen months later, the Harringtons meet with Gary Shelton, Chief Ranger of the Sphinx Forestry Service. Like most Sphinxians, he still has to come to terms with the existence of the treecats. When Stephanie applies for an internship with the Forestry Service, Shelton rejects her request, explaining that the SFS does not even have a program for that. Stephanie is disappointed, but unwilling to give up on her dream.

Three weeks after Arvin Erhardt's murder, Stephanie and Lionheart go to a meeting of the hang gliding club. Stephanie soon gets into a heated argument with Trudy Franchitti, another girl who sees Lionheart as a mere pet. The treecat uses their mind connection to calm Stephanie down when Stan Chang, another young hangglider, joins the argument. However, Stephanie stands up to him and he and Trudy leave.

Some time later, Stephanie meets with xeno-anthropologist Dr. Sanura Hobbard, who tries her best to find out more about the treecats and their society. Stephanie, however, is reluctant to give her any more information than necessary. Soon after, she contacts Scott MacDallan, the only other treecat adoptee on the planet. Meanwhile, MacDallan is busy hiding the treecats' involvement in the scandal surrounding Muriel Ubel's crimes.

Stephanie and Lionheart visit the nesting grounds of the Bright Water Clan, when Dr. MacDallan finally agrees to meet with her. While a major storm gathers, MacDallan and his friends visit the Harrington homestead; they explain to Stephanie that if the treecats were recognized as a highly sentient race, much of their planet would be reserved for them, and there are many people who have a vital interest in keeping that from happening. Also, the fact that the creatures are telepaths could make them an interesting target for illegal genetic research.

Stephanie is introduced to Dr. Tennessee Bolgeo, a scientist from the Chattanooga System who wants to study the treecats. Bolgeo, however, is actually a spy working for a Solarian pet trader who wants to acquire the 'cats as high society pets. Stephanie instantly realizes that something is wrong with him, and voices her concerns to her parents and Dr. MacDallan and Dr. Hobbard.

Some time later, Lionheart is informed by Short Tail that a dozen members of the Bright Water Clan have not returned to the nesting grounds from various missions. The Elders are considering relocating the clan, especially as the treecats know exactly how treacherous Dr. Bolgeo really is -- they just have no means to tell their human friends.

Bolgeo has indeed captured the missing treecats, and keeps them drugged and hidden in a warehouse. He gets an automated message that one of his high-tech traps has captured yet another one.

While Stephanie is in the Bright Water nesting grounds when an alarm goes off, something has happened to a hunter named Twig Weaver. Lionheart and his sister, whom Stephanie has christened Morgana, rush to his aid along with Stephanie. They meet up with Twig Weaver's mate, Water Dancer, and discover that the hunter has been lured into a trap with celery. Stephanie summons her father and Dr. MacDallan for help, but Tennessee Bolgeo arrives before any of them. Stephanie rushes to free Twig Weaver from the automated trap, while the other treecats lure a young hexapuma in Bolgeo's direction. The huge predator attacks the trapper, but is killed by Stephanie, while Bolgeo is overwhelmed by dozens of treecats. When Dr. MacDallan and the others arrive, Stephanie is holding the terrified man at gunpoint.

A short time later, the Harringtons have dinner with their friends; the Twin Forks Police had already been watching Bolgeo's assistant and moved in on the warehouse with the captured treecats just after Bolgeo was captured. The criminals are awaiting trial for poaching. Chief Ranger Shelton has introduced the new rank of "probationary ranger", and hands Stephanie Harrington the badge she has to carry as a junior member of the Sphinx Forestry Service.

Background Edit

The first twelve chapters of the novel are basically a re-telling of the short story of the same name.

The novel reveals that Gryphon was still not settled in 1520 PD. It also establishes a lot of dates for the early history of Manticore, which retcon a number of dates from previous novels.

The cover art was created by artist Daniel Dos Santos.

References Edit

Characters Edit

Wylie Bishop | Tennessee Bolgeo | Bright Claw | Broken Tooth | Brutus | Frank Câmara | Stan Chang | Clear Singer | Digger | Donaldson | Allison Dostoevskaya | Arvin Erhardt | Fisher | Eric Flint | Jordan Franchitti | Ralph Franchitti | Trudy Franchitti | Fleet Wind | Marjorie Harrington | Richard Harrington | Stephanie Harrington | Jerome Hobbard | Sanura Hobbard | Ainsley Jedrusinski | Irina Kisaevna | Stefan Kisaevna | Frank Lethbrigde | Lionheart | Scott MacDallan | Toby Mednick | Michael I | Becky Morowitz | Chet Pontier | Roger I | Francine Samarina | Sapristos | Christine Schroeder | Shadow Hider | Gary Shelton | Short Tail | Jake Simpson | Morgana (treecat) | Song Spinner | Steinman | Stone Biter | Twig Weaver | Muriel Ubel | Sumiko Uchida | Idoya Vázquez | Water Dancer | Weyerhaeuser | Aleksandr Zivonik | Evelina Zivonik | Karl Zivonik | Larisa Zivonik

Planets Edit

Barstool | Earth | Elysian | Gryphon | Halakon | Manticore | Mesa | Meyerdahl | New Chicago | Sphinx

Nations Edit

Other Edit

air car | Amphors | Balthazar System | BioNeering | Blue Mountain Dancing Clan | Bright Heart Clan | Bright Water Clan | celery | Chattanooga System | Copperwalls | Crown Commission on Treecats | crown oak | Diaspora of Man | Earth's Final War | Elysian Rule | Fire Runs Fast Clan | Golden Retriever | hexapuma | High Crag Clan | Hollister | humans | Landing University | Laughing River Clan | Liberty University | Long Grass | Manpower Incorporated | Manticoran Plague | Manticore System | Meyerdahl First Wave | Meyerdahl Forestry Service | Ministry of Immigration | Ministry of the Interior | mountain eagle | Nueva Madrid | Quelhollow | Paulk Grant | picketwood | Red Letter Café | Rottweiler | Seaview | sentience scale | Sol System | Solarian League Assembly | Sphinx Forestry Service | Sphinxian Leopard Trout | Sphinxian chipmunk | Sun Shadow Clan | Tannerman Ocean | Thunder River | Tillingham | treecats | Twin Forks | uni-link | vibro knife | wood rat | Yawata Crossing | Yawata Crossing Times | yeoman | zero-balancer | Barony of Zivonik


External links Edit

Main Honor Harrington series
HH1 On Basilisk Station HH8 Echoes of Honor
HH2 The Honor of the Queen HH9 Ashes of Victory
HH3 The Short Victorious War HH10 War of Honor
HH4 Field of Dishonor HH11 At All Costs
HH5 Flag in Exile HH12 Mission of Honor
HH6 Honor Among Enemies HH13 A Rising Thunder
HH7 In Enemy Hands HH14 Shadow of Freedom
Spin off Series
Crown of Slaves Saganami Island
CS1 Crown of Slaves SI1 The Shadow of Saganami
CS2 Torch of Freedom SI2 Storm from the Shadows
CS3 Cauldron of Ghosts
Star Kingdom Manticore Ascendant
SK1 A Beautiful Friendship MA1 A Call to Duty
SK2 Fire Season
SK3 Treecat Wars
Anthologies
HHA1 More Than Honor HHA4 The Service of the Sword
HHA2 Worlds of Honor HHA5 In Fire Forged
HHA3 Changer of Worlds HHA6 Beginnings
Tales of Honor Comic Series
TOH1 Tales of Honor #1 TOH2 Tales of Honor #2

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