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Timeframe: 1892 PD
Just after his graduation from the Royal Manticoran Naval Academy on Saganami Island, Midshipman and Crown Prince Michael Winton learns from his roommate that he is to be assigned to the superdreadnought HMS Saint Elmo, a ship in the home system that has not seen combat for many years. He meets with his direct superior, Commander Brenda Shrake, and requests another assignment, as he does not want the Navy to shield him off from dangers. He is eventually assigned to the light cruiser HMS Intransigent.
Meanwhile, on the planet Masada, a young, Grayson-born woman named Judith Templeton recounts the events leading to the death of her parents and her own capture by Masadan pirates. The captain of the pirate vessel, an influential man named Ephraim Templeton, took her as his junior wife, and used her as mere property, as is common on his world. From an early age, she began to plot her escape and revenge, learning how to use computers and how to hack into the systems of her husband's starship, the Aaron's Rod. However, her actions are eventually discovered by Ephraim's senior wife, Dinah. Judith learned that the older woman, like her, can read, and is the leader of the Sisterhood of Barbara, a group of well-educated Masadan women who believe Judith to be the "Moses" who was sent by God to lead them into a better life.
Aboard Intransigent, assistant tactical officer Lieutenant Carlotta Dunsinane is less than happy about the prospect of having the Crown Prince on board, and does not hesitate to voice her concerns to her captain, Abelard Boniece. He advises her to treat the young man fairly, and give him a chance to prove himself. Meanwhile, Michael visits his sister, Queen Elizabeth III, at Mount Royal Palace. Over a game of chess, she informs him that Intransigent will be sent to the Endicott System for diplomatic negotiations with the Masadans; the Star Kingdom wants to win them as allies against growing Havenite expansionism. Michael's presence is hoped to make it easier for the patriarchal Masadans to accept Elizabeth's role.
Aboard Intransigent, Prince Michael has a difficult time getting along with Lieutenant Dunsinane, and it does not help when she catches him smirking while toasting to the Queen's honor. Also, several scions of important families have been transferred to the ship for their midshipman cruises in order to breed connections with royalty. Upon their arrival in the Endicott System, the Manticorans find the Havenite heavy cruiser PNS Moscow already in orbit of Masada. A meeting with the First Elder is scheduled, and Prince Michael is relieved of his shipboard duties in order to attend, much to the dislike of Lieutenant Dunsinane. She once again protests to Captain Boniece, who lectures her that she will have to deal with a lot such situations if she wants to be given a command one day.
As Ephraim Templeton leaves for the meeting with the Manticorans, Judith and Dinah decide to launch their escape plan. With the help of Samson's Bane, an elite unit of combat-ready women within the Sisterhood, they take control of the shuttle Flower and use it to board and take over Aaron's Rod. Judith takes command and orders her crew to leave orbit. When their actions are noted, the Templetons come after them, and Prince Michael is removed from Masada by John Hill, a member of the Manticoran delegation. The Masadan spymaster, Ronald Sands, asks the Manticorans to help them in retaking Aaron's Rod, while Judith asks them to protect her and her sisters. Captain Boniece decides to re-route Midshipman Winton to the fleeing vessel to investigate the situation.
Once aboard Aaron's Rod, Michael meets with Dinah and Judith, while Captain Boniece argues with the Masadans. Michael's team helps the Sisterhood in encreasing the power output of their systems, but Templeton's other ships, Psalms and Proverbs, are already in hot pursuit. Intransigent intercepts most of their fire, but Aaron's Rod is hit several times. On the bridge, Dinah is having a heart attack in the middle of the battle, just moments before Aaron's Rod jumps into hyperspace – and to safety. Judith tries to take care of Dinah, telling her that she was always the true "Moses" of the Sisterhood of Barbara, not Judith. However, it appears to them that, like Moses, Dinah will never come to see the Promised Land.
Some time later, Michael and Judith bring Dinah over to Intransigent, where the ship's medical team will do their best to save her. Lieutenant Dunsinane offers to send a relief crew consisting entirely of women over to Aaron's Rod, but Judith explains that they do not mind the presence of Manticoran men.
Jane Lindskold wrote two short stories for Honorverse anthologies, both featuring strong female characters in difficult situations. The two main characters, Queen Elizabeth III of Manticore and Judith Templeton, in fact become sisters-in-law later on in the series, when Michael marries Judith.
Promised Land can also be seen as a kind of prequel to the second Honorverse novel, The Honor of the Queen, in that it establishes why Manticore decided to pursue diplomatic relations with Grayson and not Masada. It also draws out the family background of Princess Ruth, Michael and Judith Winton's daughter, who is a major character in the novels Crown of Slaves and Torch of Freedom, set almost thirty years later (although it is stated in Crown of SLaves that Ruth is twenty-three years old at the time).
Acuminata | Barbara Bancroft | Abelard Boniece | Acuminata | Quentin Cayen | Dara | Carlotta Dunsinane | Faldo | Astrid Heywood | John Hill | Kareem Jones | Forbes Lawler | Keane Lorne | Odelia | O'Donnel | Umeko Palmer | Parello | Sally Pike | Kiah Rink | Osgood Russo | Ronald Sands | Sherlyn | Brenda Shrake | Dinah Templeton | Ephraim Templeton | Gideon Templeton | Judith Templeton | Mahalia Templeton | Naomi Templeton | Raphaela Templeton | Rena Templeton | Uriel Templeton | Tab Tilson | Maurice Townsend | Caitrin Winton-Henke | Michael Winton | Zaneta
air car | Sisterhood of Barbara | chess | City of God | Hall of the Just | Council of Elders | Endicott System | hyperspace | midshipman cruise | Palace of the Just | Royal Manticoran Navy | Grand Duchy of Winton-Henke