The Solarian League's navy counts its superdreadnoughts by the thousands. Not even its own government knows how enormous its economy truly is. And for hundreds of years, the League has borne the banner of human civilization, been the ideal to which humanity aspires in its diaspora across the galaxy.
But the bureaucrats known as the "Mandarins", who rule today's League, are not the men and women who founded it so long ago. They are corrupt, venal, accountable to no one . . . and they've decided the upstart Star Kingdom of Manticore must be destroyed.
Honor Harrington has worn the Star Kingdom's uniform for half a century and served her monarch and her people well. In the course of those years, the woman the newsies call the Salamander has grown from a tactically brilliant but politically naïve junior officer to supreme fleet command and a seat on the highest military and political councils of the Grand Alliance.
Very few people know war the way Honor Harrington does. Very few have lost as many men and women, as many friends, as much family, as she has. Yet despite that, hers has been a voice of caution. She knows the Mandarins and the Solarian League Navy are growing increasingly desperate as the truth of their technological inferiority sinks home, but she also knows the sheer size of the League. And she knows how its citizens will react if the Grand Alliance takes the war to the League, attacks its star systems, destroys its infrastructure . . . kills its civilians. Today's victory, bought on those terms, can only guarantee a future war of revenge against a resurgent Solarian League and its navy.
Honor knows the Grand Alliance must find a victory that doesn't require incursions deep into Solarian space, doesn't leave a legacy of bottomless hatred, and the strategy she supports has been working.
The League is sliding towards inglorious defeat as it steadily loses ground in the Protectorates and the Verge. As its central government teeters towards bankruptcy and even some of its core systems opt to secede in the face of the Mandarins' corruption. As the Solarian Navy finally realizes it cannot face an Alliance battle fleet and win.
But the Mandarins have embraced a desperate new strategy, and in pursuit of that strategy, the SLN has committed atrocities such as the galaxy has not known in a thousand years. The League have violated its own Eridani Edict against mass civilian casualties, violated the Deneb Accords prohibition on war crimes.
And they have finally killed too many of the people Honor Harrington loves.
Hers is the voice of caution and compromise no longer, and the galaxy is about to see something it has never imagined.
The Salamander is coming for the Solarian League, and Hell is coming in her wake.
spoiler: ( plot ) In reponse to the Beowulf System's plebiscite to secede from the Solarian League and the possibly-pending secession of other League members, the Mandarins launch "Operation Buccaneer" to destroy all spaceborne infrastructure in targeted systems. In several cases, the operation was successful with a violation of the Deneb Accords and a planned violation of the Eridani Edict in the Hypatia System, but in two cases the attack was repelled by the Royal Manticoran Navy. After the Mesan Alignment detonated more than forty nuclear bombs on Mesa just after the Manticoran 10th Fleet entered orbit of the planet, the Mandarins were able to successfully amend Article 1 of the Solarian League constitution (which originally did not allow the League to directly levy taxes on member systems) to supplement their dwindling income. After being further influenced by Alignment, the Mandarins launch a strike against Manticoran missile production facilities in the Beowulf System. In order to weaken the system defenses (an unbeknownst to the League forces), the Alignment uses its Silver Bullet platforms to destroy Beowulf's Mycroft system platforms. In spite of the Alignment's clandestine assistance, the Solarian League Navy attack was repelled. Despite their light combat losses, the Alliance suffered forty-three million casualties when laser-pump bombs placed on Beowulf's three largest orbital habitats by the Mesan Alignment (with the help of Kalokainos Shipping) detonated. Casualties included Tyler Abercrombie, Lupe Blanton, Thomas Caparelli, Patrica Givens, Lucien Cortez, Anthony Langtry, Francine Maurier, Michael Mayhew and Judah Yanakov. Hamish Alexander and Jaques Benton-Ramirez survived only by a miracle. In reprisal for the attack, the RMN launches "Operation Nemesis" to destroy the industrial base of the Sol System, take possession of the SLN's R&D base, depose the Mandarins and force changes to the Solarian League's constitution to prevent their becoming a future threat.
spoiler: ( Backround ) The Renaissance Factor and Maya Sector emerged as independent states. Damien Harahap was adopted by Treecat named Clean Killer, renamed after to treecat names of Plays with Fire and Fire Watch.