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At All Costs (Honor Harrington Series #11)

At All Costs (Honor Harrington Series #11)

4.3 22
by David Weber

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What price victory?
The war with the Republic of Haven has resumed . . . disastrously for the Star Kingdom of Manticore. Admiral Lady Dame Honor Harrington, Steadholder and Duchess Harrington, the single victorious Allied commander of the opening phase of the new war, has been recalled from the Sidemore System to command Eighth Fleet. Everyone knows


What price victory?
The war with the Republic of Haven has resumed . . . disastrously for the Star Kingdom of Manticore. Admiral Lady Dame Honor Harrington, Steadholder and Duchess Harrington, the single victorious Allied commander of the opening phase of the new war, has been recalled from the Sidemore System to command Eighth Fleet. Everyone knows Eighth Fleet is the Alliance's primary offensive command, which makes it the natural assignment for the woman the media calls “the Salamander.” But what most of the public DOESN'T know is that not only are the Star Kingdom and its Allies badly outnumbered by the Republic's new fleet, but that the odds are going to get steadily worse. Eighth Fleet's job is to somehow prevent those odds from crushing the Alliance before the Star Kingdom can regain its strategic balance. It's a job which won't be done cheaply. Honor Harrington must meet her formidable responsibilities with inferior forces even as she copes with tumultuous changes in her personal and public life. The alternative to victory is total defeat, yet this time the COST of victory will be agonizingly high.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nobody does space opera better than Weber, and his heroine, Honor Harrington, introduced in On Basilisk Station (1993), remains as engaging as ever in the latest tome to chronicle her adventures. At the start, intelligence agents of the newly democratic Republic of Haven detect a hidden hand behind their renewed hostilities with the Star Kingdom of Manticore. As the Havenites struggle to convince their foes that they are being manipulated by common enemies among the genetic slave trade, the Manticoreans force their hand until there's no alternative but the Mother of All Space Battles. Weber manages to invert the respective moral positions of his sides quite adroitly, showing how emotion and prejudice can impair even the finest among us. The sweep of interstellar conflict contrasts with developments in Honor's personal life that could have been maudlin, but succeed in being highly moving. Reading like a fusion of Horatio Hornblower, Robert A. Heinlein and Tom Clancy, this is easily the best installment in the series to date; one can well imagine that when future star warriors develop their tactics, Weber's narratives will provide a template. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
Honorverse Series , #11
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.30(w) x 4.60(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

At All Costs

By David Weber

Baen Books

Copyright © 2005 David Weber
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4165-0911-9

Chapter One

The nursery was extraordinarily full.

Two of the three older girls-Rachel and Jeanette-were downstairs, hovering on the brink of adulthood, and Theresa was at boarding school on Manticore, but the remaining five Mayhew children, their nannies, and their personal armsmen made a respectable mob. Then there was Faith Katherine Honor Stephanie Miranda Harrington, Miss Harrington, heir to Harrington Steading, and her younger twin brother, James Andrew Benjamin, and their personal armsmen. And lest that not be enough bodies to crowd even a nursery this large, there was her own modest person-Admiral Lady Dame Honor Harrington, Steadholder and Duchess Harrington, and her personal armsman. Not to mention one obviously amused treecat.

Given the presence of seven children, the oldest barely twelve, four nannies, nine armsmen (Honor herself had gotten off with only Andrew LaFollet, but Faith was accompanied by two of her three personal armsmen), and one Steadholder, the decibel level was actually remarkably low, she reflected. Of course, all things were relative.

"Now, that is enough!" Gena Smith, the senior member of Protector Palace's child-care staff, said firmly in the no-nonsense voice which had thwarted-more or less-the determination of the elder Mayhew daughters to grow upas cheerful barbarians. "What is Lady Harrington going to think of you?"

"It's too late to try to fool her about that now, Gigi," Honor Mayhew, one of Honor's godchildren, said cheerfully. "She's known all of us since we were born!"

"But you can at least pretend you've been exposed to the rudiments of proper behavior," Gena said firmly, although the glare she bestowed upon her unrepentant charge was somewhat undermined by the twinkle which went with it. At twelve, the girl had her own bedroom, but she'd offered to spend the night with the littles under the circumstances, which was typical of her.

"Oh, she knows that," the younger Honor said soothingly now. "I'm sure she knows we're not your fault."

"Which is probably the best I can hope for," Gena sighed.

"I'm not exactly unaware of the ... challenge you face with this lot," Honor assured her. "These two, particularly," she added, giving her much younger twin siblings a very old-fashioned look. They only grinned back at her, at least as unrepentant as young Honor. "On the other hand," she continued, "I think between us we have them outnumbered. And they actually seem a bit less rowdy tonight."

"Well, of course-" Gena began, then stopped and shook her head. A flash of irritation showed briefly in the backs of her gray-blue eyes. "What I meant, My Lady, is that they're usually on their better behavior-they don't actually have a best behavior, you understand-when you're here."

Honor nodded in response to both the interrupted comment, and the one Gena had actually made. Her eyes met the younger woman's-at forty-eight T-years, Gena Smith was well into middle age for a pre-prolong Grayson woman, but that still made her over twelve T-years younger than Honor-for just a moment, and then the two of them returned their attention to the pajama-clad children.

Despite Gena's and Honor's comments, the three assistant nannies had sorted out their charges with the efficiency of long practice. Faith and James were out from under the eye of their own regular nanny, but they were remarkably obedient to the Palace's substitutes. No doubt because they were only too well aware that their armsmen would be reporting back to "Aunt Miranda," Honor thought dryly. Teeth had already been brushed, faces had already been washed, and all seven of them had been tucked into their beds while she and Gena were talking. Somehow they made it all seem much easier than Honor's own childhood memories of the handful she'd been.

"All right," she said to the room at large. "Who votes for what?"

"The Phoenix!" six-year-old Faith said immediately. "The Phoenix!"

"Yeah! I mean, yes, please!" seven-year-old Alexandra Mayhew seconded.

"But you've already heard that one," Honor pointed out. "Some of you," she glanced at her namesake, "more often than others."

The twelve-year-old Honor smiled. She really was an extraordinarily beautiful child, and for that matter, it probably wasn't fair to be thinking of her as a "child" these days, really, Honor reminded herself.

"I don't mind, Aunt Honor," she said. "You know you got me stuck on it early. Besides, Lawrence and Arabella haven't heard it yet."

She nodded at her two youngest siblings. At four and three, respectively, their graduation to the "big kids" section of the nursery was still relatively recent.

"I'd like to hear it again, too, Aunt Honor. Please," Bernard Raoul said quietly. He was a serious little boy, not surprisingly, perhaps, since he was also Heir Apparent to the Protectorship of the entire planet of Grayson, but his smile, when it appeared, could have lit up an auditorium. Now she saw just a flash of it as she looked down at him.

"Well, the vote seems fairly solid," she said after a moment. "Mistress Smith?"

"I suppose they've behaved themselves fairly well, all things considered. This time, at least," Gena said as she bestowed an ominous glower upon her charges, most of whom giggled.

"In that case," Honor said, and crossed to the old-fashioned bookcase between the two window seats on the nursery's eastern wall. Nimitz shifted his weight for balance on her shoulder as she leaned forward slightly, running a fingertip across the spines of the archaic books to the one she wanted, and took it from the shelf. That book was at least twice her own age, a gift from her to the Mayhew children, as the copy of it on her own shelf at home had been a gift from her Uncle Jacques when she was a child. Of course, the story itself was far older even than that. She had two electronic copies of it as well-including one with the original Raysor illustrations-but there was something especially right about having it in printed form, and somehow it just kept turning up periodically in the small, specialty press houses that catered to people like her uncle and his SCA friends.

She crossed to the reclining armchair, as old-fashioned and anachronistic as the printed book in her hands itself, and Nimitz leapt lightly from her shoulder to the top of the padded chair back. He sank his claws into the upholstery, arranging himself comfortably, as Honor settled into the chair which had sat in the Mayhew nursery-reupholstered and even rebuilt at need-for almost seven hundred T-years.

The attentive eyes of the children watched her while she adjusted the chair to exactly the right angle, and she and the 'cat savored the bright, clean emotions washing out from them. No wonder treecats had always loved children, she thought. There was something so ... marvelously whole about them. When they welcomed, they welcomed with all their hearts, and they loved as they trusted, without stint or limit. That was always a gift to be treasured.

Especially now.

She looked up as the veritable horde of armsmen withdrew. Colonel LaFollet, as the senior armsman present, watched with a faint twinkle of his own as the heavily armed, lethally trained bodyguards more or less tiptoed out of the nursery. He watched the nannies follow them, then held the door courteously for Gena and bowed her through it before he came briefly to attention, nodded to Honor, and stepped through it himself. She knew he would be standing outside it when she left, however long she stayed. It was his job, even here, at the very heart of Protector's Palace, where it seemed unlikely any desperate assassins lurked.

The door closed behind him, and she looked around at her audience in the big, suddenly much calmer and quieter room.

"Lawrence, Arabella," she said to the youngest Mayhews, "you haven't heard this book before, but I think you're old enough to enjoy it. It's a very special book. It was written long, long ago, before anyone had ever left Old Earth itself."

Lawrence's eyes widened just a bit. He was a precocious child, and he loved tales about the history of humankind's ancient homeworld.

"It's called David and the Phoenix," she went on, "and it's always been one of my very favorite stories. And my mother loved it when she was a little girl, too. You'll have to listen carefully. It's in Standard English, but some of the words have changed since it was written. If you hear one you don't understand, stop and ask me what it means. All right?"

Both toddlers nodded solemnly, and she nodded back. Then she opened the cover.

The smell of ancient ink and paper, so utterly out of place in the modern world, rose from the pages like some secret incense. She inhaled, drawing it deeply into her nostrils, remembering and treasuring memories of rainy Sphinx afternoons, cold Sphinx evenings, and the sense of utter security and peacefulness that was the monopoly of childhood.

"David and the Phoenix, by Edward Ormondroyd," she read. "Chapter One, In Which David Goes Mountain Climbing and a Mysterious Voice Is Overheard."

She glanced up, and her chocolate-dark, almond-shaped eyes smiled as the children settled more comfortably into their beds, watching her raptly.

"All the way there David had saved this moment for himself," she began, "struggling not to peek until the proper time came. When the car finally stopped, the rest of them got out stiffly and went into the new house. But David walked slowly into the back yard with his eyes fixed on the ground. For a whole minute he stood there, not daring to look up. Then he took a deep breath, clenched his hands tightly, and lifted his head.

"There it was!-as Dad had described it, but infinitely more grand. It swept upward from the valley floor, beautifully shaped and soaring, so tall that its misty blue peak could surely talk face-to-face with the stars. To David, who had never seen a mountain before, the sight was almost too much to bear. He felt so tight and shivery inside that he didn't know whether he wanted to laugh, or cry, or both. And the really wonderful thing about the Mountain was the way it looked at him. He was certain that it was smiling at him, like an old friend who had been waiting for years to see him again. And when he closed his eyes, he seemed to hear a voice which whispered, 'Come along, then, and climb.'"

She glanced up again, feeling the children folding themselves more closely about her as the ancient words rolled over them. She felt Nimitz, as well, sharing her own memories of her mother's voice reading the same story to her and memories of other mountains, even grander than the ancient David's, and rambles through them-memories he'd been there for-and savoring the new ones.

"It would be so easy to go!" she continued. "The back yard was hedged in (with part of the hedge growing right across the toes of the Mountain), but ..."

* * *

"I imagine it's too much to hope they were all asleep?"

"You imagine correctly," Honor said dryly, stepping through the massive, inlaid doors of polished oak into the palatial chamber which the Palace guides modestly referred to as "the Library." "Not that you really expected them to be, now did you?"

"Of course not, but we neo-barbarian planetary despots get used to demanding the impossible. And when we don't get it, we behead the unfortunate soul who disappointed us."

Benjamin IX, Planetary Protector of Grayson, grinned at her, standing with his back to the log fire crackling on the hearth behind him, and she shook her head.

"I knew that eventually all this absolute power would go to your head," she told him in a display of lesse majeste which would have horrified a third of the planet's steadholders and infuriated another third.

"Oh, between us, Elaine and I keep him trimmed down to size, Honor," Katherine Mayhew, Benjamin's senior wife said.

"Well, us and the kids," Elaine Mayhew, Benjamin's junior wife corrected. "I understand," she continued with a cheerful smile, "that young children help keep parents younger."

"That which does not kill us makes us younger?" Benjamin misquoted.

"Something like that," Elaine replied. At thirty-seven T-years, she was almost twelve years younger than her husband and almost six years younger than her senior wife. Of course, she was almost a quarter T-century younger than Honor ... who was one of the youngest looking people in the room. Only the third and most junior of her personal armsmen, Spencer Hawke, and the towering young lieutenant commander in Grayson Navy uniform, looked younger than she did. Prolong did that for a person.

Her mouth tightened as the thought reminded her why they were all here, and Nimitz pressed his cheek against the side of her face with a soft, comforting croon. Benjamin's eyes narrowed, and she tasted his spike of recognition. Well, he'd always been an extraordinarily sharp fellow, and spending eight T-years as the father of a daughter who'd been adopted by a treecat had undoubtedly sensitized him.

She gave him another smile, then crossed to the young man in the naval uniform. He was a veritable giant for a Grayson-indeed, he was actually taller than Honor was-and although she was in civilian attire, he came to attention and bowed respectfully. She ignored the bow and enfolded him in a firm embrace. He stiffened for an instant-in surprise, not resistance-and then hugged her back, a bit awkwardly.

"Is there any new word, Carson?" she asked quietly, stepping back a half-pace and letting her hands slide down to rest on his forearms.

"No, My Lady," he said sadly. "Your Lady Mother is at the hospital right now." He smiled faintly. "I told her it wasn't necessary. It's not as if this falls into her area of specialization, and we all know there's really nothing to be done now except to wait. But she insisted."

"Howard's her friend, too," Honor said. She glanced at Andrew LaFollet. "Is Daddy with her, Andrew?"

"Yes, My Lady. Since Faith and James are safely tucked away here in the nursery, I sent Jeremiah to keep an eye on them." Honor cocked her head, and he shrugged slightly. "He wanted to go, My Lady."

"I see." She looked back at Carson Clinkscales and gave his forearms another little squeeze, then released them. "She knows there's nothing she can really do, Carson," she said. "But she'd never forgive herself if she weren't there for your aunts. By rights, I ought to be there, too."

"Honor," Benjamin said gently, "Howard is ninety-two years old, and he's touched a lot of lives in that much time-including mine. If everyone who 'ought to be there' really were there, there'd be no room for the patients. And he's been in the coma for almost three days now. If you were there, and if he knew you were there, he'd read you the riot act for neglecting everything else you ought to be doing."

"I know," she sighed. "I know. It's just-"

She stopped and shook her head with a slight grimace, and he nodded understandingly. But he didn't really understand, not completely, she thought. Despite the changes which had come to Grayson, his own thought processes and attitudes had been evolved in a pre-prolong society. To him, Howard Clinkscales was old; for Honor, Howard should have been less than middle-aged. Her own mother, who looked considerably younger than Katherine Mayhew, or even Elaine, and who'd carried Faith and James to term naturally, was twelve T-years years older than Howard. And if he was the first of her Grayson friends she was losing to old age so preposterously young, he wouldn't be the last. Gregory Paxton's health was failing steadily, as well. And even Benjamin and his wives showed the signs of premature aging she'd come to dread.

Her mind flashed back to the nursery and the book she'd been reading, with its tale of the immortal, ever-renewed Phoenix, and the memory was more bittersweet than usual as she saw the silver lightly threading the Protector's still-thick, dark hair.

"Your offspring and my beloved siblings did quite well, actually," she said, deliberately seeking a change of subject. "I'm always a bit surprised by how they settle down for reading. Especially with all the other more interactive avenues of amusement they have."


Excerpted from At All Costs by David Weber Copyright ©2005 by David Weber. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

David Weber is the science fiction phenomenon of the decade. His popular Honor Harrington novels are New York Times best sellers and can’t come out fast enough for his devoted readers. In addition to the Honor Harrington series, he has written many top-selling science fiction novels, all for Baen, including Empire from the Ashes, The Apocalypse Troll, and In Fury Born. He has also begun a top-selling epic SF adventure series in collaboration with John Ringo, with four novels so far: March Upcountry, March to the Sea, March to the Stars and We Few. His Wind Rider’s Oath, another New York Times best seller, continues his popular Bahzell fantasy adventure series.

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4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'At All Costs' is perhaps one of the most intense titles I've ever read, if not the most gripping... I started out on this book thinking that the war has simply gone on for too long, and was pleasantly suprised to find that my opinion was shared by some of the characters... This book cannot be put down when you start it due to the intensity of the events within the story... The climax of the book is similar to what happened At Gettysburg in the civil war, where the amount of blooshed was simply too high for both armies... The ending of the book leaves you feeling like there should be more chapters. Essentially, the ending is a big huge billboard stating that Mr. Cliff Hanger was certainly present. Or in another way, it left me feeling like where is the sequel already? David Weber has created a masterpiece of a novel that should be read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
As resumed hostilities between the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the People's Republic of Haven call Admiral Honor Harrington back to combat duty, she gets the surprise of her life thusfar. The 'foolproof' birth control methods of the far future can still fail, given enough opportunity for human error (not hers). She's pregnant by her lover, Hamish Alexander - Earl White Haven, who is very much married to Emily. Who, since she (Emily, that is!) must spend the rest of her days in a life support chair, has given her husband's relationship with Honor her blessing. Will it be too much even for Emily, though, if Honor gives White Haven an heir? That's one of the plots playing out in this absorbing, multi-layered latest novel in a deservedly popular military science fiction series. The struggles of various political and military factions on both sides, Manticore and the People's Republic, provide the other major storyline. Unlike the preceding book, this one has plenty of action - something I miss sorely when it's not there, since too much politics makes me yawn - and plenty of Honor, too. For me, at least, thoroughly enjoyable. I didn't even mind when I read the last page, and then realized that one intriguing and vitally important plot thread had been left hanging. After all, I'll definitely be reading the next book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once I started reading this, I couldn't put it down... It packs the biggest emotional wallop of any of his Honor Harrington novels, I think. If you don't get just a bit choked up in the final scene, you do not have a heart! Sets things up for big changes in the storyline. Wonderful storyteller (usually). I only wish we wouldn't have to wait who knows how long for the next installment.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The deadly war between the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the People's Republic of Haven has heated up after a short lived cease fire with the Havenites firing the first shots in the new hostilities because of a belief that their enemies altered key documents. However, Haven President Eloise Pritchart has since learned that a member of her inner circle altered the documents to reignite the war. Though she believes her side can win, the cost is high so she seeks peace. Eloise is willing to meet with the Manticore ruler Queen Elizabeth to broker an agreement................ Queen Elizabeth knows that her side is on the brink of defeat. She assigns her only victorious military officer Admiral Honor Harrington to lead the Eighth Fleet. Honor is pregnant so must tend to her unborn yet still return to the front where her side desperately needs her unusual but successful strategic leadership. She has the fetus removed to mature in the safety of a tube, but worries that her enemies might use her child as a pawn against her. Still duty calls.................. The latest Honor Harrington tale has the twist that the heroine (at least to the Manticore side ¿ the devil to the Havenites) is pregnant, but has a war to fight. Placing the fetus into a tube reminded this reader of the song In the year 2525. The story line is action-packed yet character driven, which is typical of David Weber¿s tales. Fans of military science fiction in which full societies are involved will want to read this entire series though each book including the fabulous AT ALL COSTS can stand alone in spite of references to previous events (from both sides of the conflict)............. Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Star Kingdom of Manticore and the People's Republic of Haven are still in the bloodiest war ever known. In a previous novel, readers learned that the Havenites believed the Manties, during a cease-fire, altered documents. Therefore, the Havenites fired the first shot, ending the cease-fire without even bothering to notify the Manties. Now the Havenites have reason to believe that the Manties never altered anything. In fact, it appears that one of their own did the altering, hoping to cause the war to continue ... and succeeded. ........................... Haven President Eloise Pritchart wants nothing more than for the war to end. She releases a POW, who happens to be close to Honor Harrington, with a message for Queen Elizabeth. Eloise wants to meet and discuss terms for peace. Elizabeth is given the choice of when and where. Eloise asks that Honor be included, as well as, the treecats. ............................. Honor Harrington is still close to Hamish and Emily (of White Haven). As Honor begins her return to the front, she learns that she is pregnant. Though all know, in the back of their minds anyway, who the father is, no one dares state it aloud. Since being killed in battle is always a possibility, Honor has her unborn child removed from herself and placed in a tube to mature. (Totally safe.) Those on Manticore and Grayson, depending on how they feel about Honor, are either thrilled to learn about an heir or furious and wanting to use the child as a weapon against the mother. ........................ ***** First off let me state that I hope the author creates a whole new series about Torch, its teenaged queen, and its Amazonian people. Such potential exists there. Queen Berry Zilwicki came across much better than Queen Amidala could ever hope to have done. ........................... Honor Harrington is something of 'a personal bogeyman' for the Havenites. As always, Honor's reputation for unusual strategies grows, with great reason. If a student is only as good as his or her teacher, then the author, David Weber, is down right scary! The planning, tactical details, and battle executions are unnerving to me. I totally believe Weber to be a genius in this regard. ..................... As my husband or I read ANY book by Weber, we lose a lot of sleep. We no longer bother to inform the other of WHY we look so tired and exhausted. We simply look into the eyes of the other and say, with a voice of pure disgust, ' Weber Evil.' Those two words say it all. This series has my highest possible recommendation! *****