Field of Dishonor

Overview

The People's Republic of Haven's sneak attack on the Kingdom of Manticore has failed. The Peeps are in disarray, their leaders fighting for power in bloody revolution, and the Royal Manticoran Navy stands victorious.

But Manticore has domestic problems of its own, and success can be more treacherous than defeat for Honor Harrington. Now, trapped at the core of a political crisis she never sought, betrayed by an old and vicious enemy she'd ...

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Overview

The People's Republic of Haven's sneak attack on the Kingdom of Manticore has failed. The Peeps are in disarray, their leaders fighting for power in bloody revolution, and the Royal Manticoran Navy stands victorious.

But Manticore has domestic problems of its own, and success can be more treacherous than defeat for Honor Harrington. Now, trapped at the core of a political crisis she never sought, betrayed by an old and vicious enemy she'd thought vanquished forever, she stands alone.

She must fight for justice on a battlefield she never trained for in a private war that offers just two choices: death…or a "victory" that can end only in dishonor and the loss of all she loves.

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Editorial Reviews

Weekly Press Philadelphia
Honor Harrington... is worth shouting about. I want more!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781491575239
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 11/18/2014
  • Series: Honor Harrington Series , #4
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

David Weber is a science fiction phenomenon. His popular Honor Harrington space-opera adventures are "New York Times" bestsellers and can't come out fast enough for his devoted readers. Weber and his wife Sharon live in South Carolina.

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Read an Excerpt

Field of Dishonor


By David Weber

Baen Books

Copyright © 2002 David Weber
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0743435745


Chapter One

The tall, glass-fronted clock in the corner ticked slowly, endlessly, its swinging pendulum measuring off the seconds and minutes in old-fashioned mechanical bites, and Lord William Alexander, Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Manticoran government's second ranking member, watched its mesmerizing motion. A modern chrono glowed silently and far more precisely on the desk at his elbow-the clock face was actually divided into the twelve standard hour increments of Old Earth's day, not Manticore's twenty-three-plus-hour day-and he wondered, not for the first time, why the man whose office this was surrounded himself with antiques. Lord knew he could afford them, but why was he so fascinated by them? Could it be because he longed for a simpler, less complicated time?

Alexander hid a small, sad smile at the thought and glanced at the man behind the desk. Allen Summervale, Duke of Cromarty and Prime Minister of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, was a slender man whose fair hair had turned silver long since, despite all prolong could do. It wasn't age which had bleached his hair or cut those deep, weary lines in his face; it was the crushing responsibilities of his job, and who could blame him if he hungered for a world less complex and thankless than his own?

It was a familiar thought, and a frightening one, for if anything ever happened to Cromarty, the burdens of his office would fall upon Alexander's shoulders. He could conceive of nothing more terrifying ... nor understand what in his own character had driven him to place himself in such a position. Which was only fair, for he couldn't even imagine what had compelled Cromarty to shoulder the office of prime minister for over fifteen years.

"He didn't say anything about his reasons?" Alexander asked finally, breaking the ticking silence that gnawed at his nerves.

"No." Cromarty's voice was a deep, whiskey-smooth baritone, a potent and flexible political weapon, but it was frayed by worry now. "No," he repeated wearily, "but when the leader of the Conservative Association requests a formal meeting rather than a com conference, I know it has to be something I'm not going to like."

He smiled crookedly, and Alexander nodded. Michael Janvier, Baron High Ridge, was not high on either man's list of favorite people. He was cold, supercilious, and filled with a bigot's awareness of his own "lofty" birth. The fact that both Alexander and Cromarty were far more nobly born than he seemed beside the point to him, a mere bagatelle, something to be resented, perhaps, but not something a Baron of High Ridge need concern himself with.

That was typical of the man, Alexander thought sourly. Alexander seldom considered his own birth-except, perhaps, to wish from time to time that he'd been born to a less prominent and powerful family, free to ignore the tradition of public service his father and grandfather had bred into his blood and bone-but it was the core of High Ridge's existence. It was all that really mattered to him, a guarantor of power and prestige, and the narrow-minded defense of privilege lay at the heart of his political philosophy, such as it was. Indeed, it was the rallying point of the entire Conservative Association, which explained why it had virtually no representation in the House of Commons, and it went far to explain the Association's xenophobic isolationism. After all, anything that might cause stress and change in the Manticoran political system was one more dangerous force to conspire against their exalted lot!

Alexander's mouth twisted, and he slid further down in his chair, reminding himself not to curse in the Prime Minister's office. And, he thought, to strangle his own dislike when High Ridge finally turned up. If only they didn't need him and his reactionaries! Their own Centrist Party held a clear sixty-vote majority in the Commons, but only a plurality in the Upper House. With the alliance of the Crown Loyalists and the Association, the Cromarty Government could poll a narrow majority in the Lords; without the Association, that majority disappeared, and that made High Ridge, insufferable as he was and loathsome as he might be, critically important.

Especially now.

The com unit on Cromarty's desk hummed for attention, and the duke leaned forward to key it.

"Yes, Geoffrey?"

"Baron High Ridge is here, Your Grace."

"Ah. Send him in, please. We've been expecting him." He released the key and grimaced at Alexander. "Expecting him for the past twenty minutes, in fact. Why in hell can he never be on time?"

"You know why," Alexander replied with a sour expression. "He wants to be sure you realize how important he is."

Cromarty snorted bitterly, and then the two of them stood, banishing their honest expressions with false smiles of welcome as High Ridge was ushered through the door.

The baron ignored his guide. Of course, Alexander thought. That was what peasants existed for-to bow and scrape for their betters. He shoved the thought deep and nodded as pleasantly as he could to their tall, spindly visitor. High Ridge was even more slender than Cromarty, but on him it was all long, gangling arms and legs, and a neck like an emaciated soda straw. He'd always reminded Alexander of a spider, except for the vulpine smile and cold little eyes. If central casting had sent him to an HD producer for the role of an over-bred, cretinous aristocrat, the producer would have sent him back with a blistering memo about stereotypes and typecasting.

"Good evening, My Lord," Cromarty said, extending his hand in greeting.

"Good evening, Your Grace." High Ridge shook hands with an odd, fastidious gesture-not, Alexander knew, something assumed for the occasion but simply his normal mannerism-and seated himself in the chair before the Prime Minister's desk. He leaned back and crossed his legs, placing his seal of possession upon the chair, and Cromarty and Alexander resumed their own seats.

"May I ask what brings you here, My Lord?" the duke asked politely, and High Ridge frowned.

"Two things, actually, Your Grace. One is a rather, um, disconcerting bit of information which has reached my ears."

He paused, one eyebrow cocked, enjoying his own sense of power as he waited for the duke to ask what he meant. It was another of his more irritating little tricks, but, like all of the others, the realities of political survival required his host to swallow it.

"And that bit of information is?" Cromarty inquired as pleasantly as possible.

"I'm told, Your Grace, that the Admiralty is considering pressing charges against Lord Pavel Young before a court-martial," High Ridge said with an affable smile. "Naturally I realized there could be no foundation to the rumors, but I thought it wisest to come directly to you for a denial."

Cromarty's was a politician's face, accustomed to telling people what he wanted it to tell them, but his lips tightened and his eyes smoldered as he glanced at Alexander. His political second in command looked back, and his expression was equally grim-and angry.

"May I ask, My Lord, just where you heard this?" Cromarty asked in a dangerous voice, but High Ridge only shrugged.

"I'm afraid that's privileged, Your Grace. As a peer of the realm, I must safeguard my own channels of information and respect the anonymity of those who provide me with the facts I require to discharge my duty to the Crown."

"Assuming a court-martial were being contemplated," Cromarty said softly, "that fact would be legally restricted to the Admiralty, the Crown, and this office until the decision was made and publicly announced-a restriction designed, among other things, to protect the reputations of those against whom such actions are contemplated. The individual who provided it to you would be in violation of the Defense of the Realm Act and the Official Secrets Act, and, if a serving member of the military, of the Articles of War, not to mention the oaths he-or she-has personally sworn to the Crown. I insist that you give me a name, My Lord."

"And I respectfully refuse, Your Grace." A corner of High Ridge's lip curled in disdain at the very thought that laws applied to him, and a dangerous, fulminating silence hovered in the office. Alexander wondered if the baron even realized just how fragile was the ice upon which he stood. Allen Summervale would tolerate a great many things in the name of politics; violation of DORA or the Official Secrets Act wasn't one of them, especially not in time of war, and High Ridge's refusal to identify his informant constituted complicity under the Star Kingdom's law.

But the moment passed. Cromarty's jaw ridged, and his eyes glittered ominously, but he shoved himself further back in his chair and made himself inhale deeply.

"Very well, My Lord. I won't press you-this time," he said in a hard voice that, for once, made no effort to conceal his opinion of the other. Not that High Ridge seemed to notice; the threatening qualifier rolled off the armor of his arrogance like water, and he smiled again.

"Thank you, Your Grace. I'm still waiting for you to deny the rumor, however."

Alexander's fist clenched under the cover of the edge of Cromarty's desk at the man's sheer gall, and Cromarty regarded the baron with icy eyes for several long seconds of silence. Then he shook his head.

"I can't deny it, My Lord. Nor will I confirm it. The law applies even to this office, you see."

"Indeed." High Ridge shrugged off the pointed reminder and tugged delicately at the lobe of one ear. "If, however, there were no truth to it, I feel certain you would deny it, Your Grace. Which, of course, suggests that the Admiralty does, indeed, intend to prosecute Lord Young. Should that be the case, I wish to register the strongest protest, not simply for myself, but for the entire Conservative Association."

Alexander stiffened. Pavel Young's father was Dimitri Young, Tenth Earl of North Hollow and the Conservative Association's whip in the House of Lords. He was also, as everyone in this room knew, the most powerful single man in the Association. He was the king-maker, ruler of the Association's back rooms, armed with a deadly nose for scandal and intrigue, which made the private files he was reputed to maintain a terrifying political weapon.

"May I ask the basis for your protest?" Cromarty asked sharply.

"Of course, Your Grace. Assuming the information in my possession is accurate-and I think it is, given your refusal to deny it-this is only one more step in the Admiralty's unwarranted persecution of Lord Young. The Navy's persistent efforts to make him some sort of whipping boy for the tragic events on Basilisk Station have been an insult and an affront which, I believe, he has borne with remarkable equanimity. This, however, is a far more serious situation, and one that no one with a decent respect for justice can allow to pass unchallenged."

Gorge rose in Alexander's throat at High Ridge's sanctimonious tone. He made a strangled sound, but Cromarty shot him a quick warning glance and he clenched his jaw and made himself stay in his chair.

"I strongly disagree with your characterization of the Admiralty's attitude towards Lord Young," the Prime Minister said sharply. "And even if I didn't, I have no power-or legal right-to intervene in the affairs of the Judge Advocate General's Corps, particularly not over something as speculative as a court-martial which hasn't even been officially announced yet!"

"Your Grace, you're Prime Minister of Manticore," High Ridge replied with an indulgent smile. "You may lack the power to intervene, but Her Majesty certainly doesn't, and you're her first minister. As such, I earnestly advise you to recommend to her that this entire proceeding be dropped."

"I cannot and will not undertake such an action," Cromarty said flatly, yet something inside him sounded an alarm, for High Ridge simply nodded, and his expression showed a strange sense of triumph, not alarm or even irritation.

"I see, Your Grace. Well, if you refuse, you refuse." The baron shrugged and his smile was unpleasant. "With that out of the way, however, I suppose I should turn to my second reason for calling upon you."

"Which is?" Cromarty asked curtly when the baron paused once more.

"The Conservative Association," High Ridge said, eyes gleaming with that same, strange triumph, "has, of course, made a very careful study of the Government's request for a declaration of war against the People's Republic of Haven."

Alexander stiffened once more, eyes widening in horrified disbelief, and High Ridge glanced at him, then went on with a sort of gloating exultation.

"Naturally, the Havenite attacks on our territory and warships must be viewed with the gravest concern. Given recent events within the People's Republic, however, we believe that a more ... reasoned response is in order. I fully realize the Admiralty desires to act promptly and powerfully against the Havenites, but the Admiralty often suffers from the shortsightedness of a military institution and overlooks the importance of restraint. Interstellar political problems have a way of working themselves out over time, after all, particularly in a position such as this. And, from the Association's viewpoint, the Admiralty's unmerited hostility towards Lord Young is a further indication that its judgment is ... not infallible, shall we say?"

"Get to the point, My Lord!" Cromarty snapped, all pretense of affability abandoned, and High Ridge shrugged.

"Of course, Your Grace-to the point. Which is, I fear, that I must regretfully inform you that if the Government pushes for a declaration of war and unrestricted military operations against the People's Republic at this time, the Conservative Association will have no choice but to go into opposition as a matter of principle."



Continues...


Excerpted from Field of Dishonor by David Weber Copyright © 2002 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.

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