This eighteenth book in the Honor Harrington series stars Michelle Henke, cousin of the Empress of the Manticoran Empire and fourth in line for the throne. Mike has forged a career in the Manticoran Navy and is currently Admiral in command of the 10th Fleet. Mike is out on the sharp point of the spear. The time period of this book seems to be concurrent with A RISING THUNDER which actually stars Honor Harrington. Communication is fast in this vast interstellar world but that still means that they are weeks late in getting the word from back home. That leaves Mike needing to make decisions without guidance from her government. And Mike has lots of decisions to make. The Solarian League, old and corrupt, is losing its grip on its planetary protectorates. The Office of Frontier Security has devolved into an organization that takes over planets and bleeds them of everything useful at the hands of their corporate partners. Needless to say, many revolutionary groups are rising up on these planets. Manticore's secret enemy, the Mesan Alignment, is taking advantage of this situation by offering help in the Manticoran name. Their thought is that a little investment now in advanced weapons will pay off in bad publicity later when the Maniticoran aid they are promising doesn't show up. Weber is writing a world that is getting increasingly black and white. The Solarian League, the Office of Frontier Security, and the puppet governments they support are all bad. They are stupid, venal, greedy, and have no respect for the lives of the citizens of the planets they have conquered. The Manticorans are good and stand for right, truth, and justice. The Mesan Alignment has a deep seated plan and is busy manipulating the Solarian League, the Manticorans, and everyone else in the vast universe. They will do anything to support their future goals. Hundred of thousands of civilian deaths can be written off as collateral damage. But their secrecy is disappearing. More and more of those in the know are coming to believe that the Mesan Alignment exists and are focusing their attention on it.The Honor Harrington series is a huge epic adventure. I will admit that I do a lot of skimming when pages are devoted to space battles and weapons development. I am interested in the people and what they do and think. The story is told from multiple viewpoints and from multiple locations in the vast Honorverse. I have no idea how Weber keeps track!I am always eager for the next Honorverse book and always enjoy getting lost in the adventure.