A Call to Duty is a novel by David Weber and Timothy Zahn. Set in the early days of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, centuries before the adventures of Honor Harrington, it is the first volume of Manticore Ascendant, a prequel series centering on Travis Long. It was released on October 7, 2014.
Timeframe: 1529 - 1533 PD
Cover Summary Edit
- Growing up, Travis Uriah Long yearned for order and discipline in his life . . . the two things his neglectful mother couldn't or wouldn't provide. So when Travis enlisted in the Royal Manticoran Navy, he thought he'd finally found the structure he'd always wanted so desperately.
- But life in the RMN isn't exactly what he expected. Boot camp is rough and frustrating; his first ship assignment lax and disorderly; and with the Star Kingdom of Manticore still recovering from a devastating plague, the Navy is possibly on the edge of extinction.
- The Star Kingdom is a minor nation among the worlds of the Diaspora, its closest neighbors weeks or months away, with little in the way of resources. With only modest interstellar trade, no foreign contacts to speak of, a plague-ravaged economy to rebuild, and no enemies looming at the hyper limit, there are factions in Parliament who want nothing more than to scrap the Navy and shift its resources and manpower elsewhere.
- But those factions are mistaken. The universe is not a safe place.
- Travis Long is about to find that out.
17-year-old Travis Long discovers that his mother really does not care what he does; after years of benign neglect, he has just graduated from high school, meaning that the minimal, probably legally inspired, interest in him his mother has shown is now gone. Using the family air car he meets with his friends, a group led by Bassit, whom Travis admires for his carefree view of life. Wandering into a Royal Manticoran Navy recruitment center, he manages to avoid unknowningly being involved in a failed armed robbery, with him cast as the get-away driver. Although the recruiter indicates that Long might be able to get into the Academy, he opts to immediately enlist.
While Travis is going through boot camp, his half brother, Gavin Vellacott, Second Baron Winterfall, the self admitted least important First Shareholder, joins Chancellor Breakwater's Committee for Military Sanity, a group officially dedicated to downsizing the RMN in favor of the Chancellery's Manticoran Patrol and Rescue Service, starting with the Navy's battlecruisers. In the boot camp, Travis's rigid belief in procedure causes friction, until in a moment of solidarity he takes the rap for the rest of the platoon's food theft for a Sphinxan with an enhanced metabolism. The boot camp commander, Colonel Massingill, had summoned Travis because Bassit was trying to shift blame onto him, an attempt that fails the next day. Colonel Massingill decides to terminate the ivory tower inspired social engineering project that Travis just blundered into. Unit solidarity and cooperative problem solving are good traits, but the product is units which are literally as thick as thieves can be.
When Travis is coming to the belated realization that half of his impeller tech class is cheating and that the class instructor Lieutentant Cyrus is not doing anything about, he is told that by others that it does not matter: the RMN's systems are so far off book values classroom studies are not particularly useful. Matters worsen when Travis objects to the appearance of a dual drive missile in a midshipman training exercise, impeller rings cannot exist in such close proximity, the first stage would scramble the second stage's tuners. Unknown to him, the concept is Cyrus's pet concept, and Cyrus orders Travis to defend his position with a fifty page essay on impeller ring interactions due in a matter of days.
Around the same time Breakwater's latest plan to strip the RMN of its battlecruisers is brought before the King. Breakwater wants to create 18 sloops for MPARS by literally spliting each battlecruiser in half. Although the rest of the Comittee is angered when Gavin's compromise of converting only one battlecruiser immediately, in order to iron out any problems, followed by an assembly line proceedure on the rest is adopted by the King, Breakwater is pleased. Gavin appearantly managed a bald-faced bluff. Breakwater was not sure the proposal would go anywhere.
When Captain Horace Kiselev is forced to hand over his battlecruiser, HMS Mars, for conversion, grumbling that it would be cheaper, in the same short run that Breakwater is arguing from, to reactivate the rest of the RMN or buy the critical components from the League, he is promoted to Commodore, and is placed in charge of the RMN's enlisted training facility. While going through his files, he discovers the odd case of Spacer Third Long. It is obvious that Travis was transfered to the gravitics tech track before Cyrus could finish faking up a reason to have Travis dishonorably discharged. After chewing Cyrus out for his petty actions, Kieslev reluctantly decides to leave matters where they are. Travis's class rank in the new track is better, punishing Cyrus would be politcally dangerous, and although the cheaters in the impeller tech class lack high political connections, they are all somewhat connected. And the RMN can't afford many more politcal enemies.
Travis has been a member of HMS Vanguard's crew for quite some time. Now a Spacer First, he has grown accustomed to the fact that the officers want things 'smooth'; his division chief's needlessly slow speed; the habit of various enlisted divisions of stealing and hiding the scant supply of standard modular electronics components from each other; and the habits of various enlisted of stealing equipment, drunkenness, falsification of records, gambling, and misuse of the ship's remotes - much as it irritates him. Even when a crewmember is nearly killed, an officer threatens Travis with a court martial, for disobeying regulations. Travis had followed a "Dutchman" whose suit was obviously fried, saving the at least the crewmember's sanity, if not her life. Travis suggests that an actual investigation is warranted. His one good impression of an officer is of Aft Weapons Officer Lieutentant Lisa Donnelly, who cuts the change of command and orders Travis, who was ordered to his quarters to rest, and another rating to fix broken equipment that both their Chiefs had been avoiding fixing. Late, and well over even the Navy's estimates of cost, and the after half still in yard hands with no delivery date, Phobos, the sloop created from the forward half of Mars, is pronounced ready over Naval objections. As Phobos leaves for Manticore-B, Vanguard receives a flurry of equipment and orders to visit Gryphon and to conduct a weapons exercise on the way. While Phobos is approaching the Manticore-B subsystem, a mining vessel, Rafe's Scavenger, declares an emergency. The situation turns into a race, which the Phobos loses. Her impeller ring had entered an obscure failure mode known as a hull harmonic, and with her safety margins cut, the ring first fails, tearing chunks of the hull off, and then later explodes. Travis comes up with a scheme to save both ships by using a missile to deliver supplies to the Scavenger. He tells Donnelly, who takes it to the Tactical Officer, Lieutenant Commander Allegra Metzger, who brings it to the Captain - who rejects "Metzger's" idea as inspired, but impractical- time is too short.
Gavin is about denounce Defense Minister Dapplelake for causing the disaster. But he realizes that Dapplelake has no idea that the Navy had intentionally allowed the sloop to leave with an impeller ring that was going to fail, although not so spectacularly, so he insists on providing the information privately. Breakwater is at first angry, but then pleased: the rules embraced by the House of Lords mean he expects Dapplelake to resign after cleaning house.
Right after that private meeting, Crown Prince Edward develops a scheme. The best way to neutralize the Committee for Military Sanity is for the Star Kingdom to acquire the ability to produce their own impellers and fusion plants. The Committee does, after all, have a point about how those components cost. When his father tells him that the Star Kingdom does not have enough demand to justify it, Edward says that the Star Kingdom might be able to sell warships to its neighbors. Haven has set up the Secour Ship Sale, it is happening soon, and would be perfect place to find out. The Star Kingdom can at least match the League's export grade equipment, and Haven is showing off examples of the older vessels it is offering.
Travis's life has greatly changed. He's been promoted to petty officer and then transferred at Metzger's request, along with Donnelly and Metzger herself, to the destroyer HMS Guardian, the ship selected for evaluating the ships at Secour. The ship seems filled with officers who have stories to tell about Travis Long. Guardian is a well run ship with a picked crew, and Travis is pursuing an informal course in a Gravitics Specialist rating. Arriving at Secour, Guardian finds a freighter somewhat behind them claiming to carry a delegation from a planet that the RMN had agreed to transport. The freighter claims they had not heard of the RMN's agreement, and asks if the RMN can sell them an impeller tuner far more recently designed than most in the vicinity, claiming that their impeller drive is showing an obscure instability.
The "delegation" is in fact a group there to steal warships. The unusal nature of the Secour sale means that there is a unique opportunity to do so. Fearing that the RMN might be too curious, they complain, in confidence, to the Republic of Haven's representatives about Manticore. As a goodwill gesture, Guardian, whose weapons are mounted in a fore spinal configuration, takes a close parking orbit, promising not to turn on their wedge or move, with its broadside directly in the path of spinal laser of a Havenite battlecruiser, RHNS Saintonge. The Saintonge in turn powers down its weapons.
Puzzled by the freighter's request Travis determines that the story does not make sense, the claimed instability is random but only manifests at certain points in the wedge cycle, Wanderer's pattern look more like someone randomly pressing a button every so often, he asks Donnelly if the tuner might have military application. As it turns out the RMN thinks that model of tuner is the one used in the League's most recent missile, so it is unlikely that Wanderer wants it for a weapon.
As the informal diplomatic dinner begins, the Cascans announce why they just purchased the heavy cruiser, they determined that too many ships are disappearing in the region, they suspect piracy, and they, and the Havenites, who view the area as one just beyond their frontier, want the RMN, which is the only local navy of any substance to help.
- More Forthcoming
The previous working title was A Travesty of Hope.
According to Timothy Zahn, the books will be "set in the early days of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, 300-400 years before Honor herself, an era that's been mentioned in some of David's other books but only now beginning to be explored".
An electronic advance reading copy of the book was made available on Baen's website on Christmas 2013.
Gustav Anderman | Hans Christian Anderson | Angevin | Martin Ashkenazy | Tully Atherton | Benson | Bertinelli | Anne Blackstone | Boulanger | Amber Bowen | Patty Boysenko | Earl Breakwater | Buju | Grace Burns | Alexander Caldecott | Drew Calkin | Carlyle | Carnahiba | Thomas Cazenestro | Gustav Charnay | Chou | Chu | Peter Corcoran | Randall Craddock | Armand Creutz | Crevillan | Cyrene | William Cyrus | Daurignac | Robert Davison | Dierken | Eleanor Dierken | Lisa Donnelly | Dovnar | Dhotrumi | Elaine Dunharrow | Eigen | Elmajian | Bonnie Esterle | Jason Flanders | Johnny Funk | Gad | Gratz | Grillo | Wolfe Guzarwan | Rafe Hanford | Davis Harper | Gordon Henderson | Holderlin | Hrdlicka | Inzinga | Jakob | Oberon Jalla | Jammy | Johnston | Jones | Alfonse Joyce | Juarez | Kelderman | Kichloo | Kilgore | Horace Kiselev | Juliana Kiselev | Ioanna Kountouriote | Krauss | Labroo | Liebowitz | Carlton Locatelli | Travis Long | Susanne Loomis | Luther Luangpraseut | James Mantegna | Suzanne Marx | Alvis Massingill | Jean Massingill | Matayoshi | Allegra Metzger | Mota | Munchi | Petrov Nahnawa | O'Dae | O'Keefe | Oehm | Lorelei Osterman | Sophia Ouvrard | Kanth Padua | Pinker | Pohjola | Riglan | Riley | Deborah Scannabecchi | Katerina Shankweiler | Shora | Simons | Geoffrey Smith | Clara Sumner | Stockmann | Stroud | Thal | Alex Thomas | Samuel Tilliotson | Charlie Townsend | Vachali | Gavin Vellacott | Melisande Vellacott Long | Jan Vyland | Karen Wamocha | Wazir | Edward I Winton | Elizabeth I Winton | Michael I Winton | Roger Winton | Cynthia Winton | Joji Yanagi | Stacy Yarrow | Zradchob
- HMS Bellerophon
- HMS Casey
- HMS Defiant
- HMS Deimos
- HMS Diactoros
- HMS Guardian
- HMS Mars
- CDS Péridot
- HMS Perseus
- HMS Phobos
- Rafe's Scavenger
- RHNS Saintonge
- HMS Vanguard
- HMS Victory
Aampersand's | Earldom of Acton | air car | Améthyste class | Antares class | autocannon | Axelrod Corporation | battlecruiser | Earldom of Breakwater | Earldom of Broken Cliff | Duchy of Burgundy | Earldom of Calvingdell | Cascan Defense Force | Casey-Rosewood Instructional Center | Barony of Castle Rock | Chancellor of the Exchequer | Concordia Shipping Company | corvette | Earldom of Dapplelake | Diaspora | Dromedary class | Earldom of Chillon | Choy Renk | Committee for Military Sanity | dog | Eris Navy | Fleet Marine Forces | First Lord of Law | Flinx | Free Brotherhood | House of Lords | hyperspace | inertial compensator | Kismet modification | Kismet System | Klarian instability | Landing | laser | Llama II class | Manticoran Patrol and Rescue Service | Manticoran Plague | Manticore Colony, LTD | Manticore Colony Trust | Marine Squad 303 | Micah System | Minorca System | Duchy of New Bern | New Potsdam | Nimbalkar System | Packrat III class | piracy | Protector class | Q-ship | Ramon System | reconnaissance drone | religion | Royal Manticoran Marine Corps | Royal Manticoran Navy | Secourian Defense Force | Secour System | shuttle | Suchien System | Tapestry Mountains | Third Brunswick | Tomlinson | Triumph class | Barony of Tweenriver | Ueshiba System | The Ugly Duckling | Unicorn Belt | Unicorn One | Warshawski sails | Barony of White Sand | Barony of Winterfall | wormhole | Yalta System | Barony of Yellow Oak | Zuckerman System
|Book Companions||Ad Astra Companions|
|HOS||House of Steel Companion||SOTF||Ships of the Fleet Calendars|
|HOSH||House of Shadows Companion||SITS||Saganami Island Tactical Simulator|
|HOL||House of Lies Companion|
|Jayne's Intelligence Review||Jayne's Fighting Ships of the Galaxy|
|JIR1||The Royal Manticoran Navy||SB1||Ship Book 1: The Havenite Sector|
|JIR2||The Havenite Republican Navy||SB2||Ship Book 2: The Silesian Confederacy|
|JIR3||The Silesian Confederate Navy||SB3||Ship Book 3: The Short Victorious War|