Honor Harrington is in her Steadholding on Grayson, recovering from Paul Tankersley's death. The Grayson Navy desperately needs her experience, and makes her an Admiral. The local Manticore ships are called away to put down a surprise Peep invasion at Minette and Candor, and half the Grayson fleet goes with it to help, leaving Honor in charge of the remainder, with Alfredo Yu as her flag captain.
On Grayson she has become the focus of anti-change protests. The covert ones, including Steadholder Burdette, plot her downfall: they sabotage one of her Sky Dome's constructions, making it look like greed or carelessness caused the problem. When the Mueller School Dome collapses, killing children, a wave of anti-Honor feeling is stirred up.
Adam Gerrick and the rest of the Sky Domes engineers manage to prove it was sabotage, and Benjamin calls a Steadholder's meeting to confront the guilty party. Burdette, in panic, sends assassins to kill Honor. They shoot down her pinnace, but she survives. They then try to kill her directly, but Rev Julius Hanks sacrifices his own life to save her. One of the assassins is caught, and implicates Burdette.
Honor goes to the Steadholders meeting, and accuses Burdette. He confesses, but demands ritual trial by combat with the Protector's Champion. Because she is the only living holder of the Star of Grayson, this is Honor herself. Wounded from the assassination attempt, she still manages to defeat and kill Burdette in the ensuing sword fight. [It might seem implausible that Honor, who has been practising with the sword for less than a year, could defeat Burdette, who is a master. But it is explained that she has years of real combat training, has reflexes and muscles bred under Sphinx's higher gravity, and has faced death before, whereas Burdette has only fenced in salons.]
She returns to her ship, only for the Peeps to turn up. Their attack on Minette and Candor was a bluff to draw forces away from Grayson, so that they could take Masada. Honor, exhausted after her own attack and single combat, nevertheless manages to defeat the larger force arrayed against her.
A grateful Grayson awards Honor the Crossed Swords appended to her Star of Grayson (proposed by Mueller, one of her chief covert enemies who has not yet been discovered).