Commodore Honor Harrington returns to Grayson, with Nimitz, Samantha, their four kittens, and a further eight treecats, who seem to have decided to set up an off-Sphinx colony. (One of the eight, Farragut, adopts Miranda LaFollet.) There she meets Admiral Hamish Alexander, Earl of White Haven, who is to assembling the new Eight Fleet: Honor is one of his cruiser squadron commanders.
During an info-dump conversation, White Haven realises he is attracted to Honor as a woman, and Honor picks this up via Nimitz. She realises she is attracted to him, too. Although each attempts to hides this from the other (Article 119 forbids liaison between officers in the same chain of command, and anyway, White Haven is happily married to Lady Emily), Honor can't suppress White Haven's feelings coming through the link with Nimitz. In order to give herself space to think, she reports back to her squadron early.
Because Honor's squadron is unexpectedly available, they are assigned a convoy escort duty. They are aware of Peep activity in the area, so Captain McKeon's ship, Prince Adrian , is assigned dangerous point duty, to come out of hyperspace early, and check the way for the rest of the convoy. Honor is aboard Prince Adrian , rather than her flagship Alvarez , for McKeon's birthday party when they arrive at Adler. Unknown to them, it has been taken by the Peeps. When they realise the problem, Honor orders Prince Adrian to draw off the Peeps, allowing the convoy to escape. But Prince Adrian is outgunned, and forced to surrender.
[I am surprised at the plot device used to get Honor in the wrong place at the wrong time: there is a lot of discussion about how dangerous the point position is, and how Honor's flagship can't take it because it is too risky. But she puts herself in this risky position at the riskiest time: coming out of hyperspace. I wonder what the Court Martial will have to say about that?]
They are taken prisoner by the Peeps, and all looks well for a while: these are honorable Navy officers, who treat the PoWs well. Indeed, some have previously been Honor 's prisoners under other circumstances. However, Citizen Cordelia Ransom is present when the capture is announced. She hates and fears Honor, so she contrives to arrange for her to be treated as a common criminal, not a PoW, to be executed on the old death warrant issued because of the events in On Basilisk Station .
Several of Honor's officers are sent on the same ship, Tepes , with her to the prison planet Hades, where her execution is to be staged. They are treated as PoWs, she is separated and kept in solitary confinement, under the brutal supervision of the thuggish State Security guards.
Harkness pretends to defect to the Peeps, and manages to subvert their computer system. He breaks the PoWs out of their cells, and they in turn send a rescue team to Honor's more heavily guarded cell. They do manage to get Honor to the escape craft, but suffer heavy losses, including Armsman Jamie Candless. In the final exchange, Honor saves Andrew LaFollett's life, but loses her left arm to blaster fire.
-- me, on rec.arts.sf.written, August 1996
Harkness' final trick is to blow up the Tepes . Everyone is thought to have perished in the final explosion, but Honor and her remaining crew have landed 'safely' on Hades. The book ends with Honor, less than 20 other crew, and two sublight shuttles, stranded on a hostile planet 150 light years from home. So, things are beginning to look more hopeful!