FANDOM


Farm-Fresh balanceYMMVTransmit blueRadarWikEd fancyquotesQuotes • (Emoticon happyFunnyHeartHeartwarmingSilk award star gold 3Awesome) • RefridgeratorFridgeGroupCharactersScript editFanfic RecsSkull0Nightmare FuelRsz 1rsz 2rsz 1shout-out iconShout OutMagnifierPlotGota iconoTear JerkerBug-silkHeadscratchersHelpTriviaWMGFilmRoll-smallRecapRainbowHo YayPhoto linkImage LinksNyan-Cat-OriginalMemesHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

Expanded from a short story of David Weber that first appeared in George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois's anthology Warriors (2010), this trilogy kickoff blends elements of military science fiction and dark fantasy. In the very near future, Earth has been targeted for colonization by a galactic empire known as the Hegemony. Deemed "lunatic local sentients" by a survey team that witnessed King Henry V and his troops slaughtering the French at Agincourt, humankind has essentially been written off as bloodthirsty, backwater barbarians that no one will particularly miss. It's The End of the World as We Know It. Technologically superior, carnivorous, canine-analog aliens have invaded Earth with the intention of killing most of us and enslaving the rest.

Things don't go according to plan.

Fans of the Honor Harrington and Safehold series can expect to enjoy the book...riiiiight up until the Twist Ending. Speaking of which, if you don't want to spoil the infamous twist, do not scroll down to the Index list at the bottom of this page, or even glance at the review page.


Tropes in this work:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Shongairi mortars use a wide range of ammunition types, including some kind of chemical warhead that releases a fast-acting neurotoxin.
  • Alien Invasion
  • Alternative Number System: The Shongairi count in base-twelve. Possibly.
  • Armor Is Useless: Shongairi troop and vehicle armor is great against primitives with sticks and crossbows. Not so much against combat rifles, tanks, and rocket launchers.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: It's a bone-deep part of Shongairi psychology, and (at first) they view humanity's "never say die" mentality as consciously dishonorable; when they realize it's innate to our species, they decide we're clinically insane.
  • Big Blackout: Averted -- for a while. Despite the elimination of major cities, power and internet stay up for a good while before the Shongairi specifically take them out.
  • BFG: Sweet, sweet Barrett .50 cal.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: For the Shongairi, refusing to submit to an obvious superior, especially after that superior has demonstrated unquestioned strength, is horrific. They also don't see why humans get pissed when Shongairi eat the corpses of those they killed, including children; to the Shongairi, eating the corpses is the only way to honor them and not let the soul go to waste. Humanity's refusal to back down and fight viciously out of a need to protect their families or to seek vengeance for the deaths of loved ones is utterly alien to the Shongairi.
  • Boom! Headshot!: Lots. And other forms of Ludicrous Gibs too.
  • Crazy Prepared: Of course, if there hadn't actually been an Alien Invasion, it just would have been...crazy.
  • Crazy Survivalist: It's all justified (Alien Invasion, remember), but the menfolk of the mountain cabin have clear plans to put lots of half-inch holes in anyone who might threaten their little commune.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Surprisingly, the Shongairi are even more pragmatic than the human guerrilla fighters. (See Humans Are Morons below.) Of course the end result is that humans just get more insanely pissed off.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: At the end, the book is essentially about Wolf Man aliens with orbital bombardments vs. various modern armies and fucking Dracula!
  • Conspiracy Theories: Unsurprisingly happens in the first few days of the attack. Later it the aliens begin to fall victim to them when bad things start happening to their bases.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The Shongairi are prepared for two kinds of combat -- kicking the crap out of primitives & space warfare. They are shocked to realize that humanity is far, far more advanced at warfare inside a gravity well; their tech could have done everything we did better, but they just never needed to.
  • Determinator: Mankind as a whole to the Shongairi; it turns out that while humans do possess a submission mechanism, it is subordinated to our instinct to protect family.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The Shongairi open up with a bombardment that kills about half of the world's population, and note that starvation and disease will kill many of the survivors. When resistance continues that severely threatens their ability to maintain control, they plan to instead just wash the whole thing by releasing a bioweapon and wiping out all the survivors.
  • Die Hard on an X: Up until the Twist Ending, it's basically Worldwar in the twenty-first century, with the political and technological issues adjusted accordingly.
  • Disaster Scavengers/Dying Like Animals: Alluded to and prepared against, but not actually seen. Humanity holds together pretty well rather than turning on each other for the most part. There are some mentions made of characters being attacked by other, desperate scavengers, and a couple of groups of National Guardsmen attempt to become local warlords and meet suitably bad ends. Then again, the plot doesn't last until winter, when people will get desperate.
  • Dracula: It's foreshadowed a bit, but it's called a Twist Ending for a reason.
  • Eagle Land: Type 1. America is awesome, and the aliens recognize the US as one of their biggest threats.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: Thikair eventually just decides to blast Earth to asteroids. Later, Vlad threatens to do this to the Shongairi worlds in turn using dreadnought weapons.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Humanity is so screwed. Until it's the Shongairi's turn.
  • Enemy Mine: American soldiers and Muslim extremists working hand in hand, with little rancor.
  • Everything Is Online: We youtubed shooting down alien dropships!
    • Also one of the primary advantages of humanity, allowing us to coordinate strikes and keep up morale.
  • False-Flag Operation: The aliens use Iran as a cover when hacking world military installations right before the invasion.
  • Fantastic Racism: Within the Hegemony, between carnivores and herbivores/omnivores. The Shongairi have nothing but contempt for humanity as well, at least at first. The revelation of the vampires makes a lot of mankind...uncomfortable.
    • Fantastic Slurs: The Shongairi use "weed-eater" as an epithet. Humanity calls them "puppies."
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Vlad is trying to be one of these, but the Shongairi are pushing him. He deliberately makes Stephen a vampire in order to be one of these and his Morality Pet.
  • Genocide Backfire: The Shongairi invaded Earth, wiped out half the population, and eventually tried to kill the rest. Then we jacked their neural educators and industrial ships, and noted that their extremely slow FTL means mankind has centuries before anyone even realizes they haven't reported in. The novel ends with mankind prepping to turn the warships and weaponry back toward the Hegemony that condemned them int he first place.
  • Glass Cannon: Shongairi ground vehicles are very well armed, with lasers that punch through modern tank armor like paper and advanced and powerful mortars. However, their armor is only rated to fight crossbows and catapults, so human anti-armor weapons go through theirs like paper too.
  • Guns Akimbo: Seemingly averted, then played straight.
  • Gun Porn: Oh, yes... The other thing the book is criticized for after the Twist Ending.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain
  • Hoist By Their Own Petard: Neural education gives humanity what it needs to commandeer Shongairi capitol and construction ships and begin the Genocide Backfire.
    • The puppies fail to realize that wiping out all of Earth's capitols leaves no one to tell their military and civilians to stand down, not understanding that we wouldn't find it self-evident. The Shongairi also failed to realize that revealing their presence by bombing the hell out of mankind and demanding surrender without offering any sort of incentive to surrender (beyond "we'll bomb you more") was likely to result in a lot of mankind just getting pissed.
    • Leaving the internet in place to demand surrender lets humanity use it to rally and boost their morale.
    • Eventually starts happening to humans. The Shongairi, paying attention to human tactics, start to wise up and allow regimental commanders more flexibility in calling in air and orbital support. Eventually they start using human grenade and rocket launchers to supplement their infantry weapons.
  • Hopeless War: We don't care, though.
  • Humanity on Trial: Offstage, but it does happen, and we're given the death penalty.
  • Humanity Is Insane: The puppies' horrified conclusion.
    • Humans Are Bastards: Humanity is the only race that doesn't have the instinct to surrender permanently when beaten by a superior force, since we're far more individual and family oriented than the pack and herd oriented aliens. Guerrilla warfare, passive resistance, and sabotage are utterly foreign to our would-be conquerors because a Shongairi confronted with an obvious superior will automatically submit; the notion of resisting against the "pack leader" in anything other than an obvious show of force intended to seize control of the pack is considered vile and dishonorable.
  • Humans Advance Swiftly: We've advanced three times faster than the fastest known race (which advanced twice as fast as the next best), and no one can figure out why such a warlike species hasn't blown itself up yet. The Shongairi actually intended to take advantage of this, putting humans to work in their R&D labs as well as using them as shock troops. Then we jack the Shongairi's neural educators, and the end of the novel implies we're getting prepped to eventually return the favor.
  • Humans Are Morons: The Shongairi are initially convinced of this, based on "idiotic tactics" from Agincourt, and a further convinced of it once they understand the current situation. For example, they believe that the refusal of First World powers to use nuclear or biological weapons against their enemies in the Middle East is idiotic (specifically citing the US' tolerance of Iran's actions) and the presence of a public information network like the Internet, allowing free, ready access to vast stores of information, is considered completely insane.
  • Humans Are Survivors
  • Humans Are Warriors: This novel has strong, pervasive themes of "HUMANITY, FUCK YEAH!"
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Generally, the alien perception of humanity is that we're insane or idiots.
  • Hypocrites: The Hegemony, who consider themselves peaceful and enlightened folk and who regret allowing the aggressive Shongairi into the fold as required by their laws decide to sweep humanity under the rug rather than let us one day join. The Shongairi repeatedly Lampshade this in contempt.
  • Insufficiently Advanced Alien: Orbital bombardment is just about the only thing the Shongairi have going for them (though to be fair, Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies is pretty effective). Their ground forces don't have any experience going up against anything more advanced than crossbows, and it really shows in their tactics and equipment. They do eventually start uparmoring their equipment and adjusting their tactics, and their actual heavy and support weapons are quite effective; the humans note that the puppies' mortars in particular are very deadly and have a wide variety of ammunition types.
  • Info Dump: Several chapters are devoted solely to outline politics on Earth or within the Hegemony that led to the current situation. One chapter is mostly devoted to excessively detailing survivalist preparations, and there are some entirely irrelevant infodumps (i.e. the one regarding Iranian politics or several pages devoted to an F-22 pilot bashing the F-35 while in the middle of attacking alien troopships).
  • Intelligent Gerbil: The two alien species described in the novel resemble dogs and cattle.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Happens off camera to some captured Shongairi.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Dropping a Meteor of Doom is a cheap way to soften up a future colony.
    • The Shongairi have effective energy weapons on their heavy assault vehicles but mostly rely on mediocre conventional firearms. Human firearms and artillery become the stuff of nightmares for them.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: The poor Shongairi did not expect backwater omnivores to pack armor-piercing, antipersonnel ammo, IED expertise, or the F-22 & M1 Abrams.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: One of the Hegemony's more pragmatic, founding races basically tells the Shongairi that they'll look the other way if humanity doesn't happen to make it through this.
    • Later, when the Shongairi decide we're too dangerous to use as slaves, they plan to make the release of their bioweapon look like an accident to deflect political fallback.
  • Meaningful Name: Mircea Basarab. See Genius Bonus on the YMMV page.
  • Morality Pet: Stephen becomes this for Mircea.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Also Mother Afghanistan, Mother Ukraine, Mother Romania, and even Mother North Carolina...Weber really makes an effort to show that he views Earth as a World of Badass.
  • Obstructive Bureaucracy: The Hegemony. It takes them 600 years to go from deciding humanity is a threat to finally sending the Shongairi after us. The Shongairi are aware they can probably get away with subjugating or wiping out a Class Two civilization because it'll take at least a couple of centuries for the Hegemony to check up on them; more if they stall for time.
    • Justified because Hegemony FTL isn't that much faster than light.
    • Their first contact teams are most made up of a race specifically known for adherence to procedure.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Instant intangibility/gaseous form, invulnerability to conventional weapons, undetectable to thermal or night vision, no need to breathe, and no vulnerability to holy items.
  • Papa Wolf/Mama Bear: Humanity's hat. The Shongairi's psychology is built around a pack structure, and thus they automatically submit to superior members of the pack. Most herbivore species' psychology is herd-oriented, causing them to submit out of automatic fear-response and a desire to deflect threats away from the herd as a whole. Humans, however, are family-oriented - and they respond to threats against members of their families with swift and seemingly-irrational violence.
    • Crusading Widower: Most of the main male characters lose their entire family in the invasion.
  • Planet of Hats: Earth is a planet of Determinators who happen to be Mama Bears and Papa Wolves. Notably, this is the conclusion reached by Base Commander Shairez because there is no other truly common thread she can discern, due to the violent diversity of human culture.
  • The Quisling: Governor Howell of North Carolina. Who is actually a Reverse Mole -- something the Shongairi can't really conceive of until late in the book.
    • Largely averted as a whole by humanity thanks to our collective outrage and the Shongairi's failure to understand human psychology and their "no carrot, all stick" approach.
  • Rage Quit: This is, basically, how the Shongairi decide to end the war. They haven't been able to occupy the world, they can't complete their bioweapon, and now all their bases are getting assaulted by something they can't stop on the ground. Thikair withdraws his entire devastated army from the surface and then prepares to destroy the entire planet, mostly out of spite.
  • The Right of a Superior Species: The aliens usually do this successfully but get way more than they bargained for with humanity.
  • Schizo-Tech: How Earth is viewed. Not only is it weird for us to still be using fossil fuel power and yet to be avoiding chemical & biological weapons, but we've done things with military technology no other race ever would have because they would've been unified by that point.
  • Self-Insert Fic: So what, the main character is named David; it's a common name. And his wife's name is Sharon...and they live in South Carolina...and their dogs are named Nimue and Merlin? Oh, come on, Weber!
  • Superweapon Surprise: Humanity has barely left their gravity well, and are facing a species that has FTL capability. Humanity has superior ground weaponry, but there's no way mankind can win, and both sides know it. But no one expected Dracula!
  • Survivalist Stash: See Crazy Prepared and Crazy Survivalist.
  • Tested on Humans: The Shongairi attempt to capture humans several times to prepare a bioweapon.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dracula delivers one of these to Thikair at the end, noting that, among other things, the Shongairi were going to sentence humanity to extinction for daring to defend themselves and fight back against an invader.
  • To Serve Man: Played with. The Shongairi are carnivores and consider not eating their fallen foes as almost disrespectful to them. This does not endear them to humanity or to any other race, for that matter.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The Publishers Weekly summary leaves no doubt as to the nature of the twist at the end of the novel.
  • Twist Ending: AND HOW. The last few pages shove what appears to be a Sci Fi novel into an entirely different genre, one that Weber fans will never see coming. YMMV, but few reviewers seem to appreciate it.
    • You want to know the twist ending? Do you? Okay, look down at the bottom of the page, at the indexes. Now, in a Hard Sci-Fi setting, which of these indexes seem out of place?
  • Upgrade Artifact: The Shongairi test direct "neural education" on humanity and finds us surprisingly better at receiving it than most of the Hegemony's species. This is no way comes back to haunt them in the end.
  • The Unmasqued World: Once the vampires appear.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Thikair as the novel progresses, especially when humans begin destroying his ground bases. He eventually just decides to Rage Quit regarding the entire invasion and blow up Earth from orbit. Vlad disagrees, and the subsequent scene of the bridge of the alien dreadnought ends with Thikair breaking down into a sobbing wreck.
  • War Is Hell: Something the Shongairi finally learn after treating it like a safari for so long.
  • We Could Have Avoided All This: The humans point out that the entire war could have been avoided if the Shongairi hadn't announced their presence with orbital bombardment and instead simply showed up to offer humans "carrots" i.e. gifts of advanced technology. The Shongairi eventually realize it too, but far too late.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: The Shongairi's trump card is their orbital firepower, which they use in lieu of effective ground forces. Whenever someone resists on the ground, the Shongairi orbital forces bomb them, or the nearest town within three or four miles. They don't seem to get that this is just making things worse. This is reinforced by Shongairi pack-based psychology, which tells them that the best way to force compliance is by bombing targets to demonstrate superiority, but those insane humans just keep on fighting.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.