Deep space. A huge, lumbering merchant vessel is bound down to a world when it's jumped by pirates. Several megatons of freighter, carrying millions in cargo, is lost.
Needless to day, the great commerical houses and trading cartels of the Star Kingdom of Manticore are not best pleased with this situation. Unfortunately, the People's Republic of Haven is pressing heavily against the Royal Manticoran Navy, and there are no more ships to spare for escort duty. So Honor Harrington is recalled to active duty, and handed a 'squadron'. Her mission: take a bite out of the pirates affecting the trade routes into the Silesian Confederacy. No problem for a seasoned combat commander, right?
Wrong. Here's the problems: 1) the RMN can't spare regular warships, so it's taken some large freighters and fitted them out with weapons and military-grade sensors. Unfortunately, they don't have military spec acceleration or shielding, and won't stand up to much of a pounding. 2) Personnel shortages means Honor gets stuck with new, inexperienced personnel and the dregs of the fleet. 3) The pirates are getting organized...
One of the nice things about this novel is that we get to see something of a couple of 'lower-deckers' (like me), and how they deal with the threats, both from pirates and from some of the scumbags aboard their own ship.
For the record, this was the first Honor Harrington novel I'd read, and I was sufficiently impressed that I went and bought the other five (at the time) books in one fell swoop. For my money, David Weber is right up there with Heinlein, Sturgeon and Drake.