|Author||William H. Keith, Jr.|
|Cover artwork||Roger Loveless|
|First published||1 August, 1996|
|Era||Clan Invasion era|
|Timeline||26 April 3057 - 3 January 3058|
|Series||Saga of the Gray Death Legion|
|Preceded by||Tactics of Duty|
|Followed by||The Dying Time|
Operation Excalibur, by William H. Keith, Jr., is the sixth book of the Saga of the Gray Death Legion. It continues the storyline from the previous book, Tactics of Duty, as the conspiracy of Lyran nobles and officers gains momentum and threatens to crush the Gray Death Legion.
The novel was made available on BattleCorps on 26 June 2010 as a PDF file (text only, without cover, pictures, or any other interior artwork except for the usual BattleCorps frame graphics). The PDF copy includes a disclaimer stating that it was created from a pre-final edition text that might differ from the printed version and that canon-wise, the print edition trumps the PDF edition.
From the back cover
|“||The mercenary code was broken by the Gray Death Legion during their desperate fighting on the planet Caledonia. At least, that is the ruling of the courts. And the judges decide to hit below the belt—Grayson Carlyle, revered leader of the now outlawed mercenary band, is stripped of his title and holdings, and the legion is banished from Glengarry, the planet they've called home for years.
All seems lost, but Carlyle and his legendary troop of hardened warriors know they've been set up—and they have a trump card yet to play. Their dangerous scheme just might work, with the help of House Steiner—and enough guts and firepower to restore the name and the might Gray Death Legion to its rightful place of honor. But should they fail, they could lose a great deal more than their reputation...
AFFC Field Marshal Brandal Gareth feels the Federated Commonwealth is crumbling. He has taken Daniel Brewer, scion of House Brewer and heir to the Duchy controlling Hesperus II, under his wing since the boy was twelve years old, has gained his trust and has begun isolating him from his family, arranging a few convenient deaths in the process. With Daniel now holding the title of Duke, Gareth is the de-facto ruler of Hesperus II and has set plans in motion with his co-conspirators to carve his own empire out of the Lyran Commonwealth portion of the Federated Commonwealth—a plan called Operation Excalibur. The Gray Death Legion, fanatically loyal to House Steiner and granted a landhold on Glengarry, stands in the way of his plans and that is why he set up the Legion for failure in their contract on Caledonia—leading the Legion to side with the rebels on Caledonia and defeating Gareth's Third Davion Guards in the process, while Grayson Carlyle himself was heavily wounded in an assassination attempt (the events from the earlier novel, Tactics of Duty).
Using the events on Caledonia as a pretext, Gareth moves strong forces under his command against the Legion remnant on Glengarry and demands their surrender. However, Lori Kalmar-Carlyle mounts an effective defense and sends a message to the Legion's third battalion at Caledonia. Realizing that they have been set up and that their landhold is endangered, Davis McCall and Alexander Carlyle move third battalion (with the wounded Grayson Carlyle in cryostasis) back in all haste, enlisting the free trader Caliban to quickly bring them to a pirate jump point in the Glengarry system. Their timely arrival leads to the retreat of Gareth's forces.
However, the Gray Death Legion must still answer for their actions on Caledonia and its senior officers are summoned to Tharkad for an inquiry. (En route, they learn of the proclamation of the Lyran Alliance.) Grayson Carlyle, who lost his left arm, left eye and the ability to pilot a BattleMech, sinks into depression and does not seem to properly defend himself, subjecting himself to the mercy of the court on Tharkad when he could have called for a MRBC trial instead, and refusing to make use of his noble title. The crushing result is that he is stripped of his rank and noble title, and the Gray Death Legion is given ninety days to leave Caledonia. His son Alexander Carlyle receives a transfer ticket to a regular Steiner regiment and leaves the Legion.
It is all a ruse though. Katherine Steiner-Davion is aware of Gareth's conspiracy and wants Carlyle to find out how deep it runs. Pretending to be embittered by the verdict and desperate to find employment for the Legion elsewhere, Carlyle hires his unit out to Brandal Gareth of all people. Gareth accepts, though he remains suspicious, and the Gray Death Legion is integrated into the defense of Hesperus II.
Gareth announces the formation of his "Free Star Republic" on 15 December 3057. On 18 December, the Gray Death Legion moves to capture the 'Mech factories of Hesperus II and hold them against Gareth's forces while Grayson Carlyle sets out to call in reinforcements (as the HPG station is effectively under Gareth's control). He manages to evade his watchdog officer and sends a JumpShip to Furillo where a fleet of Lyran Alliance vessels is already waiting for the word to move to Hesperus II with the First Royal Guard regiment. Their arrival ends Gareth's coup, which hinged on his control of the Hesperus II 'Mech factories, though Gareth and his senior officers escape with several Excalibur-class DropShips.
In the aftermath, Grayson Carlyle is reinstated as Baron of Glengarry and he and his wife Lori are awarded the McKennsy Hammer by Katherine Steiner-Davion personally.
- Alexander Carlyle
- Grayson Death Carlyle
- Caitlin DeVries
- Charles Dillon
- Daniel Brewer
- Walter Dupré
- Jonathan Frye
- Brandal Gareth
- Ileus Home
- Lori Kalmar-Carlyle
- Sun-Tzu Liao (mentioned)
- Thomas Marik (mentioned)
- Willy Schubert
- Katrina Steiner-Davion
- George Irwin
- Battle Hawk
- Shadow Hawk
- Scavenger IndustrialMech
- Fortress (mentioned)
- Leopard (Europa, Ganymede, Io)
- Monarch (Orion)
- Mule (Miranda)
- Overlord (Starfall)
- Union (Defiant, Deimos, Endeavor, Lightning, Phobos, Ravager, Utopia, Valiant)
- unspecified DropShip Merlin
- This novel introduced the Defiance BattleMech to canon, though the design would not receive formal stats until Technical Readout: 3075 over a decade later.
- BattleTech appears as a game within the universe in this novel: Caitlin DeVries and Sharon Kilroy play a game of holographic BattleTech at one point aboard the Endeavor. In the same scene, two other men play chess with animated BattleMech images as playing pieces.
- The front page shows the moment in which Lori Kalmar's 'Mech defeated Daniel Brewer's Mech, but the BattleMech appearing isn't a Defiance but a Warhammer.
German 1997 cover. Art by Les Dorscheid.