Friday, 20 January 2017
Title: On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington Book 1)
Author: David Weber
The Book Depository
“On Basilisk Station” by David Weber is the first book in the Honor Harrington series. This series is in the military science-fiction genre, although it does probably fit the space opera mould as well. I have to admit that I only actually read the book because it was being given away for free on Amazon and the series as a whole did seem to be reasonably well respected.
The story follows Honor Harrington who has recently been made captain of the spaceship HMS Fearless, a light cruiser in the Manticoran Navy. Honor faces some resentment issues with her crew however which is only exacerbated when a new weapons policy from the admiralty doesn’t work consistently and they are “punished” for this failure by sending them to Basilisk Station, a well-known dead end assignment. However with a threat to Manticore looming in the form of the People’s Republic of Haven, Basilisk Station could be much more important than anyone could ever have imagined.
This was an enjoyable space adventure with an interesting and engaging plot which takes the reader on a bit of a thrill ride. In addition, the lack of any gender bias was quite impressive to see, it really didn’t matter if someone was female or male in this world as there was no difference between them when it came to their role, be that military or civilian. The world in which Weber has created is superbly detailed, with corrupt officers, interest laden politicians, and incompetent leaders aplenty. He has clearly thought through all the various political situations and technologies which would be utilised in this far off future.
Honor Harrington herself is an interesting enough character and I do like how Weber has created a female lead but has avoided sexualising her or bogging her done in a romantic sub-plot. Instead, we get a ship captain, who is resourceful, determined, well skilled in tactics and just so happens to be female. However, she is a little bit too perfect for my liking. The way in which she seems to succeed at everything and has pretty much no character flaws resulted in my eyes rolling a few times throughout the novel. It doesn’t help that everyone seems to fawn over her and the characters who quite clearly dislike her are also quite clearly “bad” people.
The main issue with the novel however is in regards to the various info dumps that Weber likes to drop. He just seems to enjoy dropping lots of technical information on the reader and this resulted in me skimming over multiple pages of missile ranges and physics explanations. It basically got a little bit dry and boring at times to the point were in sections it felt like a text book. I would much rather have seen this information dropped on the reader in slower time via the characters themselves. It doesn’t help that some of the pacing in the battle sections which should be the most exciting part of the novel is affected by these info dumps.
A final comment of mine is in regards to the treecats, an aboriginal lifeform who come from Sphinx, one of the planets of the Manticore system. Basically, Honor has one with her called “Nimitz” who seems to be some form of companion. I really do have no idea what the point in this creature was though. Honestly, it just felt like it was just some way to differentiate Honor from everyone else.
Overall, despite my issues with the tendency to info dump and the fact that Honor is a bit too perfect; the book was still an enjoyable experience. If you are looking for some fun military based Space Opera then you should probably consider picking up this book, especially as I think you can still get it for free from the publisher.