Thursday, 8 July 2010

On Basilisk Station - Book Review

By: David Weber

Before I go into the actual review let me just state that the reading experience impacts the book, and with the problems I had reading this book on the Kobo (view my previous post), I didn't like the book as much as I believe I would have otherwise.

Pros: well developed galaxy, Honor Harrington is a great protagonist

Cons: a lot of detailed explanation of ship and weapons schematics, prologue gave too much away

Honor Harrington's finally been given command of a decent ship. Little does she know, that ship's had most of its armaments removed to test new weaponry, weaponry that requires getting so close to the target she'll be blown away before she can even get a shot off.

She proves both the weapon's efficiency and its liability during fleet war games, a result that has her and her increasingly bitter crew shucked off to Basilisk Station. But Honor's willing to do her job and do it well, even if it's at the station careers go to die.

I'll start with the prologue for my critique. I didn't know it was there until I'd read 3/4 of the novel. At which point it gave away the enemy and greatly lessened the suspense of the novel. The prologue gives the reader information that Honor doesn't have, so instead of wondering if she's right about what's happening at the end of the novel and stressing about her decisions, the reader sits back and wonders what the fuss is about, we know the enemy so she should stop wondering and do something about them.

I found there was so much background information about how the ships work, how the weapons work, how wormhole transport works... zzzzz. I know it's necessary, but it was a bit much for me.

Tech specs aside, the writing is great. Honor's an interesting protagonist who has to fight for her crew's respect after things go bad at the war games. She's cool, competent and honourable. The supporting cast was also realistic, each with pros and cons to their personalities. I was impressed how well I got to know numerous crew members given how populous the ship was. With a few scenes you feel like you know how the various people think and how they're going to act under pressure.

The political maneuverings were interesting, as was Honor's work in the Basilisk area.

A great book, Kobo and formatting problems aside. Now that I know more about the characters, ships and galaxy I imagine I'll enjoy the next book more.


Franky Dickson said...

I'd like to get into the Honor Harrington books, I really would. But ultimately I can't get past the freaking cat on her shoulder. I can buy a LOT in my science fiction, but come on.

Jessica Strider said...

I have to admit, I couldn't figure out the cat's purpose in this book. According to my husband it plays a bigger role in later books. In On Basilisk Station, it just seemed a quick way to say 'hey, look, the world's different. They have telepathic cats!'.

Ron Buckmire said...

I sort of agree with Franky Dickson:

I was able to get On Basilisk Station for free on Kindle on and I
still have not been able to finish it.

I was also put off by the excessive detailed description of the propulsion, navigation and weaponry. I'm usually more interested in the political machinations between groups and I didn't get enough of that in the first 10-15% of the first book...