On Basilisk Station by David Weber

On Basilisk Station book cover
Rating 8.0/10
On Basilisk Station is something very different from anything I�ve ever previously read.

“Having made her superior look like a fool, she’s been exiled to Basilisk Station in disgrace, there she meets her past and is set up for ruin. Her demoralized crew blames her for their ship’s humiliating posting to an out-of-the-way picket station. The aborigines of the system’s only habitable planet are smoking homicide-inducing hallucinogens. Parliament is at odds whether it wants to keep the place; the major local industry is rife with smuggling; the merchant cartels want her head; the star-conquering “Republic” of Haven is definitely up to something and her naval force is a single, over-age light cruiser with an armament that doesn’t work when required to police an entire star system.

But the people out to get her have made on mistake. They didn’t expect Honor Harrington.”

‘On Basilisk Station’ is something very different from anything I’ve ever previously read, for a number of reasons. The technology in these stories imposes constraints on space naval officers similar to those of wet naval officers two hundred years ago. This is more akin to C. S. Forester or any number of sea faring tales of the Navy versus pirates, merchants and enemies on the sea. However, it’s placement is in the vastest ocean of all, the emptiness between worlds across the universe. What is really interesting, is that the ships don’t move like those of Star Wars, nor like the fighter jets you’d expect from the majority of Sci-fi. The very organisation of the military in space is that of a Navy, with many of the terms utilised. This brings with it a refreshing change and in some ways almost brings a reality to science fiction that can sometimes be lost. It is the crew itself which must manoeuvre their vessel.

The characters are very well portrayed, at times battling their own consciences and some of them do grow within the story, changing to the events that take place. Honor Harrington herself is a prime example of what a Captain should appear to be in front of her crew, yet within her own personality and mind, she can doubt and argue with herself. Others are pompous, arrogant or just plain horrible.

As books go, this is by no means epic, it is fairly straight forward, though there are times when the science can overtake the story somewhat, but mostly to help explain the manoeuvres in space. This does result in the space battles being the crux of the book, the movements required, the advantages and disadvantages that the navy have to overcome.

The introduction of aboriginal species seems to be more of a teaser than a colossal breakthrough discovery. Life is out there, but it’s time line of existence follows ours very closely, so it seems like there won’t be any lost civilisations of immense power to deal with. This extraterrestrial life is far from human however, three legged creatures and telepathic cats for example. But the story is if anything enriched by that, because it means the problems and the enemies are all too human.

‘On Basilisk Station’ is the first of the series of Honor Harrington, the others in the series are:

The Honor of the Queen
The Short Victorious War
Field of Dishonour
Flag in Exile
Honor among Enemies
In Enemy Hands
Echoes of Honor
Ashes of Victory
War of Honor
At All Costs

One thing that must be said, is about the availability of this book. I was given a CD from a friend that contained every one of David Weber’s books. On the CD, it said that these books were free and that it was desired they be distributed legally without any cost, as the book itself was more important than the profit. Baen Free library actively promotes free books, David Weber is just one of the authors that has contributed though I must say, if I’d known about his books before hand, I would have bought them myself. Instead I donated to the site.

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