The first book of the Honor Harrington saga may be light on action, but there's still plenty of wonder and intrigue to be found On Basilisk Station!
When Honor Harrington became a Captain in the Royal Manticorian Navy, she never imagined her first assignment would turn out like this
! A spoiled senior officer shifts the blame for her own failures onto Honor. As a result, Honor and her crew aboard the light cruiser Fearless
have been banished to Basilisk Station, an unpopular dumping ground for screw-ups with no real future in the Royal Navy. As if having to contend with a crew that resents her and a local government that distrusts her wasn't bad enough, Honor soon begins to suspect that a far greater threat endangers everyone under her protection. Someone has been supplying the natives with mind-altering drugs and weapons in an attempt to inspire a revolt against the officers of Basilisk Station. And to make matters worse, an empire with far greater power and influence than the Royal Navy is rattling their sabers and looking to take over control of the station. Now Honor must prepare to stop a war armed with only one spaceship, a modestly-sized crew, and her brilliantly tactical mind. Honor's enemies may have her outnumbered, but they certainly don't
have her outmatched!
I always try to avoid spoilers before reading a book...which sometimes works against me...like when I went into "Game of Thrones" thinking it would be a more innocent kind of fantasy like "Lord of the Rings"...as you can imagine, I was caught completely off-guard when I found out what Cersei's dirty little secret was!
That said, even though I avoid spoilers, I usually have a pretty good idea of what the tone of a book is going to be. If I pick up a Dresden Files book, I know I'm getting an action-packed urban fantasy. If I delve into a Christopher Moore book, I'm ready for some bizarre, off-beat humor. But every once in a while, a book comes along that is not at all what I expected...something that recalls the great philosopher Mick Jagger when he said, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need"
! Yes, "On Basilisk Station" was not at all what I expected it to be...and for the most part, I couldn't be happier about that!
Since space operas often feature epic battles, I was all geared up for plenty of action. As it turns out, there's almost no
action in this book until the final 25% (more on that later). However, even though I was initially disappointed when I realized Honor wasn't going to be whipping out a laser rifle anytime soon, I found myself more and more enthralled by the world David Weber has created in this series. Much of the first half of the book is dedicated to revealing how Honor and her crew fix everything that is broken on Basilisk Station, and it is truly fascinating to experience. Honor often develops intricate plans for many different situations, which gives the story much variety. Very few chapters are the same, as Honor's approach differs from case to case. Honor plays several roles throughout the story, including pilot, teacher, ambassador, and diplomat, and every one of them brings out a different side to her. As I got further and further into the story, I soon found that watching Honor develop her strategies and seeing how her crew carried them out was far more interesting than just seeing two opponents fire ray guns at each other!
Honor is by far the most prominently displayed character in the book, which means there is a lot riding on her shoulders. Fortunately, she is more than up to the task! Honor is a perfectly endearing heroine. She is tough, but never bullying. She is brilliantly analytical, as well as compassionate. She is charismatic but sometimes also insecure. Weber even avoids the trap have having Honor be too
perfect, as she occasionally makes mistakes and lets her pride and emotions cloud her judgment. And while Honor may be the star of the book, her crew often helps her to shine. While I didn't find any other character nearly as engaging as Honor (except maybe for her adorable treecat, Nimitz), many of them had their own personalities and quirks that made them interesting, too. But what really helps make this a somewhat unique reading experience is that the reader often learns more about Honor by experiencing things vicariously through her shipmates. At first, the crew sees Honor as cold and aloof, and she often comes across that way. But Honor's distance is actually a calculated strategy to force her crew members to find their own solutions and become better at what they do. As the crew got to know the real Honor, so did I, and the way they warmed up to her mirrored my own experience while reading about her. At times I wasn't just reading the book, I was feeling it as well.
However, as good as this book is, it may not be for everyone. There were times when I felt Weber dedicated an excruciating amount of time explaining the science behind much of his world. I can easily see someone with a great passion for science giving this book 5 stars, but I had to knock one off, as there were too many parts where the scientific discussions just felt long-winded and plodding to me. Also, the lack of action throughout most of the book may be off-putting to some, although in fairness, Weber makes up for this in the last quarter of the novel, when the action is pretty much non-stop and climaxes into one of the most exciting sequences I've ever read!
I can't wait to delve further into the Honorverse! As for who I picture portraying the leading lady...let's see, we need an actress with experience playing someone who's strong and brilliant. Someone who's charming, but also has a thousand-yard stare that can intimidate anyone in her sights. Paging Stana Katic..."I reserve this glare for Richard Castle...and for anyone who ever mentions that I was in "The Spirit"!!!"