On Basilisk Station by David Weber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Flawed, but entertaining.
Honor Harrington, newly-promoted Captain in the Queen’s Royal Manticoran Navy, has taken command of her first space cruiser, Fearless, and she is elated. She’s worked for this moment for years. Unfortunately, an enemy has seen to it that she and her ship is deployed to Basilisk Station and its planet, Medusa, a low-status assignment that basically entails acting as customs agents. Morale is low. Morale creeps lower when the higher ranking officer in the system, Admiral Young, takes his ship home for refitting, leaving Honor and her ship alone to police the entire system with their light cruiser that has been retrofitted and had armaments taken from it. The worst part is the neighboring system of Haven is planning on invading Manticore and taking over Medusa by way of the wormhole junction terminus at Basilisk Station. It’s enough to make one pull one’s hair out!
This is a pretty good sci fi novel. There are aliens, on Medusa, fights between spaceships, political goings on, battles between Marines and aliens, spies, plots, etc. Through it all, Honor keeps her cool and does everything perfectly. And that’s one of my problems with the book. She’s too perfect. One could not be any more perfect than she is. She knows the exact right things to say at the exact right times and the exact right things to do at the exact right times and she toys with the lives of her crew, which costs the lives of over 100 of her crew members, by playing guessing games with a Haven warship captain, assuming he’ll do this and do that, which of course he does. And so she defeats him, at great cost to herself and her crew. She has a temper too, but only once does she display it and it’s in private, after her parents have been threatened by the richest tyrant in the system. Another thing that bugged me about this novel was her exec. He resented Honor, but Weber beat this to freakin’ death! They didn’t develop the right relationship. There wasn’t mutual trust. He wasn’t working with her. What was wrong with him? Why didn’t he meet her halfway? OMG. Over and over again. I wanted to kill the guy, or Honor, or both. And you knew he would come around and they would become best buds, which is exactly what happened halfway through the book. Duh! Weber, come on! And then there were the long, drawn out discussions of technical details, which I could have done without, and so could tons of other people if you go by the other reviews out there. One occurred during a tense action scene. An eight page discussion of FTL travel interrupted this action sequence at the most inopportune time and you just have to wonder what the hell the author was thinking when he wrote that. Oh well.
Even with all of my bitching, I enjoyed the book. There was a lot of mystery, a lot of intrigue, a lot of action, and it was nice to see a primary female SF protagonist who was in command because of her brains, not because she was hot. The inner monologue was sometimes overlong, but it was also good to see Honor step through her options as she thought through things. And of course, she saved Manticore from Haven and was rewarded for it, so that was a nice ending. This is the first book in a series and I’ll probably read more. I have one other book in it, although it’s not the next one. I’d like to read the next one next, so maybe I’ll just go ahead and get that. If you like good, entertaining sci fi, I’d say I’d have to recommend this one.