REVIEW: On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington, #1)

On Basilisk Station 20th Anniversary - David Weber

What can I say, this book just didn't do it for me. Although the ending was pretty exciting, the majority of On Basilisk Station was just too slow-paced and dull for my liking. It took me a while to make myself finish this.


On Basilisk Station is a space opera that follows the command of Honor Harrington on the HMS Fearless in the Royal Manticoran Navy. The HMS Fearless has been exiled to Basilisk Station, a humiliating post which Honor's crew holds against her, despite the assignment being no real fault of her own. Honor must find a way to rally her crew, deal with the situations arising from the only habitable planet in the system, put a stop to the prevalent smuggling going on under the RMN's nose, and figure out what the star-conquering Republic of Haven is up to.


The best thing about this book is Honor Harrington herself. She's a strong, capable, and competent female character, and despite the number of issues she has to deal with, she's not a complainer - she's a problem solver. As great as she is, though, her character isn't enough to carry the book.


I thought that On Basilisk Station had a lot of potential, especially as I was reading the early chapters, but it just seemed to fizzle. For one, there's Weber's luxurious writing style, which seems to go into exquisite detail on every little thing. For example, here's a passage from a battle scene:

The missile belched from Fearless's number two missile tube and sped ahead at an acceleration of 417 KPS2, building on Fearless's own velocity of just over eighteen thousand kilometers per second. It could have accelerated twice as fast, but reducing its acceleration to 42,500 g raised its small impeller's burnout time from one minute to three, which not only gave it three times the maneuvering time but increased its terminal velocity from rest by almost fifty percent.

Is there a more boring way to write about a missile being fired?


Weber also has a tendency to start chapters in the points-of-view of entirely new secondary characters, most of whom hadn't even been mentioned in the book previously, some of whom would never be mentioned in the book again. I always found myself groaning when a chapter would yet again start this way, as I got extremely bored having to suffer through the POVs of these characters.


There were also a lot of shifts in POVs within chapters, and sometimes (in my Kindle ebook version at least), there was no space between paragraphs to denote the change. I found this especially confusing at the end, when the POV was continually shifting between people on different ships. One second we are seeing things through Honor's eyes, while in the next we are seeing them through the eyes of a captain of an entirely different ship, with no visual queues to mark that this was happening.


I also wish there had been a glossary included, or at least an appendix with a who's who of characters. There were so many secondary characters (for example, all the officers on Honor's crew), and it was impossible to remember which character was responsible for what on her ship, so I eventually gave up even trying. Furthermore, the majority of these secondary characters had no personalities or differentiating characteristics, making it even more difficult to tell them apart.


It should have been more sad than it was when some of the characters lost their lives. Yet, since there was not a lot of character development outside of the characters' jobs on the ship, the deaths that occurred were nowhere near as devastating as they should have or could have been.

(show spoiler)


All in all, I think this book had a lot of potential that it didn't quite live up to. After reading On Basilisk Station, I personally have no desire to continue on in the Honor Harrington series.