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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 November 2006
"On Basilisk Station" is the first book in a truly wonderful space opera series set some three thousand years in the future and featuring David Weber's best fictional heroine, "Honor Harrington." The books are best read in sequence and I strongly recommend that you start with this one.

Despite the futuristic setting, there are strong parallels with Nelson's navy. The assumed technology in the Honor Harrington stories imposes constraints on space navy officers similar to those which the technology of fighting sail imposed on wet navy officers two hundred years ago. Aand the galactic situation in the novels contains strong similarities to the strategic and political situation in European history at the time of the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.

This seems to be quite deliberate: a number of thinly veiled (and amusing) hints in the books indicate that they are to some extent a tribute to C.S. Forester, while the main heroine of the books, Honor Harrington, appears to owe more than a little to C.S. Forester's character "Horatio Hornblower."

In this first book of the series, the newly promoted Commander Honor Harrington takes up her first significant command as captain of the old light cruiser "H.M.S. Fearless" which has just been rebuilt with a very unusual armament.

Honor Harrington comes from a middle-class family with no naval tradition - both her parents are doctors - and has worked her way up the officer ranks of the navy of the Star Kingdom of Manticore on pure ability with no influential family friends to support her. At times it seems that her only friend in the navy is her "Treecat" Nimitz.

Treecats are six-legged creatures similar in size and shape to terran cats, who are fully telepathic among themselves and empaths with humans - e.g. they can read a human's emotions and sometimes form a unique bond with a specific human within which the exchange of emotions is two-way. Some people make the mistake of assuming that Nimitz is just Honor's pet cat: it will become clear during the series just how much more than that he is.

After a short spell with the fleet, HMS Fearless is assigned to Basilisk station. The Senior officer on the station turns out to be an enemy of Honor's going back to their time at Naval academy, and promptly takes his ship back home for repairs leaving her with orders to look after the Basilisk system and the completely inadequate force of one cruiser with which to do so.

As if that were not bad enough, a powerful and unfriendly neighbouring star nation, the "People's Republic of Haven" is casting greedy eyes at Basilisk and looking for an opportunity to grab the system.

This is a really clever story with wonderful and believable characters, brilliantly described space battles, and a well crafted set of explanations of how the tactical situations which the characters find themselves in relate both to the technology their ships use and the political dynamics which set up the conflicts they find themselves in. Because this is the first book of the series Dave Weber has to devote a fair amount of time to explaining the how faster than light travel and space weapons work in the series, but the explanations are reasonably interesting, internally consistent, and not too hard to follow.

Many people read Weber for the space battles, and this book scores very highly here. In some of the later books of the series when describing major fleet battles, Dave Weber somtimes writes a bit too much like the wargame designer he once was, but he is superb when describing single-ship or small unit actions and never better than in "On Basilisk Station."

If you like this book, you will want to read the rest of the series. At the time of writing there are thirteen full length novels and four short story collections in the "Honorverse" as the fictional galaxy in which these stories are set is sometimes known. The main series which tells the story of Honor Harrington herself currently runs to eleven novels; in order these are

On Basilisk Station
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

The four collections of short stories set in the same universe, not all of which feature Honor Harrington herself, are

Worlds of Honor
Worlds of Honor II: More than Honor
Worlds of Honor III: Changer of Worlds
Worlds of Honor IV: The Service of the Sword

The two spin-off novels are "Crown of Slaves" (with Eric Flint) which is a story of espionage and intrigue featuring a number of characters first introduced in earlier Honor Harrington books or short stories, and "The Shadow of Saganami" which is a kind of "next generation" novel featuring a number of younger officers in the navies of Manticore and her ally Grayson.

For amusement, if you want to try to look for the parallels to nations and individuals from the French revolutionary period and the Hornblower books, one possible translation would be:

People's Republic of Haven = Revolutionary France
Star Kingdom of Manticore = Great Britain
Gryphon = Scotland

Prime Minister Alan Summervale = Pitt the Younger
Hamish Alexander, later Earl White Haven = Admiral Edward Pellew
Honor Harrington = Horatio Hornblower
Alistair McKeon = William Bush

Crown loyalists and Centrists = Tory supporters of Pitt
Conservative Association = isolationist/hardline High Tories
New Kiev Liberals = Whig Oligarchists
Progressives and traditional liberals = Whig radicals

Anderman Empire = Kingdom of Prussia
Silesia = Poland
Solarian republic = United States of America
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on 10 August 2014
This is a very retro Boy's Own type series. Two stars for making Captain a girl, and giving female characters equal play BUT IT DOESN'T MATTER because none of them has any depth. There's not enough complexity to carry the series (for me, anyway. There are about a dozen of these so someone must be keen.) The simplistic politics are over-explained and laughable. I read two (free) in case there was any development, but no. Honor flatlines. If you miss the Eagle comic definitely give these a go.
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on 7 September 2014
Basilisk Station introduces the socio-political and socio-economic conditions of the environment in which the events, decisions and actions take place. The described richness of the visual space and the propensity towards the spectacle of action, etc., the obvious tendency towards story, and story whereby the science fiction aspects very much conform to that recommended by John Truby, this series of books that began almost a quarter of a century ago and now boasts a very solid fan base, would seem to be ripe for development as movies and/or a sequence of miniseries. To my mind this is unlikely, due to too much of the audience value of these books being held within swathes of exposition that cannot be transferred to other media. Granted, this way of writing does make it much less difficult for the writer -- David Weber, in this instance -- to generate their word count. However, it does ensure that these titles will never hit the silver screen. The prose style is beyond workmanlike, yet is not as satisfying as Iain M. Banks, Fritz Leiber or C.J. Cherryh, to cite three examples of writers (their death where applicable, excepted) who also suffer from the self-imposed limits of their art.That disappointment aside, David Weber's Honor Harrington titles, will not disappoint those who are sufficiently satisfied by reading and imagining their own interpretations of what it is that they are reading.
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on 20 August 2016
The first in an incredible series with several additional side series to go with it. This book can be a little hard to read at first since there are lots of facts that the author has put in which describe how this universe works (ships etc.) which can be quite hard to grasp and sit through but it is all worth it and you will find yourself falling in love with the main characters. Thankfully there are lots of books to read in which to enjoy them.
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on 12 June 2012
This is a bit of an oddball series. Weber has chosen to base his character on Hornblower and the sci-Fi closely mimics that period. Sadly Weber goes to great lengths to shoe horn in reasons why the space ships have sails and tend to fire broadsides. He goes through hoops to make it seem rational but often derails the story and its impetus to do so. Sci-Fi always has a bit of techno speak and often introduces future tech that is for obvious reasons fantastical in the honorverse though it often hamstrings the flow of the book and is quite boring to read. I can see why people have given up on this book after the first 100 pages or so as it can be tedious to get through in places. Having said all that once all the blathering lessens a decent old fashioned space romp reveals itself. It has a kind of "Astounding Tales" from the 50's feel to it with strong jawed heroes battling hight odds against stronger opponents. I enjoyed it enough to give the second book ago anyway. One warning I should give though is that you can tell that Weber has fairly strong right wing views and I would be very surprised if he is not on the far right of the republican party in his political views. This can be a bit grating at times if you are a Liberal or Labour voter from the UK especially has the descriptions of how politics work are a tad simplistic.
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on 2 December 2015
Over a dreay wet English weekend this story made the hours fly.
Solidly plotted, and the second tier characters are fleshed out sufficiently that you care about them.
Oh and the price is great too, many series offer the first book free to hook you, this seires offers both first and second books free, many readers are wary off freebies having endured poorly written, drivel which abounds, this is NOT one of those times. 100/100 get it now.
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I love the Honor Harrington series. I found it years ago, randomly, when I purchased a book halfway through the series. This is gripping sci-fi and I doubt it;ll be long until a film gets made.

Be careful, reading this excellent book will no doubt lead to you purchasing the rest of the series and getting lost for hours on end oblivious to the outside world!
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on 22 February 2016
A friend suggested I read these as he thought I would like them...he wasn't wrong. Refreshing to have a female lead character, bit like a female Hornblower. The story is fast paced absorbing and easy to read and the science was good with some really interesting concepts that often get glossed over in may other SF stories...acceleration and deceleration for one.
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on 7 May 2015
I liked this book although it was a little too technical for me. I did find all the space talk a little bit much when he started explaining hyper drives. The characters made this book for me. I loved the struggle for Honor to pull the ships crew together in the face of an impossible task and disaster. I cant say that I would rush to read the rest of the series but it will be one that I come back to.
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on 21 March 2015
A good swashbuckling space yarn. The heroine is doing her best to survive, when all around her are dying. She is dropped in at the deep end with a modified spaceship that has one chance of survival. The trick does not work the second time and she is sent to the end of the universe as a penance. Once there she is deserted and left to fend for herself, which she does rather well. However, all's well that ends well.
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