Benjamin Thomas's Reviews > On Basilisk Station

On Basilisk Station by David Weber
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Aug 26, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi-military
Read in January, 2010

In short, this is a great novel and it is the first book in a fantastic military/space adventure series. The protagonist, Commander Honor Harrington is an officer in the Royal Manticore Navy, a space-going force much like you might find in Star Wars or Star Trek. But the author, David Weber is an amature historian, especially of military history, and has crafted this novel and characters based on real world history. He is also a huge fan of the Horatio Hornblower novels by EM Forester, as am I, having read them all in the past 3 years or so. Honor Harrington, herself, is sort of a cross between Hornblower and the real Lord Nelson, whose biography I also read just this past year. Is it any wonder I liked this book?

The novel itself is a great story, first and foremost. Commander Harrington is fully fleshed out and as she meets her crew for her first command, we agonize right along with her on how these people will perform under fire. She and her ship, the Fearless are placed in an extremely untenable position due to heavy handed politics occuring in that region of colonized space. The book is full of space-based militery action, and we see how Commander Harrington is a no-nonsense, can-do leader and when faced with impossible tasks, finds a way to get them done. The book also examines the political realities taking place as well as the societal forces at work. In essence it's a slice of "real" life in that environment but at the same time is delightful, escapist entertainment. I have served as an active duty US Air Force officer for 19 1/2 years so far and I can tell you, Mr Weber absolutely nails the military life. I had to check his bio to see where he had served because his accuracy in how his military people act, how they juggle their responsibilities, how they repond to "Higher Headquarters,"etc. is just uncanny. But apparently he has not been in the military at all and just does a lot of research.

If you like military science fiction, this is among the best and it doesn't leave out the other aspects os what makes a great novel: characterization, setting, pacing, etc. Highly recommended.
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