Ed. – Welcome to Paul [W] Campbell, prestidigitator with Cossmass Productions. This is his first review for SFFaudio.
On Basilisk Station (Book One in the Honor Harrington Series)
By David Weber; Read by Allyson Johnson
15 Hours, 15 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
ISBN: 9781423393382 (CD)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Military SF / War / Space Opera / Politics /
On Basilisk Station is the first of Weber’s Honor Harrington series. A great space opera that quickly builds up to a full out war between the Star Kingdom of Manticoran and her allies against the aggressive and expansionist Republic of Haven. So far there are eleven main novels in the series in print, plus over a half-dozen anthologies and spin-offs.
Mankind has spread out into the stars using a form of Hyperspace which offers the ability of sail along dangerous gravity waves at hundreds, even thousands, of times the speed of light. Some star systems are linked by wormhole termini that offer instantaneous travel between their end points. The benefit to interstellar trade and to fleet maneuvers that this offers is significant. Thus, Basilisk Station is the Royal Manticoran Navy’s picket at one such wormhole. In fact it is a collection of several wormholes that turn the star system of Basilisk into a major hub for commerce. Unfortunately the Republic of Haven’s economy is straining and they are looking at the worlds on the
far side of Basilisk as candidates to bolster their economy. Of course, having Basilisk Station under their control would make their annexation efforts and resultant ‘trade’ much simpler.
Commander Honor Harrington finds her aged and understrength ship being responsible for the entire picket On Basilisk Station. Her crew blame her for their posting to this punishment detail. Honor has been set up to fail. The Havenites are plotting to invade, the aboriginals on the planet below are taking homicide inducing drugs and her Executive Officer hates her.
As an opening volume in a series of this size, On Basilisk Station sets the initial pieces on the board for the following books and the war that develops. However, it doesn’t feel like that is what it is doing. The story is self contained and complete, as are all of the books in the series. Later books do benefit from reading the preceding ones, but it isn’t required. But, I’m not reviewing the series here. It can be a little heavy on the info-dumps at times, such as the history of the Founding of the Manticoran Nobility, Gravity Sails and a few others. Allyson Johnson gets through them well enough, but in audio they do interrupt the flow of the story. Otherwise she brings all the characters to life very well and covers quite a range, from Honor’s soprano all the way down to some gruff old sailors indeed.
Actually hearing Honor’s dialog in a soprano was quite jarring at first as I had read the books before and hadn’t properly assimilated that aspect of her character. Allyson stays truer to the characters and their voices than I had when reading myself. A good performance overall.
There was some slight confusion at times during the climactic battle as the point of view jumped from ship to ship. In print there would be a clear break in the text, but here the scenes flow together perhaps a little too quickly. They do resolves with a few seconds that there has been a scene change, but it still threw me a couple of times.
If you like your space opera with a well thought out political backdrop and with space battles that take into account the danger aboard ship and the scale of space, then On Basilisk Station should keep you happy.
Posted by Paul [W] Campbell