[onbasiliskstation.gif] ON BASILISK STATION by David Weber
Published 1993 by Baen Books
ISBN# 0-671-57772-7 (Paperback)
ISBN# 0-671-57793-X (Hardcover)
Reviewed February 1, 1999

Tight-as-a-drum plotting and strong characterizations make On Basilisk Station an excellent read. David Weber leaves nothing to chance in this military/science fiction novel, describing political rivalries and military strategy with the same zeal he throws into the technical specifications of starships and the biochemical effects of a certain homicide-inducing drug on the aboriginal population of a key backwater planet. He takes time to delve into the personalities of even the most minor characters, lending weight to each crisis, each injury, each death. He dives into political backgrounds to the point that you the reader are able to catch every nuance of a conversation between diplomats. When damage reports come flowing in during the climactic starship battle, you know exactly how much each of those hits hurt.

The only real gripe I have with this book is the fact that the hero, Honor Harrington, seems a bit too perfect. Weber makes an effort to give her certain idiosyncracies, largely by repeatedly pointing out that she was never so good at higher mathematics. This particular deficiency, however, doesn't seem to hurt her too much when she plots a complex course trajectory in her head on the fly under desparate circumstances....

Because this book is so plot-driven, I will refrain from discussing it in detail so as to not ruin anything. The style, however, warrants comment. The situation throughout the book is complex on all fronts, from the main character's background relations to old (and new) rivals, to the intricate political situations within her own government, between her government and that of the neighboring kingdom, and the influences these both have on the local politics. Disparate elements ranging from the particular technical specs of various ships, to the human resources at Harrington's disposal, lead to complex strategies that reach far beyond the technobabble solutions prevalent in such science fiction settings as Star Trek. Weber clearly defines his boundaries, and then proceeds to work wonders within them.

Overall, this book is a solid example of fine strategic maneuvering, lacking only in it's almost inhumanly perfect protagonist. I look forward to seeing what Weber has done in the ten or so sequels in the continuing Honor Harrington series.


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