On Basilisk Station: Honor Harrington Book 1 – Audiobook Review

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Title: On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington Book 1)

Author: David Weber

Narrator: Allyson Johnson

Length: 15 hours and 36 minutes

Publisher: Audible Studios

Genre: Military Science Fiction, Space Opera Science Fiction, Adventure Science Fiction

Series: Honor Harrington

Release Date: March 4, 2009

Synopsis:  Having made him look a fool, she’s been exiled to Basilisk Station in disgrace and set up for ruin by a superior who hates her.

Her demoralized crew blames her for their ship’s humiliating posting to an out-of-the-way picket station.

The aborigines of the system’s only habitable planet are smoking homicide-inducing hallucinogens.

Parliament isn’t sure it wants to keep the place; the major local industry is smuggling; the merchant cartels want her head; the star-conquering, so-called “Republic” of Haven is Up To Something; and Honor Harrington has a single, over-age light cruiser with an armament that doesn’t work to police the entire star system.

But the people out to get her have made one mistake. They’ve made her mad.

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The Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4 out of 5 Stars

I read the first 10 books of the Honor Harrington Series back in high school and while packing up my library before my move last year, stumbled across the books yet again.  My son, finally being old enough that it wouldn’t be inappropriate for him to read them, got interested in them.  However, he decided he wanted to hear them on audiobook, so seeing that On Basilisk Station was free on Kindle and only $1.99 for an Audible audiobook, I grabbed it for him.

The recording quality is excellent.  There’s no weird sound pops, clicks, or distortions.  And the narrator is good.  I was a little weirded out by the fact that she played the main character’s voice at such a high octave and with a young sounding voice, until I remember that despite her height, Honor Harrington is supposed to be a soprano and because of the life extending treatment used in the Star Kingdom of Manticore, the character is supposed to look like a teenager despite being in her forties. The only problem I have with the performance is that apparently there was some kind of mix-up and the author gave incorrect instructions for how something should have been pronounced. There is actually an apology note from him on the author on the audiobook sales page.

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Honor Harrington is a naval officer in the space navy of the Star Kingdom of Manticore.  She is half Chinese and half genetically engineered heavy-worlder.  She’s tall, slim, athletic, stronger than the average human because of her heavy-world genes, an expert in martial arts, an expert shot with guns, and has an increased metabolism so she can eat lots of calories without gaining weight.  She’s also a brilliant tactician, sharply beautiful, super patient, kind, an super humble because she doesn’t think she’s all that great at all.

Yes, reading the Honor Harrington books requires a serious suspension of disbelief…and that’s just for the main character.

Something I’ve always disliked about this main book, is its premise.  Honor Harrington’s primary difficulties are brought about because a man who tried to assault her, but who she successfully fought off, sets her up for failing her duty assignment.  The only reason he was still in uniform to bother her as her superior officer is because when he assaulted her back during their academy days, she was too afraid that no one would believe her if she reported him for what he did.

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For a woman who was supposedly as intelligent as Honor Harrington always was, living in a civilization thousands of years in the future, she seemed startling unaware of the realities of the psychological reasons behind why predators target their victims  And I was deeply disappointed that the fantasy world David Webber had created was still subject to stereotypes of victims thinking they were too unattractive for authorities to believe them.  With all that being said….

I still like the story of the book.  It takes place years after the assault and is about Honor succeeding where many did not think she could. She triumphs over the odds pitted against her and is a fun little romp of the-good-guys-win.  The Honor-verse is well developed and full of technical specifics about how that world works.  Listening to “On Basilisk Station” with my teen, he very much appreciated the adventure of the story but he had the same dislike for the premise that I did.

Over all I’m rating it 4 out of 5 stars and DD on the Delighting Delilah Scale because I don’t like the premise behind the story and I have to exercise so much suspension of disbelief to get into the story.  But the world is so vividly created that it is easy to enjoy once you are in the story.

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