Like many reviewing this book I've been a long time reader of Weber's Honoverse. Weber is not, on candid reflection, a great writer, but I think he tells a good story and I found his early books in the Honor Harrington line particularly enjoyable. I've read them several times (generally I reread the series when a new book comes out), and so I decided to purchase the audiobook series early when I subscribed to audible.com.
Regrettably, I can't recommend this narration for On Basilisk Station. If you've read the other posted reviews you'll see that there are strong differing opinions. For my own part, I found Allyson Johnson's reading so off-putting that I had to set the audiobook aside three or four times before I could brace myself for the full reading. Her accents and dialects are broad and inconsistent, often slipping mid-sentance. But frankly what bothered me most was the simple characterization of military voices -- they never sounded quite professional, centered, and competent. And while Johnson is no way to blame for Weber's weak prose, she seems to read in a way that draws attention to Weber's weaknesses (the first "bleek" she uttered for Nimtz drove home the tweeness of the character in a way I had never felt while reading the book). Perhaps this is just a bad combination of writer and narrator -- both otherwise competent?
In any case, I found the reading to become more tolerable as the book progresses and agree with the other reviewers that it is in no way Johnson's fault that her pronunciation of "Manticoran" is off (see Weber's own apology on the topic). Perhaps the next books in the series are better?
Allyson Johnson reads like she is giving the news. Unless there is dialog, her cadence will make you fall asleep. And that is the problem. The first six or seven chapters is nothing short of a borefest because the author cannot set up a storyline without describing minutia that could easily be dispensed with.
The author caught my attention as well with his misuse of the phonetic alphabet. It was driving me crazy. For instance, the word "able" is not used, it is "alpha". If you are going to use it then get it right, or make one up. The narrator also miss pronounced the word "lima" from the phonetic alphabet. She pronounced it "lie-mah". It is pronounced "lee-mah", like the city.
These kind of details are important because the story is about an Earth influenced military that has adopted a lot of the its traditions. Any military enthusiast would be interested in this story and irked by the missteps.
The author also ignored a lot of physics and left me wondering what the hell was he thinking. Impeller drives? In space? Really? You have got to be kidding! And objects with mass going faster than the speed of light? No, not possible. Anyone who knows anything about astrophysics knows that only massless particles can travel at the speed of light.
The job of the author is to suspend my disbelief and present a compelling story. With this ganre, the only way that the author is going to do that is imagine technology that is believable. The author really should have thought some of the physics through and come up with better ideas for moving objects through vast distances in space.
I realize that some authors get away with this some times. Like George Lucas and his ion drives on the Tie Fighters (ion drives accelerate way too slowly and are intended for long distance travel, or low power adjustments in space), and the use of hyper-space. But he does not over do it, and social political situation of the galactic empire is believable.
Here the author is building up an Earth centric galactic empire with this series. This too is not believable and a bit arrogant. Earth is not the dominant power in the universe. If and when we have the ability to travel to other planets in the galaxy, we will be introduced to many different life forms, some of which will be superior to us in technology. So far, in this authors galaxy, humans are it.
One last thing that drove me crazy. A six legged cat? The cat would not be able to run. Anyone who has ever watched a cat run knows that only one paw is touching the ground at any given moment. You would also notice that a lot of the cats power comes from the back muscles. A six legged cat would have to move its legs very very quickly in order to maintain one paw on the ground, thus tiring itself out very quickly. And because the back muscles would be shorter, it would not be powerful enough for long distance pursuits and leaping.
She needs to read news for a living, not books. Her male voices are terrible.
The series itself has promise if the author has learned from the mistakes in this premiere.
The ending is very predictable.
Probably not. David Weber's book had too many technical details for my taste. I got lost in the overly-thorough description of the spaceship tactical mechanisms.
The narration drove me crazy -- every other word was highlighted. It was like reading a book in which the upper and lower case letters were all mixed up. I gave up after trying for a third of the book go get into the story.
My favorite fiction narrator to date is Wil Wheaton. I like straight-ahead storytelling. No gimmicks.
I really wanted to get into the story. It had potential. I had heard good things about the book. My reaction was eagerness followed by disappointment.
On Basilisk Station is probably one of the very best sci-fi books I've read in a while, and that's saying quite a bit. It's more in the realm of hard sf than I'm used to, but I have to admit that the stronger presence of science didn't interfere at all. The writing is tight, events move quickly and the characters are all interesting. It's a tribute to the author that some of the most tense scenes in the book are when Captain Harrington is having a meeting with an antagonist and the scene with members of the crew are just as exciting. There is no wasted time or effort in this book, just good writing.
The main criticism I have for this book is the narrator. Allyson Johnson may not be the voice of Siri (the assistant on the iPhone), but she sounds pretty danged close. Her performance is stiff, awkward and the phrasing is bad. I look at the series, and find that I get depressed when I see that Johnson narrates pretty much all of them. The book is great. The narration... let's just stick with the book, shall we?
As I said, pretty much everything in this book shines. The events don't necessarily keep you guessing as to what's going on, but there's enough intrigue there to keep it interesting until the end. The only criticism that I've heard of it (from my wife) is that there is some harsh language in it. I didn't count, but when something gets really tense, characters aren't against dropping the f-bomb, which might put some people off. I'm not one of those people. But it's a caution you might want to keep in mind if you are. That being said, this is also a story about military stuff, so there's going to be some literary blood and gore. Again, if you're not put off by it, go nuts. It's a great read, and one that you won't regret diving into.
Yes - the story really pulls the listener in.
The other Honor harrington books
A pacing and a sense of dramatic reality.
It made me cry
I am very glad i found out about this series. It has given me hours of pleasure. I am occasionally frustrated trying to keep track of the characters, but in the end this is a very fully realized universe.
Just a Latino living life in NYC
I will not continue reading the Honor books. I found the plot to be good but I didn't like the "too many attention to details" that Mr. Weber concentrated on. It made the book drag for me. I though Allyson Johnson did a good job - event though I hated Honor's voice. I would try another book that Ms. Johnson is the reader on!
I would not recommend On Basilisk Station to my friends. Even though it was interesting and I wanted to see how it ended, I found the book frustrating with too many details.
I wanted to read the book on the recommendation of Steve Gibson (Security Now Podcast). He introduced me to the wonderful worlds of Peter F Hamilton but I just did not find David Weber to be my cup of tea.
The main character
The marines on the planet fighting the drug crazed natives.
The reconciliation between Mckean and Harrington
I really like the story. The universe is really well thought out. The story is multi faceted. All and all a good take on space travel and space warfare.
This that said the narrater is really bad. We listened to this cross country. My wife (big scifi fan) couldn't listen to it. The most memorable part of the trip was: we where listening to the book on my phone when the GPS came on and told us to turn left, it was the same voice as the narrator.
Well now of coarse I am 65, but still a great fan of Audible
The story kept me listening and being involved, in a way that is unusual for me, I was up until the wee small hours, just so I could see how it ended. Talk about "nail biting", I was on the edge of my seat by the end, and a complete Honor Harrington fan. I have just downloaded number two. David Weber I think you are great.
The story twisted and turned, but you could always keep up with it, but had no idea how it would finish up, right up to the last five minutes.
As I have recently gone blind, finding a narrator as good as Allyson Johnson is a very big plus. She handles all the voices and accents like a champ. I just know I would not have read this book if the sample had not hooked me in the first place, then the story reeled me in. So yes Allyson Johnson brought the book alive for me.
I did not laugh or cry, but I was enthralled and trying to help Honor on, right up until the end.
I just know I shall be reading the whole series, no matter what else goes on in my life. Honor Harrington is my kind of hero!
This was interesting, I found the storey good in depth and characters engaging. But the narration really does a number on this one.