Having made a superior look a fool, Honor Harrington has been exiled to Basilisk Station in disgrace and set up for ruin.
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.
A Note from Author David Weber
There's been some confusion—not to say, um, energetic debate, readers and fans being readers and fans—about the correct pronunciation of "Manticoran." The truth, alas, is that a stitch was dropped. An error occurred. A mistake was made… and it wasn't Audible's fault. It was mine. Before Audible recorded the very first Honor Harrington book, narrator Allyson Johnson and I not only corresponded by e-mail but actually spoke to one another by phone. She wanted to make absolutely certain she had the correct pronunciations for names, places, star nations, etc., and I tried to make certain all of her questions were answered. And so they were. Unfortunately, at some point in the process, I replied to one of her e-mails by telling her that "Man-ti-core-ahn" was pronounced "Man-tik-er-ahn." Exactly how this happened is more than I can say at this point, except to blushingly disclose that the original e-mail remains intact, confirming to all the world that it was, indeed, my fault. I can ascribe it only to a temporary mental hiccup on my part and crave your forgiveness. If, however, you must blame someone for the mix-up, that someone should be me and not Audible, who have done everything they could to get it right.
©2002 David Weber; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
I recently reviewed the latest entry into this series, and I blasted it pretty hard. Then, when my anger cooled, I wished that I could edit my review a bit, but Audible does not offer us a way to do that. So this review is, in part, my apology to Mr. Weber.
“On Basilisk Station” is the first book in a very large series. The series has given me a great deal of pleasure over the years. The main character in this series is Honor Harrington. Please note that her initials are HH. Weber has said that his inspiration for this series is the Horatio Hornblower series. (I recommend that series as well. Thanks to Audible for finally getting it. The Hornblower series was also the inspiration for the original Star Trek TV series, according to Gene Roddenberry.)
In this book we see Honor Harrington as a young(ish) star ship captain. Her country is small, consisting of the people of three planets all in the same star system. They are being threatened by a very large and corrupt star nation consisting of many star systems. Many of the events--at least in the early part of the series--parallel broad events in the conflict between England and France in the early 1800s. (Napoleonic wars) The Hornblower series was about English sailing ships helping their country to fend off Napoleon. This series is about Manticoran star ships protecting their country.
I hope what I have said so far doesn’t make Weber sound like a cheap hack copying a better writer. Hornblower was the “inspiration” for Honor, but the plots, characters and story arcs are all Weber’s.
We have various levels of peril in these tales - peril to Honor’s family and career, to her life and the lives of those she commands, and very real peril to her country. We have a large company of characters; people (on both sides of the conflict) that are honorable and whom we grow to love, as well as people (on both sides of the conflict) who are venal, evil. Many writers become so fond of their characters that they can never kill off the good guys. Weber does--on a regular basis. It takes some getting used to.
AND Weber writes amazingly good action scenes.
There are now more than 20 books in this series, I think (the main series has 13 books, but there are also a couple of spinoff series and at least five anthologies of short stories in the Honorverse). Many people say that the first three books in the series are the best. I would agree that the first three are among the best, but I do have some favorites that occur later in the series. There are also five or six compilations of short stories in this series. I have reviewed a number of them. Many of them provide tidbits of information that will help you understand events in the next full-length novel. There is no question, however, that later books in the series are too wordy and have too few action scenes.
So here is the bottom line: I recommend this series. It is one of my favorites. But each person will have to decide whether they will read the next book in the series. My son stopped reading them at about book 9 or 10. I quit once, then started again, and I think I may have quit completely now. But don’t let poor books late in the series stop you from starting the series. You would miss out on some great stuff.
I've been a fan of David Weber's Honor Harrington series for years. It's great to finally have unabridged audio versions of them. My only caveat is that the narrator is difficult to understand at times. Her voice is a good choice for Honor, but her interpretation is very different than my own has been (in my head) during my many re-readings of this book.
Dr. Jim Fox -- Former College Professor and Mental Health Therapist
Some have complained about the narration. Bunk! As a soprano voice (as the character is) she does a fine job. I loved the story and the narration was good. I base that on if I can follow the story while working at the computer - it was very good.
I enjoyed the book greatly. Those complaining of the narration I believe just are not used high voices. I will, when the time comes, purchase the rest of the series.
The reviews are by Mike.
OK, so I think that in the fantasy/SF audio book community we've been spoiled a bit. We're surrounded by several really good narrators: Stefan Rudnicki, Scott Brick, Reading/Kramer, and many more. Now all of a sudden along comes On Basilisk Station, read by a "merely" competent narrator, and we react in horror.
Honestly, I listened to this book in relatively few sittings (I had a couple of lengthy flights to sit through) and I found the story to be acceptably presented. Not excellent, not terrible, but acceptable. Acceptable enough that I will be grabbing the sequels as quickly as my credits renew.
(I have indeed read the novels previously, a few years ago.)
P.S. This is Mike - Heather is my wife, and her name is on the account here at Audible. :P
I am surprised at the negative reviews for the narrator. She does a good job with characterization, and her voice fits the role well. She has the ability to render the voices of the female protagonist and male supporting characters well and believably.
The stories in this series so far (at this writing, I've read 1-3) are fun, light SF yarns. They are not deep, but they are well written, Harrington as a character is very easy to like, and I have trouble shutting them off when the drive home is over.
While I agree that it is VERY annoying when a pronunciation changes halfway though a series, this narrator has been consistent with her pronunciations throughout, and I don't think that such a criticism is well founded here. That's not always the case (Jim Dale's correct pronunciation of "Voldemort" with a silent "t" changing to an audible "t" after the 4th book in the Harry Potter series comes to mind), and I sure hope that authors will be more diligent about giving the narrators pronunciation guides at the series outset to prevent the problem. Again, though, this narrator has been consistent with her pronunciations throughout to this point.
I was really bummed by the other reviewers who really blasted the reader of the book. They complained about her pronunciation of a few words and claimed she read in a monotone like a newscaster. I have to remember to sample for myself in the future. I think they all have expectations that are way too high!
I've been waiting for these audio books for a long time. I've read all of the Honor books multiple times and I am pleased with the interpretation. Is it the best book reading I've heard in my 5 or 6 years using Audible? No. But it is far from the worst, very far. The story is excellent, the characters and their development over the book and indeed the series are amazing, and the books are on audio unabridged at last! I say listen and enjoy one of the great Sci-Fi authors and stories of our day.
I have everything David Weber has written either as a real book (he's classed as "Buy In Hardbound", which few authors in my library have achieved) or eBook. The book is great. It's an extremely good series about Honor's rise to prominence over her career. That's the good part.
The bad part: the narrator. For the love of all that's holy, is it impossible for these readers to know their subject material? How this one reconciles the pronunciation between Manticore and Manticoran is beyond me. There are other similar issues, but this one is like a knife to the ears every time. Some of here characterizations are crazy. In a universe set hundreds of light years from Earth, where do all these French and Cockney accents come from?
I've already resigned myself to having to live with this, since I'm determined to own the series. Please, producer, remember that there's a difference between being able to read and doing so competently. This one falls far short. My rating is for the story. The reader should be given one star. Or maybe even go into negative territory.
I have never read any of the Honor Harrington series, so I did not have any fan axes to grind about pronunciation, etc. I was a little put off by other reviews complaining about the pronunciation of 'Manticorian' even when the author himself had posted a note explaining that any mistakes were ENTIRELY his fault and not the narrator's.
However, I must say that the narration IS something of an issue in the beginning of the book and during any non-dialog, exposition type scenes. The descriptions 'robotic' or 'newscaster-ish' are both completely true, IMO, for at least the first few chapters.
BUT- I do feel that the narrator really nailed the main character's voice and I found her voices for other characters to be easy to differentiate from one another and I had no issues with her accents. So for voices, I say she is fine, just rather bland in non-dialog scenes.
Somewhere around the fifth or sixth chapter, the narrator seems to get much more comfortable with the material and sounds less wooden. When the story improves and gives her more of interest to narrate, her voice warms up considerably.My instinct feels that her narration for the series will only improve as she continues on with these characters in later books.
I would have regretted putting this audiobook down early because of my frustration with it in the beginning chapters.
And not all of the things I didn't like can be laid at the narrator's feet either. I know this is a beloved series, and being a huge Vorkosigan fan, having been told this was similar space opera, I thought I would try it.
Although the character of Honor is likable enough, she is sort of a huge sci-fi chick cliche in some ways. She is about 40 standard- but looks 20 something. She is not classically beautiful, but the 'planes of her face' and 'deep chocolately brown eyes' and 'light soprano' all make her much more attractive than she seems to realize. She doesn't wear makeup or bother with doing her hair, but always looks crisp and attractive- you know the type of female we're talking about.
In fact, one of the things I found most irritating to listen to in the first several chapters is the ENDLESS way that her light soprano, ivory planes of her features and especially her deep chocolate brown eyes get inserted needlessly into paragraphs over and over again.
I get it that the author likes Honor and wants us to like her- but I also got what color her eyes were, how her voice sounded and the basic description the first five times you told us. It gets almost romance novel-ish the way it goes on- and not in a good romance-novel way.
Also, she has a magical (read sci-fi telepathic) six legged kitty cat! Which, ok, cool, I would love one, but it does seem a bit twee for a science fiction series. But I'm willing to suspend judgement here, because it seems like the tree cat might be more important to the series later on and it sort of reminded me of Pip and Flinx, which I loved as a kid.
But again- I kept listening and ignored these annoying little tendencies, and hurrah! I have been rewarded with a very entertaining sci-fi yarn with an engaging heroine, a relatively complex plot and well-written space battle and political scenarios.
The basic plot of new commander having to win over the ship's crew to her and fighting against the odds is nothing new, but Weber gives it an interesting enough spin and things liven up considerably once the Fearless is assigned to Basilisk Station.
Since this is the first in the series, I am willing to forgive it a few snags in the startup, and will be getting the next book. I can't say for sure that Honor and her kittycat and crew will become my new favorite space series, but this book turned out well enough that I am willing to ship out with them for another voyage.
It is about time the Honor books became available. I have read these multiple times and am glad they are finally available in audio. I agree with some of the sentiments regarding the narration, it could be significantly better but it is also far from the worst I have heard. I give it 4 stars because of the narration but I am also willing to overlook it because I am glad the books are available.
After long last Honor Harrington arrives at Audible. David Weber's Military Sc-Fi series finally gets the Audio Treatment It deserves. 11+ books and growing. The narrator tries to match Honor's inflections with mixed results as her voice is Hit or Miss with the Others. Honor's Origin story is filled with intrigue and mystery. Weber does an excellent Job of seeing through the eyes of not only Honor But her enemies and crew as well. Weber's Universe is filled with semi-realistic science with the battles matching sea Battles rather than the super quick Star Trek types. The Battles will last for chapters and pages and seen from inside both ships. If you don't mind long exposition you'll enjoy the Book. Fans should have little worry.
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