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On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington) Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 2002
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Having made him look the fool, Honor'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. 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 first book deals with Honor being sent to Basilisk Station, an out-of-the-way Manticoran outpost where the Navy sends its rejects. However, Captain Harrington is nothing if not determined and efficient, and promptly sets about carrying out her duty while a conspiracy is brewing to rid the sector of Manticoran presence. The book thus sets up a thrilling web of suspense, intrigue, and speculation, as Honor realizes the gravity of their situation and we see her mind spinning into action, devising plans and counterplans. However, not only is she short on resources, severely limiting her options, but she also has to deal with a crew that blames their Captain for their troubles and, consequently, has little regard for her, at least at first.
It was most enjoyable to witness the transformation of the crew of the Fearless as they slowly embrace their Captain and her no-nonsense attitude, becoming themselves every bit as proficient as her in the discharge of their duties (with a few exceptions, but that is life). I was sad to see her Exec-turned-Captain, Mr. McKeon, go at the end of the book, as he experienced the most development as a character, and I always thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to his exchanges with Honor. I can only hope this is not the last we've seen of him.
Considering you can get this book for free on Amazon's Kindle Store right now, there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't pick it up and give it a read. I'm certainly looking forward to Book #2. See you there!
Do not read Basilisk Station unless you are ready to be completely hooked. While Honor Harrington's cold exterior keeps even the reader from fully getting to know her, we grow to respect her the same way her crew does. Meanwhile, missiles fire, lasers flash, and no fewer than three FTL technologies create some of the most thoughtful space navy battles I have read in years. Strategy and tactics win over sheer firepower, but we are on the edges of our seats until thee very end of the book.
The ending is satisfying, with no annoying and artificial cliffhangers to cajole you into buying the next book, but trust me: you will want to anyway!
While there are several books in the series, I wouldn't call them a space opera/epic, or giving one deeper concepts to ponder like the Culture novels do. I consider these "light" reading due to these qualities, the characterization is meaty enough using a lead character who lives up to her name and is a solid strong military leader who deserves the respect she gets from her peers due to her deeds and character rather than demanding it.
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I am rectifying that mistake now.