Review By David Stegora
Originally published on his blog, Anomalous Monologue.
I recently picked up the audio book for On Basilisk Station by David Weber. I’ve been interested in learning more about the Honorverse, since I see The Royal Manticoran Navy at most conventions here in Minnesota. I had previously tried to read House of Steel, but struggled through it and eventually stopped. The Honorverse Companion portion of the book was far more interesting to me, though I have yet to finish it. Because of that, audio book seemed like the way for me to approach this series.
I put off beginning the series on audio book, because the preview sounded terrible. It’s worth noting that I got the audio book from Audible, so I listened to the version they made. There have been others. The narrator does some bad voices and accents, but they serve their purpose of differentiating characters well, so it can be forgiven. However, the way she says “Manticoran” is likely to make you hate her a little. In the end, I got used to the narration pretty quickly.
While this book is science fiction, at its core, it’s really just a naval story in spaaaaaace. I find keeping that in mind makes it a little more enjoyable.
Of course, David Weber is known for lengthy dialogue and info dumps. They are in this book by the pound. Sometimes it feels like it’s never going to end. While it can be tedious, the info dumps do serve the purpose of creating a very detailed universe. It even gives details and numbers about types of ships and armaments and everything. Of course, it was later determined the numbers were off and they were adjusted.
The dialogue, on the other hand, can be excessive. I think often it’s just an attempt to explain things to the reader in unnecessary detail things which should be understood as the story unfolds. It’s like a textbook example of telling, not showing.
If you can get past these things, or if you like them, the story is enjoyable enough. It feels like it opens an elaborate new world for you to explore, which it really does. The series is getting quite lengthy and there are many related books outside of it. There’s even a comic book series.
I felt like I was struggling at points, but I enjoyed it overall and even bought the audio book for the next in the series (The Honor of the Queen) right when I finished it and I’m listening to that one now.