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On Basilisk Station by David Weber
blaisepascal
Robert Heinlein once wrote that he spent a day doing the calculations to verify an orbital maneuver which got a mention in one sentence of a story, but he didn't bother the reader with the details of the calculation. He did it so the details would be right.



David Weber, on the other hand, wants the reader to know he put a lot of effort into world-building. The book is inspired by the concept of "C.S. Forester in space", so we get a lot of ship-board space naval action, to be sure, but along the way we learn the political structure of the protagonist's planetary system, including the various parties and their policies, the size, speed, and armaments of the ships, the familial class history of a minor antagonist, the theory behind the FTL (including the history of development of the tech), etc, etc, etc. I suspect a good quarter to a third of the book is background material not directly involving the main characters that could be trimmed without affecting the main plot.

This isn't to say that the story didn't pull me along and bring me to the end. It's the story of a young competent naval officer on her first command of a warship, and the unexpected mess she finds herself dumped into. The same attention to detail Weber put into all the background material comes in handy when developing the characters and crew of the ship, and in managing the intricate details of the plot, both in scene and behind the scenes.

The story has the feel of a police procedural or a mystery: the prologue shows the main antagonists planning something, the details of which are not fully spelled out, while the main story is told from the protagonists view, who begin not knowing there is a plot to be foiled. Clues come out, details emerge, connections are made, and while the reader knows something is afoot, she has to put things together with the protagonist.

This is the first book in a series about Honor Harrington, and I enjoyed it. I will continue to read the series.

One question I do have: The series technology was designed so that the tactics and style could imitate the sailing ships of the Napoleanic wars era (a la C.S. Forester's "Horatio Hornblower" books). How much of the politics is based on the politics of the Napoleanic wars as well? Harrington is in a Royal Navy, serving a parliamentary monarchy. Parliamentary parties and factions exist, as well as traditions equivalent to "Prime Minister's Questions". It's clear that the Manticore polity is an expy of the United Kingdom, but how deep does the resemblance go?

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How much of the politics is based on the politics of the Napoleanic wars as well?

LOTS.

Just a personal thing for me, but I stopped reading the series at "Ashes of Victory". In my opinion, the series fell apart after that.

Mind you, there are other fans I know who love everything past that book, so take my comment above with a large Siberian salt mine. *grin*

I'll keep that in mind as I read.

Who are you? I don't generally like unidentified comments in my LJ.

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