|Generic Disclaimer when i review a David Weber book:
I am David Weber's elder brother.
Generally, however, i think i am fairly well able to avoid any bias in my reviews thereunto appertaining.
Some little while ago, Dave mentioned to me that he was working on a female Hornblower-template space opera character. He gave me a little background, and it sounded interesting.
Thus, when i got a chance to read "On Basisisk Station", i was quite eager, and, i am happy to say, i was not disappointed.
OBS has, for me, pretty much all of the strengths (and they are many) or Dave's best writing, and, unfortunately, indications of some of the weaknesses (minor though they may be) to come.
Strengths -- he does very well at portraying Good Officers who Lead By Example and who can see the best way to use their ships and the personnel assigned under them, no matter how ill-suited to the task at hand they may appear to be, or how overwhelmed by opposing forces.
Honor's excellent use of the bastard weapon system inflicted upon her by misguided theorists is an example of such -- even if it does get her sent to the Manticoran equivalent of a footbeat in Yonkers.
He has a strength in portraying Bad Guys -- many of whom turn out to be pretty much just ordinary joes doing their best for *their* side, just as Honor is doing her best for hers.
Unfortunately, he also has a tendency to introduce Villains from time to time -- genuine, mustache-twirling, sneering, scenery-chewing mellerdrammer tie-Little-Nell-to-the-tracks Oilcan Harry-syle villians (sic). And they just *grate* on me. The only "good" thing about the introduction of Pavel Young here is that it's pretty obvious he's eventually going to Get His. His Villains are off key to my ear -- you'd think *someone* would notice their sneering and snarling and frothing at the mouth whenever the hero(ine) is mentioned, but no-one ever does. ((Over in the fantasy books -- "Oath of Swords" and "War God's Own", such villains are appropriate. Unfortunately, in the fantasies, he writes dialect speeches...))
OBS sets the pattern for many of the Harringtons -- Honor is sent into a difficult situation that turns out to be much worse than it at first appears. Through skill, good management and general all-round-good fortune, she manages to survive hideously uneven odds when the whole situation blows up, and, though she loses many of her crew and basically has her ship(s) shot to pieces, saves the day.
Though there is a lot of standard Space Opera in the Harrington series, they are all rather more than that because (A) Honor Harrington is much more than the generic captainkirk of all too many space operas, and (B) because the situations he throws Honor into -- and the characters and societies surrounding her in those situations are interesting and fun to read about, and even the Bad Guys, including arch-Bad Guys the People's Republic of Haven, are not drawn in absolute fulgurin unrelieved blackest black.
Read this one and, if you are at all susceptible to pure adventure-military-space-opera SF, i'm fairly sure you'll want to read the next (Honor of the Queen) and the next (The Short Victorious War) and the next (Field of Dishonor) and...