Opinions on David Weber

Erunanion

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I was pootling about the Internet, as I am wont to do, and I discovered the website of Baen Books, an independent operation in the US (or so I gather). It as a sizeable Free Books section, and since I am not over-picky about reading from a screen I thought I would give some a go.

The author who caught my name was David Weber, whose twelve-or-so Honor Harrington series seemed to be my sort of thing - a great deal of space-naval combat, in the tradition of Horatio Hornblower (note the similar alliteration) and the Master and Commander series (note to self - read some of those books).

Anyways, I downloaded the first book in the series (On Basilsk Station0 from the free library and trundled through the first ten pages or so, and so far I'm not impressed. I shall continue with this book to see what its like, but I thought I would start a thread to see if anyone else had read any of Weber's books and wanted to discuss. I might even stick a review of the first book up if I go through it in a decent space of time :)

The website is Baen Free Library for the free library, and anyone would like to embark on a voyage into the unknown with me :p
 
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Erunanion

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I am now at page 53 of On Basilsk Station, and I withdraw my invitation to you all to pick it up and read with me.

The story itself has plenty to interest, filled with all the right elements which make a decent naval sci-fi book. Unfortunately, Weber has so far displayed none of the ability needed to capitalise on what is, I think, a decent premise. Chapter Two was nothing more than a massive info-dump in the guise of Honor Harrington thinking to herself, Honor herself is difficult to like (although the addition of her treecat companion Nimitz is a nice one), and he also has the maddening habit of not leaving a line break when switching perspectives. I've just read a fleet action simulation passage, not knowing from which side of the battle I was reading for the majority of it.

I'm going to continue to read (although its 459 pages long, so I may not reach the end) out of a perverse desire to see if Weber can actually develop his characters, and actually use the pretty-good (if one-dimension) premise he sets up so early on.

Edit: Also, the name has absolutely no idea how to handle the passage of time. 53 minutes have just passed in the space of a single paragraph of, oh yes, Honor Harrington thinking to herself again, and absolutely no idication of this was given. Simply "Fifty-three minutes had passed since the initial communication had been sent"; said communication being about 12 lines above that one.
 
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Ursa major

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I've not read (or even seen) any of David Weber's work. However, I just did a search for "David Weber" on the Chrons: it returned quite a few pages of posts (I looked for posts, by the way, not threads); after a brief glance on my part, I noticed one or two recommendations.

So perhaps it's worth persevering. (I do, however, sympathise with your complaint about poorly-marked POV-switching; this can be very irritating.)
 

Erunanion

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Oops, sorry - I'm generally good with using the search function of forums, but it slipped my mind with this one :(

Having briefly googled "David Weber" reviews I have come across some utterly glowing ones, so persevere I shall. Although at the rate I'm rattling through this one (I'll admit, I am skim-reading some of the larger info-dumps) I should be done with this in a timely fashion.
 

chopper

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it improves, chap. weber does insert infodumps with annoying regularity, and the POV switches are very irritating, but Basilisk is a nice taster - a small chase battle and some Marine action are nicely handled. the series does get very stodgy later on, especially when dirtside politics are dragged into it. worth reading for the shipboard combat sections, i'd say.

Baen do a lot of military SF and do a lot of business with the US armed forces. sometimes i feel that they place verifiable and explainable maths and science over story content.....
 

Erunanion

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I'm now a good third of the way through now (this is turning into my own journal of impressions :p), and I have to say that it has indeed gotten a bit better. There are a lot of POVs to remember (but now that I have accepted it as space opera, I'm not as annoyed by mildly losing track occasionally of whose head I'm in), but the characters are warming to each other, and consequently I'm starting to like them all as well.

The action scene at the start, to be honest, bored me silly, because it was filled with the maths of impeller drives and sidewalls and cones and all that jazz; but we shall see if that improves as well :p I think by the end of the book I will want to recant my earlier opinion - something I will happily do if its warranted, I don't have a problem with being proved wrong if its to my benefit :D - but the start of the book was definitely poor, which may be the reason for the negative amatuer reviews I found on the Net.
 

Reading_fanatic

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Yeah i agree that you need to really stick with it. Trust me that through out the book there are alot of technical sections about impeller wedges and relativistic velocities etc (And they can get really technical at times) it is worth persevering with. The first book really is quite simple compared to the rest of the series and later it does become very complex especially with the added point of teling parts of the stories from lots of different people perspectives.
Stick with it as it is an awesome series.
 

Ian Whates

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I've read the first eight Honor Harrington books and thoroughly enjoyed them. Yes, you can see that the author is a fan of the 'Hornblower' series but the characters he develops, the society he structures and the battles he describes are his own.

Have to admit, I struggled with the ninth book, Ashes of Victory, and have set it aside for the moment, having read the first 130-odd pages without anything much happening.

The earlier books though are fabulous, with a great balance struck between action, politics and character development. So do stick with it, Erunanion.
 

Erunanion

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Right, I have finished On Basilsk Station, and present for your consideration a review :) Note that I'm basing it on the downloadable copy from the website in the first post.

**********

First, the bad. I will leave aside the first three chapters, as I have already made my feelings on that clear. However, from a writing perspective I would have dumped the entire first scene with the Havenite political leadership. It sets up the dramatic irony of knowing precisely what Honor Harrington works hard to discover, but in doing so completely removes any element of the reader watcing her journey with wonder, and working the facts out for themselves just as Honor does. It's also pretty poorly written, and while the standard improves greatly from this point, it starts off on a sour note.

The other bad. Do you remember the battle scenes in Star Trek when they would cut from one bridge to the other, seemingly at random and without giving a hint of when this might happen? No? That's because they didn't do it, because it confuses the audience and jumbles the punchiness of the action.

If there was one thing I would change about On Basilsk Station, it would be to insert line-breaks wherever changes in POV happen. Throughout the story it is annoying. When it comes to the (otherwise exciting and well-done) climatic space battle, it is maddeningly, infuriatingly, insanely difficult to keep track of the scene. The reader finds himself in about four different places within the space of three pages, swapping back and forth with no break at all. I cannot describe what a pain in the backside that is.
Its not just a question of losing track; it disrupts what is otherwise well-written and punchy prose.

On the matter of positives; a much happier paragraph to write. The characters, once we are allowed to get to know them, are good; the majority are a little cliche, but there is enough depth in the relationship between Honor and her executive officer to keep things interesting. And there is a good deal of depth to be had from the Honorverse (as Wikipedia informs me its called), and if the other books capitalise on that then it is no wonder that the series has run into double figures. The action scenes are fast-paced and interesting, and Honor herself is a very nice command figure.

The problem for me (aside from the lack of line-breaks) is that, for all the good characters and potential for fun and adventure in the book, Weber's writing lacks subtlety. The reader is allowed to discover nothing for himself. The plot builds nicely to a climax which the reader has known the basis of from the start, and this lessens the enjoyment for me. It's like I was reading a history textbook - I knew the outcome, and was finding out how the characters had gotten there. And while this is good, it doesn't exploit the potential offered by Honor and her 'verse.

I really want to like this book, and not merely because of the fact I was so scathing at the beginning of this thread. And I do like it, and I will continue to read the Honorverse books, but I really hope that Weber develops his ability to be subtle, and let readers work things out for themselves instead of feeling distinctly like an outsider looking in at events.

Right, arbitrary number time. I'll give On Basilsk Station 3.5 out of 5 stars/thumbs up, but with the proviso that I am sure that there will be better things to come from the Honorverse, and I actually do look forward to reading them.
 

Contrary Mary

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I have read the first four in the Hono Harrington series and I do like it. Yes, he could drops a lot of the technical stuff and I would not mind at all. But the series as a whole is enjoyable.
 

chrispenycate

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As a long-term visitor to the Honorverse, and, I suppose, a Baened author, I've duly read my way through about ten of the main series, and no few of the offshoots. Fortunately (for me, if not for anyone else) I'm the sort of mentality that likes the technical details, and posts on Baen's Bar with criticism of this or that gadget; and I'm finding the politics in the later ones more indigestable than the physics in the e arlier.

But, despite a noticably rightwing tendency, Jim Baen did not reject authors from other political directions. Although not much he published was noticably anti american.
 

Connavar

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I've read the first eight Honor Harrington books and thoroughly enjoyed them. Yes, you can see that the author is a fan of the 'Hornblower' series but the characters he develops, the society he structures and the battles he describes are his own.

Have to admit, I struggled with the ninth book, Ashes of Victory, and have set it aside for the moment, having read the first 130-odd pages without anything much happening.

The earlier books though are fabulous, with a great balance struck between action, politics and character development. So do stick with it, Erunanion.
I got a kick out of seeing Weber showing his feelings for C.S Forester in the foreword of first Honor book :)
I was randomly browsing the SF shelfs and thinking about getting some military SF and saw "to C.S Forester " thing who happenes to be a big fav of mine for his great Hornblower series.

I was thinking about trying Weber before but after that you think his taste in authors might have made a difference for his series.
 

kenpat

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I've read all 11 books in the series. So I obviously enjoy them. It's true that as the character gets older and gets promoted, politics and intrigue play a larger part in the booksthe office HH holds looks at the bigger picture. They also grow longer, with the first few running in at 400 pages approx and by the 6th hitting between 600 & 700 pages and the final few growing larger still with over 900 pages.
If you've stuck with the series then you care about HH and want to know how it pans out.
But I'm rereading the WOT series so my judgement may not be the best.:eek:
 

Erunanion

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I actually like the couple of scheming scenes between the admirals who are on Honor's side, and I got the feeling that Weber could have a lot of fun with that in later books - clearly he does :p It was one of the things which gave me the feeling, as I mentioned in my review, that there is a lot of potential with the Honorverse.

However, I picked up Foundation and Empire and Dune at a market today for £3.80, so I suddenly have all sorts of things vying for my reading attention :p
 

Ice fyre

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I enjoyed the Honor series, while I agree the charicters are a bit flimsy and the right wing perspective is a bit annoying sometimes, it generally turns out to be a good series.

The books do bog down a bit later as politics do rear their ugly head more and more, but they are still readable.

The thing that got me a bit was that the books are very much based on the Napoleonic wars. Or at least remind me of it quite a lot, apart from the talking cats (we all know that was WWII!):D
 

Parson

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Arrgh! Here I am one of the Biggest Honor Harrington fans alive, and I've been off line for days!!! I've yet all of the book, the first 10 an average of 4 times each!

In my years on this site, I've learned that I have a minority opinion. But I still feel that this is the best series (you heard that right!) in Science Fiction. There might be other series with a stronger novel or two, the first 3 of the Foundation Series, the first one of Dune and Ender's Game, but as a whole this is as good as it gets for me. I loved the multiple POV. To be able to see the other side scheming, what a delight!! To see how certain small cogs make all of the difference in a large maneuver. The way the world really works!!! Actually for me the maddening part of On Baslisk Station was the tension between Honor and her First Mate. I mean, really, you have a competetent (to say the least!!) captain. Get over yourself and do your job!!! The next couple of books are better yet! The last few do get too bogged down with dirt side stuff, mostly I think that the interpersonal relationships get way too complicated, the politics are a lot less in the way for me. But I always loved to see the inherent weakness of a state run society. This is a fear for the USA.

I was thrilled by the so called "info dumps." It helps me to understand how these things were imiagined. I remember spending time with my calculator figuring out the intercept times and tactics. I am not so happy with Honorverse. Some of the other authors spoile it for me. But I'm always happy to read Weber's additions to these.
 

BAYLOR

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Spins a pretty good science military science fiction novel .(y)
 

thaddeus6th

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I've read the three free books from Amazon (two Honor Harrington and fantasy novel Oath of Swords). Of those, the best was the second Honor Harrington book, which I really enjoyed. I tend to prefer fantasy to sci-fi, and might well buy a few more Honor Harrington books.

I agree there's a fair bit of info-dumping in the first book and pace could be a bit sharper.
 

Timba

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Weber is in my top 5 author group. I love to read his stuff. I think your primary problem with POV switching would go away if you read a paper book instead of an e-book, this is a problem in many e-books for reasons I do not understand. I do not have a problem tracking it in an e-book but I acknowledge the formatting is troublesome at times.

I love his ability to set the pace and build slowly to a climactic finish. I am not bothered by the info dumps as it is easy to skim if not interested and I find the political info interesting although for an opposite reason as I think he shows the danger of corptocracy pretty clearly and that is also something we here in the US need to worry about, a lot more than state growth I would say.
Mostly I love the feeling that sooner or later the bad guys will get theirs and they do. In a world where that hardly ever seems to happen that is prime escapism.

Currently reading his latest fantasy offering and enjoying it a great deal.
 

psikeyhackr

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I tell everyone to start with Honor of the Queen. I found Basilisk Station somewhat of a bore.

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