Honor Harrington Book 1
Having made him look a fool, she'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.
The aborigines of the system's only habitable planet are smoking homicide-inducing hallucinogens.
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.Since finishing the young adult Star Kingdom novels, I decided to go back and try the Honor Harrington novels. I'm glad I did.
The first one is On Basilisk Station. Basilisk Station is a remote outpost that no one wants to get stationed on. It is considered a dumping post for persons not quite bad enough to be kicked out, but not good enough for a regular post either. Honor and her ship, the Fearless are sent there, not because of their own screw up, but because someone is trying to cover up their own screw up and they want Honor as far away as possible.
Because of the same actions, her crew isn't really a crew, but simply a collection of individuals that are angry with Honor, depressed with where their sent, and generally not acting as a group.
The problem with getting sent to this remote outpost is that the person in charge of Basilisk Station doesn't like Honor either and sets up Honor to be stabbed in the back.
So starts the heart of the book in which Honor must overcome all of this to create a solid crew out of a disparate discouraged group of people in a backwater hole that now needs protecting against someone. Honor doesn't know whom it is, but the reader learns from the outset (or nearly so) that it is the Haven Empire.
Some of the lessons in this book include the fact that Welfare states must continue to expand and conquer in order to keep people living the lifestyle that they have become accustomed to. The point is small, and the paragraph or two about it felt really out of place. However, they fit so well with what some of the political groups have been trying to do for decades that it bears watching. On the other hand, Honor's own kingdom isn't perfect either. The wealthy have political power and because of political infighting things are at a standstill.
Having finished it once I want to continue through the series and finish it. Once I have I want to go back and read them again to get more of the political side of things and see some of the political commentary. Usually, when I read things the first time through I get more of the surface plot and characterizations than I do anything else.
However, I certainly agree that the book deserves a read through at least once. As I was reading it, I felt that this was the sci-fi version of some of Tamora Pierce's characters. Alanna and Kel immediately spring to mind, Kel even more than Alanna sometimes. Ender is another one that I thought of on occasion, but at least Honor got into this knowing what she was getting into in the first place. This is because all three of these characters have the strong cohesive leadership skills needed to take charge of large groups of people. Try Alanna: The First Adventure to start Tortall if you prefer fantasy and females. Ender's Game is a great place to start if you like space operas that have a lot of social commentary in them.
If it's the general idea of the space opera you like, try anything from the Star Wars extended universe (most of which is now getting thrown out of canon). However, Nor Crystal Tears by Alan Dean Foster kicks off the Thranx series which is another great space opera that crosses centuries and several different planets and main characters.
Now that I gave in and actually read one of Weber's books I find myself regretting that I didn't do so earlier.
On Basilisk Station is available for free through the Baen Free Library, but who knows for how long. Check it out while you can.