Saturday, December 19, 2020

Book and Audio Review: A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber

A Beautiful Friendship

David Weber
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Honor Harrington - Star Kingdom Book 1
Publication: Baen Books; 1st Edition (December 4, 2013); Audible Studios (Oct. 4, 2011)

Description: Stephanie Harrington absolutely hates being confined inside her family's compound on the pioneer planet of Sphinx, a frontier wilderness world populated by dangerous native animals that could easily tear a human to bits and pieces. Yet Stephanie is a young woman determined to make discoveries—and the biggest discovery of all awaits her: an intelligent alien species.

Treecats are creatures that resemble a cross between a bobcat and a lemur (but with six legs and much more deadly claws). Not only are they fully sentient, they are also telepathic, and able to bond with certain gifted humans such as the genetically-enhanced Stephanie. But Stephanie's find, and her first-of-its-kind bond with a treecat, brings on a new torrent of danger. An assortment of highly placed enemies with galactic-sized wealth at stake is determined to make sure that the planet of Sphinx remains entirely in human hands—even if this means the extermination of another thinking species.

My Thoughts: This story introduces the Honor Harrington series to young adults by telling the story of Stephanie Harrington who had emigrated to Sphinx with her parents at age eleven. She is a bright only-child who has a burning desire to learn more about her new planet. Her mother gives her a mystery to solve: something is stealing celery from fields and green houses. 

Stephanie is intrigued and comes up with a plan to catch and photograph the celery thief even though she has no idea why anyone would bother to steal a plant she only eats if her parents insist. Imagine her surprise when she discovers a small creature with a net full of celery. The net makes Stephanie believe that she has discovered a new sentient species - only the twelfth such species discovered since humans left Old Earth millennia ago. 

She's young but even she knows that another sentient species on the world could cause all sorts of problems. Luckily, she has the support of her parents and some others to help her decide what to do about her new furry companion. 

This story is also told from the viewpoint of Climbs Quickly - the celery thief - and we see his puzzlement about these beings who are mind blind but clearly can communicate among themselves. He is even more interested in those humans when he forms an emotional bond with Stephanie that lets him communicate with her a little bit. He can sense her emotions but not her thoughts and he isn't sure what she can sense from him.

The pair have adventures together including an encounter with the elephant-sized hexapuma who is a very dangerous predator and with poachers who are determined to capture some treecats both as exotic pets and to experiment on if it proves true that they are telepathic.

I enjoyed this story very much and especially enjoyed Khristine Hvam's narration. She is really good at creating distinct voices for the many characters. 

Favorite Quote:
"How many twelve-year-olds do you know who're going to go after a flipping hexapuma with nothing but an eighteen-centimeter vibro blade? You think somebody willing to do that, with an arm broken in two places and a leg she could barely stand on, to protect a treecat who might already have been dead for all she knew, won't do whatever it takes to protect that treecat now?
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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