Veteran military/science fiction writer Elizabeth Moon has crafted an entertaining and three-dimensional five-book series starring Kylara Vatta. Ky, as she’s called by her friends and extensive family, is one of the most fully realized heroines I’ve had the pleasure of reading about. The first book is Trading In Danger.
Ky gets kicked out of the military academy for helping a fellow cadet who ultimately betrayed her trust and good nature at the beginning of the novel. One of the most endearing aspects about Ky in the beginning is how naïve she is. She does things for the right reasons and sometimes ends up totally bulldozed in spite of her good intentions. I love that quality about her because it makes her vulnerable and fallible.
After she gets released from the academy, her father – a powerful shipping magnate and head of the Vatta corporation – assigns her command of a derelict ship meant for a one-way flight. I enjoyed meeting Ky’s family, even if it did tend to bog the story down a bit. That familiarity with those family members is important for the rest of the series. They keep playing parts in Ky’s life as well as the in the twists and turns of the stories.
At the helm of the ship, Ky is nervous and somewhat resentful. She’s in command of a tub and doesn’t really have any power over her course. While Ky is dealing with this, we’re treated to an overview of the ship, the crew, and how both work together. Moon has invested a lot in her fictional part of the galaxy and she enjoys showing off. Thankfully, the details are fascinating and will consume the thoughts of imaginative readers.
It doesn’t take Ky long to get into trouble, though, and therein lies the beginning of the adventure she ultimately undertakes. Upon her arrival at the Belinta colony, she discovers that the locals desperately need a shipment of tractors that were promised but never delivered. Sensing an opportunity for profit, Ky undertakes the contract and sets the wheels in motion for her own independence.
I found the negotiations Ky has to undergo fairly interesting because I’m an amateur historian and it’s fascinating to see that no matter where the human race has been or goes, much of what it does will center around the art of business. Moon brings that home in these books.
With a newly inked contract in hand, Ky makes for the Sabine system to buy tractors and hopefully see about getting enough of a profit to re-outfit the ship to make it spaceworthy. Instead, she ends up getting involved in a planetary insurrection and caught in a deadly crossfire.
I loved the scenes with the Mackensee mercenaries and the way they did their jobs. The praise was heaped a little heavily on Ky, but it wasn’t too sugary sweet. I was surprised when she was nearly killed at one point, then amazed again at her audacity to negotiate a new contract with the mercenaries.
Assigned to ferry out other ship captains that have lost their ships, Ky ends up having to deal with a mutiny that has deadly consequences. I liked the way Ky prepared herself and her crew for the eventuality, and the lengths to which she was prepared to go to keep her ship. She reminded me a lot of A&E’s Horatio Hornblower series. Moon’s not quite in John Ringo territory, but she’s definitely in good company with the military background.
Military/science fiction readers looking for something fun and light to read over the summer will definitely enjoy Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series. All five books are out now, so you won’t have to wait on any of them.