For fans of fast paced adventure and compelling characters, the military science fiction of Nebula Award winning author Elizabeth Moon is the perfect choice. The brilliantly unorthodox Kylara Vatta, black sheep scion of Vatta Transport Ltd., one of the galaxy s wealthiest merchant houses, is a heroine like no other, blessed with a killer instinct for business and for battle. Now, in the aftermath of cold blooded assassinations that have left her parents dead and the Vatta shipping empire shattered, Kylara faces her greatest challenge yet. There is a time for grief and a time for revenge. This is decidedly the latter. Placing her cousin Stella in command of the trading vessel Gary Tobai, Ky embarks aboard the captured pirate ship Fair Kaleen on a twofold mission: to salvage the family business and to punish those responsible for the killings before they strike again. Since the network providing instantaneous communication between star systems has been sabotaged, news is hard to come by and available information impossible to trust. But as she travels from system to system, with Stella a step behind, Ky pieces together the clues and discovers a conspiracy of terrifying scope, breathtaking audacity, and utter ruthlessness. The
Nebula Award-winner Moon's third Kylara Vatta novel is sadly more reminiscent of the uninspiring Trading in Danger (2003) than the inspired Marque and Reprisal (2004). Ky has more or less patched up her relationship with her cousin Stella-a good thing, since they're all that remains of the Vatta shipping empire-and finished off the most immediate danger, the renegade Osman Vatta. Ky now faces the much more nebulous threat of an interstellar piracy gang. As she travels from station to station seeking fellow pirate fighters, annoying local officials and repeatedly leaving Stella in the lurch, it's hard to stay interested. It doesn't help that the one genuinely stunning twist-of-fate climax is followed by six plodding chapters on an entirely different topic. Moon's strength is clearly in flash-bang-gee-whiz battles and skulking intrigue, both planetside and in space. It's too bad she so frequently drowns them in mundane details that provide realism at the expense of entertainment. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 28, 2006
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Excerpt from Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon
In the afternoon sky, the sound of the approaching aircraft rose above the sea breeze, a steady drone. Nothing to see-no, there it was, small to make that much noise and then the sudden flood of data from the implant: not an aircraft, no one aboard, a weapon homing on the airfield's navigational beacon. Visual data blanked, overloaded by heat and light, auditory data an inchoate mass of noise, swiftly parsed into channels again, stored, analyzed: primary explosion, structural damage, secondary explosion, quick flicker of building plans, primary visual restoredý
Ky Vatta jerked awake, heart pounding, breath coming in great gasps. She wasn't there, she was here, in the dark captain's cabin of Fair Kaleen, darkness pricked with the steady green telltales of major ship functions. All she could hear beyond her own pulse beating in her ears were the normal sounds of a ship in FTL flight. No explosions. No fires. No crashing bricks or shattering glass. No reverberative boom echoing off the hills minutes later.
"Bedlight," she said to the room, and a soft glow rose behind her, illuminating tangled sheets and her shaking hands. She glared at her hands, willing them to stop. A deep breath. Another.
The chronometer informed her that it was mid-third-shift. She had been asleep two hours and fourteen minutes this time. She went into the bathroom and looked into the mirror: she looked every bit as bad as she felt. A shower might help. She had showered already; she had taken shower after shower, just as she had worked out hour after hour in the ship's gym, hoping to exhaust or relax herself into a full night's sleep.
She was the captain. She had to get over this.
This time she dialed the shower cold, and then, chilled, dressed quickly and headed out into the ship. She could always call it a midshift inspection. Her eyes burned. Her stomach cramped, and she headed first for the galley. Maybe hot soupý
In the galley, Rafe was ripping open one of the ration packs. "Our dutiful captain," he said, without looking up. "Midshift rounds again? Don't you trust us?" His light ironic tone carried an acidic bite.