From 2003 to 2008, Elizabeth Moon published five books in the Vatta’s War series. The first two books in a new series, Vatta’s Peace, followed in 2017 and 2018. Trading in Danger, the first of these seven books, introduces Kylara Vatta, the nineteen-year-old scion of a wealthy family with an interstellar shipping empire. Like the other novels in its series, it’s categorized as military science fiction and is sometimes compared to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga.
Kylara Vatta is in her final year at the military academy on her home planet of Slotter Key. She’s well on her way to a storied career in the navy when naively trusting a fellow cadet leads to her summary dismissal from the academy. At home, she discovers, her family is eager to hide her away from the media which is swarming about the scandal caused by that treacherous cadet. So, they name her captain of an old trading ship and send her off to lead it to a scrapyard many light-years away. To Kylara, the assignment is “the boring start to a dull, boring career as a truck driver in space.” But of course her journey on the Glennys Jones proves to be nothing of the sort.
Trading in Danger (Vatta’s War #1) by Elizabeth Moon (2003) 314 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5)
The Vatta family is one of the most trustworthy and reliable clans in the shipping business. But that reputation proves to be of limited use to Kylara. Taking the Glennys Jones to pick up a cargo she hopes will make the beginnings of her fortune, she stumbles into an interplanetary war. Kylara soon finds herself caught up in a confusing and dangerous conflict involving the two planets at war, a mercenary fleet, and space pirates.
Trading in Danger is a worthy launch for the then-new Vatta’s War series. Moon paints Kylara as a shrewd and capable leader but still unusually young for one thrust into such great responsibility.
For further reading
Previously, I reviewed Elizabeth Moon’s earlier novel, Remnant Population. My review is at Alien encounters of the strange kind in a captivating sci-fi novel.
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- Great sci-fi novels reviewed: my top 10 (plus dozens of runners-up); and
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