Though the exciting military career she hoped for never materialized, Ky Vatta still sees plenty of combat. An unknown adversary has launched a full-throttle offensive against Vatta Transport Ltd., Ky’s father’s interstellar shipping empire—killing most of Ky’s family. Fighting for her very survival, Ky is determined to avenge her family’s deaths. Teaming up with a band of stranded mercenaries, her black-sheep cousin Stella, and Stella’s roguish ex-lover, Ky struggles to penetrate the tangled web of political intrigue that surrounds the attacks. Amid suspicion and deception, she is prepared to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that Vatta stays in business. What she’s not prepared for is the shocking truth behind the terror— and a confrontation with murderous treachery. . . .
“This individual does not know where initiative ends and rocket-propelled idiocy begins.”
Marque and Reprisal takes the world that was built in Trading in Danger, and makes a series out of it. With this book, we take the story in a completely different direction, which will have lasting consequences that will take the entire series to resolve. With (almost) no hint that this was going to happen in book one.
In the beginning of the book, Kylara gets to a new planet with two things waiting for her: news that her family has been attacked, it is feared no one is left alive, and a present from her former teacher. The present being some space mines and a letter of marque from her former teacher and government installing her as a privateer “just in case she needs it”, dated before the attack on her family, and she isn’t even certain it is valid.
Thus what Marque and Reprisal is about. It is about Ky being uncertain what her family situation is, what her situation is, and what to do. So she does what any good Vatta will do: regroup and re-establish trade. Ky does what a Vatta does best: figures out what resources she has, what resources she needs to survive, and she tries to make it work.
Only the numbers aren’t really adding up. The station is dangerous and Kylara keeps getting in the middle of things that involve the police. And they aren’t happy with her presence at all because she keeps getting into trouble, namely people keep trying to kill her, and her family is being hunted and they see her as a liability on the station. Ky has to hire more help and she has to buy weaponry that her ship doesn’t have. Which is none. She doesn’t have any weapons right now.
There is also a new perspective starting in this book. Stella, widely regarded as the family fuckup, has been tasked by their remaining family member in charge to deliver to Ky her father’s brain chip, which has the controls for the entire company. While the family regards Stella as “that idiot Stella who gave Vatta codes to her boyfriend”, Stella has been working behind the scenes to help the family for years. And now she has been given an important mission. Along the way, Stella gets into her own adventures, including picking up a surviving family member, who is a young teenager, and an old flame who just happens to have just the experience to help.
At the start of the book, I was uncertain how much I would like this. Once the family started dying it was just such a departure from what I loved in the previous book, namely that Ky’s family has her back. However, I did end up liking it. I think I’ll like the way the story, and characters, go from here.