With the Vatta’s War series, award-winning author Elizabeth Moon has claimed a place alongside such preeminent writers of military science fiction as David Weber and Lois McMaster Bujold. Now Moon is back–and so is her butt-kicking, take-no-prisoners heroine, Kylara Vatta. Once the black-sheep scion of a prosperous merchant family, Kylara now leads a motley space force dedicated to the defeat of a rapacious pirate empire led by the mysterious Gammis Turek.
After orchestrating a galaxy-wide failure of the communications network owned and maintained by the powerful ISC corporation, Turek and his marauders strike swiftly and without mercy. First they shatter Vatta Transport. Then they overrun entire star systems, growing stronger and bolder. No one is safe from the pirate fleet. But while they continue to move forward with their diabolical plan, they have made two critical mistakes.
Their first mistake was killing Kylara Vatta’s family.
Their second mistake was leaving her alive.
Now Kylara is going to make them pay.
But with a “fleet” consisting of only three ships–including her flagship, the Vanguard, a souped-up merchant cruiser–Kylara needs allies, and fast. Because even though she possesses the same coveted communication technology as the enemy, she has nowhere near their numbers or firepower.
Meanwhile, as Kylara’ s cousin Stella tries to bring together the shattered pieces of the family trading empire, new treachery is unfolding at ISC headquarters, where undercover agent Rafael Dunbarger, estranged son of the corporation’s CEO, is trying to learn why the damaged network is not being repaired. What he discovers will send shock waves across the galaxy and crashing into Kylara’s newly christened Space Defense Force at the worst possible moment.
“Oh, no danger there. No danger at all. My people are more efficient in pursuit of honor than anything else. I chose them for that.”
Could anything so handsome, so decorative, so…so enthusiastic…possibly be useful? Ky wondered.
Command Decision takes up where Engaging the Enemy left us. Kylara is still running around creating her independent space defense force. Which means worrying about funds, going against pirates, and looking for allies. There is more to it than that, but that takes up a large portion of the action of the book.
The best decision in the book is the include the addition of a Romantic. He is super rich, and funds a lot of Ky’s activities. And hes is a pure Romantic at heart. Not Romantic like he wants to find someone to love, but Romantic in the sense that he has idealized being a Privateer to the point where he is a ridiculous caricature. He is “cannon fodder”, he goes off and does the strangest things, all because he wants to be some great military guy. And succeeds. And genuinely I think he might be the best part of the book. Kylara spends a lot of time trying to manage the Romantic into doing what she wants, and only what she wants and no more. And fleecing him for all the money her morals let her get away with. It is great.
Meanwhile, Ky’s cousin, Stella, has set up a new headquarters on a planet where manners are everything. She is setting up new trading lines and trying to return things to working order. And Toby, their cousin and ward, has made it known that he knows how to recreate the shipboard ansibles AND improve them, And that it won’t be too difficult to do, he thinks. Stella immediately sees the potential and goes about trying to produce these and sell them herself, looking up the copyrights the ISC has filed on them, and seeing if there is any way to get in on this sweet, sweet communications money.
Which brings us to Rafael. He left Ky at the end of the previous book to check up on ISC headquarters. They have been out of contact with each other for way too long, and the ISC aren’t fixing the problem with the ansibles being down. When Raf gets home, he finds that his family isn’t there anymore, people are watching the house, and trouble is afoot. He has to sort out just where his family is, how to rescue them, and then take care of the problem.
Overall, Command Decision is a lot of the same shit as last time, but it did move the story a bit further. In some ways it had less substance, in others it had more. However, I’m starting to remember why I didn’t care too much for this series the first time I read it. I just kind of..blinked and the story was over and I was left wondering what just happened because I couldn’t remember any specifics without actually looking through the book. And that was mostly because the specifics weren’t really much to get attached to.