Elizabeth Moon’s thrilling Vatta’s War series, featuring the no-holds-barred space-faring heroine Kylara Vatta, has secured her reputation as a master of first-rate military science fiction. Now Commander Vatta is back–locked and loaded and ready to win the fight against the marauding forces of ruthless space pirate Gammis Turek.
For Ky, it’s not just about liberating the star systems subjugated by Turek and defending the rest of the galaxy’s freedom. There’s also a score to be settled and payback to be meted out for the obliteration of the Vatta Transport dynasty . . . and the slaughter of Ky’s family. But the enemy have their own escalation efforts under way–including the placement of covert agents among the allies with whom Ky and the surviving Vattas are collaborating in the war effort. And when a spy ring linked to a wealthy businessman is exposed, a cracked pirate code reveals a galaxywide conspiracy fueling the proliferation of Turek’s warship fleet.
Matching the invaders’ swelling firepower will mean marshaling an armada of battle-ready ships for Ky to lead into combat. But a violent skirmish leaves Ky reeling–and presumed dead by her enemies. Now, as Turek readies an all-out attack on the Nexus system–a key conquest that could seal the rest of the galaxy’s doom–Ky must rally to the challenge, draw upon every last reserve of her strategic skills, and reach deep if she is to tear from the ashes of tragedy her most decisive victory.
“I’m not sure I like this place,” Hera said, leaving that topic firmly behind. “It’s so polite, I keep thinking something else is going on.”
“Trade and profit,” Ky said. “I know that much.”
“Where there’s money, there’s trouble,” Hera said. “Spies, thieves, crooks of all kinds…if Turek doesn’t have agents here, I’ll be very surprised.”
The previous book ends with Kylara Vatta finally gaining the trust of the governments of Slotter Key and its allies. She is being given more troops to fight against the pirates. Which is what most of this series has been building its way towards. The pirates are also escalating their threat.
The big problem Ky has, though, is that merchant ships aren’t really expected to get into firefights, and as such much of her force is sitting on a precarious edge between destruction and safety. Her force needs upgrading, including her ship. Which is pricey. I’m sure you can guess what happens as a result of this.
Meanwhile, Rafael is acting as the CEO of ISC, who control the communications ansibles. And the company is not happy with the Vatta family because they are seemingly undermining everything the ISC stands for. Which is mostly that the ISC doesn’t want anyone touching their ansibles, and the Vatta family has repaired quite a few of them between them. And their younger cousin has figured out a way to create his own shipboard ancibles, mostly because ISC never copyrighted their shit in the first place.
Raphael’s story is a mix of personal and professional. Professionally, he is having to deal with the ISC board, who hates the Vatta family, because they are looking for someone to blame, and his dad’s brain damage has fixated on the family and the board is following along. He has to look out for the interests of the company, but he also knows the Vattas aren’t the enemy and has to try and convince the company of this fact. Personally, he’s trying to help his sister get over her many losses. And also pining for Ky. Like seriously, pining for her. It got old pretty quickly, and it never seems to fit him.
Kylara’s cousins, Stella and Toby, don’t have much to do this time around. Stella is just looking after Toby, and Toby’s girlfriend just happens to know the language that the pirates are talking in. You can imagine where that goes.
Ultimately, this was just really predictable and kind of disappointing. It went as expected, and it was a fairly easy victory. And I wasn’t just predicting things because I have read this before – I’d forgotten most of this series between reads. I thought I was just in a mood the first time I read the series, but maybe not.
The silly thing is, I don’t know what else I could have expected from the ending of the series, based on everything we’ve gone through in the series so far. There wasn’t really anything else that could have happened, and yet for some reason I wanted it. I wanted something different than what I got.