Nebula Award–winning author Elizabeth Moon makes a triumphant return to science fiction with a thrilling series featuring Kylara Vatta, the daring hero of her acclaimed Vatta’s War sequence.
After nearly a decade away, Nebula Award–winning author Elizabeth Moon makes a triumphant return to science fiction with this installment in a thrilling new series featuring the daring hero of her acclaimed Vatta’s War sequence.
Summoned to the home planet of her family’s business empire, space-fleet commander Kylara Vatta is told to expect a hero’s welcome. But instead she is thrown into danger unlike any other she has faced and finds herself isolated, unable to communicate with the outside world, commanding a motley group of unfamiliar troops, and struggling day by day to survive in a deadly environment with sabotaged gear. Only her undeniable talent for command can give her ragtag band a fighting chance.
Yet even as Ky leads her team from one crisis to another, her family and friends refuse to give up hope, endeavoring to mount a rescue from halfway around the planet—a task that is complicated as Ky and her supporters find secrets others will kill to protect: a conspiracy infecting both government and military that threatens not only her own group’s survival but her entire home planet.
“How did you know—?”
“I didn’t,” Ky said. “But I knew we had to move. If we had to pile rocks with our bare hands up here to make a shelter, we had to move—there was no more food—”
“I know. I know, but—you must be a very lucky person.”
Cold Welcome was illogical on just about every front. I wondered what could possibly justify starting a new series in a world she finished nine years prior. Turns out not a whole lot.
The whole book was Kylara Vatta getting lost. On a planet. And no one could get to her. For 200 something days. On a planet. When they have spaceships. Because of weather. On a planet. When they fight battles in space. With no communications. On a planet. When they can send a message across interplanetary distances. On a planet. With weather, during winter, in a polar region. Which no one there has any training for.
None of this made a lick of sense. I cannot fathom why weather would stop people from rescuing someone on a planet, weather or no weather, when they have spaceship technology. The amount of setup Elizabeth Moon had to make to justify this entire plot was unreal. And it just didn’t work, because I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to make myself believe it would work.
And the thing is, Cold Welcome could have taken this series in an entirely different direction than Vatta’s War went, and made it work. In fact, Elizabeth Moon started to do that. Yet this interesting possible new direction only showed up about 75-80% of the way through the book. Which meant most of this book was seriously setup for this ridiculous scenario, survival in adverse conditions, and a lot of hand wringing from the sidelines.
Cold Welcome just tried to repeat the formula that worked in Vatta’s War. Sabotage, enemies that are close to you working against your interest, shadow groups no one knows about working against the interests of Vatta and Slotter Key. Lots of side characters that show up to do not a whole lot except provide a different perspective. Grace Vatta being a badass (okay I liked that part). Everything that can go wrong does go wrong but everyone important comes out the other side mostly intact.
And honestly I could have forgiven everything I’ve said until now. Sure, Cold Welcome was boring and not a lot happen and didn’t make sense. The ending is what I can’t forgive. Elizabeth Moon gave so many hints about what the series could be like in the next book it might as well have been a sledgehammer. But it’s like at the last moment she changed her mind and instead of going the interesting route, she chose the boring route. Where we’re back to Ky Vatta worried about finances, worried about who is out to get her, and worried about where we are going in the future.