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Friday, July 24, 2009

Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War books.

Elizabeth Moon has become one of my favorite authors. Evidently others like her work, too. Her The Speed of Dark won the Nebula award for best novel in 2003. I have posted on her five Paksenarrion novels. (See here for perhaps the most important of these posts. See here for a blog by Moon, currently mostly on another book in the Paksenarrion series.)

One interesting aspect of Moon's work is that she doesn't stick to a single genre. The Speed of Dark is straightforward science fiction, set on earth in near future, and extrapolates science only a little from what we know today. The Paksenarrion books are sword and sorcery fantasy, set we know not where, and we know not when. There is magic, but the technology is primitive. In her Vatta's War series, Moon takes us to the far future, when humans have migrated to many planets, and some aspects of science, especially human-computer interfaces and communication, have advanced a great deal. This series comes close to space opera, but probably doesn't quite make that. Go here for more on this series, including plot details.

This post is on the first two of these books. The protagonist is Kylara Vatta, part of a large family that owns an interstellar trading company. She begins Trading in Danger in a military academy. I won't give away any of the plot, except that, which the reader will discover right away. Marque and Reprisal continues the series. (See here for the meaning of the title phrase.)

A few musings:

1) Religion is present in these books. About half a dozen times, praying is mentioned, although there is no specification as to who is prayed to. One of the characters, having suffered the loss of his family, complains that their various religions were not effective in saving them. Thismention, though not emphasis, is not surprising. Moon is an active Episcopalian.

2) Moon pays attention to details. In these books, there is quite a lot about trading, provisioning a spaceship, how a spaceport must work, and cargo storage. (The Paksenarrion series dealt a lot with battle camp hygiene, and other such details.) Moon handles these things well, and they add to the interest. Part of this is because of her own military training, no doubt.

3) I found these books gripping. I had trouble putting them down.

4) As with the Paksenarrion series, Kylara Vatta doesn't seem to fall in love, or have any affairs, during the two books, which is fine, unless someone read them hoping to find romance or erotic love.

5) Although Moon can portray male characters well, she seems to like female ones, and does a good job with them.

Thanks for reading. Read Moon.

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