Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon
(Vatta’s War series)
I have a weakness for space fantasy, so when I saw this cover staring out at me, I thought, “Oh no, I am absolutely not–“, but my hand was already reaching.
I started Trading in Danger at 10:23pm yesterday and finished it in one swoop. The last half I power-skimmed, bleary-eyed but enthusiastic. It was five minutes till four in the morning when I reached the back cover. As a result, I have no idea what to rate this book. All I know is this: it kept me turning the pages well past any semblance of a normal sleep schedule. And I love it for that.
Ky has just been kicked out of the military academy. Of course, she still has her family business and support to fall back on: the Vatta trading corporation’s run by her father, and he’ll find her a place in it. The problem? She’s failed again–and she doesn’t want to be seen as the irresponsible, pampered girl she used to be.
When her family gives her a ship and sends her on a trade route to get her away from the media mess she’d caused, it’s two-parts well-meaning banishment, and one-part opportunity. And then things begin get complicated.
Warships and pirates complicated.
It was a fun read I enjoyed wholeheartedly. It had politicking, several players jockeying for power and attention, a whodunnit mystery (never quite resolved) and even a shootout. I appreciated how Ky was forced to work with several handicaps to solve her problems (no money, no weapons, no implant, no communication…ha!) and by three am, I had decided that I saw real growth in Ky’s character as she transition from a young, inexperienced woman to a steely (albeit somewhat traumatized) captain, both in her own mind and in the eyes of her crew.
The minuses? Well, I pretty much skimmed past all the economic/political discussions in the book, drawing just enough out of them to appreciate the thought Moon put into creating her world. There were no romantic subplots either (sorry, guys), but maybe, just maybe, I’ll get lucky with the second book. Which I will be reading. Soon.
Having written this much, I went to look up the book’s length (384 pages, turns out–I thought there were fewer! It reads like a novella) and got distracted by a Publishers Weekly review:
…Everyone, from her ship’s seasoned crew to random strangers, annoyingly remarks on 21-year-old Kylara’s youth and “exceptional” poise.
Ahem. More proof that I really shouldn’t read books at 3 am. I thought it was absolutely adorable how everyone admired our exceptional heroine. (Compare to daytime reading here.) I had decided I liked Ky, and so I liked everyone who liked her too!
If I had to place this book somewhere in the overarching space fantasy tradition, Trading in Danger reminds me of the Bujold’s Miles series (minus the humor) and Firefly–though this latter is due to Ky getting (and protecting) a small, ancient model of a ship.
Trading in Danger is light, easy, and a treat for all us fans of space fantasy and space opera.