Read: Into the Fire by Elizabeth Moon, 2018,9781101887349.
You know how you've been reading a series for a while and then there is a big gap between novels? And the series is Science Fiction so every damn novels builds on and refers back to events in previous novels? And how you start reading the latest novel and think, "What the hell is she talking about? I don't remember that"? Well, rejoice. Because this is not a sign that you may be getting dementia. No. This is an instance of, "Fuck, I did miss a book in the series. She had one published in '17."
Oh, well, all that does not matter to anyone completely unfamiliar with the Vatta's War series because you're better off starting the series from the beginning. Vatta's features heroine Ky Vatta; beginning from her resignation at her home planet a military academy to running a tramp delivery space ship to organizing and commanding a space fleet created to defeat a pirate fleet. I had a love/hate relationship with the previous books in the series. I ended up enjoying this one more than those books and I wonder if that is because I read this instead of heard the audiobook.
Vatta is back on her home planet after a shuttle crash landed in a remote continent of the planet. That crash landing and survival - from the last book - exposed how that remote continent has been secretly mined and owned by another business family.
Keep in mind that the entire series of novels is built on very clannish organizations. Vatta Transport is a family business with a range of cousins and in-laws that run the business. Those people are often vetted by their family relationships and their family history. "His great-grandfather served in the opposition 80 years ago? We better take a real close look at him."
Now that opposing business family's leader is planning to overthrow the government and punish the Vattas based on a decades old feud. He's been setting up things for years within allies in the government and the military. He poisons Ky's great-aunt who is the Rector of Defense and has legally finagled Ky to lose her citizenship and be under threat of either prison or deportation from the planet.
Moon does not focus on fights, battles, and techno-Gee-Whiz Space Guns. Moon focuses on espionage, management and command-level decisions. How will Vatta pull together disparate groups? Or pull together a group of cadets? Or determine who is loyal and who is a mole or sleeper for the rebellious group? Or find out who they hidden opposition is when she is unable to leave her secured home? How will Ky do all this with a handful of people for direct action?
I enjoyed the novel. The were some blank spots when Moon references previous novels but I just glossed over that and expected those answers to come later on.
1. I suppose Moon has created a more realistic human "universe". Here in the U.S. we do not rely on large and extended families of 100s or 1,000s of people. So many parts of the rest of earth are clannish and family based and she has taken that reality and used it to build her novels worlds.
2. Moon establishes some complex relationships among the family members - like among siblings and cousins who grew up together - who have lifetime long arguments and behaviors that get in the way of agreement and progress.
3. Paranoia is a standard and needed tactic to forestall the plotting of others.