Trading in Danger, by Elizabeth Moon (Vatta’s War #1) (Del Rey, 2004)
Kylara Vatta chose a military career over the family’s interstellar shipping business. When she’s kicked out of the academy for a lapse in judgment, the best way to avoid the media frenzy is to accept her father’s assignment to deliver an old ship to a distant planet for scrap.
The job comes with a Captain’s rank and a seasoned crew. The ship’s not in too bad a shape, but it won’t pass its next inspection without expensive repairs. If Ky can pick up some good trades en route to the scrap yard, she could buy the ship herself, fix it up and go independent.
Following the family mantra of “trade and profit” puts Kylara and crew in the middle of an unforeseen interplanetary war. A civilian captain without Ky’s military training would panic and be killed. Young though she is, Kylara has a chance of bringing her crew out alive.
As well as action and adventure, the novel provides an interesting look at cultures, trading customs, and diplomacy. Characters are nominally religious, although that means choosing a sect to suit one’s philosophy. There’s no acceptance of an actual God (or devil).
Trading in Danger is the first in the Vatta’s War series. I want to see how some of the ongoing plot threads work out, and I enjoy watching Ky in action. She’s a strong female hero and I like her style. [At the time of posting this review, I’m ready to start book 4.]
I’d suggest picking up book 2, Marque and Reprisal, with the first book. I didn’t do that, and then I read the first chapter (included at the end of book 1). Suffice to say it starts with a bang and the chapter end is not a spot you want to stop.
Elizabeth Moon writes both science fiction and fantasy. To learn more about her and her books, visit her website, appropriately named Moonscape. Her novels have won Compton Crook, Nebula and Heinlein Awards and been nominated for a Hugo. I owe a special thanks to James at Fantasy in Motion for introducing me to this author through his interview with Elizabeth Moon.