Writing about Reading: Trading in Danger

June 25, 2012 § 2 Comments

Many years ago, as I bemoaned the loss of Firefly for the millionth time, a friend (I can’t remember who) recommended that I read Trading in Danger, the first in Elizabeth Moon’s “Vatta’s War” series. I added it to my ever-growing list of books to read, and then forgot about it. Recently, I had a hankering for a hunk o’ space opera, and Moon’s book came to mind, so I picked it up.

I’m so glad I did.

The comparisons to Firefly are quickly evident. The story begins with Kylara “Ky” Vatta at the Space Academy, where she is in trouble with the commandant. An innocent mistake costs her dearly, and she is flunked out and sent home in shame to her family, who owns and operates the respected Vatta shipping company. She is given an old tub destined for the scrap heap and told to fly it, its crew, and a load of cargo to a scrap yard. She soon makes plans of her own that involve keeping the ship, and from there the story takes off.

So…ex-military captain now flying cargo in a rickety old mid-bulk transport. But that’s pretty much where the comparison to Firefly ends, and where Ky’s trouble begins. Because (to make another nod to Firefly) it never goes smooth.

Ky’s tale is a sci-fi adventure in the most traditional sense. But it’s a good tale and a good adventure. Moon’s narrative tends to bog down in details at times, but you slog through them because the story is compelling enough (and the bogs shallow enough) that you want to keep going.

Moon also does a decent job of seeding the plot early on, so that when aid comes later in Ky’s darkest hour, it doesn’t strain your suspension of disbelief. The writing is a bit rough at times; the dialogue could use a polish, and Ky needs to find something better to do to pass the time than sleep and take showers. The good outweighs the bad by far, however, making Trading in Danger a fun romp. I plan to read the next book in the series, Marque and Reprisal, as soon as possible.

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