Writing about Reading: Marque and Reprisal

July 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

This review contains mild spoilers.

Marque and Reprisal (Vatta’s War), the second book in the Vatta’s War series, begins right where Trading In Danger left off. I think all of an hour has passed for the characters. It quickly takes off when Ky Vatta’s family fortunes take a sharp turn for the much worse, and from there it is a rocket ride.

While the book retains the same problems I had with Trading In Danger, it benefits from fewer instances of those problems. The story gets bogged down in unnecessary detail at times, but not as often as the last book. That makes the pace of this book much faster; there were times I just could not put the book down. The fight scenes are particularly brutal and realistic–especially the one that occurs in zero-g. Moon put a lot of thought into how, exactly, a fight would work in no gravity, and the tactics, concerns, and solutions she came up lend the fight a vivid sense of reality.

The biggest flaws I found in the book revolve mainly around the decisions Ky makes, which seemed a bit dumb and out-of-character at times. Ky’s thirst for blood seemed excessive, as did her ruminations about her thirst for blood. Toward the end, she was either reveling in her kills or worrying about what others thought about her penchant for killing.

Marque and Reprisal also introduces two new crew members who don’t really need to be added. The first of these is Jim, a former farmhand who suddenly knows how to maintain spaceship engines, and who does little else that couldn’t have been done by an existing character. The second is even more superfluous–a dog Jim finds in a space station garbage can. It seems completely out of character to take a dog onto a ship, and raises all kinds of questions. What happens to the dog in zero-g? How does the dog survive when the ship loses atmosphere and all the crew are in spacesuits? And why in the world would Ky agree to take the animal aboard in the first place? The only answer to all of these questions seemed to be, “Because the dog is cute.” That isn’t good enough for me.

Despite my quibbles (which are more minor than they seem), I really enjoyed Marque and Reprisal. I am going to check a different copy, however, because I think my library’s copy is missing the last chapter or two. The ending is so abrupt that I checked the book’s length on Amazon. It says the book is 378 pages for the library binding edition, and my copy ends on page 324. Even with 10 pages of front matter, that comes up 44 pages short. (If anyone owns a copy, can you tell me what the final line says?)

If you liked Trading In Danger, you will enjoy Marque and Reprisal. Even if the first book left you lukewarm, you might enjoy the second more. I have already reserved the rest of the books at my library, so I liked it enough to continue. I can’t rave about it, but I enjoyed it a lot.

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