When I opened the first page of Elizabeth Moon‘s Rules of Engagement I expected a fast and light read, which just what I needed, all things considered. Of course, there has to be some element of drama or danger, or there would not be a book worth picking up, but at least I thought it would not pose an intellectual challenge – what I’ve read so far from Moon is well written but uncomplicated, as in no real complex political or historical context. Even when tackling difficult topics she does so in a straight forward way that lends at least the first four of the Serrano books a decidedly YA feel.
This fifth book ventured into darker territory, though, lending her characters and universe to the writing of a pamphlet against religious fanaticism. This in itself does not imply a darker setting but she takes it upon her self to describe in detail the consequences of the beliefs of this particular sect, not backing down from either the outright gruesome or the more systematic injustices.
The tool for this is to let rich brat girl Brun, once Bubbles, get kidnapped by a sect that firmly believes that women are the tools of men and not to have a voice of their own. The sect has not made it’s mark in Familias Regnant space which means it is a large universe to search through before she’s found, time during which she is subject to the culture of that sect, a culture that thinks a man forcing himself on a woman is in his right, were women aren’t allowed the skills of reading or writing, or to walk the streets or to look at a man’s face.
The ending is pure cliché, with some characters we know from earlier books who haven’t really made an appearance here jump in and make the day, rescuing Brun, without much explanation (or show). Despite this I enjoyed reading the book; in the end it was a smidgen darker than expected but all in all light and entertaining.
Not essential reading, but then not everything need be :D