For the longest I thought Elizabeth Moon‘s Trading in Danger was just SF chicklit with a streak of adventure tacked to it. And perhaps it is, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the read. What made it worth it was the quality of the writing (good) and the believability of the central character (high), whose inner doubts and journey takes this from brainless superhuman space adventure and into the realm of a good relief/pleasure read.
After having read the Serrano books props, characters and plot turns had a distinctly familiar feel, and from time to time I couldn’t help wonder if all (or most) of Moon’s books are structured this way, populated by these kinds of characters. Despite this I, as just mentioned, enjoyed the reading experience, and I’m more than pleased that there are authors out there who can write the stories I/we need when the brain needs some unwrinkling to get going again.
When Winning Colors starts Lady Cecelia is slightly miffed to find Heris as the legal owner of her yacht; this as a end result of her family trying to protect her interests while she was in a coma. Cecelia solves this by chartering the yacht, and off they go to pursue Cecelia’s interest in horses – first at the Wherrin Trials and then when she sets out to buy bloodstock for her breeding farm. During the latter they visit a border system that begs for assistance against raiders, and now Heris’ return to Fleet starts, step by step…
I actually got a bit disappointed when Moon neatly solves the problem with Heris’ romance with Kinvinnard Petris with “OK, we love each other but being in space/Fleet is more important”. Romance is seldom one of the important driving forces for me, by which I mean that romance isn’t an important component when judging if a book is good or not BUT this romance was introduced in Hunting Party as a reason important enough for the characters not to return to Fleet, so this feels kind of weak.
The parallel thread here is about counterfeit rejuvenation drugs, and about the political implications of the rich staying young and on top forever while their progeny and the working class is held (virtually) in stasis and subjugation resprectively.
Despite this it’s an entertaining and sometimes funny adventure – those who want to skip the politics can just ignore it, while we who want that kind of padding gets our share.
And – finally everything comes together, something that is emphasised by THE END being the very last words of the final paragraph – not what I’d imagined when I started reading Hunting Party about ten days ago, but ultimately very rewarding.
In this book the adventures that started off in Hunting Party continues. After having talked with the king about the mental condition of his sole surviving son Lady Cecelia suddenly has a stroke, resulting in alleged brain damage, and coma. The family places Heris on the suspect list, after it turns out Lady Cecelia had added her to her will, giving her the yacht. Alienated she accepts a mission to take the prince to the Guerni Republic for a medical assessment. To do this she has to ‘steal’ Lady Cecelia’s yacht… and also to let others try to handle Cecelia’s situation.
So, what do I think? It’s a good adventure story, and we also get to know a little about the space that surrounds the Familias Regnant. The young folks gets more time on stage, too, and when that happens this story definitely retains that air of Famous Five also present in Hunting Party. Those bits are not my favourite, and personally I would had liked Heris’ character getting some more flesh, so to speak. But it’s a well wrought piece of entertainment and right now that matches my mood and energies quite well.
Sometimes that’s all you wish for :D
What can I say? Some time ago I decided I should try something by Elizabeth Moon. Most of her books are available in omnibuses, but as I had no idea if I’d like her writings or not I only bought the first of the Serrano books, as a try-out.
Heris Serrano is born to a family consisting of Admiral upon Admiral, and when she gets expelled from the Fleet it’s a major hurt for her. To support herself she takes hire as a space-yacht captain to the eccentric Lady Cecelia de Marktos. She expects a dull life to follow but if such had been the case there had been no story to tell. Instead there are smugglers, staged fox hunts and a nasty ‘accident’ or two, and in the end Heris reconciles with the fact that from now on she’s a civilian.
Did I like it? Yes. I read the last of Hunting Party at 01:30 AM yesterday, and today I skipped by the Science Fiction Bookshop (I try to support brick’n’mortar bookshops) to get parts two and three. So I guess that means I liked it ;-)
Do I hope it will get better? Yes. Because part one – Hunting Party – feels more like a setting up of the stage than anything else; promises for things to come, but not altogether delivering as a standalone novel.
As a matter of fact it made me think of Enid Blyton‘s “Famous Five” series. Not very deep or layered; we get to follow a group of characters rather than one or two individuals; straightforward plot without any surprises, yet entertaining and reasonably well written.
Not that I’ve read the Famous Five since I was a kid, but this one was entertaining without demanding anything special of the reader in just the same way I remember from my childhood and a summer spent in the hammock, reading.
I do recommend it to everyone who enjoys light yet well-crafted books in the military/space opera sub-genre of science fiction. There are more complex stories out there (might dare I mention Cherryh?!) but this is nonetheless worth it’s time.