Saturday, January 10, 2009

Review: Victory Conditions by Elizabeth Moon

Victory Conditions
Elizabeth Moon
Release 2008
HC $26 PB $7.99

Other books in the series Command Decision, Engaging the Enemy, Marque and Reprisal, Trading in Danger

The first thing that surprised me about this book is just that it's the fifth book. What does it mean when a serial novel like the Vatta Wars seems much shorter? Is it really that good? Now there is the 10 thousand dollar question isn't it......

In the fifth installment, Ky Vatta has wrangled herself into the leadership of the Space Defense Force with herself as Admiral Vatta. Problem being the SDF is total bluff and sham consisting of her rag tag collection of converted merchant ships. Her cousin Stella has been given the daunting task of rebuilding what is left of Vatta enterprises and Aunt Grace is consolidating her power base back on Slotter Keys. Toby has proved himself an electronic genius by devising an ansible that will change the course of history. Rafe has disappeared back to his home to find his family and start restoring ICS to its previous heights. Ky slowly builds up her fleet but it is clear that her opponent ruthless space pirate Gammis Turek vastly out weights her in manpower and ships. He has made it clear that his intentions are nothing less than total subjugation of Human space and obliteration of Ky and her family.

As impossible as it seems, Moon manages to tie up these loose ends and an equal amount of new ones that crop up in Victory Conditions. By the end she has a very tidy if somewhat Gordian knot with just enough mystery to build another series upon. But the Vatta Wars are ended with book five and I suspect that there are enough (small but interesting) openings in this volume to expand on the milieu if not the series.

Victory Conditions is a well paced book. Many of the male characters are two dimensional, however to be honest they are not major players either. Moon's canvas may be broad and her cast of character large, however her main characters are always in focus even if their motivations are a bit simplistic. I really put down the fourth volume and picked up the fifth without pause. I enjoyed the story line that much. Yes its a bit of a space opera but that's not a bad thing when balanced with a small personalized cast. Victory Conditions is a recommended read for those of you that have read the series. It doesn't stand well on it's own but then it wasn't supposed to. I suggest that if this book intrigues you then get or read the previous volumes first, you won't be disappointed.

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