Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Vatta Vatta Everywhere And All The Boards Did Shrink [Review: Command Decision]

Kylara is now set on bringing together some kind of space force to combat the pirates. Cousin Stella continues to rebuild the Vatta trade empire from her new shop-front on Moscoe. Aunt Gracie, spymaster and fruitcakerer, takes on the planetary government that sold out Vatta to the pirates. In other news, Rafe Dunbarger, somewhere between Blackadder's friend Flash and Rimmer's alter-ego Ace, takes on the ISC conspiracy in the boardroom. So for the most part this reads less like a space opera and more like an episode of "The Apprentice."

I thought this novel was the weakest of the series so far - in particular, while the conspiracy plot moves forward there's very little character development and this is a shame. Ky's personal journey of discovery, as she comes to terms with the fact that she likes killing people, has been fascinating to follow through the earlier novels, and other, lesser characters have also developed in interesting ways. As I've pointed out before Elizabeth Moon isn't afraid to allow her heroes to learn by their mistakes.

Fans of ship to ship combat will be bored silly until the final third of the novel but will then thank their lucky stars they persevered: the plot builds towards a classic space battle between four fleets, once again Ky and her allies are outnumbered but the scale of the battle has increased by an order, and once again it all comes down to intelligence rather than brute force.

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