Tuesday, 25 October 2011

High Vatta Mark [Review: Victory Conditions]

I felt the final novel in the Vatta's War series regained much of the momentum missing from the previous one, and it built to a satisfying climax on both strategic and personal levels. This is partly because we see much more of Ky and much less of Stella and Rafe. Kylara finally finds herself in command of a large and deadly, if improvised, fleet, and in the face-off against Turek it's her strategic flair that is most tested, leading to one of the most interesting battles in the whole series. Once the battle ends we find ourselves in a slightly overlong coda where other plot strands are tied up including the sexual tension: this is a bit syrupy, but there is at least a sense that Ky has grown as a person as well as a commander.

An interesting idea running through the novels is Ky's discovery that she enjoys killing, and her struggle to understand this trait. While Ky feels she is a misfit, in fact the trait is more common than she thinks - it's certainly present in other members of the Vatta family such as Osman and Grace - one went on to become a psychopath while the other became a formidable spy but remained highly moral. Perhaps many people have this trait but most suppress or deny it. Enjoying killing isn't necessarily the same as having a desire to kill, nor does it necessarily mean you are amoral, which may be the factor that separates Osman from Grace and Ky. However there is something important in how you respond to those feelings, and it seems this is about maturity and self control.

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