Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon – Review


Kylara Vatta is the only daughter in a family full of sons, a young woman who has chosen a military career instead of joining the family’s shipping business. It’s adventure, not commerce, that stirs her soul. But after a single error in judgement, she is expelled from the Academy in disgrace. The chance to captain a Vatta Transport ship gives her a face-saving shot at redemption. It’s a simple assignment: escort one of the Vatta fleet’s oldest ships on its final voyage to the scrapyard. But keeping it simple has never been Ky’s style. And even though her father has provided a crew of seasoned veterans to babysit the fledgling captain, they can’t stop Ky from turning the routine mission into a risky venture. Business soon takes a backseat to bravery, when Ky’s change of plans sails her and the crew straight into the middle of a colonial war. For all her commercial savvy, it’s her military training and born-soldier’s instincts that Ky will need to call on in the face of deadly combat, dangerous mercenaries, and violent mutiny…

You can read an excerpt here.


Military sci-fi is always hit or miss for me – I do love a good space fight, as does any kid raised on a diet of Star Wars and Star Trek, but for some reason military sci-fi tends to be, well, heavy on tech and science and light on character. The big picture over the person. I tried David Weber’s famous Honor Harrington series, expecting to  love it, but I just felt like there was never enough character to get my teeth into. For me, Hugo award winning (and former Marine) Elizabeth Moon delivers the perfect blend, with all the action and tech you could want, but with a complex emotional side and characters who feel like real people. This is not dense, technical science fiction – though there is plenty of trading and alien world detail. I think people grumbled about this book because it wasn’t the typical tome of military Sci Fi, but that’s exactly why I love it. This is an exciting, readable, story, with a personal feel. This is Ky’s story, not the story of a galactic war. And I love the flavor Moon’s military background gives to the story. She has a deft touch in little niggly details that make the world ring true, like little bits of annoying paperwork and ridiculous politicking. This was my first experience with Elizabeth Moon, a complete off-the-shelf find, and after finishing the Vatta’s War series (there are four more) I am now firmly a life-long fan. If you’ve never particularly been a fan of military sci fi, give this one a try. This lady can write.

Byrt Grade: A+

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Booklist says:

Bound to appeal to fans of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, this SF adventure is filled with fast-paced action and well-conceived characters.

School Library Journal says:

In this human future, commerce is the common ground where a believable variety of peoples, societies, and religions interact, and integrity and intelligence are essential factors in leadership. Entertainingly, Moon creates suspense and reveals character as much through contractual negotiations as through military action. Some readers might not approve of the author’s use of shorthand sci-fi conventions to sidestep scientific issues, but for most others, the human interest, well-wrought story, humor, and rich world-building will more than satisfy. The publisher bills this first in a series as military science fiction. It could equally be described as space opera … la Robert Heinlein, or a family yarn that can please fans of Anne McCaffrey’s “Rowan” saga (Ace).

SFAM says:

Perfectly balanced. Emotional and adventurous. Trading in Danger has one of the most touching and best endings I’ve had read in ages. And the adventure is only just beginning. I’m eager to see where Ky Vatta goes next.