Friday, April 2, 2010

Engaging the Enemy, by Elizabeth Moon

Open war has seized the galaxy as an organized syndicate of pirates attacks and overwhelms a planetary system--proving that the Vatta family aren't the only targets in these aggressors' crosshairs.

Kylara Vatta and the two crews of the two Vatta ships she's managed to recapture must find allies in order to preserve their safety in this perilous time. With heavy resistance from potential ally and foe alike, will Kylara and her comrades be able to stop the threat in time?

Elizabeth Moon's third installment in the Vatta War series takes the series on the offensive, whereas up to this point the Vattas have been on the defensive, struggling to remain alive.

Additional crew members are added to the story, some gunners for the new Vatta warship, an executive officer to help Stella Vatta command the Gary Tobai, and a few others. Also, as Ky seeks out allies in forming a privateer coalition, we see some interesting characters thrown into the mix.

The pacing starts out a little slow, with Moon's typical day-to-day narrative: the Vattas getting supplies and new crew, disputing with local authorities about her newly acquired ship (see Marque and Reprisal, book 2, for details, since I don't want to spoil anything), etc. But these details have been one of the enjoyable aspects of Moon's writing. It's not always from one conflict to the next--there's actual life going on in her stories.

Around midpoint on, the momentum escalates toward a very satisfying, very harrowing ending--setting the stage for the rest of the series.

Aunt Grace has an important subplot in the novel, as she helps the few Vatta survivors back on Slotter Key. Assassins have been sent to finish the job they started, and she must draw on all her black ops training to keep her sister-in-law and niece and nephew safe from the destroyer. Also, she makes arrangements to take the trouble to those who had sold the Vattas to their enemies.

The story is an impressive addition to the series, and I'm looking forward to jumping into the next book, Command Decision.

Engaging the Enemy, by Elizabeth Moon. Del-Rey. 2006. 416 pp. $7.99 (PB).

Vatta War Series:

1. Trading in Danger
2. Marque and Reprisal
3. Engaging the Enemy
4. Command Decision
5. Victory Conditions

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