This is the first book of the Vatta's War series from Elizabeth Moon. Ms. Moon, who is best known for her Parkinson/Gird books, has given us a series here that is a bit of TraderSF and a bit of MilSF, and really quite good, which is, sadly, let down by the reader. As others have noted, her reading is stilted and slow, and she really doesn't do a good job with distinguishing the voices, though when she _does_ try to, it actually makes the reading worse because of hokey accents.
In this book, Kylara Vatta, young scion of the Vatta trading empire, is thrown out of the space academy and given a "milk run" to take one of the Vatta company's old ships to be scrapped. But along the way, she decides to see if she can make the company motto "Trade and Profit" work for her and the ship. Trouble and danger ensue, of course.
I have been an Audible listener since 1999 and this is my first review. I am enjoying this series very much. I thought the first book started off a little slow, but this one made up for that. I am going to buy the third one in the series as soon as I finish this review. Ky Vatta is a cool character. She has hidden strengths.
I disagree with the previous reviewer about the reader's voice. Pleasant and concise.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at FanLit.
“Of course we didn’t do autopsies. We know exactly what killed them — I killed them!”
Kylara Vatta, daughter of the head of the most prestigious shipping empire in the universe, didn’t want to follow in her family’s footsteps — trading is boring and Ky wants adventure and her own life outside of her family’s control. So she opted for a military career. But with only a few months left in the officer’s academy, she was set-up, betrayed, kicked out, and publicly shamed. When she returns home in disgrace, Vatta Transport is happy to have her back in the fold. Her first assignment is to captain a derelict spaceship straight to the junkyard, but Ky has Vatta blood in her veins and can’t pass up an advantageous business opportunity that arises unexpectedly. When this leads her into various forms of danger, and when scammers and mutineers think they can take advantage of the young and inexperienced captain, Ky finds that her time spent in the military academy wasn’t wasted after all.
Trading in Danger is the first installment of Elizabeth Moon’s VATTA’S WAR military science fiction epic. I don’t think this series will appeal to everybody, but it happened to hit a sweet spot for me. I like Kylara Vatta, an intelligent ethical rules-bound military officer with a soft heart who, due to her new circumstances, is beginning to discover that she has a rebellious streak, not to mention a disconcerting appreciation for quickly solving problems with violence. Ky is a little passive and occasionally bewildered in this installment, but this is her first adventure. I’m assuming that Moon plans to show us some growth in this area as Ky begins to adapt to her new lifestyle. Kylara’s crew and family members are also likeable — especially elderly Aunt Grace who bakes unappetizing but invaluable fruitcakes.
The plot is engaging, unpredictable and mostly quick-moving though some of the dialog gets repetitive as Ky explains what’s going on to multiple characters who show up at different times. I enjoyed the focus on transportation, though this may be a personal thing. My husband runs a small freight logistics company, so there’s a lot of talk about contracts, cargo, carriers and consignees in my little world, and I was fascinated by how this might scale up to apply to an entire universe. Surprisingly, this was one of my favorite aspects of the story but, again, that’s just me. (It would be such an awful pun to say “your mileage may vary” so I won’t.)
Trading in Danger is “soft” science fiction, or “space opera” — it’s a little fluffy, focusing on drama and political intrigue, not physics. There’s talk about FTL drives and ansibles (there’s a nod to Ursula K. LeGuin), but no explanation of how they work. I love physics but have to admit that I get bored by long dry theoretical or technical discussions of astrophysics and quantum mechanics. Trading in Danger is a quick and easy read for when you’re in the mood for some non-challenging science fiction. It ends on an intriguing note — Ky has some difficult choices to make about her relationship to her family business. Should she stay with Vatta or go rogue? Whatever, I’m still on board and ready for the ride.
I’m listening to VATTA’S WAR in audio format. These were produced in 2008 by Tantor Audio and are read by Cynthia Holloway who does a nice job. I like her voice and she inflects the narrative perfectly (though she always mispronounces the word “peripheral”). I recommend the audio version.
I love this author and all her books, so I decided to try one in an audio format. I have found that I "hear" details that I might have missed when I "read" the same book. It is really tough when the narration gets in the way of the story. I am struggling with how to characterize my issue here, but it seems like the narrator would sound the same if she were reading a phone book or an operator's manual. The characters all sound the same, have little or no inflection or personality in their voices. The portions of the story that are not first person also come out flat and dull. It is a real shame because this is a great read.
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If you just finished The Deed of Paksenarrion and bought this thinking it would be something similar just in a Science Fiction setting you are in for a disappointment.
It is too bad really. We already know Elizabeth Moon can write great books and personally I really wanted this series to be another amazing trip into another world. Unfortunately, its not. It's barely average. The narrator is stilted and mind grating, at least after just listening too Jennifer van Dyke or Stefan Rudnicki for tens of hours.
So listen to the sample first and treat the series as if you had never read anything by the author before, and if that really is the case you should pick up the Paksenarrion books instead.
I am very happy that I decided to purchase this first installment in what has turned out to be a rather good series. Serving as an introduction to the world of Ky Vatta, quite literally and in terms of the rules and conventions of Ms. Moon’s universe, the first book embodies the Vatta family mission of “trade and profit,” in the face of political intrigue, sabotage, civil war and piracy.
Through it all, the indomitable Ky overcomes inexperience, uncertainty and an acute shortage of credit to gain the confidence of her crew, what will turn out to be a ubiquitous band of mercenaries, and the father who sent her into space.
Thoroughly drawn, the story and the world in which it comes to life are extremely engaging and entertaining. The characters are fun and mostly likable, if at times forgivably annoying. All in all, it’s a great listen and worth checking out.
Great book, great series! One of those that you want to rush to the end just to get to the next book.
I have enjoyed every book written by Elizabeth Moon. The Kylara Vatta series is one that I have long awaited in audio book format. Unfortunately, Cynthia Holloway sounds like a very young female child and she can't do male voices. This makes the leading mens voices sound ridiculously. Needless to say, it ruins the story completely and I could not finish listing to it. We can only hope that in the future the producers of this series will make a better selection of female reader since the books have many older male characters.
The story was well put together. You want to go further when you come to the end of the book.
"On Basilisk Station", by David Weber. I liked them both for the strong female protagonists, the military theme, and the fast paced well-written stories.
It was well read and appropriately paced.
As usual, the first book in a series typically is the weakest of the bunch, and "Trading in Danger" continues to reinforce that trend.
There really isn't much new or exciting here, not unless you love hearing characters talk endlessly about the minute details of their contracts. Despite the level of detail in the trade talk, however, the characters seem flat, and none of them stand out aside from the central character.
The plot is unambitious and not very interesting to begin with. You'll quickly forget most of the details after the narration ends. There are a lot of stereotypes and tired, repetitious genre tropes that will have you wanting to turn it off.
The narrator is really sub-par on this one. It's not that she has an unpleasant voice, but it just doesn't sound suitable to audiobooks. I feel like I'm listening to a cheaply done anime dub, actually. She doesn't vary her accents well, and those she does attempt feel faked. She has a way of pronouncing her syllables so precisely that it comes off as quite annoying. You'll loathe the (seemingly) hundreds of times she says "Trade and Profit" and "Contract" because of those hard "T"s, and every "she said" when the hard "D" slaps you in the face.
Initially I was looking forward to trying an Elizabeth Moon novel, but I definitely won't be continuing this series.