But the enemy have their own escalation efforts under way - including the placement of covert agents among the allies with whom Ky and the surviving Vattas are collaborating in the war effort. And when a spy ring linked to a wealthy businessman is exposed, a cracked pirate code reveals a galaxy-wide conspiracy fueling the proliferation of Turek's warship fleet. Matching the invaders' swelling firepower will mean marshaling an armada of battle-ready ships for Ky to lead into combat. But a violent skirmish leaves Ky reeling - and presumed dead by her enemies.
Now, as Turek readies an all-out attack on the Nexus system - a key conquest that could seal the rest of the galaxy's doom - Ky must rally to the challenge, draw upon every last reserve of her strategic skills, and reach deep if she is to tear from the ashes of tragedy her most decisive victory.
©2008 Elizabeth Moon; (P)2009 Tantor
"Rip-roaring action and intriguing science and tactics distinguish Nebula-winner Moon's fifth and final Vatta's War installment.... A fine and fitting conclusion to Moon's grand space opera tour de force." (Publishers Weekly)
Elizabeth Moon's satisfactory conclusion to her Vatta's War series is marred by Cynthia Holloway's uninformed narration.
Come on! When you're reading a Sci Fi book, it's important--vital--to understand the words your are paid to pronounce and the context in which you say them. So, when "nanites" becomes "nan-i-tees," for example, well, it's a Sci Fi fan's nightmare.
Chalkboard, fingernails, flinch, flinch, flinch!
Her voice characterizations are quite good--I appreciate her craft. So, then, in this case, perhaps the real blame goes to the director and editor. Again, no excuses acceptable.
We SF fans are a picky bunch--it's the technical details--or at least the approximation of them--that matters. Without that, one might as well read historical fiction or something.
This is the final book in the Vatta's War quintet, and I can honestly say I'm glad that there are no more. The reader is simply awful. Stilted, with no sense of dramatic flow and truly terrible voices for some characters. The final book should have been the most exciting and satisfying as Ky finally gets the fleet she needs and the battles happen. But instead, we get additional characters who add little to the story and yet we STILL have to hear their angst and stupidity play out. This entire series could have been quite good as a trilogy. But it simply hasn't stood the test of time. It's YA space opera, but it's not _good_ YA space opera.
I had the pleasure of listening to the rest of the series in either the Graphic Audio version (very good!) or the narrator from the original tape versions (I don't have her name). This narrator is just.. bad. No sense of the dramatic, bad voices. I think I'd rather be reading it in book form!
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I got hooked on this series and am unhappy it is ending. From the first book to this one we have watch Kylara Vatta grow from a cadet in military school to the Admiral of a coalition space force. The big battle against the pirate force takes place in this book. Moon did a great job with the classic battle scenes and her engaging characters made the story and battles interesting. Kylara destroys the pirate leader Gammis Turek and her cousin Sarah has put the Vatta Transport business back together and Aunt Grace controls their countries defense, all is well with the Vatta family. I want more of the series.
Vatta's War, the series name, started slowly, with a narrator who did not vary voices much and with perhaps some unnecessary detail. This said, sticking through Book 1 got me hooked on the series. And Cynthia Holland grows on you. Her "gravely" voice is perfect for a space wardrama, I think. She got better at differentiating characters from themselves and from prose, too. Moon has a super ability to write about war and diplomacy, and she employs it to the hilt in this series. Moon's battle scenes are classic, superbly done, in my opinion. She creates engaging characters, too..people who stay with you for some time. It helps, of course, that her characters have the hero in them brought out by the action. All of this said, it would have been useful to know more about the origin of the "pirate" force. They did not seem to have a point other than greed and hatred. This said, seldom are things so black and white in real life. Book 5, Victory Conditions, brings the series to a climactic and successful conclusion...but there is room for a sequel a la Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth and Void Series and Moon's own Paksenarrion series. Space is a big place! Why did I rate the book a 5, when I rated the first one a 3? I use a "visceral involvement" indicator to make my judgments when I rate books. Victory Conditions was hard to put down. That's a 5 in my book.
I think the biggest shame here is that when we get to the point where the good guys finally get the fleet they’ve been working for since the beginning, the reader gets so little pay off. The fleet is an amorphous entity that flutters about having little consequence to the events except that the drama plays out on a greater scale in the background of the protagonists’ emotional issues. Planning and tactics are extolled but never in much detail and in a story that fixates on building up to a titanic struggle, this conclusion ultimately lacks depth in a very disappointing way.
Regrettably, this shallowness is not compensated for by a correspondingly better treatment of the characters. Quality has not improved, merely quantity, in a narrative that spreads across a fleet, and three star systems and involves more than half a dozen character perspectives. The heroes, who often simultaneously are to have undergone dramatic changes while remaining fundamentally the same, are likable enough. The resolution of what felt like a tacked on romantic tension was not as appalling as it could have been, but still felt like a vexing element of the plot.
Except for the mispronunciations, I love it. I have a listened to it five times now and every time I listen, I feel that same sense of adventure and triumph.
I've read the Deed of Paksenarrion by Moon a couple times and enjoyed it immensely. I then tracked down The Legacy of Gird series and thought it was hit and miss When I found this series, I was eager to buy it. Having finished it, I'd say her record is one, one and one.Cynthia wasn't the best narrator I've listened to, but she wasn't horrible either. I wouldn't track down other performances just to listen but I also wouldn't give a book a pass just because she narrated it.
The most interesting aspect of the story and the series as a whole was the thought Elizabeth Moon put into the logistics of space travel and the battle scenes. These were by far the best parts of the story. I wish there had been more of them.The least interesting, and actually fairly annoying aspect, was Elizabeth Moon made all the characters actually explain things to each other that had happened in the other's absence. In most stories, you have a narrative... let's say a descent into a cave and an exciting run-in with a bear... and then a character not involved in the scene comes along. The character involved in the exciting part fills the newcomer in and it usually plays out like "Newbie asked 'why are you all out of breath and where'd you get this bearskin?' Hero then proceeded to fill Newbie in on the descent and the rest." Moon doesn't do this. Every character gets a fully detailed explanation of what they've missed and if someone else calls later and asks for an update, they get essentially the same several minutes of story regurgitated. By this, the fifth book, new characters were treated to long reports of everything that had happened so far not only in this installment but also the previous four books! It was as if she was trying to fill pages to reach a contractual obligation for five books. If you left these parts out and some of the other minutiae (I'd swear there was more time spent explaining the inside of some of the shops the main character visits than there was describing multi-ship space battles), this five-part series could have easily been a trilogy.
I liked the series enough to look forward to each installment. The writing was good with a strong lead female hero, although there are enough parallels between the internal struggles and backgrounds of Ky Vatta and Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter that it felt like the same narrative at times. By the end of the series, I got the impression if I broke into Moon's therapist's office and read her file, I wouldn't be much surprised. I'm not sorry I made the purchase to see how things wrapped up, but this final book was a let-down as far as the series goes and the ending was especially awful. If had bought the physical book, I would have thrown it across the room after reading the last few pages. It was such a betrayal of the character.
This book had good surprises and a strong charter development with action, Sabatage and back stabing
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at FanLit.
Victory Conditions is the fifth and final book in Elizabeth Moon’s VATTA’S WAR saga. This has been a solidly entertaining story with appealing characters and an unpredictable plot but it never quite pulls itself past its classification of “space opera.” If space opera is what you’re looking for, VATTA’S WAR delivers and this last installment, Victory Conditions, brings the Vatta story to a satisfying end. If you haven’t read the first four books, go find the first book, Trading in Danger. If you’ve read Trading in Danger, Marque and Reprisal, Engaging the Enemy and Command Decision, there’s no reason to stop now.
The pirate responsible for knocking out the ansibles and targeting the Vatta family has been identified — Kylara Vatta finally knows who her enemy is. Working with her competent crew, beautiful cousin Stella, formidable Aunt Grace, and a couple of unexpected allies, Ky sets out to take down Gammis Turek, freeing the universe from his tyranny and getting revenge for what he did to the Vatta family.
Meanwhile Rafe is still on his home planet, trying to run ISC and helping his family through their ordeal. Rafe’s sister Penny, a grieving widow and mother, turns out to be another of Elizabeth Moon’s competent women. When the pirates target their planet, Rafe and Penny get involved with the government’s response.
We all know that our heroes will be successful, but at what price? Despite the book’s name, there’s lots of loss in Victory Conditions. Our heroes will have to make hard decisions and deal with the consequences and the guilt that follows. All of this is piled atop the trouble and grief that’s been stacking up since the first book. Elizabeth Moon successfully shows us that war is a necessary evil and an ugly business — the thrill of victory is more bitter than sweet.
The “flaws” in Victory Conditions are mostly the same ones I’ve noted in the previous books: a few dodgy plot elements, too many meetings with too much dialogue, and way too many plot rehashings (often in the guise of Ky once again explaining her leadership credentials). I also had trouble believing in Ky and Rafe’s romance. It’s been clear for a while that Moon was setting this up, but she never shows us enough evidence of their feelings for each other. Most disappointing, though, is that Moon’s universe never feels substantial. It seems small (it’s easy to find your friends and enemies even when communication has been shut down) and the cultural differences between planets seem silly rather than significant. I am fairly certain that Moon wants them to seem silly (it’s social satire a la Jack Vance) but it doesn’t quite fit the tone of the story.
On the bright side, Victory Conditions includes exciting space battles, a kidnapping, espionage, political and corporate intrigue, assassination attempts, and even a budding romance for teenager Toby Vatta. Some of these subplots — especially the kidnapping and espionage — are resolved way too quickly and I found myself wishing that Moon had stretched them out for more tension. But it all works out okay if you don’t take it too seriously. As “space opera” it works quite well, in fact. If you’ve enjoyed VATTA’S WAR up to this point, I think you’ll be satisfied with its conclusion.
I listened to VATTA’S WAR in audio format. Tantor Audio produced these a few years ago. The narrator, Cynthia Holloway, has a pleasant voice and excellent pacing. She brings Elizabeth Moon’s characters to life. I recommend this version.
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