|Submitted by Anonymous|
(Mar 27, 2000)
Elizabeth Moon is a fine writer. Her legacy of Gird series is an example of good fantasy. That which takes the legacy of Tolkien and builds on it in a different and refreshing way rather than simply changing names and faces.
This book, the fourth in a series, is much harder to praise in the same way. It is space opera of the modern kind. That is to take the winning formula of C.S. Forresters Hornblower stories, and translate them from 18th Century wet navy to future time space navy.
As such it treads the same path as other authors. David Feintuchs Hope series with Nicholas Seafort in the Hornblower role, and David Webers Honor Harrington series.
Moon tries hard with this novel, to emulate their success.
Esmay Suiza, a young officer from a military though not naval background, is caught up in a space mutiny and emerges with honor intact. We join the novel with Esmay having to go through a court martial and then being reassigned far away from any potential front line.
Of course we know that mere geography is never enough to seperate heros from the time and the place to do heroic deeds. So it is no surprise when the enourmous repair station where she plies her trade, is suddenly called to the aid of a stricken spacecraft as part of a carefully constructed plot against the 'empire'.
Already the seeds of the plot have grown to full bloom in the imagination and it is scarcely worth finishing the book to discover what happens at the end.
It is too Moons credit however that the story carries you along with it, resulting in a satisfying if not revealing conclusion.
On the way, we naturaly find out much more about Esmay Suiza, and what drives her to her deeds. I never really believed however that the story provided a vehicle of self discovery for her. In that the book fails. Characters should be changed by their experiences. Here, Suizas discoveries about her past should have changed her, yet at the end, I felt you could have taken the character from the end of the book and reinserted her at the begining without changing the outcome.
When I read the first book of Feintuchs series, I ordered the next imediately. the same happened with Webers 'On Basilisk Station'.
After finishing this book, I viewed the fact that there were others in the series with some ambivalence.
The difference I think is partly in the exposition of the future technology. Elizabeth Moon is simply not as good at this as the other two authors.
For those wanting to discover Moons work for the first time, I can recommend 'Sheepfarmers Daughter', the first of the Legacy of Gird series.
This book is not in the same class.
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