Select one of the keywords
Command Decision    by Elizabeth Moon order for
Command Decision
by Elizabeth Moon
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Elizabeth Moon writes grand space opera - that is, when she's not writing brilliant military fantasy. Command Decision is the fourth in the rousing Vatta's War series that I've enthusiastically followed through Trading in Danger, Marque and Reprisal, and Engaging the Enemy.

The story switches amongst four main plot threads, though Kylara's is the thickest strand by far. Stella Vatta, along with her genius cousin Toby, works to revitalize the Vatta trading empire, based on Cascadia Station, while also coming to terms with her recent discovery of her adoption, and horror over the identity of her biological father. One-armed Grace Vatta (one of the series' shining stars) moves up in rank in the Slotter Key government, where she takes charge of the Defense Department, ably assisted by military man MacRobert. He comments that, with the news of the assignment of this job to the 'batty old lady, the auntie who makes fruitcakes stuffed with diamonds', 'Our enemies should be very, very afraid.'

Rafael Dunbarger returns to Nexus, where he finds his parents and sister have disappeared and the family mansion is being watched. Disguised as a food service businessman from offplanet, he cautiously tracks down leads and then hires an old schoolmate, who's now in the security business, to rescue the shocked survivors of a corporate coup d'état. Soon Rafe has the family InterStellar Communications business empire on his uneasy hands, dealing with crises at home and at the office. While all this goes on, Kylara Vatta works to turn her trio of ships - and mostly merchant crew, with minimal combat experience - into a disciplined military force. They call themselves the Third Fleet of the Space Defense Force (the first two fleets are mythical) and head to Greater Gretna Station to stock up on munitions.

They spring a trap on Gretna, fight their way out of it, rescue refugees, and are joined by Ransome's Rangers - rich amateur wannabes who contribute much more than expected - before helping Mackensee mercenaries fight off a pirate attack. They succeed, though outnumbered as usual, which is when things get even more desperate. Enemies converge on their location, including good guys who've been led to believe that Ky and her forces are the enemy. Wonder how she'll get out of this one? Then read the book, which is one of the best in the series to date. In addition to Grace's antics, I appreciated Rafe's character development and backstory, and look forward to developments on the new opportunity offered to our heroine as the episode ends. More soon, please!

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more SF books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews