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    Review of TRADING IN DANGER by Elizabeth Moon (see her website)

    Del Rey/Ballantine, October 2003

    When she's kicked out of the military academy, Kylara (Ky) Vatta is quickly assigned to be Captain of one of her family's aging merchant ships. The journey will keep her out of the public eye, and give the Vatta family a chance to see what Ky can do on her own. Although Ky had been certain she would pursue a career in the military, she quickly turns to the family creed of making money. Unfortunately for Ky, a civil war in the system where she goes to pick up agricultural machinery and problems with her faster-than-light drive lead her to more adventure than most of her academy cohorts will ever see.

    TRADING IN DANGER starts slowly as Ky deals with her rejection at the academy, her first command (almost babysat by extremely senior crewmen and crewwomen) and her grandmother's notorious fruitcake. Once mercenaries attack the system where she is taking on cargo and intersystem communications are lost, the pace picks up as Ky is forced to deal with irrational crewmen, mercenaries who would as soon shoot as ask questions, and passengers who have their own ideas of what to do and aren't ready to take Ky's decisions as final.

    Author Elizabeth Moon (see more reviews of novels by Moon) delivers a satisfying story and an intriguing character in Ky Vatta. There did seem to be a number of loose ends that Moon could have integrated more fully into the story, however. The spaceship model seems just a little too perfect. How could the Master Sergeant have guessed exactly what Ky would need? And how did Ky persuade herself not to crack the obvious code that he left her? I also expected a bit more of a bang from the frequently mentioned fruitcake. This type of 'artifact' is common in first drafts but an author with Moon's skills normally eliminates them before the novel sees the printing press.

    Despite its slow start and some extraneous pieces, TRADING IN DANGER is a generally satisfying read and Ky makes an interesting and multidimensional character.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 12/08/03

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