Trading in Danger (Vatta's War Series #1) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Kylara Vatta is the only daughter in a family full of sons, and her father’s only child to buck tradition by choosing a military career instead of joining the family business. For Ky, it’s no contest: Even running the prestigious Vatta Transport Ltd. shipping concern can’t hold a candle to shipping out as an officer aboard an interstellar cruiser. It’s adventure, not commerce, that stirs her soul. And despite her family’s misgivings, there can be no doubt that a Vatta in the service will prove a valuable asset. ...
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Trading in Danger (Vatta's War Series #1)

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Overview

Kylara Vatta is the only daughter in a family full of sons, and her father’s only child to buck tradition by choosing a military career instead of joining the family business. For Ky, it’s no contest: Even running the prestigious Vatta Transport Ltd. shipping concern can’t hold a candle to shipping out as an officer aboard an interstellar cruiser. It’s adventure, not commerce, that stirs her soul. And despite her family’s misgivings, there can be no doubt that a Vatta in the service will prove a valuable asset. But with a single error in judgment, it all comes crumbling down.

Expelled from the Academy in disgrace–and returning home to her humiliated family, a storm of high-profile media coverage, and the gaping void of her own future–Ky is ready to face the inevitable onslaught of anger, disappointment, even pity. But soon after opportunity’s door slams shut, Ky finds herself with a ticket to ride– and a shot at redemption–as captain of a Vatta Transport ship.

It’s a simple assignment: escorting one of the Vatta fleet’s oldest ships on its final voyage . . . to the scrapyard. But keeping it simple has never been Ky’s style. And even though her father has provided a crew of seasoned veterans to baby-sit the fledgling captain on her maiden milk run, they can’t stop Ky from turning the routine mission into a risky venture–in the name of turning a profit for Vatta Transport, of course.

By snapping up a lucrative delivery contract defaulted on by a rival company, and using part of the proceeds to upgrade her condemned vehicle, Ky aims to prove she’s got more going for her than just her family’s famous name. But business will soon have to take a backseat to bravery, when Ky’s change of plans sails her and the crew straight into the middle of a colonial war. For all her commercial savvy, it’s her military training and born-soldier’s instincts that Ky will need to call on in the face of deadly combat, dangerous mercenaries, and violent mutiny. . . .


From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Trading in Danger is the first book in a new military science fiction series by Elizabeth Moon. Fans of Moon's popular Serrano Legacy novels (Once a Hero, Rules of Engagement, Change of Command, etc.) will see obvious similarities between those books and her newest saga. Similar to Esmay Suiza, the unassuming young Fleet lieutenant from several Serrano Legacy novels, the protagonist in Trading in Danger is Kylara Vatta, the youngest child in a wealthy trading family who is forced to resign in disgrace from a prestigious military academy and must somehow find her way in the world.

To keep her out of the public eye until the media frenzy dies down, Ky's father offers to let her captain an old rust bucket of a spaceship on its final voyage to a distant scrapyard. But when her faster-than-light drive breaks down, and her ship is stranded on a space station in the middle of a suddenly violent colonial war, she is forced to grow up in a hurry.

While Trading in Danger is being promoted as military science fiction, the military elements in this particular novel are quite subtle. It's more a coming-of-age story about how, with courage and intelligence, a relatively naïve young woman not only survives but thrives in the face of incredible danger. With Moon's trademark strong characterization and fast-paced action, this book is a page-turner of the highest order. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
Noted for her strong heroines and interstellar naval adventures, Moon (Against the Odds) stumbles in the first of a new series featuring Kylara Vatta, whose "generous impulses" often get her into trouble. Ky, a favored daughter of a wealthy, interstellar shipping family, gets thrown ignominiously out of the Space Academy because she aided a fellow cadet who used her gullibility to dishonor the service. In consolation, her father gives her an antiquated cargo ship, the Glennys Jones, to command. He assumes she'll find a way to make enough profit to keep from having to junk the old tub. But after Ky figures out an angle on buying and selling some tractors, she inadvertently ends up running afoul of an interplanetary civil war. Following another generous impulse, Ky takes some stranded crewmen aboard. They return the favor by nearly getting her killed when mercenaries board her ship. Everyone, from her ship's seasoned crew to random strangers, annoyingly remarks on 21-year-old Kylara's youth and "exceptional" poise. With unusually slow pacing for a space adventure (lacking either the drama or the romance of opera), Moon presents several tableaux that are summarily dropped-such as polo that never gets played, a ship's model with secret instructions that Kylara refuses to decipher and an absentee boyfriend-any of which might have added some spice to this bland adventure. (Oct. 1) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Forced to resign from the Space Academy because of her involvement in an incident that endangered the school's reputation, Kylara Vatta returns home to her family in disgrace. Accepting a minor post in her father's interstellar transport business, she captains an obsolete ship bound for the junkyard on its last voyage, only to find herself caught up in a war between two space colonies that threatens her ship and crew. Moon (Change of Command) launches a new military sf series featuring a resilient heroine whose courage is equaled only by her personal integrity. Bound to appeal to fans of David Weber's "Honor Harrington" series, this sf adventure is filled with fast-paced action and well-conceived characters. A good addition to most libraries. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Ky Vatta has been groomed for a career in her family's interstellar shipping empire, but yearns for the life of a military officer. Sadly, in her senior year at the Space Academy, she is accused of an indiscretion and forced to resign. When she returns home in disgrace, her father hands her what she feels to be a demeaning assignment, though it does make her a captain: to take an obsolete ship to the scrap yard. But before long, the family talent for commerce emerges, and Ky negotiates an independent contract to supply a struggling colony with agricultural equipment from a nearby planet, hoping to realize sufficient profit to buy and refit her ship. The young woman finds herself in the midst of an interplanetary crisis and must prove her mettle. In this human future, commerce is the common ground where a believable variety of peoples, societies, and religions interact, and integrity and intelligence are essential factors in leadership. Entertainingly, Moon creates suspense and reveals character as much through contractual negotiations as through military action. Some readers might not approve of the author's use of shorthand sci-fi conventions to sidestep scientific issues, but for most others, the human interest, well-wrought story, humor, and rich world-building will more than satisfy. The publisher bills this first in a series as military science fiction. It could equally be described as space opera la Robert Heinlein, or a family yarn that can please fans of Anne McCaffrey's "Rowan" saga (Ace).-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From the versatile author of military-SF yarns and, most recently, The Speed of Dark (Jan. 2003), the kickoff to a new spacefaring/coming-of-age saga. Drummed out of planet Slotter Key's space academy for helping a colleague who then betrayed her, Kylara Vatta returns home to face her father. Rather surprisingly, Gerard, CFO of the huge and powerful spacegoing Vatta Transport, gives Ky the captaincy of a ship. There are, of course, drawbacks: the ship is creaky and superannuated, destined to be sold for scrap. Ky, however, will have the assistance of the doughty, tough, and experienced Quincy Robin as crew chief and Gary Tobin as loadmaster. She's reluctant to scrap a serviceable vessel-but how to obtain the huge sums necessary to pay for upgrades and repairs? Planet Belinta needs agricultural machinery and will pay well to get it; and said machinery is available in the Sabine system. During the voyage, though, the ship's star drive goes down, and the crew arrives on the brink of a war between Sabine Prime and Secundus. Someone destroys the system's ansibles (instantaneous communicators), so Kylara can't contact her father for funds or advice. Unable to make repairs, she casts off from the orbital station-it might be attacked next-and moves away on in-system drive. Soon, however, mercenaries hired by Secundus intercept and board the ship. Ky has no choice but to play along in a situation where the slightest mistake could get her crew killed or her ship destroyed. A passable setup, with absorbing, fairly low-key complications and agreeable character development: an auspicious series opener.
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR ELIZABETH MOON

HERIS SERRANO

“Dazzling . . . The characters spring to life on the page. . . . The action never flags. . . . Riveting.”
Booklist

“Excellent world building and appealing characters.”
–Science Fiction Age

AGAINST THE ODDS

“Readers will delight in the twisting, thorny adventure in the compelling continuation to this popular series.”
–Publishers Weekly

“A fun fast-paced mix of space and soap opera.”
Locus

CHANGE OF COMMAND

“Fans will relish the clever intrigue, the outstanding characterization and a perfectly applied dash of humor.”
–Romantic Times

“Political intrigue, mutiny in space, and ideological battles of war and weapons lend variety to this fast-moving space opera set in the distant future.”
Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345469878
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/30/2003
  • Series: Vatta's War Series , #1
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 48,596
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Moon is the author of many novels including The Speed of Dark, Against the Odds, Change of Command, and Remnant Population, which was a Hugo Award finalist. After earning a degree in history from Rice University, she spent three years in the Marine Corps, then earned a degree in biology from the University of Texas, Austin. She lives in Florence, Texas.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One


Kylara Vatta came to attention in front of the Commandant’s desk. One sheet of flatcopy lay in front of him, the print too small for her to read upside down. She had a bad feeling about this. On previous trips to the Commandant’s office, she had been summoned by an icon popping up on her deskcomp. Those had all been benign visits, the result of exams passed in the top 5 percent, or prizes won, and the Commandant had greeted her with the most thawed of his several frosty expressions.

Today it had been “Cadet Vatta to the Commandant’s office, on the double,” blaring out over the speaker right in the middle of her first class period, Veshpasir’s lecture on the history of the first century pd. Veshpasir, no friend to shipping dynasties, had given her a nasty smirk before saying, “Dismissed, Cadet Vatta.”

She had no idea what this was about. Or rather, she hoped she didn’t. Surely she had been careful enough . . .

“Cadet Vatta,” the Commandant said. No thawing at all, and his left eyelid drooped ominously.

“Sir,” she said.

“I won’t even ask what you thought you were doing,” he said. “I don’t want to know. I don’t care.”

“Sir?” She hated the squeak in her voice.

“Don’t play the innocent with me, Cadet.” Rumor had it that if his left eyelid actually closed, cadets died. She wasn’t sure she believed that, but she hoped she wasn’t about to find out. “You are a disgrace to the Service.”

Ky almost shook her head in confusion. What could he be talking about?

“Going outside the chain of command like this”—he thumped the sheet of paper—“embarrassing the Service.”

“Sir—” She gulped, caught between the etiquette that required silence until she was given leave to speak, and a desperate need to find out what had the Commandant’s eyelid hovering ever nearer to its mate.

“You have something to say, Cadet?” the Commandant asked. His voice, like his face, might have been carved out of a glacier. “Do go ahead . . .” It was not a generous offer.

“Sir, with the greatest respect, this cadet does not know to what the Commandant is referring . . .”

His lips disappeared altogether. “Oh, you can play the innocent all you want, Cadet, and maintain that formal folderol, but you don’t fool me.” He paused. Ky searched her memory, and came up empty. “Well, since you insist, let’s try this: do you recall the name Mandy Rocher?”

“Yes, sir,” Ky said promptly. “Second year, third squad.”

“And you can think of no reason why I might connect that name and yours?”

“Sir, I helped Cadet Rocher locate a Miznarii chaplain last weekend, when Chaplain Oser was away . . .” A dim glimmer of what might be the problem came to her but she couldn’t believe there would be that much fuss about a simple little . . .

“And just how did you locate a Miznarii chaplain, Cadet?”

“I . . . er . . . called my mother, sir.”

“You called your mother.” He made it sound obscene, as if only the lowest criminal would call a mother. “And told your mother to do what, Cadet?”

“I asked her if her friend Jucha could refer me to a Miznarii chaplain near the Academy.”

“For what reason?”

“I told her that one of the underclassmen was overdue for confession and the Academy chaplain was out of town.”

“You didn’t tell her what he wanted to confess?”

Ky felt her own eyebrows going up. “Sir, I don’t know what he had to confess. I only know that he was in distress, and needed a chaplain, and I thought . . . I thought it would save trouble if I just got him one.”

“You’re not Miznarii yourself . . . ?”

“No, sir. We’re Modulans.” Actually, they were Saphiric Cyclans, but that was such a small sect that nobody recognized it, and Modulans were respectable and undemanding. You could be a Modulan without doing anything much at all, a source of some humor to more energetic sects. Ky found Modulan chapel restful and had gone often enough to acquire a reputation for moderate piety—the level most approved by Modulans.

“Hmmph.” The Commandant’s eyelid twitched upward a millimeter; Ky hoped this was a good sign. “You had no idea that what he wanted to confess concerned the honor of the Service?”

Her jaw dropped; she forced it back up. “No, sir!”

“That he made a formal complaint to this Miznarii, in addition to his confession, which the chaplain took immediately to the Bureau of War, where it fell into the hands of a particularly noxious bureaucrat whose sister just happens to be on the staff of Wide Exposure, so that I found myself on the horn very early this morning with Grand-Admiral Tasliki, who is not amused at all . . . ?” It was not really a question; it was rant and explanation and condemnation all in one. “The bureaucrat spoke on Wide Exposure’s ‘Night Affairs’ program at 0115—clever timing, that—and this morning all the media channels had something on it. That’s only the beginning.”

Ky felt hot, then cold, then hot again. “S-sir . . .” she managed.

“So even if you did not know, Cadet Vatta, what Cadet Rocher wanted to confess, you may be able to grasp that by going outside the chain of command you have created a very very large public rela- tions problem, embarrassing the entire general staff, the Bureau of War, and—last but not least—me personally.”

“Yes, sir.” She could understand that. She could not, she thought, have anticipated it, and now she was consumed by curiosity: what, exactly, had Mandy Rocher said? They weren’t allowed access to things like Wide Exposure except on weekends.

“You are an embarrassment, Cadet Vatta,” the Commandant said. “Many, many people want your hide tacked on the wall and your head on a pike. The only reason I don’t—” His eyelid was up another millimeter. “The only reason I don’t, is that I have observed your progress through the Academy and you have so far been, within the limits of your ability, an exemplary cadet. When I thought you’d done it on purpose I was going to throw you to the wolves. Now—since I suspect that you simply fell for a sob story and your entire barracks knows you have a soft spot for underdogs and lost lambs—I’m simply going to take the hide off your back in strips and see your resignation on my desk by 1500 hours this afternoon.”

“S-sir?” Resignation . . . did that mean what it sounded like? Was he kicking her out? Just because she’d tried to help Mandy?

Now the eyelid came all the way back up. “Cadet Vatta, you have—unwittingly, perhaps—created a major mess with implications that could damage the Service for years. Your ass is grass, one way or the other. You could be charged, for instance, with that string of articles beginning with 312.5—I see by your expression that you have, belatedly, remembered them . . .”

She did indeed. Article 312.5 of the Military Legal Code: failure to inform superior officer in a timely manner of potentially harmful personnel situations. Article 312.6: failure to inform superior officer in a timely manner of breaches of security involving sensitive personnel. Article 312.7: failure to inform superior officer in a timely manner of . . . rats, rats, and flying rats. She was majorly doomed.

“I . . . wasn’t thinking, sir.” That was not an attempt at apology, merely a statement of fact.

“Fairly obvious. What did you think might happen?”

“I thought . . . Mandy—Cadet Rocher—was so upset that day—I thought if he could see a chaplain and confess or whatever, he’d settle down until the regular chaplain got back. He had those exams coming up, and they were group-graded; if he didn’t do well, his squad would suffer for it . . .”

“What you don’t know, Cadet, is that Rocher had been avoiding the regular chaplain’s cycle; his so-called emergency was of his own making. He wanted to talk to someone outside the Academy, and you made that possible.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you didn’t tell anyone at all about this, did you?”

“No, sir.”

“Easier to get forgiveness than permission, is that what you were thinking?”

“No, sir . . . not really.” One of the places where Modulans and Saphiric Cyclans disagreed was about the giving of aid. Modulans felt that moderate assistance should be moderately public—one did not make a huge display of charity, but one allowed others to know charity was going on, to set a good example. Saphiric Cyclans, on the other hand, believed that all help should be given as anonymously as possible. Now was probably not the time to talk about that difference.

“I am so reassured.” The Commandant’s eyelid quivered. “Cadet Vatta, it is unfortunate that you have to suffer for a generous impulse, but we need naval officers with brains as well as kind hearts. You will not return to class. You will, as I said, present a letter of resignation which does not mention any of this, and cites personal reasons as the cause, by 1500 hours. Sooner, Cadet, is better than later, but first you will go to Signals, and make contact with your family, so that you will be able to leave quietly and quickly when that resignation is approved.” The look he gave her now was warmer by a few degrees, but still not cordial. “Staff will pack up your things; they will be at the gate when you depart.”

“I . . . yes, sir.”

“And yes, you infer correctly that you are not to speak to any of your former associates. Your departure will be explained as seems most expedient for the Service.”

“Sir.” Not speak to anyone. Not to Mira or Lisette . . . not to Hal. Only another few months, and we can—but not now, not ever. Please, please, let no one figure out . . .

“You are dismissed.”

“Sir.” Ky saluted, rotated correctly on her right heel, and left his office, her mind a blur. Signals. She knew where Signals was. She passed without really seeing an enlisted man in the passage, and another at the head of the stairs down to the classroom level. Halfway to Signals, her mind clicked on long enough to panic . . . She had to call her family, tell her father and, oh heavens, her mother that she was disgraced, dismissed . . . Her brothers would all . . . her cousins . . . Uncle Tomas . . . Aunt Grace, worse than Uncle Tomas, who would say again all she had said when Ky first went to the Academy, laced with I told you so . . .

She felt the tremor in her hands, and fought to still it. Now, for this short period of time, she was still a cadet, and now, for this short period of time, she would act like one. Even as the dream went down in smoke and ashes, even then . . . her stomach looped wildly once and settled.

At the door of Signals, a uniformed guard stared past her.

“Cadet Vatta, on order of the Commandant,” she said.

He stepped aside, and she heard him murmur into his comunit “Cadet Vatta at Signals, sir.”

Commander Terry had the watch in Signals; his expression suggested that her family were loathsome toads, and she was toad spawn. “Vatta,” he said, minus the honorific.

“Sir.”

“Which contact number?” As if having more than one number were also a crime.

“Vatta Enterprises,” Ky said. “They have a relay—” Wherever her father was, they could reach him, or give her a link to the senior Vatta onplanet.

“We would prefer that you make a direct call.”

She knew her father’s mobile number, of course, but he’d often said he hated the damned thing, and would leave it on the bedside table as often as not. That meant her mother might pick it up, the last per- son she wanted to talk to. Vatta Enterprises would ring his skullphone, which he couldn’t take off. She didn’t have that number; no one did but the communications computer at VE.

She rattled off the string for the mobile, and mentally visualized the arc of blue, best fortune, of the Saphiran Cyclan wheel, as Commander Terry nodded to the rating who entered the string.

“Name?” Terry asked abruptly. Ky startled. “The name of the person you are calling,” he said.

“Sir, my father, sir. Gerard Avondettin Vatta. But if my mother—”

“You are permitted one call, to one recipient, Cadet Vatta.” Commander Terry picked up the headset and held the receiver to his ear. Ky waited, the blue arc fading in her mental eye. Then his hand twitched. “This is Commander Terry at the Naval Academy; I need to speak to Gerard Avondettin Vatta.” A pause, then: “Kylara Vatta will speak with you.” He held the headset out to Ky.

She was not even allowed to speak from a privacy booth. She had known the call would be recorded, but at least a semblance of normal courtesy would have helped. She could feel tears swelling now, stuffing her nose. She fought for calmness as she took the headset and put it on. Enough of this; she turned her back on Commander Terry without permission.

“Dad, listen—”

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter


Chapter One


Kylara Vatta came to attention in front of the Commandant's desk. One sheet of flatcopy lay in front of him, the print too small for her to read upside down. She had a bad feeling about this. On previous trips to the Commandant's office, she had been summoned by an icon popping up on her deskcomp. Those had all been benign visits, the result of exams passed in the top 5 percent, or prizes won, and the Commandant had greeted her with the most thawed of his several frosty expressions.

Today it had been "Cadet Vatta to the Commandant's office, on the double," blaring out over the speaker right in the middle of her first class period, Veshpasir's lecture on the history of the first century pd. Veshpasir, no friend to shipping dynasties, had given her a nasty smirk before saying, "Dismissed, Cadet Vatta."

She had no idea what this was about. Or rather, she hoped she didn't. Surely she had been careful enough . . .

"Cadet Vatta," the Commandant said. No thawing at all, and his left eyelid drooped ominously.

"Sir," she said.

"I won't even ask what you thought you were doing," he said. "I don't want to know. I don't care."

"Sir?" She hated the squeak in her voice.

"Don't play the innocent with me, Cadet." Rumor had it that if his left eyelid actually closed, cadets died. She wasn't sure she believed that, but she hoped she wasn't about to find out. "You are a disgrace to the Service."

Ky almost shook her head in confusion. What could he be talking about?

"Going outside the chain of command like this"—he thumped the sheet of paper—"embarrassing the Service."

"Sir—" She gulped,caught between the etiquette that required silence until she was given leave to speak, and a desperate need to find out what had the Commandant's eyelid hovering ever nearer to its mate.

"You have something to say, Cadet?" the Commandant asked. His voice, like his face, might have been carved out of a glacier. "Do go ahead . . ." It was not a generous offer.

"Sir, with the greatest respect, this cadet does not know to what the Commandant is referring . . ."

His lips disappeared altogether. "Oh, you can play the innocent all you want, Cadet, and maintain that formal folderol, but you don't fool me." He paused. Ky searched her memory, and came up empty. "Well, since you insist, let's try this: do you recall the name Mandy Rocher?"

"Yes, sir," Ky said promptly. "Second year, third squad."

"And you can think of no reason why I might connect that name and yours?"

"Sir, I helped Cadet Rocher locate a Miznarii chaplain last weekend, when Chaplain Oser was away . . ." A dim glimmer of what might be the problem came to her but she couldn't believe there would be that much fuss about a simple little . . .

"And just how did you locate a Miznarii chaplain, Cadet?"

"I . . . er . . . called my mother, sir."

"You called your mother." He made it sound obscene, as if only the lowest criminal would call a mother. "And told your mother to do what, Cadet?"

"I asked her if her friend Jucha could refer me to a Miznarii chaplain near the Academy."

"For what reason?"

"I told her that one of the underclassmen was overdue for confession and the Academy chaplain was out of town."

"You didn't tell her what he wanted to confess?"

Ky felt her own eyebrows going up. "Sir, I don't know what he had to confess. I only know that he was in distress, and needed a chaplain, and I thought . . . I thought it would save trouble if I just got him one."

"You're not Miznarii yourself . . . ?"

"No, sir. We're Modulans." Actually, they were Saphiric Cyclans, but that was such a small sect that nobody recognized it, and Modulans were respectable and undemanding. You could be a Modulan without doing anything much at all, a source of some humor to more energetic sects. Ky found Modulan chapel restful and had gone often enough to acquire a reputation for moderate piety—the level most approved by Modulans.

"Hmmph." The Commandant's eyelid twitched upward a millimeter; Ky hoped this was a good sign. "You had no idea that what he wanted to confess concerned the honor of the Service?"

Her jaw dropped; she forced it back up. "No, sir!"

"That he made a formal complaint to this Miznarii, in addition to his confession, which the chaplain took immediately to the Bureau of War, where it fell into the hands of a particularly noxious bureaucrat whose sister just happens to be on the staff of Wide Exposure, so that I found myself on the horn very early this morning with Grand-Admiral Tasliki, who is not amused at all . . . ?" It was not really a question; it was rant and explanation and condemnation all in one. "The bureaucrat spoke on Wide Exposure's ‘Night Affairs' program at 0115—clever timing, that—and this morning all the media channels had something on it. That's only the beginning."

Ky felt hot, then cold, then hot again. "S-sir . . ." she managed.

"So even if you did not know, Cadet Vatta, what Cadet Rocher wanted to confess, you may be able to grasp that by going outside the chain of command you have created a very very large public rela- tions problem, embarrassing the entire general staff, the Bureau of War, and—last but not least—me personally."

"Yes, sir." She could understand that. She could not, she thought, have anticipated it, and now she was consumed by curiosity: what, exactly, had Mandy Rocher said? They weren't allowed access to things like Wide Exposure except on weekends.

"You are an embarrassment, Cadet Vatta," the Commandant said. "Many, many people want your hide tacked on the wall and your head on a pike. The only reason I don't—" His eyelid was up another millimeter. "The only reason I don't, is that I have observed your progress through the Academy and you have so far been, within the limits of your ability, an exemplary cadet. When I thought you'd done it on purpose I was going to throw you to the wolves. Now—since I suspect that you simply fell for a sob story and your entire barracks knows you have a soft spot for underdogs and lost lambs—I'm simply going to take the hide off your back in strips and see your resignation on my desk by 1500 hours this afternoon."

"S-sir?" Resignation . . . did that mean what it sounded like? Was he kicking her out? Just because she'd tried to help Mandy?

Now the eyelid came all the way back up. "Cadet Vatta, you have—unwittingly, perhaps—created a major mess with implications that could damage the Service for years. Your ass is grass, one way or the other. You could be charged, for instance, with that string of articles beginning with 312.5—I see by your expression that you have, belatedly, remembered them . . ."

She did indeed. Article 312.5 of the Military Legal Code: failure to inform superior officer in a timely manner of potentially harmful personnel situations. Article 312.6: failure to inform superior officer in a timely manner of breaches of security involving sensitive personnel. Article 312.7: failure to inform superior officer in a timely manner of . . . rats, rats, and flying rats. She was majorly doomed.

"I . . . wasn't thinking, sir." That was not an attempt at apology, merely a statement of fact.

"Fairly obvious. What did you think might happen?"

"I thought . . . Mandy—Cadet Rocher—was so upset that day—I thought if he could see a chaplain and confess or whatever, he'd settle down until the regular chaplain got back. He had those exams coming up, and they were group-graded; if he didn't do well, his squad would suffer for it . . ."

"What you don't know, Cadet, is that Rocher had been avoiding the regular chaplain's cycle; his so-called emergency was of his own making. He wanted to talk to someone outside the Academy, and you made that possible."

"Yes, sir."

"And you didn't tell anyone at all about this, did you?"

"No, sir."

"Easier to get forgiveness than permission, is that what you were thinking?"

"No, sir . . . not really." One of the places where Modulans and Saphiric Cyclans disagreed was about the giving of aid. Modulans felt that moderate assistance should be moderately public—one did not make a huge display of charity, but one allowed others to know charity was going on, to set a good example. Saphiric Cyclans, on the other hand, believed that all help should be given as anonymously as possible. Now was probably not the time to talk about that difference.

"I am so reassured." The Commandant's eyelid quivered. "Cadet Vatta, it is unfortunate that you have to suffer for a generous impulse, but we need naval officers with brains as well as kind hearts. You will not return to class. You will, as I said, present a letter of resignation which does not mention any of this, and cites personal reasons as the cause, by 1500 hours. Sooner, Cadet, is better than later, but first you will go to Signals, and make contact with your family, so that you will be able to leave quietly and quickly when that resignation is approved." The look he gave her now was warmer by a few degrees, but still not cordial. "Staff will pack up your things; they will be at the gate when you depart."

"I . . . yes, sir."

"And yes, you infer correctly that you are not to speak to any of your former associates. Your departure will be explained as seems most expedient for the Service."

"Sir." Not speak to anyone. Not to Mira or Lisette . . . not to Hal. Only another few months, and we can—but not now, not ever. Please, please, let no one figure out . . .

"You are dismissed."

"Sir." Ky saluted, rotated correctly on her right heel, and left his office, her mind a blur. Signals. She knew where Signals was. She passed without really seeing an enlisted man in the passage, and another at the head of the stairs down to the classroom level. Halfway to Signals, her mind clicked on long enough to panic . . . She had to call her family, tell her father and, oh heavens, her mother that she was disgraced, dismissed . . . Her brothers would all . . . her cousins . . . Uncle Tomas . . . Aunt Grace, worse than Uncle Tomas, who would say again all she had said when Ky first went to the Academy, laced with I told you so . . .

She felt the tremor in her hands, and fought to still it. Now, for this short period of time, she was still a cadet, and now, for this short period of time, she would act like one. Even as the dream went down in smoke and ashes, even then . . . her stomach looped wildly once and settled.

At the door of Signals, a uniformed guard stared past her.

"Cadet Vatta, on order of the Commandant," she said.

He stepped aside, and she heard him murmur into his comunit "Cadet Vatta at Signals, sir."

Commander Terry had the watch in Signals; his expression suggested that her family were loathsome toads, and she was toad spawn. "Vatta," he said, minus the honorific.

"Sir."

"Which contact number?" As if having more than one number were also a crime.

"Vatta Enterprises," Ky said. "They have a relay—" Wherever her father was, they could reach him, or give her a link to the senior Vatta onplanet.

"We would prefer that you make a direct call."

She knew her father's mobile number, of course, but he'd often said he hated the damned thing, and would leave it on the bedside table as often as not. That meant her mother might pick it up, the last per- son she wanted to talk to. Vatta Enterprises would ring his skullphone, which he couldn't take off. She didn't have that number; no one did but the communications computer at VE.

She rattled off the string for the mobile, and mentally visualized the arc of blue, best fortune, of the Saphiran Cyclan wheel, as Commander Terry nodded to the rating who entered the string.

"Name?" Terry asked abruptly. Ky startled. "The name of the person you are calling," he said.

"Sir, my father, sir. Gerard Avondettin Vatta. But if my mother—"

"You are permitted one call, to one recipient, Cadet Vatta." Commander Terry picked up the headset and held the receiver to his ear. Ky waited, the blue arc fading in her mental eye. Then his hand twitched. "This is Commander Terry at the Naval Academy; I need to speak to Gerard Avondettin Vatta." A pause, then: "Kylara Vatta will speak with you." He held the headset out to Ky.

She was not even allowed to speak from a privacy booth. She had known the call would be recorded, but at least a semblance of normal courtesy would have helped. She could feel tears swelling now, stuffing her nose. She fought for calmness as she took the headset and put it on. Enough of this; she turned her back on Commander Terry without permission.

"Dad, listen—"
Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

Interview with for Elizabeth Moon:

Question:Trading in Danger is a move back to military science fiction after your last book, The Speed of Dark, which, despite its sf elements, was in many ways a mainstream novel. Is military sf what you love best?

Elizabeth Moon:
Not really...I like military SF and space opera (and especially where the two overlap), but I wouldn't say it's my favorite subgenre, just one of them. But it's one I can write and enjoy the process as well as the product. It's almost as much fun to write as it is to read.

Q:This novel is the first of a new series featuring Kylara Vatta, the young captain of an interstellar trading vessel. Does it take place in the same universe and/or the same time period as your Heris Serrano books?

EM:
It's a different universe. There are elements in this universe (such as modified humans, or humods) which don't show up in the Serrano Legacy books.

Q:You refer to an event called the Scattering in the novel – what is its significance?

EM:
That would be telling... Seriously, background elements introduced in a first book
of history don't always need explanation, and I haven't decided yet how much history to include.

Q:Describe Kylara for us, and her situation at the beginning of Trading in Danger. This is probably the first military novel I've read that begins with the main character being expelled from the military!

EM:
Ky Vatta is the youngest child of a wealthy family whose wealth rests mostly on
interstellar trade, and partly on an agricultural near-monopoly. Her own determination to do something moreexciting than shepherd trading ships got her into the Spacefleet Academy on her home planet. Her mother was appalled; the rest of the family were at first resistant, but finally decided that maybe having a private "hook" into the military would be a good idea.

Then, in her last term, she does something good (she thinks), unleashes a political storm as a result, and is expelled.

Q:How much of your Marine Corps experience goes into your military sf?

EM:
Whatever seems relevant to a particular story, but with that goes research, including conversations with other veterans and active-duty personnel.

Q:In what ways is Kylara a self-portrait?

EM:
She's not, really. I've done enough military women now that I don't feel Ky is working directly out of my background--she's her own woman. She's not even horse-crazy...<G> Seriously, a character must go beyond the writer in some way to become "alive" and interesting.

Q:Although there is plenty of military action in this novel, it's really—as your title punningly points out—about mercantile concerns: "trade and profit," in the oft-quoted phrase that seems to sum up the business philosophy of the Vatta family. Why did you take this approach?

EM:
For the fun of it, basically. I've played around with a number of other themes relating to the military, starting with The Deed of Paksenarrion and continuing through Sassinak, and Generation Warriors, and then the seven books of the Serrano Legacy. Each has allowed me to consider a different aspect of military life, not just as it pertains to women, but in relation to culture, politics, etc. What, I wondered, would happen if you took someone trained as military, and removed the obvious support structure of a military organization? How much of the military training and attitudes would survive, especially if the character were young enough to still have some flexibility?

Q:Did you draw on particular periods of Earth's history in creating the political and economic parameters of Kylara's universe?

EM:
Not consciously, although I'm sure the monopoly the I.S.C. has on instantaneous communication will remind people of Ma Bell's monopoly....or maybe the old IBM...and some of the cultural concerns to be expressed later reflect attitudes about the global economy.

Q:I was reminded at times of Jack Vance's space operas, especially The Demon Princes, in which trade often plays a central role. Do you count Vance as an influence? What other writers have influenced you?

EM:
I've been influenced by just about everyone I've read, and that's a list too long to remember or enumerate. Andre Norton, Jack Vance, Alexei Panshin, Poul Anderson, Keith Laumer...up through C.J. Cherryh, Lois Bujold, Debra Doyle and James Macdonald, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. And a host of others, whose names will hit me an instant after I send this off...

Q:What lies ahead for Ky? One of her academy instructors, MacRobert, continues to take a special interest in her after her disgrace: could he be recruiting her for covert operations? After all, traders make good spies! I even found myself wondering if her expulsion, which seems unduly harsh, might have been engineered for just that purpose.

EM:
What lies ahead for Ky is more trouble, of course. As for the other points...no, you don't get to know that yet. Speculate all you want, but I'm not telling...<G>

Q:What are you working on now?

EM:
The next book in the series. In which someone attempts to seduce Ky by peeling a lime, and a Jack Russell terrier pup shows up in a trash can (to the writer's complete surprise, and Ky's disgust.)

Q:When will it be published?

EM:
I don' t know when its scheduled date is, but my deadline is rapidly approaching!
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 87 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(46)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 87 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fast Paced, easy read

    I bought this book in preparation for a long business trip to Europe. I started reading it in the airport, and then couldn't put it down. I finished it somewhere over France, I think. I actually wanted it to last a little longer, but that's sometimes how the books read.

    This is my first read of Elizabeth Moon's books. I thought she did a great job of keeping the story moving.

    This first book is a character builder for Vatta, who is kicked out of the space academy for helping another student get religious counseling - and ended up in a big mess. The daughter of a shipping magnate, her father assigns her to a "milk run" job, taking an older ship out to salvage, dropping some cargo along the way - of course, it can't go like that. I won't spoil the ending, but it has believable characters and also could be written in the 1500's as well as a space adventure.

    Ms. Moon sets the stage for more adventures of this young, well disciplined and fair minded captain.

    I look forward to more stories from her.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2004

    A waste of time

    What happened to Elizabeth Moon? Paksennarion was so good! The heroine of this book is fairly likeable, but she spends way too much time just thinking about how confused she is. I also had a problem with the way she treats her life like a multiple choice test. Sure, she stops the occasional mutiny single-handed, but she's always reacting to other things - she doesn't have goals of her own. After a strong beginning, pages and pages of the book were just sheer boredom. She and her mother buy dresses; she rehashes things in her mind; she talks to people about trading details which just don't matter; quaint local cultures are described which we don't need to know about; and the action doesn't pick up for another hundred pages or so. A lot of things in the book make no sense, but we're expected to acccpt them to advance the plot. For example, she agrees to resign from military academy for something which someone else did - and unless cadets are prisoners he could have done it at any time on his own without involving her. And I can't even bring myself to talk about the fruitcake. Plot elements which would actually be interesting are introduced and never resolved, like the coded message from her Seargent at the academy, about which Kylara vaguely thinks, 'maybe I'll get back to it later'; and the actual war Kylara is caught up in, where we never find out who blew up the ansibles, or how it got resolved so quickly, or even who the different sides were. At the end of the book the heroine is still confused, only now she has her own ship. It's possible (though not likely) that this could still turn into a decent series, but it would be a stronger one without this book.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2009

    The Vatta's War Series is great.

    I have read all in the series to date and would highly recommend the whole series for any scifi reader and anyone who enjoys Elisabeth Moon.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2012

    Highly Recommended - non-stop intrigue

    This is a great read! It is convoluted and twisted in all the right places. The characters are well built and interesting. Space Military at its best!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2012

    Space opera

    It's as good as any save the Honor series. Fun summer read and i am on to the next. I am interested to see how Ky resolves the tension between the two major sides of her character. It is wonderful to have female swashbucklers without thr ripped bodices!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 16, 2009

    This is a pretty good book.

    This is about a girl who gets kicked out of her local military academy and becomes a captain of a merchant ship. I liked it, but I had one problem with it. The author seems intolerant of people who are not military or who don't appreciate the military ethos. I specifically didn't like it when the author portrays the main character's enjoyment of taking human life as a positive thing. But overall, this is a decent book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2004

    VERY good beginning to a new series/trilogy.

    Kylara 'Ky' Vatta was thrown out of the Academy for trusting the wrong person. She returned home, avoiding media, to regroup herself. Her father, Gerard Vatta of Vatta Transport, decided Ky needed to go away until the media circus calmed down a bit. So she was sent as captain to take an old space craft on its last journey, to Belinta first and then to the scrap yard. She had a very small crew, but they were all veterans of space. ......................... At Belinta, Ky learned that the planet had ordered agriculture 'ag' equipment over a year ago from Sabine Prime which was picked up by another transport company and never delivered. Belinta was desperate for the equipment. No one named Vatta had ever turned down a chance to profit and Ky was no different. Ky hoped to earn enough money so that her ship could be repaired instead of scrapped. Once the personal contract was signed, she was off to Sabine Prime. .................. Sabine Prime gave Captain Vatta a bit of trouble, but not much, at first. Ky needed a new FTL drive before she could go anywhere. It was a vital part of the ship. Then she needed to purchase the ag equipment. The problem was figuring out how to get the money. FTL drives were very expensive. It all became worse when chaos erupted. Someone blew up the ISC's ansible platforms, so communications was all but gone. Then war ships came in. Ky's ship had no weapons and, with no FTL drive, no way to leave. She and her crew were defenseless and in the middle of a war between Sabine Prime and mercs! ........................ **** Very good beginning to what appears to be a series or trilogy. The plots are all tied up by the end, but many sub-plots are left dangling. I would very much like to find out how one or two of them end up, especially the one from the academy. ...................... The beginning of the book reminded me a bit of the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. Young woman, military back ground, done horribly wrong, underestimated, and very cunning. Yet by the half way mark, Ky had definitely separated herself from Honor in my mind. Ky has her own way of dealing with things and any emotional trash is put on hold until the crisis is over. All-in-all, VERY GOOD novel. I hope the sequel comes out quickly. ****

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    strong military science fiction

    Ky Vatta wakes up as a senior cadet in the honor squad yet a couple of hours later she is asked to hand in her resignation because she broke a rule causing major fallout. She returns home and is given command of the Glennys Jones, an old FTL ship that is to be sold for scrap after it finishes its lasting trading venture. <P>When Ky reaches the planet Belinda, she discovers the government needs agricultural equipment that another trading ship failed to deliver. She decides to make an unscheduled stop at Sabine to obtain the equipment and with the profit she makes she hopes to buy the Glennys Jones and work for herself. She didn¿t count on being in the middle of a war or mercenaries dictating her actions or stopping a mutiny but Ky is determined to surmount all obstacles or die trying. <P>This is the first installment in a brand new military science fiction series and it is absolutely outstanding. The heroine may be untested but she is a survivor and will do what is necessary to win. Readers will adore her and will want to read other books in this series. Elizabeth Moon is a talented storyteller who makes the audience believe that she is recording events that happened. <P>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2014

    Good books, great series!

    I want my daughter to read these books when she's a bit older. The story line is exciting and action-packed. The science is watered down enough that non-physics-geeks will still be able to "get it". I've read the whole series and the bulk of the books are centered around space trade/technology and space battles, there are a couple brutally violent scenes as well as a few allusions to sex. I'd think the violence/gore factor is about a PG13, while the sex is more like PG. The strife and struggle between the characters is really entertaining. The endingis perfect.

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  • Posted July 23, 2014

    I have read and re-read this and the rest of the series several

    I have read and re-read this and the rest of the series several times. They are fun and enjoyable.
    Unfortunately our hardback copy has gone missing. I was going to add it on to my Nook via B&amp;N, but just as I was getting ready to make
    the transaction, my wife found it for more than $2 less in a Kindle version.
    Sorry B&amp;N, but we retirees watch our pennies and dollars.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2013

    Elizabeth Moon at her best

    I enjoy just about everything Elizabeth Moon writes, and this is a good one, even for her. Strong characters, believable universe, great storytelling.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 25, 2013

    Great ride

    An enjoyable journey with a new heroine and an interesting setting in the commercial traffic in space. Incleds pirates, mutiny, personal growth. I like Moon's other books, but this one is just a bit different and has better character development.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2013

    Anon

    Very interesting character, maybe a tad too introspective, but engaging....a young woman coming of age and coming into her own place in the world. Not a ton of action but enough to make me want to see what would happen next. A good intro to what should prove to be a very good series.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2013

    Great book

    Loved the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 26, 2012

    One great book - once you start to read, you can't put it down!

    I read the whole ebook at one time. It was not possible to put it down after I started it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 15, 2011

    The Book won't download

    It might be a good book if I could get it to download, which I can't. Other books I've bought here will download but not "Trading in Danger" by Elizabeth Moon. I have contacted Barnes and Noble, received an automated reply and nothing else.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable

    I liked this book...enjoyable, entertaining and just plain good reading

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bad

    What can I say, this book is like thousands others, just with a worse plot and bad characters. Moon has put in command of a starship a young lady with the maturity and smarts of a 5 year old who fails to complete her simple mission, rather decides to run off to get agricultural equipment off a planet that is off her schedule. At this planet, she gets stuck in orbit for unknown reasons, later taking on a group of prisoners from a mercenary company. Her crew is boring and seems to be fairly untrained, even though they supposedly are all experianced veterans of the trade. The charactors are dull and indescript, and you can't feel bad for them because they put themselves in the situation.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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