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Marque and Reprisal (Vatta's War Series #2)

Marque and Reprisal (Vatta's War Series #2)

4.5 59
by Elizabeth Moon, Cynthia Holloway (Narrated by)

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Kylara Vatta, risk-taking, rule-breaking, can-do heroine of Trading in Danger, is back in business-the kind that's anything but usual-in the new military science fiction adventure by ace action storyteller Elizabeth Moon.


Kylara Vatta, risk-taking, rule-breaking, can-do heroine of Trading in Danger, is back in business-the kind that's anything but usual-in the new military science fiction adventure by ace action storyteller Elizabeth Moon.

Editorial Reviews

The adventures of young space-trader Captain Kylara Vatta continue. In this sequel to Trading in Danger, Ky's attempt to reach planet Lastway is interrupted by terrible news: Most of her family has been killed during a savage assault on Vatta HQ. To survive, she must identify the enemy and destroy them. But in a perilous world where communication lines are broken, telling friend from foe is a difficult business….
Publishers Weekly
After her debut in Moon's somewhat lackluster Trading in Danger (2003), capable young Kylara Vatta, now captain of a dilapidated space freighter, lets loose in this rip-roaring sequel. With most of her immediate family back home on Slotter Key blown to smithereens in a dastardly sneak attack and communication lines down, Ky must first find out who's responsible then kill the villains out to drain Vatta blood. But this military SF tale is no mere shoot-'em-up. Ky thinks as well as she fights, coolly weighing commercial alternatives and handily using such human resources as her undercover operative cousin Stella and precocious teenager Toby Vatta, as well as the hard-currency diamonds that arrived with Stella in Aunt Gracie's legendary fruitcake. Though mildly tempted, Ky also sees through fetching chick-magnet Rafe (he of many aliases), son of the top of InterStellar Communication's command and now a covert agent with his own complex agenda. The charm lies in Moon's deft characterizations, especially the exorcism of Ky's guilt over her family's deaths. There's plenty of shipboard and dockside action, plus authentically grungy space-station settings. Former Marine Moon has a genuine hoorah series going for her. Agent, Joshua Blimes. (On sale Sept. 28) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This swashbuckler continues the saga of a family's interstellar trading empire. Though the story stands on its own, it begins where Trading in Danger (Del Rey, 2004) ends, with young Ky Vatta preparing to complete her assignment. Meanwhile, back on her home planet of Slotter's Key, the Vatta Transport Ltd. headquarters is being attacked and most of her family is dying. As the only remaining Vatta with any military training, Ky becomes her clan's best hope for survival. A letter of marque arrives from Slotter's Key, giving her the legal status of privateer, but her small merchant vessel is antiquated and unarmed, and her entrepreneurial and military talents are once more put to the test. She is joined by a cousin, a secret intelligence agent whose cover is a bad reputation; a teenage nephew who is the sole survivor of an attack on a Vatta ship; and their new partner, a charming trickster with many talents and secrets. Ky sets an ambitious agenda, vowing to find any surviving family members, regroup and save their business empire, identify the enemy, and achieve revenge. She and her crew are both ingenious and courageous as they save their world. The winning heroine struggles with her conscience (she likes fighting more than her culture approves) but never loses her sense of humor. The universe of the Vattas is freshly imagined and abundant in believable detail and exotic possibility. Successfully combining several science fiction subgenres, this title will delight many types of readers.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Second entry in Moon's latest spacefaring saga (Trading in Danger, 2003)-and it's a corker. After her adventures in the inaugural volume, young ex-military Captain Kylara Vatta, child of a powerful space-trading family, now struggles to get her ancient, creaky ship spaceworthy, working, trading, and making money. Assisted by Aunt Gracie's diamond-stuffed fruitcake, Ky hires mercenaries to protect her and other independent ships as they attempt to reach planet Lastway, incommunicado since the attack that crippled most of the spaceways' ansibles (instantaneous communicators). Meanwhile, unknown to Ky, a devastating assault on planet Slotter Key destroys Vatta HQ and kills most of her family; more ansibles are attacked or jammed, so it's not clear whether the target is ISC, owner and operator of the ansibles, Vatta, or both-since Vatta supported ISC's benevolent monopoly. When Ky learns the dreadful news, she vows to survive, assist other Vatta survivors, discover who the enemy is and why they attacked, and destroy them. She considers piracy, but the mercenaries won't contract with pirates. She picks up two Vatta survivors, agent Stella and ship's apprentice Toby, and gets the assistance of the roguish and dangerously charming Rafe Madeston, a renegade ISC scion and secret agent. The group encounters, possibly by chance, another ship registered to Vatta. But who's aboard? Friend or foe? Family or conspirators? Ky's life, and that of her ship and crew, depends on her finding the right answers. Excellent plotting and characters support the utterly realistic action sequences: swift, jolting, confusing, and merciless. Equally significant, Moon doesn't neglect violence's aftermath. Agent: JoshuaBlimes/DBA Jabberwocky Literary Agency
From the Publisher
"Excellent plotting and characters support the utterly realistic action sequences: swift, jolting, confusing, and merciless. Equally significant, Moon doesn't neglect violence's aftermath." ---Kirkus Starred Review

Product Details

Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
Vatta's War Series , #2
Edition description:
Library - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


Kylara Vatta looked at the mass of paperwork from Belinta's Economic Development Bureau and sighed. The real life of a tradeship captain: paperwork and more paperwork, negotiation with shippers, customers, Customs officials. The life she hadn't wanted, when she chose to enter the Slotter Key Spaceforce Academy, and the life she had fallen back into when she was expelled. Boring. Mundane.

Not that her recent experiences in Sabine had been boring or mundane—terrifying was more like it—and no one would want another trip like that.

Except that she did. She remembered very clearly the rush of excitement, the soaring glee of the fight itself, the guilty delight when she'd killed Paison and Kristoffson. So either she wasn't sane or...or nothing. She thought of the diamonds tucked into her underwear drawer. Not enough to restore her old tub of a ship completely, but enough to take her to somewhere else, somewhere she could make the kind of life she really wanted. Perhaps the mercenaries would accept her violent tendencies; they'd offered a chance. Perhaps someone else. It would annoy her family, but not as much as the truth would hurt them.

No. She had to finish one job at least. Crew depended on her. The ship belonged to her family, as well, and she could not possibly earn enough to buy it away by the next stop or the next. She sighed again, signed another sheet, and stared at the next. All right, then. Take this old tub to Leonora, deliver that cargo, then to Lastway. If she couldn't finance a refit by then, return to the original plan and go home by commercial passenger ship. If she made enough profit, enough to do the refit, she could get that done and bring the ship back to Slotter Key, and then resign. Or—she stared into a distance far beyond her cabin bulkhead. She could send the ship back with someone else. Quincy, for instance, knew enough to run the ship herself.

In the long run, her family would be better off without her. If her father knew how she'd felt when she killed...no. She had had those nightmares, trying to explain to that gentle man, hoping for his understanding but seeing the horror in his face. Better the smothering, overprotective love that had annoyed her in their last conversation than that horror, that disgust, that rejection. If she went home, he would sense something; he would try to probe, try to get her to confide in him, and eventually he would wear her down. It would be worse than anything else that had happened, to have her father sorry she was ever born.

She should just go away. Years later, maybe, she might be able to explain it to him, and he might be able to accept it. Years might put a safe skin on the raw truth of what she was.

She worked her way through the rest of the forms, then decided to take them to the local postal drop herself. Belinta Station had few amenities, but a walk would be refreshing in itself.

"Quincy—I'm going to drop the paperwork off," she said into the ship's intercom.

"Find anything to load, or do you want us to start transferring what we left in storage?"

"I haven't found anything yet," Ky said. "I may have to go downside for that. Go on and load...see if you can get some of the station dockworkers to help with that. Usual rates and all."

She glanced at herself in the mirror and decided she was presentable enough. She needed a new uniform—the one she had left after Sabine no longer had the crisp, perfect tailoring her mother had paid for—but only if she was staying with Vatta. If she joined a mercenary company, she would wear its uniform; if she stayed independent, she'd have to find one of her own design. But to drop off forms to be transmitted to a bureaucracy, gray tunic and slacks should be sufficient. She clipped on the Belinta Station access pass.

Outside the ship, Belinta Station hardly bustled with activity. Only three ships were in dock, and the other two were insystem haulers servicing Belinta's meager satellite mining operations. On their own dockside, Quincy was talking to a burly man in the ubiquitous green tunic of Belinta dockworkers. Beeah, beside her, held a compad ready to record employee data if Quincy's negotiations were successful. Ky walked briskly past two men chatting on a bench, a woman standing by a lift entrance, barely restraining a bouncing toddler, the faded ads for Belinta's few and unenticing tourist resorts, and turned left into the wide main corridor. Here were the currency exchanges, banks, communications services—local and ansible—Belinta Port Authority, the hiring hall, and, finally, the postal service. Midshift, few others were in sight. Someone with a briefcase just going into Belinta Savings & Loan, two women chatting as they emerged from Allsystems Exchange.

Beyond were rows of blanked openings to spaces that would someday, if Belinta proved prosperous, house more services, more stores, more people. No traffic at all moved down there.

Ky turned into the postal service's entrance and walked up to the counter where a display read NOW SERVING NUMBER SIX EIGHTY-TWO. The only clerk in sight did not look up, but said, "Take a number." Typical Belintan courtesy, Ky thought, and looked around for the number generator. By the entrance. She pulled the tab; the counter display changed to NOW SERVING SIX EIGHTY-THREE and the clerk said, "Number six eighty-three!" in an annoyed tone, as if she'd kept him waiting.

"This is all for the Economic Development Bureau," Ky said.

"To whose attention?" asked the clerk.

"It doesn't matter. Just the EDB."

"It has to be directed to an individual," the clerk said. "You can't send mail to the whole bureau."

"It says on the form," Ky said, pointing to the block under RETURN TO. "No name, just the bureau."

"It has to have a name," the clerk said. "It's the rules. All mail to government agencies must be directed to an individual."

Ky was tempted to make up a name. Instead, she said, "Do you have a directory?"

"Customers are not allowed to use our confidential directories or communications devices," the clerk intoned. "This is a security issue. Customers are advised to identify the correct recipient prior to arriving in the postal service office. Next, please."

Ky glanced behind her. No one stood in line. "It wouldn't take a moment to look it up."

"Next, please." The clerk still wasn't looking at her. Ky wanted to reach across the counter and wring his skinny neck, but that was the impulse of a moment. This was part of being a tradeship captain; this was the kind of senseless, ridiculous, annoying nonsense she could expect.

"Fine," she said instead. "I'll deliver it myself." After all, she had to go downside anyway, to find out if there was any cargo worth carrying from this wretched planet.

"Glad to be of service have a nice day," the clerk said all in one breath.

Ky went back the way she'd come, past the corridor that led to the docking area, past Goodtime Eats and Jerry's Real Food and Quick-snack, where the two women she'd seen earlier were head to head over a small table, to the ticket office for the shuttle service. She could not remember just when the daily service left—

"Two and a half hours," the clerk said. "Be at the boarding area a half hour before departure."

That gave time to go back to her ship and change. She turned to go but a screech from the PA system stopped her. "What's that?"

"I don't know," the clerk said.

"Stay wherever you are," a bone-shaking voice said. "All personnel stay wherever you are. Emergency crews one and two, to dockside on the double. All personnel..."

"My ship!" Ky said. "I have to get back—"

But the ticket office entrance was closed, the metal grate locking with a final chung even as she moved toward it.

"You heard 'em," the clerk said. "We're all supposed to stay put."

"Well, I can't," Ky said. "Open that thing."

"Can't," the clerk said. "It's automatic, like section seals. Station Security controls it. Unless you've got the override code like one of the emergency crews..."

The PA announcement had stopped. Fifteen minutes later, the grate slid back into its slot, squeaking a little. "Return to normal activity," the PA said. "All personnel return to normal activity." Still no announcement of what had prompted the lockdown. Ky hurried back to the docking area. She saw nothing unusual except a Station Security officer standing near Gary Tobai's open hold bay talking to Quincy.

"What was that about?" she asked, coming up to them.

"Nothing to concern you, madam," said the officer. "Please stand away."

"It's the captain," Quincy said, just as Ky said, "It's my ship; it concerns me."

"Oh." The man looked confused. "You're not in uniform."

"It needs cleaning," Ky said. "Here's my tag." She held it out, and he scanned it. "What happened?"

"We believe an attempt was made to rob your ship," the man said. "Individuals known to us as of dubious character were hired to move cargo, and this individual"—he nodded at Quincy—"noticed something untoward with one of the containers and challenged the individual transporting it, suspecting that a substitution had been made. Two individuals ran away; this individual called the alarm."

Theft by casual dockside labor was a constant threat, Ky knew. "Did you catch them?"

"They have not been apprehended yet," the officer said. "They made it to the unoccupied spaces. We are confiscating this container, which they tried to put aboard, and we are searching for the legitimate container your crewmember reports missing."

"I'm sure you'll take care of things," Ky said.

"We will find you here?" the man asked.

"No," Ky said. "I must go downside to deliver reports to your government. My shuttle leaves—" She checked the time. "Sorry, I must hurry. Quincy will serve as my agent for the duration of my visit down. All right, Quincy?"

The old woman nodded. "I can do that. Will you be buying cargo?"

"Quite possibly. I expect to be downside a few days. I'll keep in touch." Ky hurried into the ship. She put on her remaining uniform with the formal captain's cape and made two quick calls to arrange lodging at the Captains' Guild and an escort to meet her at the downside shuttle terminal. She hesitated, then put several of the diamonds in her pocket. She didn't expect anything to cut off her access to Vatta resources, but just in case, it couldn't hurt to have hard currency.

She made her shuttle connection with a few minutes to spare, and rode downside with a mixed lot of Belinta station workers going home for the weekend break. She cataloged them automatically—clerical, clerical, equipment operator, service worker—and wondered why she bothered. It was the same mix she could find anywhere across the galaxy, no duller here than elsewhere. She spotted her escort at the passenger exit and they exchanged the passwords and ID checks, another familiar routine. The ride into the city passed fields striped with a more vivid green than Belintans ever wore. She recognized the machine working its way across one of the fields as one she'd delivered from Sabine, and felt a surge of satisfaction. If she could learn to appreciate the good done by the cargoes she transported, if she could see things from that angle, maybe.

Gerard Avondetta Vatta watched as his pilot loaded his small case in the light plane. They would be back in the city by nightfall; he and Stavros would have a working dinner, and tomorrow he would tackle the delicate political tangle still left by his daughter's abrupt departure from the Academy. Now that she was out of danger, now that he had seen her face, had spoken to her, his attention had returned to the reasons behind the obvious reasons.

Why had a Miznarii complained about religious discrimination in the Academy? Miznarii were a difficult sect, to be sure, but they'd served in the Slotter Key Spaceforce for the past thirty years or so without any problems he knew of. And why had Ky been chosen as the vehicle? Her habit of helping lame dogs made her gullible, of course, and yet it did not quite satisfy him. She was a naturally generous person, yes, but he had noticed a streak of hardness in her that boded well for her survival in the cutthroat world of interstellar shipping. When she came back, it might be time to tell her a few things not in the basic Vatta database her implant contained.

The Miznarii...were they part of the resurgence of anti-humod feeling some of the Vatta captains had reported? They were certainly foundational purists who refused even the most common enhancements and modifications, such as cranial implants, but he hadn't heard they bothered with offplanet politics. Besides, Ky had little exposure to humods; she could hardly be a target for anti-humod bias.

Then there was InterStellar Communications. Vatta had supported ISC all along, and he fully appreciated what ISC had done for Ky at Sabine, but he wondered if its judgment matched its power. He'd tried to say something about that to Lew Parminer, the last time Lew visited, but Lew had shrugged off his concerns. "We pay our researchers enough to keep them quiet," he'd said. "No muzzling the ox that treads the grain, you know."

Still...there were other sources of wealth in the galaxy. Some who would be willing to pay almost any price for the secrets of ISC's labs. Some already funding research, he was sure, trying to duplicate the secrets of ISC's technology, or trying to advance it. The attack on the ansible platforms at Sabine had been crude, but to Gerard's mind clearly a test. How strong was ISC, and how fast could it respond?

The pirates, too...the information from Sabine was disturbing. An alliance of pirates? Of their agents in legitimate firms? And how did that work? Vatta had thousands of employees on dozens of ships, more dozens of support offices. Was one of them a traitor, feeding information to pirates? So far, the pirates had concentrated on smaller shippers, driving several out of business. According to the Captains' Guild figures—if they were accurate—the largest shippers hadn't been hit. But that wouldn't last, he was sure. They would run out of easy targets, and move on to take other prey. The great merchant companies, Vatta among them, had never persuaded the planetary governments that their trade served to combine and create a true interstellar space force capable of policing the spaceways. ISC had the resources, but refused to use them for anything but maintaining its own assets.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Excellent plotting and characters support the utterly realistic action sequences: swift, jolting, confusing, and merciless. Equally significant, Moon doesn't neglect violence's aftermath." —-Kirkus Starred Review

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Moon is the author of many novels, including The Speed of Dark, Against the Odds, and Remnant Population, which was a Hugo Award finalist.

Actress Cynthia Holloway, a native of Seattle, Washington, has performed on stage, film, and television. She has lent her voice to television programs, radio and television commercials, video games, and audiobooks. Cynthia's most recognizable work is as the voice of Anita Blake in Laurell K. Hamilton's bestselling Vampire Hunter series.

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Marque and Reprisal (Vatta's War Series #2) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
2hsprn More than 1 year ago
This entire series is excellent. Characters, plot, events, writing style are all to be applauded. Young pilot trying to find her place in the family business runs into trouble and needs to keep herself, crew and family name intact. Lotsb of adventure, suspense, spaceship scenes and anxiety as we see the girl grow and try to succeed. No issues with text, grammar or format. Clean writing that keeps you reading. Thank you to author Moon and please keep them coming.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Moon has done a nice job with the first two books of this series, starting the beginning of a positive carrer, watching it fail, and then finding success in adversity. It is a quick read, and Moon shows that she is adept at Military Fiction (or Near Military), without having to constantly discuss 'missle envelopes', or granting new Magic Powers to the protagonist (She is not, by the end of the story, a Genetically Alterd Cyborg with an Empathic Cat, unbeatable in Hand to Hand, with followers who worship her like a queen bee.....though, I suppose that could happen in future stories, but i sure hope not....) If you are looking for a good read, this series is worth your time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was hooked on Elizabeth Moon when I read Trading in Danger. Kylara Vatta is probably the most dynamic and interesting character created in the last ten years or so (at least in the science fiction genre)and I couldn't wait to pick this book up. Moon didn't let me down. If anything, this book was much better than the first and will keep you turning the pages one after the next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ky Vatta is not going to let anyone get away with backstabbing her. She takes some diamonds her crazy(hm...) aunt baked into a fruitcake to repair her damaged ship. Her father Gerard and other ranking members of the Vatta family are murder by sneak attacks leaving Ky as new head of what remains of Vatta Shipping. Though warned in the previous book 'Trading in Danger' not to get an implant for at least a year. She does so anyway and winds up with an interesting side effect which should make all her enemies afraid. Very Afraid.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Captain Kylara Vatta works hard at getting her ancient spaceship ready so that she can make money trading and to learn what happened on planet Lastway where an assault destroyed communications. When her vessel ready, she uses her Aunt Gracie's diamond-stuffed fruitcake to hire mercenaries to protect her and other independent ships as they begin the trek to Lastway...................................... An offensive on planet Slotter Key destroys and kills most of Ky¿s family and destroys her family¿s Headquarters; communications are once again devastated. Ky vows to help other Vatta survivors and to learn who the enemy is and why Vatta is the target or is it something even bigger like the ISC monopoly; ultimately she plans to destroy their foes. Ky rescues two Vatta survivors, agent Stella and ship's apprentice Toby, and obtains help from handsome secret agent rogue Rafe Madeston as she confronts another Vatta vessel, but to attack when they may be family or to remain passive when they may be foe is the question; hesitation could mean death yet rashness could mean killing kin....................................... The outer space action on and off planet is incredible as the pace is way faster than the sped of light. Even with the fantastic adventures, the cast is fully developed especially the heroine who faces The Lady or the Tiger dilemma with a wrong choice proving fatal either to her and her crew or to family survivors. The secondary players add depth to making the action believable yet exhilarating as Ky must decide in nanoseconds what to do.............................. Harriet Klausner
JC62 More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this novel to all fans of space military scenarios. Elizabeth Moon, an ex-Marine, uses insight, humor and intrigue to set up everything from war to romance.
brig More than 1 year ago
This is second book from this author and I love her! I will definitely keep on reading in this series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not think this would be my brand of Sci Fi...,but I have loved all the books in this series....good character development and plot and keeps you fully engaged throughout. Highly recommend/
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This entire series was epically done, I first read it around ten years ago (I am only in my early twenties), a movie would be well appreciated.
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