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Victory Conditions, by Elizabeth Moon Book Review | SFReader.com
Victory Conditions, by Elizabeth Moon Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Random House Published: 2008 Review Posted: 10/8/2008 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 6 out of 10
Victory Conditions, by Elizabeth Moon
Book Review by SJ Higbee
Have you read this book?
I really enjoy this particular sub-genre of science fiction. Ships zip through galaxies with the same ease (more or less) as we blast across continents in our cars and humanity is comfortably established (more or less) across a range of planets scattered across the universe. So, having loved all four previous books of Moon's brilliantly engrossing tale, I sat down to read this, the final instalment. And was disappointed.
Space opera demands pace and excitement from the first page -- and for some unaccountable reason, Moon doesn't provide this in Victory Conditions. Not because she isn't capable of it -- the first book, "Trading in Danger," with the sudden, devastating attack on the successful merchant Vatta dynasty is a real page-turner. And through all three of the subsequent books, we follow the twisting plot and dangerous adventures of the surviving Vatta members -- with the occasional unexpected death to keep us off-balance. Book Four, "Command Decision," is an absolute cracker and I read way past my bedtime to find out what happened next.
So what went awry in Victory Conditions? The beginning is low key, with far too much long-winded explanation from characters, instead of the snappy, action-filled scenes Moon excels at. I can only guess that she was so focused on tying up all the loose ends in this final book that she didn't concentrate sufficiently on keeping the narrative going at the sizzling pace we have become accustomed to from this author. Don't get me wrong -- it's not a bad book. I don't think Moon could write badly if she tried -- but maybe I'm biased as she is one of my favourite sci-fi authors. It's just not up to the very high standard that she set in the previous four volumes of this series.
The good news is that once you get past the first thirty-something pages, the action picks up, the story gains momentum and by halfway through, we are back in the thick of the action, where we should have been from page one. From here, the story gallops along at a good clip, with plenty of tension and action, with Moon's hallmark -- fight scenes written with economy and clarity. The climax of the story (and the series) is sufficiently momentous, with the book coming to a satisfactory end -- important after having expended time and energy reading five books to get there.
So if you cherish Cherryh's Alliance/Union books, or David Feintuch's Seafort series did it for you, try the "Vatta's War" series. It'll be worth it -- even Victory Conditions is a creditable three star read.
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