Thursday, March 15, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Cold Welcome (Vatta's Peace, #1) by Elizabeth Moon

This is my first book by Elizabeth Moon and I was quite impressed. 

I am aware that Cold Welcome is the first book in a new series called Vatta’s Peace featuring Moon’s popular character Kylara Vatta, who is the star of the five books which make up the Vatta’s War series. That series is also on my burgeoning TBR (to-be-read) list but I didn’t feel like making a 5-book commitment so this book seemed like a good place to start instead. One problem with this choice is that this series  (Vatta's Peace) is not finished yet since Cold Welcome is Book 1. The second book the in Vatta’s Peace series, Into The Fire, was only released very recently (February 2018).

These books are definitely space opera, with familiar elements of the genre: space travel in human-controlled vehicles (i.e. space ships), interesting technological developments (cranial implants which allow direct wireless communication with others and interfaces with computers, genotype and phenotype treatments which allow radical body changes and the ability to travel faster than light), human colonization on multiple planets and a military milieu.

In some cases, the military elements of the story are a little bit too prominent, but not as overwhelmingly familiar as I experienced in David Weber’s Honorverse series (my bigger complaint about that series is that it seemed to me that it’s basically just 18th century naval stories moved into space, with the addition of potentially sentient cats). It is very clear (from the verisimilitude of the situations in her writing and from her brief biography)  that Moon has a lot of military experience and one of the high points is seeing the internal monologue of someone who is responsible for leading a military unit and the issues and concerns that arise.

It’s also very cool to have a female protagonist in this role (of military commander) and I very much enjoyed spending time with Ky Vatta in Cold Welcome. I did find it odd that for what is ostensibly a military space opera novel we spend most of our time on a cold barren part of the planet (Milksland) instead of in space. However, the other characters in the book, her great-aunt (who is the head of the military on Slotter Key, the Vatta home planet), her sister Stella (who runs the huge Vatta interstellar shipping conglomerate) and even her erstwhile boyfriend Rafe Dunbarger are ALL far less interesting than Ky. Another curious aspect of the book is the decided lack of curiosity that Ky displays at the discovery of materials, machines and other artifacts clearly left behind by intelligent aliens. She is always very much focused on the mission of saving the troops who are trapped with her in a perilous (definitely life-threatening) situation. I am definitely looking forward to see how Moon develops the plot and reveals more aspects of Ky's character as this new series progresses.

Overall, I would recommend this book to other space opera fans, particularly those who like the work of David Weber, Peter F. Hamilton and Marko Kloos. 

Title: Cold Welcome (Vatta's Peace, #1).
Elizabeth Moon.
Paperback: 464 pages.
Date Published: April 11, 2017.
Date Read: February 20, 2018.

GOODREADS RATING: ★★  (4.0/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A-/B+ (3.5/4.0).

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