Monday, July 26, 2010

Once a Hero

Okay, settle in, this one might take a while.

Those of you who frequent my blog might remember that a few months ago, I reviewed a big sci-fi anthology. Most of the stories were hit and miss for me, more misses than hits, but one of my favorites was by someone named Elizabeth Moon.

So then, a few weeks ago, my wife went to a big used book sale. Before she left, she asked me if I had any books I wanted or any authors she should look for. I figured, hey, nothing ventured, so I told her to keep an eye out for anything by Elizabeth Moon. She returned with close to a dozen books by Moon. Great!

Small problem, though: some of them seemed to be parts of different series. Some of them had spaceships and horses on the cover. A few featured the young lady pictured above with the unfortunate haircut. I had no idea which ones were series and which ones weren't. And to be honest, the little list of books Moon had written inside the books weren't much help either. So finally, doing my level best to decipher things, I decided that Once a Hero must be the first book in a series and I settled in to read it.

The book itself centers around a young woman named Esmay Suiza. Esmay is a lieutenant j.g. in a big galactic fleet and she's just come out of a traumatic experience with her last posting. The repercussions of said traumatic experience take up the first third of the book, so much so that when I was reading it, I kept thinking, "I'd rather read that book instead." I couldn't figure it out; was this really the first book in a series or had I guessed wrong?

Anyway, after the dust settles, Esmay is sent off on a new posting to a big mobile repair ship. She does her best to settle in, even finds a new friend, but there are forces at work both on the ship and outside to make her life difficult.

After reading most of the book, I finally managed to track down the information I needed. This is actually the fourth book in a seven book series. And, truth be told, I'm not sure if I want to go back and read the first three or keep going from this point and read the rest.

I'm not sure what it is that's throwing me off. In some ways, it's because I feel like Esmay really doesn't do much of anything for most of the book. There's a lot of introspection. There's a lot of dealing with stuff that must have happened in the previous book (I'm guessing; since I haven't read it, I can't say for sure). But in the end, the plot, such as it is, felt anticlimactic in many ways.

At the same time, though, there were moments when my mind would gain some traction on the story and that would keep me going. All in all, I'd say it's an average book. Maybe if I had started at the beginning, I would be more inclined to keep going. As it is, I have no idea what I'm going to do with the other Elizabeth Moon books in my "to-be-read" pile. For now, they'll just gather some more dust as I move on to other authors. Who knows? Maybe I'll be back someday.

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