Elizabeth Moon takes the standard elements of Space Opera–FTL drives, ansible communications, scattered (and largely independent) nation-state planets, nasty pirates, slavers, privateers, mercenaries–and mixes them a bit differently than is common in the genre. Her isolated cultures, in particular, are exceptionally well-considered and consistently drawn. She’s also got a knack for story-telling that’s really quite delightful.
I suspect she’s coined a new common element to the Space Opera canon, by the way: Many of her stories have super-competent grandmotherly types who play fairy godmother to their charges. Great fun.
In this story (I’m trying to avoid spoilers), the series’ three principal characters spend quite a bit of time coming to terms with their unexpected leadership roles in their family businesses. They’re fairly, but not entirely, successful.
This review was originally published on LibraryThing.