cover image Once a Hero

Once a Hero

Elizabeth Moon, Moon. Baen Books, $21 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-671-87769-9

Over the last decade, Moon (Remnant Population) has established herself as one of the best-known and most acclaimed writers of SF adventure. Her latest novel expands the setting of her Heris Serrano space opera series, popular for its smooth blending of martial action and unusual cultural perspective. Born on a colony world where the inbred military culture doesn't allow women to command, Lieutenant Junior Grade Esmay Suiza is the first person from her planet to attend the Fleet Academy and graduate into service aboard one of the great military ships. After joining a mutiny against a traitorous captain, assuming command and leading her ship successfully through intense combat, Suiza wants nothing more than to return to anonymity. The stress of that brief, bloody command and a subsequent court martial, however, have brought up old nightmares that can't be laid to rest until Suiza can come to terms with a horrible childhood trauma whose real nature her parents have kept from her for more than 10 years. In spite of a few too-convenient plot twists, this is a satisfying read, full of the finely detailed settings and excitement that Moon's readers have come to expect, and featuring a heroine whose self-doubts and inner strength lend her considerable appeal. (Mar.)