cover image Change of Command

Change of Command

Elizabeth Moon. Baen Books, $21 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-671-57840-4

Continuing her epic, intergalactic series set in the distant future (Rules of Engagement, etc.), Moon's latest novel follows the tumultuous romance of Esmay Suiza and offworlder Barin Serrano while tracking a bevy of new political intrigues among the Familias Regnant. When Bunny Thornbuckle, head of the dynastic Family, is assassinated, slimy Hobart Conselline maneuvers into power as the new council speaker and solidifies his position with harsh new laws aimed at isolating Thornbuckle's widow, Miranda, and his daughter, Brun. As a suitable new home is found for the bastard children Brun was forced to bear in Rules of Engagement, Miranda allies herself with a former aide of Thornbuckle's who has survived the assassination and is now battling opposing elements within the Family. Meanwhile, young lovers Esmay and Barin are betrothed, despite some difficulties with their military posts and the bad feeling between their families. Even with the proliferation of subplots, the novel moves slowly at times and may appeal more to readers who appreciate romance than space opera. Still, series fans should enjoy it and, with so many plot threads left unresolved--who will assume leadership of the Family? what waits in battle for the young lovers?--there's little doubt that epic will continue into the next millennium. (Dec.)