Hunting Party (The Serrano Legacy Book 1) - Elizabeth Moon

Elizabeth Moon is my go-to writer when I want to read a story that concludes with someone getting shot in the face for being a grade-A tool, and Hunting Party does not disappoint. The space elements are more personalised and less mercantile-capitalism-a-la-Elite 101 than the Vatta's War books, although everything still takes place from within a very fiscally conservative worldview.

 

The main joy with Moon, however, is her study and interest in female friendships and relationships within the hybrid home-work space of an enclosed vessel (or also, in the case of the Vatta books, a family firm). Frustratingly, despite a minor lesbian character, introduced as an aside in a way that suggests there is no stigma in this setting, the main characters never consummate the clearly sexual relationship that is brewing between them, with a rather half-hearted and completely un-foreshadowed male love interest turning up in the final chapters. Also frustrating is that the people who draw the covers for Moon's books have clearly never read the descriptions of the characters they contain.

 

But these are minor quibbles for what is, ultimately, a book about someone being shot in the face. Hunting Party's face shooting sequence is as satisfying as any that Moon has written. It is set up clearly and dramatically, so that when it comes it is well-earned by both reader and protagonist, with an efficiency and satisfaction that stand in contrast to the equivocation of the Vatta books, counterpointing rather than undermining those and ensuring that, despite surface similarities, Moon's heroines remain distinct individuals.