Printing Date: 2008
The jacket blurb actually says very little about the story:
Two Full-Length Novels of Space Adventure:
Once a Hero: Esmay Suiza wasn’t a member of a great Navy family like the Serranos. She’d had to make her way on grit alone, which meant it wasn’t likely she’d make admiral, but all she wanted was to be part of the Fleet. But then she ended up a raging space battle, and was the only one who could stop a superior office turned traitor. She had never wanted to be a hero, but fate had other ideas. . . .
Rules of Engagement: Brun Meager is a young woman from a rich and powerful family, which had a lot to do with why Esmay Suiza didn’t get along with her, not to mention both having an amorous interest in Barin Serrano. When Brun was abducted by a repressive religious militia movement that makes the 21st century Taliban look like a bunch of Unitarians, Esmay was suspected of having connived in the capture to eliminate a rival. To clear herself, it looked like Esmay would have to locate and rescue Brun. Time to be a hero again. . . .
This is an omnibus edition of two of Elizabeth Moon's science fiction novels Once A Hero and Rules of Engagement. The next two are being released as one in the beginning of September as The Serrano Succession.
The Serrano Connection starts out right in the middle of the story, in the aftermath of a mutiny aboard the Despite. That's where things get interesting. I have the feeling that it's continuing on from the ending of Winning Colors in the Heris Serrano omnibus, although I've yet to actually finish that book. The story still makes complete sense though.
The mutiny that Esmaya ended up leading, despite being only a very junior officer being over, she hopes to go back to an ordinary career in the Royal Space Service, while finding out more about this intriguing Ensign she's met. Given that it's at the very beginning of the book, do you really think that's going to happen? Nope. Of course not.
As the story goes, we find out more about Esmaya and her background, although some of the details are still not yet filled in. Personally I'd like to find out more about Altiplano, her home planet.
And that's just the first book. In the second book, Rules of Engagement, Esmaya thinks she's finally gotten her life on the proper track, only to run into a political situation which escalates rapidly.
I know I've read these two books before, but it's been so long that reading The Serrano Connection was almost like reading a new book again: familiar, but not. I remembered the very basics of the story (along the lines of "oh...this is the book where such and such happened") as I was reading it.
It's really neat the way she mixes high and low technologies, such as horseback riding and space-flight, and it's all done in such a way that it fits together. The one doesn't seem out of place in the world of the other at all.
Honestly, I think that if you liked the Vatta's War series, also by Elizabeth Moon, I really think you'll like these two books. Now, I am trying to hunt down the next books in the series so I don't have to wait until September to continue reading. Hopefully the library will have them (or be able to interlibrary loan them to me) along with Trading in Danger, the first of the Vatta's War books.