Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Orbit (6 Nov 2003)
Ky Vatta begins on an unpromising note - drummed out of her till-now-promising cadetship when she causes a major political embarrassment to the training academe. So it's off back home, to her family, where she licks her wounds for a bit before being offered a post with the family shipping firm. She's tasked to skipper a ship on one last voyage, before it arrives at the scrapyards to be junked.
Of course, being the intelligent, ambitious, feisty (fill in any other adjectives here) sort of person she is, she's naturally ambitious to save this craft from being destroyed. It only needs repairs, after all. Lots of repairs, but with some judicious trading on the way, she could end up captain for good. And so, she takes on a contract.
Unfortunately, she ends up with an incapacitated craft (the FTL drive failed earlier than expected) docked to a space station in an incipient war zone. And life starts to get complicated because what can she do with a civilian craft when a mercenary force is around? Well, follow instructions very, very carefully, for one, even when that means taking on board every last non-combatant in the region, and having to keep them all alive.
If I have a criticism, it's that Vatta is just too competent. But she's likeable for all that,
Great fun, the start of a promising series.