HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Book review: Elizabeth Moon – The Serrano Legacy series

Posted by HelenEdith on September 24, 2007

I’ve gathered together reviews for all the books in this series, which I had on file. Beware that each review necessarily reveals the direction in which the earlier books in the series are going!

Hunting Party

This is Book One of The Serrano Legacy series, and is the first book by Elizabeth Moon alone that I have read. I have read quite a bit of work where she collaborates with Anne McCaffrey, and all I can say is that the two have similar enough styles that their collaborations blend rather well, and that Elizabeth Moon by herself is a pretty good storyteller, too.

The action in this book follows Heris Serrano, who has resigned her commission with the Regular Space Service, when forced to do so by an unscrupulous senior officer. She takes a job as captain of a luxury space yacht called Sweet Delight, owned by a rich old woman who travels extensively, and is bound, at the time of this story, for a planet on which foxhunting has been recreated.

There is quite a bit in this book about horses, but there’s also an underlying plot relating to the activities of the crew of Sweet Delight, and there’s a further plot relating to the unscrupulous senior officer who caused Heris to resign in the first place. Add in a spoilt nephew and the Prince he managed to offend, and there’s quite a lot of action going on.

I can’t wait to get hold of the next book in the series, Sporting Chance. I think Elizabeth Moon may feature quite heavily in my reading lists while I work my way through all seven books in this series.

Sporting Chance

This is the second book in the Serrano Legacy series.

In this book, Heris Serrano has a VIP passenger on the Sweet Delight: none other than her employer Cecilia’s nephew Prince Gerel. Prince Gerel was in a spot of bother at the end of “Hunting Party” and Cecilia is returning him to his parents as discreetly as possible. During the voyage, she notices that Prince Gerel, who should be of above average intelligence, actually appears to be stupid and she suspects that somebody is somehow poisoning the Prince.

She takes her suspicions to the King, and it sets in train a series of events which include a fair bit of murder and mayhem and result in Heris Serrano “liberating” the Sweet Delight and becoming a fugitive.

The adventure comes to a satisfactory conclusion, but there will be another adventure along in “Winning Colours” and I can’t wait to see what Heris Serrano gets up to next.

Winning Colours

This is the third book in the Serrano Legacy series, and is just as readable as the first two.

Lady Cecilia, newly rejuvenated, is ready to tour horse farms on a variety of planets, so that’s where the yacht “Sweet Delight” heads – right into trouble, as one of the horse farms is located on a planet which gets raided by the Compassionate Hand, a rival alliance to the Familias Regnant alliance where Heris Serrano’s loyalties lie. Unfortunately, the Fleet battlegroup sent to defend the planet are commanded by a man who is secretly in the pay of the Compassionate Hand, who are anything but compassionate to those they raid. Naturally, Heris gets all mixed up in what’s going on.

Meanwhile, some of the young people from the Familias Regnant have been sent on a mission to discover whether there are irregularities in the rejuvenation drugs being used by the wealthy to extend their lives. They find themselves in a spot of bother, and end up on a planet called Patchcock, where all sorts of trouble is brewing. Once Heris has sorted out the Compassionate Hand incursion, she ends up on Patchcock too, along with three formidable Familias Regnant aunts, and between them all, they get matters sorted out.

If I didn’t know that there were another four books in this series, I would have said that this was the end of the series, as this book ends with the tying up of pretty much all of the loose ends that have been lying around. I will be interested to see what’s in store in the fourth book, as Heris rejoins Fleet. I hope that such Characters as Lady Cecilia, her nephew Ronnie, and Brun, a girl from another of the Familias Regnant, continue to play a part in the rest of the series.

Once a Hero

This is book four of the Serrano Legacy, and it goes off on a completely different track from the first three books, whose main character was Heris Serrano, with a cast of supporting characters from the Familias Regnant. This book develops the character of Esmay Suiza, who appeared in book three as the junior officer with the most seniority after a mutiny who stepped into the captain’s role and won a battle.

Suiza turns out to be worthy of having a whole book devoted to her as she deals with the Court Martial which followed the mutiny, then goes on home leave to her world of origin, Antiplano, where she finds out disturbing information about her early years. On her return to Fleet, she is posted to a Deep Space Repair ship, where she handles her notoriety well and becomes a well liked Lieutenant.

Of course, life isn’t going to remain easy on the huge ship, as there is skullduggery afoot in the form of the Bloodhorde, who manage to infiltrate the huge ship. Suiza’s previous combat experience catapults her into the limelight once more, where she gets into the thick of the action.

There is a Serrano in this book. He is a young Ensign, and his path crosses Esmay Suiza’s and they become friends. I think we might see some more of both of them in book five of the series.

Rules of Engagement

In book five of the Serrano Legacy, we continue to follow the story of Esmay Suiza, but Brun Meager pops up as well.

Esmay Suiza has transferred from Technical Track to Command Track and now has to attend a large number of training courses which weren’t part of Technical Track, so she is doing more courses than anyone else at Copper Mountain, and doesn’t have much time for socialising.

Barin Serrano is also attending courses at Copper Mountain, as is Brun Meager, who is a civilian. Brun takes a shine to Barin, which doesn’t exactly endear her to Esmay, who doesn’t have time to consolidate her own claim to Barin. It all culminates in Esmay speaking her mind rather bluntly to Brun, which puts a question mark over Esmay’s name when Brun leaves the academy at Copper Mountain and charters a space yacht to return to her family, but never arrives.

Esmay gets posted to a search and rescue vessel which finds traces of Brun’s missing yacht. Meanwhile the story also follows what has happened to Brun, which is that her kidnappers have taken her back to their home world to breed from!

Fleet work out which world Brun has been taken to, and mount a rescue mission in which Suiza is eventually allowed to participate. Brun participates actively in her own rescue when it appears that she is about to be betrayed, and we end up with an exciting drama taking place on a derelict space station.

Brun and Esmay make up at the end of it all, but I’m very interested to know what’s in store for Barin Serrano in the next book, as he’s acquired rather a lot of “wives” from the planet where Brun’s kidnappers lived.

I managed to read most of this book one night over the holiday weekend, and didn’t turn my light out until there was starting to be light coming in from outside.

Change of Command

This, the sixth book in the Serrano Legacy series, got some rather mixed reviews when I looked it up on Amazon, and I can see how people who hadn’t read the rest of the series may have felt a bit lost with it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and was intrigued by how some of the many threads from the previous five books are coming together and have a relationship I hadn’t previously suspected. I also enjoyed meeting so many of my old friends from the previous five books, even if some, like Heris Serrano, only put in a cameo appearance.

The incident which opens this book is the assassination of Lord Thornbuckle. This sets in train a series of events relating to who is going to succeed him as Speaker in the Grand Council of the Familias Regnant, and also who is going to inherit his personal wealth.

The theme of traitors in Fleet, the Regular Space Service, which has been central to the whole series, continues in this book, too.

Then we have the desire of Esmay Suiza and Barin Serrano to marry: a desire which is being continually thwarted by the heightened state of alert that Fleet is maintaining and enormous amounts of paperwork that Fleet require them to fill in. Esmay’s status as an Altiplano Landbride is becoming a huge stumbling block, as are the women Barin rescued at the end of book five, for whom Fleet is deducting maintenance from his pay!

This book is definitely not an ending book, and if I didn’t know that there was a seventh book out there waiting to be read, I would expect one to come along before too long, as this book leaves a massive number of loose ends and unresolved conflicts. I will definitely be visiting the library for book seven sooner rather than later.

Against the Odds

This is the seventh and final part of the Serrano Legacy series and is more action-packed than the sixth part was.

Esmay and Barin contracted a runaway marriage at the end of the sixth book, and early in this book she gets booted out of Fleet on the orders of Admiral Serrano. The only thing is: which Admiral Serrano, as there are several of them.

Esmay travels on a trading ship and eventually reaches Castle Rock, the seat of power for the Familias Regnant, where she is hoping that Brun Thornbuckle may be able to help her to get reinstated. Brun has all sorts of problems of her own after her father’s death, and she has been going about solving those, but she takes the time to help Esmay out.

Lady Cecilia de Marktos also pops up again, and is taking care of a rather touchy family problem when she gets captured by Fleet mutineers. Lady Cecilia, being Lady Cecilia, manages to escape from the mutineers in a suitably creative way, assisted by loyal members of the crew of the ship she gets taken to.

Meanwhile, it turns out that joining the Mutiny isn’t the only way that officers in Fleet can go bad, and Esmay, reinstated and given command of her own ship, and Heris Serrano together manage to foil the defection of an Admiral Minor.

With the Fleet Mutiny under control and other assorted traitors taken care of, the series has come to an end. I think that there could have been some more good stories in there about some of the other characters who have popped up during the series, but I suppose you have to draw a line under a series somewhere, and now that people aren’t fighting, any further books would be rather more political in nature and less action packed, so maybe Elizabeth Moon has made a good decision in finishing where she has.

If she ever decides to write another series in the same universe, I’ll definitely be reading it, though. As it is, I think I’ll be exploring some of her other series.

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