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Against the Odds    by Elizabeth Moon order for
Against the Odds
by Elizabeth Moon
Order:  USA  Can
Baen, 2001 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

This is the latest in what might be called the Heris Serrano series (though since Once a Hero appeared, Heris has participated only peripherally). Esmay Suiza was a welcome and delightful addition but both these main characters have been joined by far too many substitutes of both sexes. Fortunately, Heris has a somewhat more prominent role Against the Odds which continues, with a slight overlap, after the conclusion of Change of Command.

The story begins with the loyalists stranded by the mutineers at the Fleet Weapons Research Facility on the planet Copper Mountain. The scene then shifts to the Trader family, Terakian and Sons, where Goonar Terakian has just been given the command of his first ship. He becomes involved against his will with an acting troupe which has a most attractive manager, and a secret which makes them flee from the pursuing Black Scratch, the Benignity of the Compassionate Hand.

Esmay Suiza-Serrano (at last married to Barin) has been discharged from Fleet in a rather silly sub-scenario and joins them to get passage to Castle Rock. There Brun Meager is being drawn into the political manoeuvering needed to establish a governing body capable of dealing with the Familias' urgent problems: the Fleet mutiny; the Benignity; the increasing dangers of rejuvenation. Barin Serrano is given a few adventure sequences of his own to deal with, and the book concludes with an action in space joining Esmay and Heris Serrano in battle against an unexpected traitor trying to take his cruiser over to the Benignity.

Finally, all the characters get together in the bar at the Fleet base on Copper Mountain which appeared in Rules of Engagement, and make speeches at each other in a kind of epilogue, which I am appalled to say very much resembles a farewell to the series. Admittedly, the last two books have a few flaws, but the series taken as a whole is fascinating. I will be devastated if I can find out nothing more about the Benignity of the Compassionate Hand, and what if anything can be done to use and not abuse rejuvenation. Please, oh please Ms Moon, don't abandon us in our ignorance!

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