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Title: Once a Hero
Author: Elizabeth Moon


Lt. (Jr. Grade) Esmay Suiza just wants to be left alone. She’s happy in the service, she never wants to go home again, and she’s competent in her job as a techy. Everything would be perfect, if it wasn’t for her nightmares. As the book opens, she has become the youngest and lowest ranking office ever to win a battle, after committing mutiny against a traitorous Captain.

The military (being the military) puts her on trial for mutiny. (Her total confusion and feelings of guilt are conveyed remarkably well by Moon.) She is exonerated of any and all crimes, although the VIP’s can’t understand how a technical-track officer acted like a Commander. As her ‘reward’, first they send her home (more nightmares) and then she is sent out to the North 40 to a gargantuan shipyard in space, the R.S.S. Koskiusko.

Her notoriety is a pain and she just wants to be left alone. The lower officers idolize her and the higher officers don’t trust her. To make things worse, a relative of the Serrano family is on board. The nightmares have gotten better, but not gone away.

The villains in this book are called The Bloodhorde. They want warships,with lots of weapons. They can’t build them, or buy them, and haven’t been able to capture them. What better place to get warships, and upgrades for their own shuttle-size ships, than a shipyard?

Great characterizations, corridor battles and space combat, EVA, FTL, sabotage, political and military back-biting, a touch of romance, horses, rock-climbing....what a book. Esmay becomes so real, you just want to SHAKE her when she acts so insecure and timid. I read this one at redlights, at work, in the MacDonald’s drive-thru, and had red-eyes in the AM from staying up too late reading. I loved it. :>

Reviewer: Gandalara

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