The second in Elizabeth Moon's tense adventure series featuring newly minted spaceship captain Kylara Vatta, Marque and Reprisal begins with a series of surprise attacks on Ky's family business, Vatta Transport. Ky survives an assassination attempt only to find that the ansibles (real-time communication devices) are down and she is cut off from her family headquarters. With a ragtag crew of followers, Ky sets out to find out who was behind the attacks and to avenge her family.
Stuck with an old ship and few resources, Ky receives a very useful package containing defensive mines and a "Marque" a certificate legalizing her status as a government-sponsored pirateer. Unsure whether to use it or not, she finds that possession of the Marque means she is already a pirate in the minds of many.
Although the novel is set in the far future, the gender roles are from the 1950s, which makes us wonder: surely the concept of a young woman spaceship captain will not be all that surprising in distant centuries? Perhaps Moon hopes to expand her younger readers' horizons, but others may find the straitjacketed roles puzzling. Still, Moon is a smooth and skilled writer with a growing following, and it will be interesting to see where the future takes pirate captain Ky.