Audiobook Review: Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 1 of Vatta’s Peace
Publisher: Audible Studios (April 11, 2017)
Length: 14 hrs and 1 min
Author Information: Website
Narrator: Brittany Pressley
Cold Welcome was my first Elizabeth Moon, and what an excellent surprise it was! Knowing little about the book, I dove right in thinking it would be your run-of-the-mill military science fiction, so imagine my delight when I found out it was more of a survival adventure.
The star of the novel is Admiral Kylara Vatta, a space-fleet commander returning to her home world of Slotter Key where a hero’s welcome awaits her. But when sabotage brings her shuttle down over the most inhospitable part of the planet, what greets her instead is death and rough icy seas. With most of the shuttle’s passengers dead from the crash, Ky and all those who are left on the life rafts must do what they can to survive until the rescue crews can reach them.
However, as time goes on, the hope that someone will find them before the winter sets in begins to fade. So far Ky’s leadership has kept them going far beyond what they expected, but soon the survivors will need better shelter and a new source of food. And yet when they make landfall on a rocky beach, they find their conditions are only marginally improved. This continent, apparently abandoned because of failed terraforming efforts, has little in terms of resources, but what the survivors do find is a secret military base that certain shadowy groups have gone to great lengths to conceal. Now there is a new fear that those coming for the survivors might not be their rescuers at all, but in fact the saboteurs looking to finish the job. Meanwhile, there are those in Ky’s circle of loved ones who still believe her to be alive, and thus begins a race against time to unravel the conspiracy before more lives are lost.
Like I said, Cold Welcome was my first novel by Elizabeth Moon, so I had no background knowledge of the story or any of the characters prior to starting. But even though it is actually the first book of a new sequel series to Vatta’s War, I still found it perfectly accessible as a newcomer to the world. The protagonist Ky hails from a powerful family that runs a large interstellar shipping corporation. Seeking a life outside Vatta Enterprises, however, she had enrolled in the Spaceforce Academy, only to be forced to resign and driven back to captaining an old trade ship for the family business. As luck would have it though, the military training she received came in handy during the war that followed, and she was able to bring victory to her side. All this was revealed organically in the brief introduction with no need for any awkward info-dumping, and soon the story was drawing me deeper into the drama and action.
Personally, I love sci-fi survival stories. They pit characters against the harsh environment—not an enemy you can just shoot. Ky’s shuttle ends up crashing into a vast ocean in subzero temperatures, and from there it’s just one disaster after another as Moon throws all kinds of dangers at our characters, from failing equipment to shark attacks. Often, survival stories also go hand in hand with space disasters, so as a bonus you get a good mix of thrills and suspense. But above all, I enjoy reading about the courage and resourcefulness of those who find themselves in a tight spot, and tales of group survival are even more interesting because of the different personalities and social interactions. And in the case of Ky’s group, tensions climb even higher when she starts suspecting a traitor in their midst.
What follows is a tale of adventure, but also a mystery as Ky struggles to keep everyone alive while attempting to root out their saboteur. I thought she was an amazing character who was intelligent, capable, but also wise enough to know she does not have all the answers. One of her first acts, which raised my esteem of her even more, was to learn more about her fellow survivors and take in account all of their skills and knowledge. They say that a good leader knows how to lead, but also knows when to follow, which is a principle Ky subscribes to as she defers to those who know more than her in certain areas. I love the sections where she attempts to keep the group running like well-oiled machine, relying on the routine of duty to distract themselves from their predicament. This is, after all, a military science fiction story as much as it is a tale of survival.
Why do I love Mil Sci-fi? Well, action and political intrigue are very good incentives, but I was also pleased to find that Cold Welcome encompassed all that and a whole lot more. It’s always nice to get something unexpected, even better when the surprise turns out to be so much fun, and after this book I can’t wait to try even more by Elizabeth Moon.
Audiobook Comments: I was lucky enough to receive the audiobook of Cold Welcome for review, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The narration by Brittany Pressley, if not phenomenal, was well done and completely satisfactory. Overall I have no real issues with the production and I would recommend it!