Cold Welcome (Vatta’s Peace) by Elizabeth Moon [Book Review]
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Cold Welcome is the first in Vatta’s Peace, a new series following on from the Vatta’s War series. This first book takes Admiral Ky Vatta to a new and unfamiliar place, away from her space fleet and into a desperate survival in arctic waters after a shuttle crash.
Cold Welcome – the review
You don’t really need to have read the Vatta’s War series to get Cold Welcome. The book recaps the main elements of Vatta’s War. The start scenario is that Admiral Ky Vatta is returning to her home planet of Slotter Key. She is met by the Commandant of the Space Academy that she last met when she was asked to resign at the beginning of the Vatta’s War series.
Like the previous series Cold Welcome is based around a conspiracy that the Vatta’s and their allies are on the wrong side of. The mistrust is front and centre and several characters come under suspicion to both Ky and the reader. The shuttle taking Ky and a couple of dozen other local military personnel to the surface is sabotaged, giving the Cold Welcome of the title, and also landing them into arctic waters next to a mystery continent marked only as “Terraforming Failure” on maps and atlases. The sabotage extends to keeping the survivors in a comms blackout at the maximum extent of the Search and Rescue operational range.
Both pilots, the Academy Commandant and half a dozen others are killed by booby trapped survival suits, Ky Vatta and her aide survive because they wear the ones they brought rather than the ones provided. When they launch the life rafts they find that the transponders and other kit has been removed.
Much of Cold Welcome is a very well researched survival story. There are loads of details on the situation, the drills and how the various survivors cope (or not) with their situation. Various mishaps occur, and Ky slowly pieces together aspects of the conspiracy. In a parallel track we see her Aunt Grace as Rector of Defence and chief civilian in the Dept of Defence. Grace is doing her own digging to find out why the shuttle went down and who was responsible. Into this mix Rafe Dunbarger, Ky’s lover and CEO of the Interstellar Communications Corp appears to help find Ky.
Between them a clearer picture of the conspiracy is built up. It’s an ancient centuries old cover up, and predates Slotter Key’s war of unification (in which Grace Vatta was a clandestine agent). There’s a major showdown as a finale, but it’s also clear that this is really just the curtain closer on Act One.
Overall I really enjoyed Cold Welcome. I stayed up late one night to read it, taking advantage of it being a four day holiday weekend. I’m looking forward to more episodes in the Vatta’s Peace series.