The second book of Vatta’s War finally gets to the ‘war’. Things take a very violent turn at the start, and everything follows on for that.

We get a little bit of the opposing viewpoint near the beginning, but nothing after that, so it’s still too early to know what exactly the plan is. However, there’s a feel that they might be a bit incompetent for how competent they’re acting.

Part of the setup is InterStellar Communications has an enforced monopoly on… communications. You can travel from system to system easily enough, and bring things with you, but if you want to send a direct message FTL, you go though ISC. Thankfully, they seem to be a good ‘neutral carrier’, and trustworthy, even as they’re making money off of you. As the book goes on, it becomes obvious they’ve been stifling progress with FTL communications to maintain their monopoly. Okay, fine, nice bit, and some twist in there… but then it jumps a couple orders of magnitude, which makes you wonder why this hasn’t broken loose before. And then, the final version of that jumps the shark at the end.

Outside of Macguffin concerns, there’s a lot to like. The characters all are well drawn, and Kylara continues to be a great central character. This time, there’s a lot more of the action promised but not delivered by the first book. The space-lanes are suddenly a lot less safe than they have been, and Ky is still in an old, slow, merchant carrier that’s on its way to being sold for scrap. At least, if viable ships of any type weren’t suddenly a rare commodity for Vatta Transport….

The Macguffin problem seems aimed at giving Ky a super-ability for the next book, so much will depend on just how badly that gets abused next time. Short of that, it’s a solidly-written book, with good action, and characters who have to struggle with what the violence means.