Hunting Party is the first of Elizabeth Moon’s space-military novels, and it is a very good one. This book’s only flaw is that it does not dig into complex issues or ethical conflicts – this is a fun book and executes its mission of fun pretty flawlessly. It’s worth locating a copy, which may take effort since it was published in 1993.
The book establishes all sorts of the themes which are explored successfully in later novels. You could compare it to Jordan’s first Wheel of time, Eye of the World, insofar as this stands alone yet subtly introduces dozens of themes and characters that are later developed in multiple novels.
- The space crews are and navigation are believable and complex – jump points are tricky and waste sludge produces poisonous gas
- Medical science is advanced and people can ‘rejuv’ so they don’t look any older
- There’s a wonderfully menacing bad guy with the mysterious Admiral Lepescu, who was the real cause for Heris needing to leave the military.
- The point of view shifts naturally between protagonists, providing insights to both sides of the action without clumsy exposition.
The climax hunt scenes are viscerally described with the smells and sounds of dirt, stone, and blood.
The main character is Heris Serrano, an ex Regular Space Service ship commander who had to resign in some sort of disgrace. Heris is an excellent leader and deals coolly with obnoxious rich kids as well as incompetent lazy crew.
Heris’ new employer is Lady Cecelia de Marektos, an older eccentric woman with a her own space yacht. Lady Cecelia rarely cares what others think of her but is open to learning new things.
Bubbles Thornbuckle is introduced as the spoiled rich girl, yet develops her desire for independence even within this book.