Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Rules of Engagement
Elizabeth Moon
Baen Books, 393 pages

Rules of Engagement
Elizabeth Moon
Elizabeth Moon grew up in south Texas, 250 miles south of San Antonio and eight miles from the Mexican border. She attended Rice University and joined the US Marines in 1968. With a second degree in biology, she entertained thoughts about going to med school after her husband, but circumstances intervened.

Elizabeth Moon Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Remnant Population
Christina Schulman on Rules of Engagement, Once a Hero and Remnant Population
Peter D. Tillman on the Heris Serrano books

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Peter D. Tillman

Rules of Engagement is the sequel to Once a Hero (1997), and shares some supporting characters with the Heris Serrano trilogy (1993-95). It's reasonably self-contained, though you'll enjoy it more if you've read some of the preceding books, all of which I've liked.

Esmay Suiza ("Esmay", the name has to be pig-Latin) is a likeably nerdy young officer. Her heroic exploits overshadow her difficult childhood, her love life is terrible, she's had a bad-hair life... When Brun, rich, spoiled and beautiful, breezes into her life with hairdressing tips, and then goes after Esmay's secret beau... Well!

Another reviewer, Christina Schulman, comments that "these confident, decisive people behave like insecure teenagers when they're thrown together at Command School..." Ah, but I think that's precisely Moon's point -- Cupid's tardy arrow will turn someone like Esmay, a seriously repressed over-achiever, to instant mush. Ms. Moon and I were classmates at Rice in the mid-60s (though I don't think we ever met), and I'm willing to bet she was a TRG, just as I was a TRB -- earnest, nerdy, bad hair, socially-awkward, sexually-repressed... oh god, it's excruciating just to think about those times...

Anyway, Moon's delightfully Wodehousian aunts-in-space arrive just in time to save Esmay's butt (and career), and young love prevails. As usual, Moon's fast-&-furious action, meticulous military-medical backgrounding, and formidable storytelling skills carry the day.

There's another Suiza-Serrano-Familias novel coming, and I'm looking forward to it.

Rules of Engagement is Ms. Moon's fifth book set in her Familias Regnant universe -- an implausible interstellar constitutional-aristocracy with corruption/kleptocracy/rejuvenation problems -- threatened by, e.g., the Bloodhorde barbs-in-space (Once a Hero) and the NuTexas God-fearing Militia (Rules of Engagement). This background was light entertainment for the Heris Serrano books, but Ms. Moon seems to have somewhat deeper intentions for the Esmay Suiza books, and the backstory creaks ominously under the load. After this OCC (obligatory critical carp), I should note that she is just carrying on an historic space-opera convention, and the scratchy backstory will interfere little (if at all) with your reading pleasure.

Copyright © 1999 by Peter D. Tillman

Pete Tillman has been reading SF for better than 40 years now. He reviews SF -- and other books -- for Usenet, "Under the Covers", Infinity-Plus, Dark Planet, and SF Site. He's a mineral exploration geologist based in Arizona. More of his reviews are posted at .

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide