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Once a Hero (The Serrano Legacy, #4)
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Once a Hero (The Serrano Legacy #4)

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,976 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
When Esmay Suiza found herself in the middle of a space battle, the senior surviving officer, she had no choice but to take command and win. She didn't want to be a hero, but Once A Hero....
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published 1997 by Baen Books
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Military Science Fiction
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65th out of 683 books — 819 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 04, 2016 Dan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Feb 25, 2008 Thomas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm having a hard time reconciling the reviews for this book with this book. My standards for Space Opera are not especially high, but this thing is an incoherent mess.

It starts out as a military courtroom drama, referring back to the events of (I hope) another book. It morphs into a clumsy soldier returns home/ fish out of water story, turns into a military maintenance procedural before becoming a fairly unambitious actioner, before changing back into a trauma recovery story with a romance sta
Beth Cato
Apr 10, 2012 Beth Cato rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a break, I'm continuing with the Serrano Legacy series by Elizabeth Moon. The first three books on Heris Serrano--though good--were a bit of a disappointment. I was pleased to find this book, continuing the series with a bit character from WINNING COLORS, was much better and more scifi opera in the style of her later Vatta's War series.[return][return]Esmay Suiza didn't intend to be a hero. But when her spaceship was captained by a traitor, she and others rose in mutiny. Esmay ended up as ...more
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Oct 20, 2015 Rachel (Kalanadi) rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Much better than the first three books - and much darker. I suppose I'd put in a trigger warning for rape or childhood sexual assault on this, but it is not at all graphic, just a very difficult thing Esmay learns she needs help to deal with it. I quite like that this is an SF book strongly proclaiming that getting help for mental health is not a weakness. Some excellent military SF elements included too: watch for the EVA walk on the outside of a ship during FTL! Really cool visuals in that, pl ...more
Sep 17, 2008 Marc rated it really liked it
This was the first of the Familias books I read, and in many ways the best. Not necessarily a good thing. In some ways, this book is an attempt to breathe new life into the series, leaving the played out tales of Heris Serrano behind and moving to a newer and less defined character. It suffers from having to do all the development work in a single book. There are a number of all-too-obvious foreshadowing elements, but these don't ruin the story. I enjoyed the book for what I enjoy other Moon boo ...more
Barbara Brien
I'm starting to think that no one appreciates this book the way I do. I love, love, love this book. Why? It speaks to me, of greatness thrust upon you, of vulnerability, of the family you are born to and the family you acquire, of overcoming trauma, of seeing the big picture, and of taking control of your own life.

When I first read this book, I identified with the main character, as someone who had experienced too many of the same events she did, and needed to learn some of the things she did.
Dana Stabenow
Aug 02, 2009 Dana Stabenow rated it really liked it
I am constantly amazed and as a writer humbled by the mastery of absolutely convincing detail that Elizabeth Moon displays in her Vatta and Serrano series, without ever neglecting character or letting the detail get in the way of the plot. No matter how minute the detail (three leaky tubes of adhesive) it always goes somewhere (the disabling of an enemy ship and the complete rout of an entire barbarian horde). This is one of her best yet.
May 09, 2015 Kim rated it did not like it
As with too many military sci fi, this book uses sexual violence as a cop out for actual character depth.
Jun 29, 2013 Mardel rated it liked it
I enjoy a good SciFi novel; especially one that features a woman who is strong and can take things in stride, learning along the way, etc. I also enjoy the whole SciFi feel - the space travel, the talk of FTL travel, all the little gadgetry - nano bots, etc - that go into a book concerning the future and all the possibilities. It's even better when it's obvious that the author knows his or her science but DOES NOT ram it down our throats in the form of pages and pages of science lectures and ''l ...more
Mar 17, 2016 Cloak88 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Slight bit cartoonish, but a good read nonetheless.

Esmay Suiza introduced in the previous novel as the green as grass junior lieutenant who stopped the mutiny on her ship and came back to help is now the main character. Being naturally reserved both in character and culture she rather disliking her newfound status as a Hero.

After endless scrutiny on the military side, a far more personal story begins. A story with a few clicés, but gripping and intense. You dive into her past and slowly discov
May 14, 2014 Gemma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This and the next three novels in the Serrano Legacy tell the story of Esmay Suiza, who is first introduced in the third novel, Winning Colours. Of the series, I personally prefer the Suiza novels which, whilst still sitting firmly in the space opera genre, also provide a bit of space adventure/action. Esmay is a dedicated and bright lieutenant, and certainly made for an interesting, engaging, and enjoyable character to read/follow.

However, I felt it did, on occasion, slightly stretch the bounds
Scott Holstad
Sep 27, 2015 Scott Holstad rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Call me completely dumb, but I read a full 300 pages of this novel before giving up because it had gotten so progressively STUPID. God, it was a stupid and boring novel. This was my first Elizabeth Moon novel and I had always heard pretty good things about her, but this was not a good introduction to her work for me. When I bought this, I didn't know that this was the fourth book in a large series. It would have helped to read the preceding book and from what I could tell, the preceding book wou ...more
Feb 03, 2015 springsnotfail rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert 'Rev. Bob'
Structurally, this book is kind of an odd duck. It functions both as a sequel to the Heris Serrano trilogy that precedes it and as the beginning of a new series that stars a different character. As such, there are a few sharp edges. I had read the first three books some time ago - long enough that I was essentially coming to this one cold - and as a result, the court-martial that takes up a large chunk of the beginning of this book felt both confusing and overlong. If I'd come into this book fre ...more
Aug 13, 2009 Ron rated it really liked it
I was at the bookstore last year and I asked a stranger to recommend something. This is the book he pulled off the shelf for me. The author is a woman with military experience, who is writing about a strong female character. Worth reading!

From Amazon

Elizabeth Moon grew up on the Texas-Mexico border, a voracious reader and early writer. She spent much of her early years in a hardware store where nothing was in shrink-wrap or little plastic containers, and mule collars still hung on the back wall.
"Once a Hero" by Elizabeth Moon was a pretty good book. Just finished it. This is my first Elizabeth Moon novel. I decided to pick up one of her books after hearing an interview of her on Seems like a nice lady... living right here in Austin, Texas!

This is military science fiction. A 2nd Lt find herself in the middle of a mutiny. The Captain is a traitor and is taking the ship out of battle...running. The senior officers object and a mutiny ensues. After intense battle only the jun
David Blue
Mar 14, 2012 David Blue rated it really liked it
I have a fondness for space opera, and an interest in them with female heros. David Weber's Honor Harrington series comes to mind, but for my money this second half of Elizabeth Moon's Serrano Legacy takes many of the same elements to fashion a genuinely compelling story.

A space opera by its very nature requires world building and this one feels true. As messy and compelling as real life, sans final or simple answers. Esmay Suiza, the central character of these books, seems to me a very human pe
Aug 05, 2012 G33z3r rated it really liked it
Once it gets finally rolling, "Once a Hero" becomes a fast-paced space opera adventure story.

The story is a spinoff from Moon's earlier Heris Serrano trilogy. Esmay Suiza was a minor character whose five pages of fame occurred at the conclusion of "Winning Colors", a junior Lieutenant who ended up briefly in command of the space ship as the senior survivor after a bloody mutiny against its traitorous captain. This story picks up after those events, with Suiza's court-martial (for the mutiny) and
Aug 13, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: sffantasy
I really like this book. I read somewhere that she decided to start a new universe with Vatta's War because she thought the Familias Regnant worldbuilding was starting to creak under its own weight, but IMO the only thing that doesn't hold up is the computers (data cubes? Really? It's sort of hard to believe they sounded perfectly reasonable in the 90s, but I know they did, I was there), and the universe is just more fun. I'm much more fond of Space Aristocracies than I am of Space Corporate Plu ...more
Celia Powell
Dec 20, 2007 Celia Powell rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
In a bit of a departure from this series, Heris Serrano is no longer the central character. Instead, we follow Esmay Suiza as she deals with the aftermath of her taking command of a ship following a mutiny, and returning to support Heris in battle. Esmay is an intriguing character, and is obviously dealing with something traumatic in her past, which is gradually revealed throughout the book. While sometimes I was a little sceptical of other characters' willingness to defer to a junior officer's ...more
Vickey Foggin
Nov 03, 2014 Vickey Foggin rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, space-opera
This spinoff series is less fun than the preceding Heris Serrano series, but more of a thrilling action-filled read. I found myself staying up waaaaaay too late to find out what happened next. I think Esmay Suiza has interesting potential (as her superior officers note) and I was rooting for her to overcome her self-doubt and shine the way she should. A very realistic character and lots of space adventure awesomeness. Liked it a lot!
Nov 18, 2014 Jonathan rated it did not like it
Being bored is okay. I was somewhat bored with the start of the book but hey, it's supposed to be the start of a new trilogy.

So I cheated. I checked a wiki just to see if I want to continue with the Serrano series, after all... four books. A bit of an investment.

Then I discovered the plot twist coming up for Brun. No thank you, I'm done. The rest of the books can hang, I have lost all interest.
May 10, 2011 Swallowfeather rated it liked it
An enjoyable read. This is more "hard" sci-fi than I usually go, with the obviously realistic military & spaceship detail, etc, which is quite well-done even if I probably don't appreciate it properly. I liked the characters, especially Esmay, and people's actions and reactions rang true, but somehow to me there was a flatness to the way it was told. I also didn't like the parts told from the Bloodhorde/evil contractors points of view at all. To me there's no point in getting inside the bad ...more
Joseph Santiago
Nov 09, 2014 Joseph Santiago rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book but found the change of perspective to a solid focus on Esma a bit jarring. This was an easy read that got me solidly beginning to ask myself what I would do in the character's place. It is a hard one to review without giving away spoilers but I am beginning to see how the author is pushing back against gender and other cultural stereotypes with these characters. This was a good read.

Mr. Joe
Jul 30, 2009 Unwisely rated it liked it
Once again Elizabeth Moon sucked me in. This picks up with a character from the last Heris Serrano books and follows her through a trial and onto her first assignment. I stayed up too late reading about her daily activities as a junior lieutenant on a maintenance cruiser. Seriously, it was that interesting. Interesting enough side plots, a love interest, and while it does feature my all-time SFF pet peeve (explained here in webcomic form) but managed to be engrossing despite that.

Also, while I'
Dec 14, 2012 Kate rated it liked it
Elizabeth Moon's science fiction is my favorite form of space opera. She writes action quite well, including both close combat and battles between spaceships, she has strong female characters (often in the military), and I'm quite willing to overlook when her romance isn't that great (it's ok). Once a Hero is quite good, following the story of Esmay Suiza, who was a minor character in a previous book. The romance is also better than usual.

There are more disturbing bits than I remembered, althou
Mary Holland
Sep 20, 2012 Mary Holland rated it really liked it
Out of the six books of this series, this, the 4th, is the best. The main character, Esmay Suiza, was a very minor character in book 3. She did a very brave thing and became a hero. This book is her struggle to live with people's perceptions of her as they conflict with her own perception of herself. Most of the story is space opera, but set on a deep-space repair ship of great authenticity. As usual with most Elizabeth Moon stories, some sections are outstanding and some are awkwardly written. ...more
Dec 23, 2014 Sunny rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Very much a 'new adult' novel - albeit an almost excessively G-rated one. My rating reflects my love of the SF genre, specifically women in spaceships.... If it were not for that, this would be a two-star at best. It is all just a little flat.
Jun 06, 2016 Hrh rated it liked it
Moon is a readable author who makes you care about the characters, who pours a lot of "science" into her science fiction as well as "military" into her military fiction. So far, I like Cecilia and Heris better as characters than Esmay, but I like her enough to move on to the next in the series ...
Oct 28, 2012 Lorena rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I am a little confused. It's in the same series as the Heris books, but is not the same main character. But Heris does show up. Is this the same universe as Vatta's War? Because a lot of things seem similar. But are they similar because the author is the same? Or because jump gates and ansibles are so ... so usual, in the science fiction field in general?

I liked this book, but... I think I would have liked it better if I hadn't got all seven books in a set; if I'd gone into it expecting it not t
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add page numbers 2 7 Feb 28, 2013 09:38AM  
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Elizabeth Moon was born March 7, 1945, and grew up in McAllen, Texas, graduating from McAllen High School in 1963. She has a B.A. in History from Rice University (1968) and another in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin (1975) with graduate work in Biology at the University of Texas, San Antonio.

She served in the USMC from 1968 to 1971, first at MCB Quantico and then at HQMC. She marrie
More about Elizabeth Moon...

Other Books in the Series

The Serrano Legacy (7 books)
  • Hunting Party (The Serrano Legacy, #1)
  • Sporting Chance (The Serrano Legacy, #2)
  • Winning Colors (The Serrano Legacy, #3)
  • Rules of Engagement (The Serrano Legacy, #5)
  • Change of Command (The Serrano Legacy, #6)
  • Against the Odds (The Serrano Legacy, #7)

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