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Once A Hero

(The Serrano Legacy #4)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  5,029 ratings  ·  111 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....
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by Baen (first published 1997)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,029 ratings  ·  111 reviews

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Carolyn F.
I loved this book. I like my sci-fi with a few space battles, some time on-planet, and a little romance. This had them all. I'm hoping that Esmay is in more of the books in this series, although she isn't a Serrano.
Deborah Ideiosepius
In this quite entrancing space adventure, we have Esmay Suiza as the main character. Now, those like myself who read previous books by this author will have met Esmay as a side character in Winning Colors (The Serrano Legacy, #3) where she was a key factor in the resolution of that adventure. The first time I started this book I could not get into it, because having read three adventures with Heris Serrano I was really wanting more of the same and at first meeting Esmay is nothing like Heris.

Rachel (Kalanadi)
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 25, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Beth Cato
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
As with too many military sci fi, this book uses sexual violence as a cop out for actual character depth.
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
Jul 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Olga Godim
3.5 stars
A nice space opera, and Esmay is a sympathetic heroine. She is a hero by accident, the best kind, in my opinion. Her personal demons, stemming from her childhood trauma, makes the story even more interesting, as she struggles between her leadership abilities and her deep-rooted feelings of personal inadequacy. The novel is immensely readable and not dated at all despite its respectable (for sci-fi) age – it was published in 1997.
There were two things that concerned me in the book. First
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the fourth book in the Serrano Legacy by Elizabeth Moon. Although the story is continued in this book the cast of characters changes almost completely. Esmay Suiza who appeared shortly before the end of the last book is now the main character. Also Barin Serrano who had a very short appearance in the previous book steps forward as a main character. I was worried that with the new characters the story would suffer but it is even better than in the first three books. In this one Esmay Suiz ...more
Scott Holstad
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Jun 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alex Shrugged
"Once a Hero" by Elizabeth Moon is a pretty good book. 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! (Actually she lives just north of Austin.)

The Story: this is military science fiction. Lieutenant (junior grade) Esme Suiza found herself in the middle of a mutiny. The captain had turned traitor and after intense fighting the most senior officer left was
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 4 in the Serrano series shifts focus to Esmay Suiza, the young junior officer who ended up in command of the Despite after its traitor captain and her cohorts were defeated in book 3. Esmay went back to the aid of Herris Serrano when the Benignity attacked the planet Xavier, and although she made mistakes in the heat of the battle, they succeeded in defeating the invaders.

Esmay and the other mutinous officers of the Despite have to go through an inquiry and court-martial, and once they are
Beware the Baen book cover! Aside from the main character being a woman, there's not a lot of white-knuckle wiz-bang 'splosions in this military-sf story. In fact, it's almost better described as "military slice-of-life sf," since most of the story is about our protagonist adjusting to life after surviving a mutiny, reassignment to a deep-space repair vessel, and coming to terms from some really harsh childhood trauma. To be sure, there's a space-barbarian threat that takes up a little less than ...more
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many years ago, I read The Adventures of Paksenarrion, which I enjoyed so much I named my cat after the heroine. For some reason, I did not search out every other book written by the author, and indeed, over time forgot the author's name until I was recently reminded, and informed she also wrote sci-fi.

This book is nothing like what I expected, and far better than anything I could've hoped for. Apparently it's part of a series (which I realized after finishing it), so it's possible the recent h
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TRIGGER WARNING: sexual assault.

i wish i’d had warning this book would be such a trigger. it’s written so well that things i have never experienced were traumatising me. and the subsequent therapy sessions in the book equally healed me.

a total departure from the Serranos. Lt. Suiza is the young woman whose story we follow and she is utterly charming. this book was extremely enjoyable for the great characters, inventive environment (a massive city sized repair ship). and exciting story. however t
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Daniel Bratell
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interestingly enough, this book in the series "The Serrano Legacy" has very little to do with Heris Serrano, or any other Serrano. Instead we follow Esmay Suiza, the junior lieutenant that brought a ship back in a previous book. I would often find such detours annoying, but I really like this book and was about to give it five stars until some cheesy elements in the end tried to pull it down. Well, I'll give it five stars anyway.

Esmay Suiza is a female space officer from a planet which doesn't c
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
This is the first of this SF series which I have read. It refers back to the previous book, but you don't need to have read it. Again, a competent female hero. A junior officer who had been previously thrust into command and turned the tide of the battle. She again rises to the occasion and has to actually accept that she is a leader, meanwhile dealing with long suppressed memories. #me too.

Well written with credible characters for whom you develop an attachment.
Falynn - the TyGrammarSaurus Rex
I really enjoyed this book - best of the series so far. Lots of fun action but also a few serious issues too.
Robert Gluck
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent writing, gripping story, psychologically insightful. I look forward to reading more from Elizabeth Moon.
Nancy Kotalik
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it is the best of the Serrano series.
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
New hero; less horses.
Ray Knighton
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I have probably reread this book 10 times!! I love everything about it. I just bought the e book. I have the hardbacks on my book shelf.
Jack Gardner
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Great Story Telling -- Great Characters

"Once A Hero" and the earlier novels of the Heris Serrano series ("Hunting Party," is the first) are great. Moon comes from a family of Marines, went through officers training school herself, has degrees in history and biology, is a volunteer medical technician, loves horses, and believes women can fulfill military roles. All of this brings color and originality to her novels; which remind me of the "Horatio Hornblower" novels -- which is saying a lot.

Janet Sketchley
Esmay is a great character, and I thoroughly enjoyed most of this book. For me, the Bloodhorde enemies were too disturbing in their thoughts and actions, and I ended up skipping their sections. I'm disappointed not to be able to carry on with the characters into the next novel, because I don't often find characters I like as much as Esmay, or science fiction action this fun. For those a little less sensitive, it's a great read. Mostly clean, too. There's one particularly offensive word and some ...more
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Space Opera Fans : August 2018 THEMED Once a Hero by Moon 9 33 Aug 03, 2018 07:20AM  
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

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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