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Merchanter's Luck

(The Company Wars #2)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,442 ratings  ·  143 reviews
Their names were Sandor and Allison. Kreja and Reilly respectively. Reilly meant something in the offices and bars of Viking Station: it meant the merchanters of the great ship Dublin Again, based at Fargone, respectable haulers on a loop that included all the circle of Union stars, Mariner and Russell's, Esperance and Paradise, Wyatt's and Cyteen, Fargone and Voyager and ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 1982 by DAW (first published January 1st 1982)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  2,442 ratings  ·  143 reviews

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Sarah Stegall
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Think of Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon. Think of Malcolm Reynolds and Serenity. Now make them lonely and reckless and hopeless. Sandor Kreja is pretty much these guys, without the supportive crew/sidekick. All he's got left after the raid that killed his family is his ship, a battered version of the Falcon or Serenity. In the opening chapter, Sandor walks into a bar and falls in love at first sight with the raven-haired Allison Reilly, a Merchanter daughter on leave. A quick roll in the hay ...more
Jacqueline J
Jan 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, owned, favorites
Yup, still my favorite book. Umpty umpteenth reread. 08/13/2020

Who knows why one book strikes a chord with someone, but this one is my all time favorite and having a degree in English Lit, I read a lot. I have three copies of this book because if I look for it and can't find it within a day or two I panic and buy another copy. I love many books over many genres but my heart loves this one best.

You will enjoy this story more if you have read Downbelow Station at the very least. I will admit that
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, sf
While it doesn’t reach the highest heights of the other Cherryh books I’ve read, this is still a wonderfully rich portrait of a traumatized captain doing his best to survive, and of the crew he finds himself working with. I remain deeply impressed by Cherryh’s ability to immerse me fully in the world she’s created, and I always believe everything her characters do and say. She allows them to live and breathe and earn their moments, and again she never lets her reader get one inch ahead of where ...more
Peter Tillman
Review on fourth(?) reread, Jan 2017:

Amazingly taut and condensed novel -- at 208 pages (mmpb), it's almost in long-novella territory, but fully developed. Opens as a sort-of romance, evolves into a complex rescue/business deal between a distressed sole proprietor and a wealthy Merchanter family, then morphs into a twist-ending with a dramatic hunt for Mazianni pirates in the Hinder Stars. Very cool book, one of Cherryh's very best. May be her masterwork?

I haven't had a lot of luck rereading lat
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A complete and total delight.

Superb. Confident and spare and elegant and sharp. Electric and alive!

The rhythm of Cherryh's prose is fabulous, compelling, exciting and tons of fun. If you have read Downbelow Station, you must read this. You will feel at home in the near future of that work.

******* Marvellous!

For Cherryh, the Alliance-Union universe books are (mostly) fantastic -
* In order to read:

Downbelow Station (1981) - Superb!!
Merchanter's Luck (1982) - Perhaps her best ever!
Rimrunners (1989
Sandor Kreja is a survivor. He managed to escape the massacre of his family and has run the family spaceship, first with his brother, then without, for a very long time. The ship’s control system speaks in his brother’s voice, a comforting reminder of the loving connections he used to have. He has lived at the edge of the law and at the margins of society for his entire adult life and is longing to just have a chance to achieve a normal life.

Contrast this with Allison Reilly, who comes from an e
We have a hard world, we do. We have a world that necessitates a certain amount of emotional distance. There are a lot of us in this world, each of us rubbing against the others. Scraping shoulders, butting souls. We need to develop a sort of emotional chitin in order to function; we can't go around the planet with all our hurts hanging out. We've all been poked in a place we can't stand to be touched. We've all been mocked for things we can't stand to display. We hide it, all that hurt and prid ...more
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up, cause a) it's not the book's fault that space opera is not my fav subgenre, and b) my mind tends to go into stand-by mode with all the technical and space politics explanations, so I'm sure I missed some details.

What I liked about this book was the restriction to two POVs so it was a lot easier to get into it than I was used with others of Cherryh's works. One of them, the lonely starship captain, was very well fleshed out with his traumatic past and his relatable struggle
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
4.5 rounding up cos it was a very nuanced book but a bit confusing at first. Some action but, per usual for Cherryh, much of it is psychological. I think it could be a read-alone despite being part of a larger series.
Samantha (AK)
After the fascinating (but ponderous) station politics of Downbelow Station, Merchanter’s Luck was a brisk adventure story; I devoured it within hours. It’s been ages since I did that for anything longer than a novella, and while Luck is short, it’s not that short (I’d place the wordcount somewhere around 75-80k). It was exactly what I was hoping to read, and worth the 2-week library wait.

Sandor Kreja, last of his name, has been skating by on small jobs, luck, and a touch of fraud for most of hi
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a space opera, set in the Union-Alliance Universe. This book can be read as a stand alone.

This is a story of love and trade, family and allegiances. The story is told by two main protagonists: Sandor Kreja and Allison Reilly. Sandor is the sole survivor of an attack by a Company’s ship, which pirated their supplies during lean times. He runs the ship alone, in clear violation of rules and works ‘on edge’: he is under false papers for both himself and the ship. Seeking for an assistant on
Alissa King
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I think this book is a representation of Cherryh at her best.

Complex, refreshing world-building, eloquent but not overly-verbose prose that's a joy to read, and tight story-telling - but not so tight that it leaves the narrative dry and uninspired. The book takes you on a roller-coasted ride of spacer element of the Alliance-Union universe, dwelling more on the nature of FTL travel and its specifics within this universe - about the technical side through the eyes of the starship captai
It's been a while since I read one of Cherryh's Alliance/Union novels, but I still find it one of SF's most well-fleshed-out settings, and I love that Cherryh tells both large scale and smaller scale ones within it.

This is decidedly a smaller scale story, about Sandor Kreja, a young man who is the last remaining survivor of a small merchant ship after an attack by pirates when he was a child and the death of the few other survivors after that, and about Allison Reilly, a young woman from the muc
aPriL does feral sometimes
For some reason this novel felt like an expanded novella to me. I also felt it would have been a better book if it had been novella size or an even longer expanded book, especially in the battle scene.

There were quite a few characters I liked and wanted to know better. Brave orphan Captain Sandor Kreja captured my heart as he did Allison Reilly's. Ambitious Allison, eager to join the bridge, any bridge, as second in command, test herself, and shed her family Princess Power image for one of subs
This isn't really a romance, but it has those elements. I read this back in Highschool and have loved CJ Cherryh's work ever since. It's a short read (at least I remember it being a slim battered paperback), but nail biting and sweet at the same time. Politics, intrigue, quality science fiction and space pirates! One of my all time favourites. Sure wish they'd release an audio version! ...more
Dec 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: space-opera
Not as good as its great epic predecessor, Downbelow Station, but it does know its place in a serviceable way. I find Cherryh to be something of a genius, but her prose can often be excruciating. It's not that it's bad, it's just that's it's often larded with hard sci-fi jargon specific to whatever universe she's writing about, coupled to a modernist's murky sense of character. For the uninitiated this can be, at times, quite a challenge. A 200 page book can seem like a 400 page one. Still, ther ...more
Rachel (Kalanadi)
3.5 stars. A very slow beginning that bored me a bit, but the second half was a page turner.

I struggle with really *loving* the Company Wars/Alliance-Union books. I want to, but there seems to be what I'd call a lack of compassion, or empathy, in the world and in the characters. The stories (like this and Cyteen) feature a lot of emotional, mental, and even physical trauma, but people's reactions to obviously broken and hurting characters are callous or cold or uninterested. No one is ever outri
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first sequel to Cherryh's award-winning 'Downbelow Station', 'Merchanter's Luck' focuses on the aftermath of the creation of the interstellar Merchant Alliance based at Pell Station. As a child, Sandor Krejas was one of three survivors of a pirate attack on his 200 year-old family ship. Followed by years of accidents and poor luck, he lost the remaining members of his family and became Le Cygne's captain and sole crewman. A scoundrel, Krejas is also lonely, poor, constantly terrified and des ...more
Sandor Kreja is in a strange position, sole owner of a spaceship but broke and running out of ways to cheat the system, when he encounters Allison Reilly, crewman of the prosperous Dublin Again, and decides to bet everything on the Dublin's next station stop. Merchanter's Luck is predicated on an infatuation at first sight which is never quite convincing; Sandor's pursuit of Allison feels foolish, and gives the book a slow start. It's also often a novel of reactions, despite Allison's active amb ...more
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Man meets woman. Woman is way above man's station. Man falls head over heels & risks the only thing he actually has to see woman again. Trouble for man ensues. Timeless kind of story & made even more fun that this takes us back to Pell. This is a terrifically short book but a very good installment in the Alliance Space series. I loved the first Downbelow Station & have some sort of obsession with life aboard a spacestation apparently. Sandor & Allison were well done characters but that's not sur ...more
Benjamin Fasching-Gray
Beautiful. It is possible to read this as a psychological metaphor, with the sealed chambers in the spaceship Lucy standing in for parts of his mind. He knows they are there, he knows what is in them, but he keeps the doors sealed and the temperature at freezing. Suffering from PTSD, he is afraid of future violence, but the shame of the past violence is more important to him. He withholds information from a lover and her allies rather than reveal the depth of his past hurt. When a science fictio ...more
Nov 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-sfrs, sfr
Loved it! It was definitely in the SF side of the SFR rainbow. But I love, love SF!

This story was incredibly detailed. I feel like I know Sandor and Allison personally now. It has action, humor, scary bits, trauma, a little sex, and a big dose of PTSD. Poor Sandor. What a damaged guy. Lots of spaceships, and space stations. Some villains and some hope.

The romance is powerful and life-changing but not in-your-face. It's subtle and a HFN.

Excellent story.

Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up randomly from an open bookshelf, not certain if I was ever going to actually read it. Luckily I decided to try it one afternoon and really really liked it. The characters and worldbuilding are wonderful, detailed and nuanced and wholly believable, there's tension and dangerous situations, but no over-the-top drama, everything is handled extremely realistically. Characters are complex and always have more than one reason for acting as they do. I very much appreciated the fact tha ...more
Mark Schiffer
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man, Cherryh loves a found family. I'm not mad at it, the power of human connection as a motif is really powerful in her work. Super claustrophobic, and nice to see more of the dreaded Mallory. I might have to take a bit of a break from Cherryh so I don't burn out on her, this is the fifth book in the past two months I've read by her. ...more
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when it first came out in the early '80s, but I had no memory of it. I don't know why, but it just didn't resonate with me and I couldn't get into it. I'm not sure I even finished it. So I'm overjoyed that I pulled it off the shelf and gave it another read, now 30 years later--it's one of the best sci-fi books I've read.

It's the story of an impoverished, down-at-the-heels captain of a small freighter who can barely make enough to keep his ship flying and who often operates on th
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Feels like the right amount of background and character issues for a novel this size, but roughly a short story's worth of plot. (Or a novella.) Elene Quen-Konstantin makes a brief appearance as the dockmaster, and Josh Talley is now a commander in Pell's fleet. (These are both major characters from Downbelow Station.)

If I'm not mistaken there's a scene where the female lead accuses a male supporting character of having a problem with the male lead because the male supporting character is gay an
Jamie Collins
This has a fascinating premise, and it’s exactly the kind of spaceship fiction I like. I only wish that Cherryh’s writing worked a little better for me.

Sandor Kreja’s family, who ran a merchant spaceship, were murdered by pirates when he was a child. He’s alone and desperately trying to keep his ship in business. Allison Reilly is a junior member of a large, wealthy, important merchant family. She will never have the chance to crew her own ship because with life-extending technology, the current
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book by C.J. Cherryh I've ever read. As an author, I suspect she is a keeper. The science is fairly quiet in her stories (just a dull background, no geek porn here), but her characters are very believable. The protagonist in this story has been living on the margins for the last decade and a half after his entire family is wiped out by pirates and strangely enough, he has trouble trusting people. The people that surround him were also interesting (if much less developed), and ...more
Pedro L. Fragoso
As science-fiction adventures go, this is a masterpiece.

Favorite phrase: "(...) she made her overloaded way down the dockside with a knot in her throat and a smothered anger at the way of things, worked the anger off in the effort of walking, burdened as she was. So good-bye, for once and all. It hurt; she expected that. So did giving birth, and other necessary things."

Close second: "Conversation could do him no good. One never gave anything away. One always regretted it later."

There is more, bu
Storyline: 2/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing Style: 2/5
World: 2/5

I had hoped that this would be either great or, instead, awful. If great then I would come back to Cherryh with more enthusiasm. If awful then I would have adequate justification for abandoning The Company Wars. This title didn't satisfy my urge for decisive direction. It was Cherryh's best handling of characters and viewpoint, but it was also very slow. This adds only a tidbit to the series. The events here could easily have been accounte
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Currently resident in Spokane, Washington, C.J. Cherryh has won four Hugos and is one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed authors in the science fiction and fantasy field. She is the author of more than forty novels. Her hobbies include travel, photography, reef culture, Mariners baseball, and, a late passion, figure skating: she intends to compete in the adult USFSA track. She began ...more

Other books in the series

The Company Wars (7 books)
  • Downbelow Station (The Company Wars, #1)
  • Rimrunners (The Company Wars, #3)
  • Heavy Time (The Company Wars, #4)
  • Hellburner (The Company Wars, #5)
  • Tripoint (The Company Wars, #6)
  • Finity's End (The Company Wars, #7)

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