Try finding a kickass heroine in science fiction before or anywhere near 1980, the year of this novel's publication. Particularly try finding a kickass action heroine of that date, one written by a male writer that doesn't make you, a woman, cringe. Try finding one with a heroine that's black written in that era. Rare. Not that the race or gender of Zelde is made a big deal of--that's one of the book's pleasures. It's just a great rip-roaring space opera yarn. Zelde appears in the trilogy of books about Rissa Kerguelan, and this is a kind of prequel, so it's certainly not necessary to have read those books--but after this one you'll want to--at least if you love well-written space opera of the kind by Robert Heinlein, David Weber, Lois McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, this should really hit the spot. All the books in the Rissa Kerguelen and Bran Tregare series are great fun--the ones I can find. I can't remember how I discovered these, I think I must have been lent one by a friend, because I do remember reading The Long View which I don't own. But I do remember then hunting used book stores trying to find more--and alas I only have three on my book shelves. Fortunately they can stand alone, even if there are tantalizing references to what must have happened in other books. These books are a pleasure, and I'm only sorry they're not easily available--and that there aren't more.