David B. Mattingly
1982 Hugo winner - best novel / 20th Anniversary edition, with new intro.
We follow Signy Mallory, captain of the Fleet ship Norway - who may choose to go her own way rather than side with Mazian and the rest of the Fleet, who turn pirate after being sold out. On Pell Station we follow Damon Konstantin, and Josh Talley (a Unionist prisoner whose mind has been adjusted.) And we follow Elene Quen of the Merchanter traders, who want to preserve their independence and ability to trade with Earth or Union. Cherryh brings everything to a boil when Pell Station is attacked and all the players have to sort out their loyalties while attempting to survive. She conveys a sense of "place" very well - you really feel you know what it's like to be inside a station or a starship. This is great stuff, and well-deserved the Hugo award it won the following year. This is my favorite of Cherryh's "Merchanter" books, and easily makes my "top 100" list.