Set many centuries before the other Liaden Universe stories, this novel, and it's sequel - Crystal Dragon - are amongst the best Lee & Miller have ever written.
The main characters - Cantra yos'Phelium and M. Jela - are interesting people we want to learn more about. Chance met, danger and luck force them to cooperate for mutual survival, until gradually they build a partnership. A partnership beset by trouble as they have met in what may well be the closing stages of a war waged by an enemy apparently intent on deconstructing the universe a star system or two at a time.
Action, adventure, intrigue, mystery, and a bit of romance ... this is not a story to miss
Collin's narration is perfect, and truly captures the heart of the novel. I'm very much looking forward to listening to the sequel.
M Jela is a soldier, genetically engineered, of the "M" strain. He's still young, but a hardened warrior, and very nearly gets killed in space battle with the Sheriekas, humanity's enemy returned after centuries of absence. The Sheriekas' distant ancestors used to be human; that hasn't been true for a very long time. And the Sheriekas' plans for the galaxy, and the universe, are not compatible with human survival.
Cantra yos'Phelium is a jump pilot with a surprisingly well-armed ship, and a murky background.
They meet up by chance when Jela is trying to hook up with his intended contact, on a detached assignment intended to bring the war to the enemy, and Cantra is just seeking some enjoyable downtime on a stopover before taking off with her new cargo. Events lead to them fleeing the planet together, in Cantra's ship, with Dulsey, a batch-grown slave of the owner of the restaurant they dined at. Oh, and Jela's tree, a sentient tree he rescued off of the planet where he nearly died.
And their adventures have barely begun.
This is fast-paced space opera, with Lee & Miller's typically excellent pacing, mood, and character development. It's also a peek back at the origins of the Liaden Universe their fans have come to know and love. You don't need to be familiar with other books in the larger series, but if you are, there is some extra fun along the way in recognizing things that will be very significant to later generations.
What can I say but great fun, and highly recommended.
I bought this book.
I'm a long time fan of speculative fiction, having started with Isaac Asimov and Andre Norton. I do read other things, of course.
Not better, but certainly different!
One of my favorite moments is when Jela turned around to rescue Cantra when they are escaping from The Uncle.
He did a very good job with the voices. I never quite knew before what a Rimmer accent sounded like!
System and software engineer from the UK now living and working in Silicon Valley.
I loved this book because I read it with the main characters being a hard as nails engineered space soldier and a tough space captain. I can not stand this version because they are read as emotional wrecks on the point of collapse. Even when the narration in the fraught scenes is almost sobbed out. Oh god save me! Our tough captain isn't dissolving in pathetic tears when the battle scenes are playing out, she's tough and capable not some teenage ninny. So she is not happy, but she does her job.
In some ways this was an education for me, it proved that you can completely ruin the tone of a book by reading it in a silly voice. If that is how the authors intended it to be read then I am probably done with their work and their worlds. But they write about capable men and women, not about pathetic ninnies, so I'll persist and just avoid Kevin Collins in the future.
Kevin? Dude! What did you do to this book??!
Very slow and hard to follow. Too many weird creatures. I didn't understand the plot nor storyline. I couldn't relate to the creatures and worship of a tree. Hated this book. I gave story one star but somehow it went to two. It should be no star at all even the reader was poor.
Please, NEVER recommend an abridged book for me. Really. I love to read and I've become really addicted to audios.
Actually a better story. As far as "military sc/fi" goes this is more touchy feely than I like.
Not too bad.
It's not a book I'd care to edit as I don't think I'm the target audience.
I'm a technician that does a lot of driving for his job. I use the "windshield" time to listen to audiobooks.
I think this book could have used a good editor to trim some of the unnecessary fill from this book. Some parts were needlessly over dramatic. It kind of drags. The interview at the end of the book where Miller (author) interviews Collins (narrator) was interesting. I'll not be listening to the rest of the books, I think I'd rather Wikipedia it instead.
about top third
The story kept up. It has an interesting story line and I did not get bored listening to it.
The fight scene where the hero and heroine nearly get hammered!
An enjoyable story. I want to read the rest of the trilogy.
A trilogy. Say it in three. Done.
I love this narrator. He doesn't try to adopt a unique voice for each character, but yet he sounds real, and I can tell who is speaking. As for the book, the first third, especially when Jela meets Tree, is very good, yet slow. Likewise, the last third, from meeting Uncle until the end, is very good -- and nicely paced. The middle section got a bit tedious at times.
This is book 1 in the Liaden series. The crystal soldier is probably M. Jela Granthor's Guard, a supersoldier and generalist, with extra strength and stamina, increased vision and memory, etc. Jela is consistently portrayed as dutiful -- to preserving all life, Tree in particular.
Jela and baby Tree unite. Baby Tree talks to Jela in images, and creates special seed pods for Jela to eat. Jela lugs that potted plant around throughout the book. Lol.
Then Jela meets peerless pilot Cantra yos'Phelium. Some good scenes, but they circle warily. Had to laugh at Cantra's ironic take on life in general and on Tree in particular. With sharp self-mockery, she wonders, "Why am I listening to a vegetable?"
Dulsey and Uncle each play a role. I didn't care for either of them, but especially Dulsey. She seemed self-centered, and acted like she was entitled.
The villains, the big bad Sheriekas, are perfect beings of unlimited power, determined to destroy everything and everyone not similarly perfect. They were far too nebulous and vague. Poorly developed.
I liked Rool Tiazan and his Gray Lady, but they didn't show up till the last section. Cool scene, when they first met Tree.
The reason to fight on found in a soldiers ambition to duty. Jella and tree meet contra & dulce. The plot thickens.