Assistant Trader Jethri Gobelyn was an honest, hardworking young man who knew a lot about living onboard his family's space-going trade ship; something about trade, finance, and risk-taking; and a little bit about Liadens. It was, oddly enough, the little bit he knew about Liadens that seemed like it might be enough to make his family's fortune, and his own, too. In short order, however, Jethri Gobelyn was about to find out a lot more about Liadens...like how far they might go to protect their name and reputation. Like the myriad of things one might say-intentionally or not-with a single bow. Like what it would take to make a Liaden trade-ship crew trash a bar. Like how hard it is to say "I'm sorry!" in Liaden. Pretty soon it was clear that as little as he knew about Liadens, he knew far less about himself. With his very existence a threat to the balance of trade, Jethri Gobelyn needed to learn fast, or else help destroy all he held dear.
©2003 Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Balance of Trade is the third book (chronologically) in the Liaden Universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and the last in the "Books of Before" sequence. It is outside the mainline story of the Agent of Change sequence, but has important background to improve enjoyment of later books. This book can easily be read standalone, and doesn't depend on the other two books in the Books of Before sequence.
In Balance of Trade, we follow the early career of Jethri Gobelyn, a young Terran trader in the early days of Terran and Liaden interaction. Jethri becomes Apprentice to Master Trader Norn van'Deen, Clan Ixin. What follows is a classic Trader tale, or a classic Coming of Age tale, or a classic Mix of Cultures tale. Or maybe all three. Whatever, it's a rousing good story and a pleasure to read!
The reading is done by Kevin T. Collins and is as superb as his reading of the other two books in this sequence. Each character has a distinctive voice, but the distinction is subtle and doesn't interfere with the narrative. The Liaden Books of Before are my first encounter with Mr. Collins' narration, but I certainly hope not my last.
I really enjoyed Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon, but those two finished with loose ends I had hoped might be brought to completion in this third book (in the Books of Before "series.") So now here again in Balance of Trade. While I enjoy the storytelling and the performance, the ending left so many unanswered questions...just when you finally get really attached to the characters and the story lines, it ends abruptly and apparently none of it will ever be mentioned again in any of the future books. It's been 9 years since this one was completed and as far as I can tell, there are little if any references in future books to what was presented in this one, so it may be safe to assume there never will be. Because of this, I've pretty much decided to not continue with other books in the Liaden Universe "Series." Read Balance of Trade for a good story that you will enjoy as you go through it, but regard it as a stand-alone book and have no expectations of any kind for series continuation or you also may find the ending sudden and disappointing.
I find Kevin Collins performance overly dramatic. I got annoyed with him in the first two books because the book says when the rimmer accent is broad and he interpreted that as Texas and used it all the time, even in internal voice. Do you think in accent? I don't, and it is irritating when the narration is delivered in the style of the person currently speaking.
Other than that I was happy enough with the book, I enjoyed the story though I don't think it is the best introduction to the Liaden universe.
Not better but just as good because I can listen will driving for hours as my life requires.
I had read this books years ago but lent out my copy and the chance to revisit this story was a pure delight!
Sharon and Steve are masters at storytelling! I have been reading their books for many years and the News Audible was bring out their bact list was great Good News.
I love this narrator. Could listen to him read the phonebook. As for the story and the series, Lee and Miller have created enjoyable, frustrating, highly improbable featherweight science fiction / space opera, with the focus on relationships and characterization.
This story — another frivolous space-opera — appealed to me, even though the 3rd-person POV hops around like a drunken spacer, the protagonist is a teenager, and the pace is slow at times.
This story has nothing to do with Clan Korval and occurs 1000+ years after the prequel, *Crystal Dragon* and is not set on planet Liad. It opens on planet Terra, which seems to be a new Earth, revised in a new universe. Liadens play a large role.
Balance of Trade portrays the admirable Jethri Gobelyn, a 17-year old "spacer" from planet Terra. All Jethri wants to do is travel the galaxy, trading goods and making his fortune, but mommy dearest is a dream buster, big time.
However, a savvy Liaden trader, Norn ven'Deelin of Clan Ixin, notes Jethri's integrity (melant'i) and takes him under her wing. We see him learn the rather elitist Liaden culture, including how to interpret and enact specific types of highly nuanced bows. (Liadens are similar to the Japanese, small of stature and concerned with maintaining honor).
We also see our spacer learn self defense and become accustomed to gravity, mud, sweat, vineyards, and mountains. As the plot twists, he'll need to know how to fight, in full gravity.
There is no romance in this book, but you get the feeling Jethri and Miandra (a healer, a dramliza wizard) might make a go of it, someday. Several action scenes with the cat, Flinx.
The suspense plots are fairly obscure, and will probably be a challenge for readers who know nothing of the "Befores" or "fractins" or "The Uncle" and other plot threads. Refer to the glossary at the end of the *Crystal Variation* trilogy — not included in this Audiobook.
Bottom line on this book? Good story, but as far as I can tell, nothing occurs in *Balance of Trade* that relates to the entire series.
Excellent narration. Kevin T. Collins is great!
engaging, delightful, brilliant
It was a breathe of fresh air. I am now a huge fan of Kevin T Collins narration and the Liaden Universe. I have read the the books as Audible as listed them and have been fascinated by the universe, the characters and absolutely loved the narration.
Every characters voice is remembered perfectly, I felt he had a extremely strong attention to detail. As a vision impaired person who cannot read paper books and even struggles with a Kindle or iPad on maximum font settings I rely on audio books for my only access point into this great universe. At first I found the pacing quite rapid, but it took maybe 10 minutes to adjust, as it does when starting any new series and I was immediately captivated and held engaged the entire time.
I was impressed by scenes that involved multiple people and how smoothly he switched voices. Fantastic.
Lets just say there where nights I only got 2 or 3 hours sleep because I couldn't stop listening. Normally if I do this with a book I find I fall asleep, but this never happened with these books.
Cannot wait for the Trade Secrets book to be put on Audible which is the sequel to this one (Balance of Trade). Hope Kevin T Collins is able to read it again!
A 50-something who loves sci-fi, cozy mysteries, thrillers, an occasional romance, and any genre if it is a good story. And especially if it makes me laugh! No vampires or zombies though - these are NOT sci-fi!
Another excellent Liaden Universe novel! This one really shows the differences between Liadans and Terrrans, through the education and apprenticeship of Jethri Gobelyn, a ship-born (he thinks) young Terran. But he isn't what he always thought he was! This story is considered a prequel to the Korval series, and really adds to one's understanding of that universe. Highly recommended!
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