Centuries in the past, mankind fought a seemingly unbeatable adversary from sector to sector across the Spiral Arm until the war ground to a standstill and the Enemy withdrew. Believing that they had won, the citizens of the galaxy rebuilt. The Inner Worlds, which had escaped the worst of the war's ravages, became even more insular, while the Rim worlds adopted a free and easy way with law and order. Now, hundreds of years after their withdrawal, the Enemy is back - and this time they'll be satisfied with nothing less than the extinction of the galaxy.
©2004 Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I've never a Liaden book or a book from the authors. This far future sci-fi tale was interesting, the pace was constant, and the universe interesting. While this novel didn't excite me terribly, but it kept my attention and there are some interesting ideas that are in the background that will clearly be major elements of future books as this book was written after but takes place before the main series of books. I will look forward to reading them.
I've downloaded quite a few sci-fi series and I would have to say that so far this is my favorite. The narrative stays fresh and there is enough detail that you can really get involved with the story and no too much detail that it becomes tedious. I am very much looking forward to the next book in the series.
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!
The Liaden Universe is a full and complex one. This tale starts with the original Cantra yos Phelium, and M Jela and his Tree. Yes, the tree is a character in this story as much as any other character. I will say that I enjoyed this book much more in audio than in print, which I don't often say! The narration is excellent, because it isn't over-dramatic, but is just enough to differentiate between characters.
This download also has a conversation between the narrator and Steve Miller. Don't skip it! It gives a lot of insight into what goes into narrating an audiobook, as well as learning a bit about how Steve and Sharon write their books. As well as the good news that a sequel to Balance of Trade is coming!
Crystal Soldier is the chronologically first book in the Liaden Universe series from Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. It was, however, written several years after the first published volume (Agent of Change) and is thus on Audible as part of the "Books of Before" sequence.
Crystal Soldier tells the story of M. Jela and Cantra yos'Phelium, as well as the original Tree of Korval's Tree and Dragon. This is very much a prequel to the later events of Clan Korval, and leads naturally to the next book, Crystal Dragon and the migration to Liad to escape the total destruction of the universe.
If you're new to the Liaden Universe, you have a choice of how best to read the books. Personally, I prefer strict chronological order, but a valid argument can be made for published order as well, since that is how others have discovered this fascinating universe. If you're inclined that way, then start with the Agent of Change sequence first, and loop back to the earlier books when you're ready.
The narrator for this three book set of Before books is Kevin T. Collins, and he does an excellent job. Each character has a distinctive voice, but the distinction is subtle and doesn't interfere with the narrative. This was my first book with Mr. Collins as narrator, but I'll be searching out more. Well 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.
I want to say either I liked this book or I disliked it, but really, it was a bit bland, and had neither any Big Ideas nor characters memorable enough to leave an impression. Filled the time but left me with no desire to read the rest of the 11+ book series. Evidently, this book introduces plots and characters who recur throughout the series and is something of a prequel.
The Shereika want to wipe out all life in the universe, and humanity is fighting a losing war against them. Humankind has bred people to be soldiers, slaves, and assassins, creating a fairly traditional aliens-light space opera universe. Even the Shereika are actually genetically engineered humans. Humans are losing the war and falling back from the spiral arm. The Shereika are mostly an off-stage threat in this book, intergalactic bogeymen who have listening devices and agents everywhere, but don't show up in their planet-killing ships... yet.
The POV alternates between two main characters. M. Jela Granthor's Guard is a genetically-engineered soldier who, while fighting the Shereika on a distant uninhabited planet, happened upon a group of sentient trees and deduced that they had somehow fended off the Shereika. So he carts a tree around for the rest of the book. On a special assignment from the military, he runs across Cantra yos'Phelium, a generically-engineered assassin who's now the solo captain of a "dark trader" - i.e., a smuggler. The two of them end up rescuing a genetically-engineered slave, Dulsey, and taking her to a mysterious man known as the Uncle who runs some sort of free colony for other slaves like Dulsey, out in the beyond.
Crystal Soldier has a bit of a Firefly vibe to it, and also reminded me of "The Phoenix in Flight" by Sherwood Smith and Dave Trowbridge, another first novel by an authorial duo in a sprawling epic space saga, and another one I found moderately entertaining but just too paint-by-numbers to really get invested in what happens next. I don't know what it says about my reading tastes that star-destroying mega-battlecruisers no longer intrigue me. I loved Niven and Saberhagen back in the day, but 11 books of this just make me think of better or more interesting books on my TBR list.
So, this was good SF, not great SF, and if you are looking for a long series maybe it will grab you more than it grabbed me.
There is a long interview at the end of this audiobook between the author and the narrator which I found pretty interesting, since the narrator, Kevin T. Collins, answers lots of questions you might have about how audiobooks (particularly SF audiobooks) are put together.
1*=I didn't like it..... 2*=It was OK...... 3*=It was good but I will never read it again.......... 4*=Maybe I will read it again in the future.............. 5*=I will definitely read it again(maybe more than once)
The first book was tough in the beginning.
Don't misunderstand me the book drawn my attention from the very first minutes, but all the time I had a feeling like it's dragging it's heels.
14 hours is too much, it should've been 5 or 6 at the most, but the story was interesting, the narration also matched the tempo of the book so Kevin T. Collins fits to this book.
But to make sure I will get the second book. Read my next review soon.
I would listen to Crystal Soldier again because many elements it sets up continue to recur throught the Liaden series. Although I have read most of the Liaden books more than once, I had forgotten where some things came from. In addition, Sharon Lee's language is outstanding, and lends itself extremely well to being read aloud.
In the Liaden universe, this book and its sequel are genuinely different. Metaphorically, they serve the same role as The Hobbit served relative to The Lord of the rings.
Kevin Collins is workmanlike.
I would never listen to any book in one sitting.
The Liaden universe is, in many ways, as well thought through as Tolkien, but the actual writing is more tersely poetic. It offers insights into human connections in an exotic and beautiful package.
I previously reviewed this as a 4 star book, and said that I had mixed feelings about reading number 2 after finishing, but was happy when I did. This was my first experience with the Liaden books. Having now read the Agent of Change sequence, I'm now giving this one a 5, since it really brings the whole universe to an entirely different level. On it's own, still a good book, but personally, I'd start with Agent of Change then come back to these later.
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!
"Annoying and full of itself"
Well as you can assume from the title , i really did not like this one little bit, the narrator was , well whats the polite way of saying dull, nah lets stick with Just plain Dull, his narration was one toned and you constantly found yourself lapsing into mind wandering episodes. I strongly urge you listen to the sample.
To be fair the story was a bit full of itself. You know when someone uses lots of words to describe a idea and after listening for a few minutes you think to yourself 'i have not got a clue what your talking about' well this pretty much sums up this audio book. The action scenes leave you cold. A book with potential , but unfortunately falls way way short.
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