The first of the seven books set in the Liaden Universe tells a rich and sweeping story of warring families and star-crossed lovers in a fantastic, other-world galaxy.
©2001 Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Think of a classic Georgette Heyer Regency, add in a big dose of language and cultural misunderstanding, a dash of real danger, and a healthy dollop of good characterization, and you have Local Custom. A wonderful Space Regency, if you will. Set fairly early in the of Clan Korval, Local Custom tells the story of Er Thom yos'Galan, Master Trader and thodelm of Korval, and Anne Davis, Linguistics Scholar and Terran.
This book can be read without having read any of the other books in the Liaden Universe, and is thus one possible entry point. It's a delightful story that I did not want to stop reading, and had me driving the long way around more than once. The reading is by Bernadette Dunne, and that's all you really need to know. Ms. Dunne is a superb reader and it's a pleasure to have her for the reading of the three Space Regencies in the Liaden Universe.
I have read every book of this series. Bernadette Dunn is an excellent narrator. I have listened to many books she has narrated and her voice makes a big difference. She is clear and her characters are easily recognizable. I find that changing narrators change the books. In later books it gets disjointed as same characters are read so differently that they are barely recognizable from book to book with narrator changes. In this series she does "Local Custom" and "Mouse and Dragon."
I was so happy to see that Audible hired Bernadette Dunne to read "Local Custom". It had been the only Liaden novel available on audio for a long time, and although it had been read with love by its first narrator, the art of producing audio books hadn't really reached the quality of current standards. I've listened to Bernadette Dunne read "The Sharing Knife" series by Bujold and I love her work. She does this one proud.
One nice thing about the Liaden books is the wide variety in plots and characters. While many are decidedly of the space opera variety, this one is focused on Liaden customs and is a romance. There is little "action" and lots of parlor room politics. If that is not to your taste, it is easily skipped. If it is, you will probably reread it many times, as I have.
Er Thom yos'Galan is well aware that Liaden law and custom require him to marry the contract wife his clan chooses for him, and produce an heir for his line. Unfortunately, some three years ago, Er Thom fell in love with a Terran woman, Anne Davis, a professor of linguistics on the world called University. He parted from her, giving her a farewell gift, but unfortunately has not forgotten her, as one is supposed to forget pleasure loves. His refusal to marry as instructed risks creating a scandal.
When Er Thom breaks ranks even further, and heads off to University to see Anne one last time, he discovers the makings of an even more dangerous scandal--Anne gave birth to a son from their affair, a son she has named Shan yos'Galan, in honor of his father.
A yos'Galan outside the authority and protection of Clan Korval.
What follows is an epic family conflict--between Anne and Er Thom, about taking Shan to Liad, and between Er Thom and his mother Petrelia, over whether Anne and her child will be accepted. Caught in the middle is Daav yos'Phelium, Delm of Clan Korval, who loves his foster brother, but respects Petrelia's rights as head of her line.
Lurking in the background is a danger they don't suspect, Liaden forces (an early manifestation of the Department of the Interior?) outraged by the research Anne and a Liaden linguist, Professor ter'Bana, have done, showing that the Terran, Liaden, and Yxtrang languages have a common root language. These purists are also, of course, outraged by the idea of Terran-Liaden intermarriage, a view in which they are not alone in Liaden society.
This purists are also, of course, perfectly willing to use Shan as an expendable tool to get what they want.
This is a nice mix of intrigue, romance, and family drama, and a great look at a younger Er Thom and and a younger Daav.
I bought this book.
Poly pagan sci-fi geek.
I very much enjoyed the narrators subtle use of an accent when speaking as Anne Davis, and her Shan sounded very child-like, which was very much appreciated.
I love to read and I love to listen to good books! Because I can listen while I walk, its great for both my health and the health of my dog Rubi.
Interesting, compelling, rewarding
Bernadette Dunne is fabulous in this recording. Her vocal rendition of the various characters is brilliant. Kept me interested and eager.
Bit disappointed at the hints of a sad deviation into fantasy and that will probably stop me moving further into the series which is a shame but while I love Sci Fi, talk of magic and fantasy stuff leaves me cold. It didnt really come into this story but does lay the groundwork and just seemed to be a cop out in a very science based story.
The story line seems contrived; a touch, The love story that was a story of sexual
attraction and the luck that intervene.
Life mates across the galaxy find each other.
All audio versions of the Liaden Universe Series are worth hearing, although you may find that some characters are played differently than the voices in your mind when you read the books. That's part of the fun!
Ms Dunne, along with other readers for the series, brings her unique interpretation of character and storyline, like any good actor. Listening and reading are different experiences, both worth having with the Liaden series.
For lovers of excellent, beautifully written science fiction that is filled with wonderful characters and fascinating worlds, I highly recommend this series. Its mythological underpinnings are as compelling as those in Star Wars.
It's good, not my favorite,
I wouldn't say that, though it was very enjoyable, and I wasn't quite ready for it to end.
I read the first five in the Agent of change sequence before this one, and I did like finding out more about Val-kahn and Shawn's parents.
Progression of the story was slow and no real explanation as to why there are different families/houses.
I had such high hopes due to the extraordinary rating, however the writing, character development and explanation of the "worlds" left me feeling like so much was missing. If the first book in a series is set in this manner, I would not be encouraged to listen to more written by these authors.
The narration was "ok". There were times where the voices were so similar that I did not know which character was speaking. This of course caused confusion and just left me frustrated.
Disappointment....I really was wanting this to be a grand "space" opera and the lack of description, character development and poor narration made me delete the book before finishing it.
While I understand that this book received high praises from many other listeners, the writing and narration simply did not invoke of a feeling of attachment or love for any of these characters
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