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.
I had listened to another series by Lee and Miller and really enjoyed it. I only made it half way through this book before I gave up. It moved at an annoyingly slow pace and seemed to be going nowhere. Maybe it gets better when you get to the next book but I wasn't willing to give it the time.
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