At long last we have the Liadan stories on Audible
Among my favorite authors are Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Their first three novels, Agent of Change, Conflict of Honors, and Carpe Diem were released..Show More » in paperback form in the last 80s, which is when I purchased my copies. While other books have been placed and then removed from my bookshelves, these books have remained among my favorites. The characters are familiar friends and I always reconnect to them with pleasure.
After these novels were published, Lee and Miller were dropped by the Del Rey after they were asked to write books according to someone else' formula and they declined. It was a loss for their fans and their books fell out of print. Fortunately, Meisha Merlin picked up their catalog in the late 90s and started publishing new novels from them as well. Now, they are being published by Baen. As new readers pick up their novels, they need to realize that the writing is not consistent through their oeuvre, a fault that may be due to different editors. Consequently, I recommend that readers begin with the first three novels published and continue with the books in the order published instead of following the space opera's chronological order. Don't abandon the series because one or two novels aren't as good as the others. This is space opera at its finest and I highly recommend the series.
As for the audio versions, some of these novels were previously recorded and released as audiobooks. Of these, only one, Local Custom, was released by Audible. Now many of the older novels have be rerecorded as the new ones have been recorded and the sound quality is much better. The narrator Andy Caploe does deliver in terms of delivering some of the subtleties of Lee and Miller's writing style. The best narrators tell the story as if they are sitting around the kitchen table talking to you personally. Unfortunately, Andy Caploe delivers the narration in this novel with a slow weightiness that tends to weary and he doesn't do well with the women's' voices. Every word does not need to be treated as if it is the most important word in the world. And while he does a fairly good job with Val Con and Edger's voices, he fails completely with Miri's voice. She comes off not as a young, strong, smart woman, but as a whiny, old woman from New York who smokes and whose voice is lower than a mans. It is a complete miss in terms of representing her character.
I loved Priscilla's story and how she grew and overcame. Norbears <3 <3 <3 I've always wanted one! For those that love books that embrace f..Show More »emale power, here is your star ship ride! Tree and Dragon!! I did feel that the narrator missed the cadence of Shan's voice. Though thorough and precise in his enunciation, the sparkle and edge was missing in the deliverance, especially when there was dialogue between Shan and Priscilla. This was slight and really those of us that have loved these books for over several decades are going to be overly critical. I overall LOVED that I can have this story on my iPod and be able to listen to it over and over. Long live Korval!
It is best to start with Conflict of Honors, then Agent of Change, Carpe Diem, Plan B, and I Dare to get the full story and understanding of this uni..Show More »verse. Fascinating storyline through these books, and there are prequels and sequels too! The narrator for this series was not the best. He voiced some characters very well; for instance Edger sounds just like I imagined him! However, why does Nelirikk have a squeaky, high pitched voice? He's huge! Doesn't make sense.
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 o..Show More »f 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.
Scout's Progress tells the first half of the story of Aelliana Caylon and Daav yos'Phelium, but is more about Aelliana than Daav. It is _not_ an easy ..Show More »story. Aelliana is abused, both physically and emotionally, by her na'delm. The abuse occurs both prior to the story and during it. That being said, it is still very much a romance. And an excellent read.
Aelliana Caylon is a brilliant Scholar of Mathematics, the reviser of a critical set of tables used by pilots to survive jump. And, unrecognized until this book, a pilot herself of great skill. Scout's Progress tells the story of her awakening and loosening of the scars and constraints that her abuse has created. And of the developing relationship with Daav as her co-pilot.
This book is fairly immediately after the time of Local Custom, but can be read as a stand-alone volume. The reader is Bernadette Dunne, who does her usual outstanding job. It is always a pleasure to listen to a book she reads, and I'm glad she's the narrator for this Regency sequence.
I love this series. It is a great story! It is best to start with Conflict of Honors, then Agent of Change, Carpe Diem, Plan B, then this book, to get..Show More » the full story and understanding. I was not very happy with this narrator. Most characters were voiced well, but he made Pat Rin sound smarmy, though he is written as a reserved, very proper gentleman. It was better by the end of the book, but every time Pat Rin said something, I got irritated, and it spoiled the experience somewhat. However, it would take more than that to spoil the Liaden Universe!
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" sequ..Show More »ence. 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.
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 char..Show More »acter 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 Dragon continues the story (begun in Crystal Soldier) of Cantra yos'Phelium (the Dragon) and M. Jela (the Soldier), and of the great migratio..Show More »n that creates the Liaden Universe. If you haven't yet read Crystal Soldier, stop now and read it first.
In Crystal Dragon, Cantra must transform herself to go deep under cover and save the mathematical equations of Scholar Liad dea'Syl. With these equations, and the luck, some may survive and escape the decrystallization of the universe by the sheriekas. That she succeeds, and that it leads to the founding of Clan Korval, is at no time certain while reading the book.
This is the second book in the Books of Before sequence on Audible. These three books are very much a prequel to the mainline Liaden Universe books in the Agent of Change sequence. The narrating of the Before books by Kevin T. Collins is superb. 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.
Theo Waitley, the child of two scholars on the matriarchal world of Safe Delgado, finds her life falling apart as her mother decides to leave the gene..Show More »tic scholar Jen Sar's house and move into an apartment in the Wall. Theo does not want to leave Jen Sar's comfortable house and garden. She also does not want to leave her father with who she has an attachment unusual on Delgardo.
However Theo has problems of her own including a notation in her file that she was physically challenged. As a result of this she is frequently in danger of losing status and companionship. It is when her mother's duties as a scholar result in the two of them having to leave Delgardo to allow her mother to investigate a serious breach of scholarship, that Theo starts to understand that there are dangers beyond a bit of clumsiness on a moving sidewalk.
Meanwhile Jen Sar is also pursuing his own path.
And Theo's all important fifteenth birthday is approaching.
I ended up thinking that this first volume in Theo's story is one that reminded me of the best of Robert Heinlein or Andre Norton's juveniles.
The narration is truly excellent. I think I enjoyed listening to Eileen Stevens read the book more than I enjoyed reading it myself. One of my tests for excellence of narration is to try to read a chapter without hearing the voice of the narrator in my head. If I cannot put aside the voice of the narrator then I know I have had a great listening experience.
Mouse and Dragon is an immediate sequel to the events in Scout's Progress, and continues the story of Aelliana Caylon and Daav yos'Phelium. It is, in ..Show More »some ways, a bit easier to read than Scout's Progress, though we're still very much aware of the abuse that has occurred. If you haven't read Scout's Progress, you can still enjoy Mouse and Dragon, but they really are a pair and I recommend reading them that way.
In Mouse and Dragon, we have the ongoing growth of the relationship of Aelliana and Daav, and their eventual lifemating. More than that would be a spoiler, but we get a glimpse into the very beginning of what will be the Fledgeling (Theo Waitley) sequence.
The reader is Bernadette Dunne, and she does a superb job. Thank you, Ms. Dunne, for giving some of my favourite characters a voice.
In this book, Theo Waitley meets and pilots Bechimo, a fabulous self-aware space ship of artificial intelligence, created centuries before by "The Bui..Show More »lders" of mysterious origin.
Theo and Bechimo engage weapons, battling the evil Department of the Interior. The DoI wants Theo AND her amazing Ghost Ship, Bechimo. Theo and her AI ship slowly develop trust in each other, with some bumps along the road. Sometimes amusing little spats, as Bechimo is unsocialized, having been alone and in hiding for centuries.
Theo pilots her Ghost Ship to planet Surebleak. Clan Korval has arrived and Jelaza Kazone (sentient, ancient, wizardly tree) is sinking its roots in, influencing the micro-climate. Surebleak citizens welcome Boss Conrad's kin, who promise to maintain an open Port Road. Wild, lawless Surebleak is adjusting to a more benign form of leadership, and most folks welcome Boss Conrad's government style, but change is difficult, and Korval must deal with sabotage and even worse. Nelirikk gets to leap into action, along with Val Con, Theo, Daav, etc. Of course, the treacherous DoI is at work here.
On Surebleak, Bechimo meets the AI butler, Jeeves (good scene) and eventually gains a co-pilot. Now, with three on board, the interaction gets more interesting. Soon a fourth crew member boards..
A third plot thread takes place on Planet Vandar, with Val Con and Nelirikk. This section of the story is brief. There is a short story that elaborates on it, called Prodigal Son.
The POV changes too much. Sometimes before you can turn a page. It's frustrating.
The story ends on a major cliffhanger, involving Daav yos'Phelium and Uncle. This book and the next book (Dragon Ship) and the next book (Necessity's Child) collectively go almost nowhere. It's an interesting and sometimes highly entertaining journey, walking in circles, but compared to the plot of Tolkien's trilogy, these three books are meandering indeed.
Oh, and a baby is born. Sweet. Several sweet scenes with Tree, too.
Narrated by Eileen Stevens. The narrator is okay, for the most part. I have no real complaints, but several quibbles. I do want to defend Stevens, though: She does not make Miri sound like she is laughing all the time, as one reviewer states, but she does put a chuckle into her voice quite often. When the topic is serious, however, Miri does not sound merry. Personally, I liked Steven's take on Miri.
I agree with said reviewer's statement that male voices sound quieter than female voices, so one must sometimes adjust the volume. In general, male voices sound muffled, like a female trying to sound gruff.
Stevens pronounces Bechimo this way: Besh--ee--mo, emphasizing the middle syllable, ee, giving it a French sound. Personally, I would say Beck'-uh-mo, rhyming Bech with Tech, with stress on Beck. But who knows?
She mispronounced the French word "frisson" (she said something very like "freeze on").
For the word "mercenaries" shortened to "mercs", she says the short form like this: merce. I have never heard the short form pronounced merce, as in "mercy." Whenever I have heard it, it rhymes with "jerks" — people say "merks" — even though mercenary has the soft Ss sound for c. But again, who knows?
Clan Korval is on Surebleak, and the Bosses have started a school. Young Syl Vor, bored by himself in the clan house, moves to the city to live with h..Show More »is mother, Nova yos'Galan to attend school. Meanwhile, the Kompani have saved the life of Rys Lin pen'Chala, a Field Agent of the Department of the Interior who was beaten and left for dead near the underground home of the Kompani and found by Kezzi, a young apprentice healer.
Kezzi is caught as a truant by Mike Golden (Nova's "Hand"), and taken to the school where she meets Syl Vor. Syl Vor proposes her to Nova as his Sister, and they become good friends while building a bridge between the Korval and the Kompani. To tell more would be too much, however.
The story could easily be a simple YA addition to the Liaden Universe, but it actually explores more than that and introduces characters that I think will have a significant influence in the future. And to dismiss it as mere YA is to totally miss the point.
The reader is Eileen Stevens, who is also the reader for the Fledgling Arc of the Liaden Universe. I found her reading quite good, with characters easily distinguished while not being overly intrusive. If I had one complaint it is that when the story switches viewpoints and storylines, which it does regularly, Ms. Stevens didn't provide a "whitespace" break between the story lines. Even a 1/2 second gap would have helped clarity. But really, I'm nitpicking. A thoroughly enjoyable story, and highly recommended. If you're new to the Liaden Universe, this story is essentially standalone, but still probably not the best starting point. I'd start with Balance of Trade, Local Custom, Agent of Change, or Fledgling. Really, any would do, but I think personally I'd go for Agent of Change, which was the very first published book in the series, though not the chronologically first. IAC, if you're just starting, you have a treat ahead of you!
Trade Secret is a worthy sequel to Balance of Trade. My only complaint is that it will be a long time until we hear any more from Jethri Gobelyn, sin..Show More »ce any further adventures for him will need to wait until the authors complete a current round of 5 books already under contract that are timed later in the Liaden Universe.
Trade Secret tells the ongoing story of Jethri Gobelyn, now adopted of Clan Ixen and associate trader on Ixen's trade ship Elthoria. I very much enjoyed the continuing story of Jethri, and wish we could have more. My only real complaint, and it's quite minor, is that I'm finding the reading of Kevin T. Collins less satisfying this time around. The pace feels just a trifle rushed, with the need for a bit more emphasis of the spacing in the story. But still well worth the listen.
Dragon in Exile continues the story of Clan Korval on their new home of the planet Surebleak. Almost all the various storylines progress in this book ..Show More »with the exception of Theo Waitley and Bechemo, who appear, but where we don't get a lot that moves their story forward. This is an excellent addition to the Liaden Universe from Sharon Lee and Steve Miller and the story is highly recommended. The narration from Stephen T. Collins is not his best. He still seems to be struggling with his sense of pace and narrative volume, though it's certainly better than his last Liaden reading, Trade Secret. I'm disappointed in Mr. Collins, because I know he can do better.
But please, don't let that minor complaint slow you down. This is an excellent addition to the Liaden Universe and highly recommended.
This is #19 in the wonderful Liaden Universe, and #2 in the current Arc of Covenants story arc. In this book there are four separate story lines movin..Show More »g forward: Daav/Alliana, Hazenthull/Tolly Jones/Tocohl, and Padi/Shan, all making good progress, and when the book finished I wanted more, but didn't feel like I was dropped off the edge of a cliff. I love this series, and you really can start it anywhere, so just jump in. The authors do a good job of giving you enough back story to be able to enjoy this book even if you haven't read earlier ones, while not annoying those of us who have been here since the very beginning.
The narrator for this book is Kevin T. Collins. And, sadly, he is not my favourite by a substantial margin. However, if you set the speed at 1.25% it's perfectly acceptable and doesn't annoy. The pacing is better in this book (at that 1.25% speed!), and he does a good job of providing a break when the focus shifts to a new story line.
Overall, highly recommended, even though I could wish for a different narrator. And I look forward to the next book where we should find out what's happening with Theo & Bechimo.