I only read a few pages before I returned the book. It may be a perfectly fine book on its own, but it does not fit in with the rest of the series. The characterizations are slightly off and the feel of the book is subtly wrong. It was enough of a difference that I couldn't bring myself to read further, and I typically finish most books I start. I have to wonder if this is a book that her son, Todd, helped with or wrote. It has the same feel as the Pern books that he has written, none of which I have enjoyed as much as the books Anne McCaffrey herself wrote. In his books, the feel is typically off, and some of the characterizations, histories, and world building do not match. It is the same feeling I had reading this book. In my mind, I'll just end the series with the third book, rather than reading this substandard offering. Unfortunate, but Anne McCaffrey will always be one of my all time favorite authors.
Anne McCaffery is one of my all-time favorite authors, and that's saying a lot considering what an avid reader I am. I loved the first three Freedom Series, which I have in hardback and have reread several times over the years. I saw book one on sale for 1.99 as an ebook and bought it. It's been a while since I read the series, and since I'm in temporary living quarters with my books boxed up, I bought the other books as ebooks. Book four was a pleasant surprise--at first. (Yay, and Anne McCaffery book I haven't read!)
I can understand and make allowances for a book that's essentially a wrap-up post series. I'd like more series to have them. Yes, there isn't as much tension because the EVIL is vanquished, but it's nice to revisit the world and the characters. I wouldn't take off stars for that.
However, I have to agree with many of the reviewers who had problems with this book, and I have to say that I doubt Anne actually wrote it. I think Todd might have OR if she wrote it, it may be that it was toward the end of her life, and she was ill, or this was an unfinishi draft.
This book lacked depth to the characters, which is bad if the book's purpose is essentially to revisit them. For example, all Kris seemed to do was cook and sell coffee. There was no trace of her adventurous spirit. While I was glad to see Zainel's sons were in the story, the interaction between them and Kris was TOLD, not not shown. To my disappointment, Kris didn't have an opportunity to develop a real relationship with the boys--something that could have been a major theme to the book. The romantic relationship between the two main protagonists was also lacking.
I agree with an earlier reader that everything happened too easily. The set-up with Floss being difficult never happened--although I was glad to see her changed.
So, while it was nice to be in the world of the series and revisiting the characters, the book felt flat in comparison to the first three. Good to read--somewhat enjoyable, but also disappointing in the lack of what it could have been, but wasn't. More unsatisfying than satisfying. I'm glad I read it, but might not ever again. Or if I'm on a rereading binge, then read it with low expectations and perhaps enjoy it more.
Completing the "Freedom" series (thus far), Kris, Zainal, & Co., must establish Botany as part of an interstellar economy. The Catteni are free of the Eosi overlords, they've given Earth its independence, so, now what? Trade, rebuild Earth, find the deported slaves and get them home. That takes money, so Botany needs to build trade to finance all this, build relationships with Earth's rebuilding governments, find the slaves, and a whole lot more. McCaffery is a storyteller if the first order. You care about her characters -- enough that she's sold millions of Pern books and would sell plenty more of these if son, Todd, continues his late mother's legacy here as he has with Pern. These aren't superheroes, they're us -- as we hope we would be in such a situation. They take what they have and figure out a way to succeed, sometimes with failures and side trips along the way. Great writing — McCaffrey writes great female characters! — almost everything is totally believable (you'll forgive the few, small mistakes), it really is one of those "you can't put it down" books.
I read the other freedom books when they were practically new and I was in high school. I found out about this one recently and I was very disappointed: Kris and Zainal are not the same strong characters that I remember and the book has a flat plot. This book made me wonder if all the books I read by Anne McCaffrey were like this and I didn't notice because I was a starry eyed kid. I came back and read the other reviews after reading the book and was reassured to know this was a deviation and my memory did not deceive me.
Basically the book is as follows, they outline a plan in the beginning of the book to buy back their goods, and then the rest of the book is the plan going perfectly with almost no deviations or challenges. Everything just falls perfectly into place according to the plan outlined at the beginning. As others have noted, we see nothing further about the Farmers or where the remaining Eosi have escaped to. If Ms. McCaffrey wanted to write this story, it should have been a short story/novella before the next book which would follow up on the rest of the goal to rid the universe of the Eosi and learn more about the Farmers. I am sad that this was the series killer.