This book serves as a bridge to begin the process of weaving together a lot of separate threads and previous story lines. While it focuses mostly on Padi (Shan's daughter) coming of age, other favorite characters are brought in and you get a tantalizing glimpse of what's happening with them, for example, Daav and his life-mate, Jeeves's children, Theo, the Uncle, the meddling Tree, etc.
How these authors keep up the same fascinating style of storytelling, book after book, is beyond me. This book is every bit as enthralling as all the rest. The only problem, and this is a huge one: it leaves you ravenous for more!! Can't wait until the next one! Love this book.
ALERT!!!!!!! For all you hard core Liaden fans--I just discovered an awesome treat. If you go to the author's website at korval dot com, click on the link to baen and you can read a free short story "Wise Child" that is set in the Liaden universe, about a new AI in training. The story ties in with Tolly and how he came to be on the run and in hiding, which is mentioned in Alliance Of Equals.