Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tree and Dragon

Trade Secret (Liaden Universe, #17)Trade Secret by Sharon Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

1. I was lucky enough to get a temporary advance e-galley of the book from Baen and Netgalley, for review. Netgalley reviewers are not paid. Also, I started reading the series in their first late 1980s publication; I own all the other books in the series, and have reread them all.

2. Trade Secret is a sequel to Balance of Trade, continuing Jethri Gobelyn's  growth and journey as a young Terran trader from a long-established space merchant family who finds himself adopted into a Liaden trading family. You could enter the series with Balance of Trade, and surely you should read it before reading Trade Secret. You would find out that as wide as space is, civilized worlds are few, and Terrans and Liadens are starting to encounter each other more and more-encroaching and antagonizing each other on the whole. Terrans are large and loud and trusting and sneaky. They are kind of democratic. Liadens are short and quiet and quick to offense and twisty. They have a social code akin to that of Japan and Regency England's ton. And of course each race is more than that. And has two arms, legs, and one head (mostly thick), and breathes oxygen. (And hates the Yxtrang, who have the same extremeties, but harder heads, more tattoos, and military imperatives.)

If you have read Balance of Trade, we learn more about Jethri’s origins, Liaden sexual customs, Jethri’s kin, his Liaden nemesis, and other matters. A very fine coming-of-age novel, and a pleasant filling-in of backstory.

3. I do not know if it is possible just to "like" the tales of Korval and Tree and Dragon. (To be fair, it's possible to have favorites in the series.) I can tell you that if you like a mixture of humor, dueling, magic, drama and derring-do, you will become a fan. Anne McCaffrey was a huge fan. It seems if you are an avid science fiction reader and a Georgette Heyer fan, you will certainly be a friend of Liad.

4. As with Bujold's Miles books, and Asaro's Skolian Empire, you will have to accept some jumping around in time--the books are not published in chronological order.  Certainly many of us think that Agent of Change is the best place to start, being the book that was first published.

Fast ships! Sentient turtles who grow knives and whose ships hallucinate their
way through spacetime! Telepathy! Sentient trees who guide the genetics of their
caretakers! Ancient robots! Cats! Conspiracies! True love! How can you resist?
Rush out to buy the chronicles of Liad and thus ensure there will be more. will give you a few choices of where to start next.

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