This is not a review of a single book but of a series of books that is one of my favorites. I want to live in the Liaden Universe (but only if I can be of Clan Korval).
I just read the latest chapbook Halfling Moon by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller and was transported back to the Liaden Universe and the adventures of the members of Clan Korval. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have created a wonderful universe for their books.
My love affair with Liad and Clan Korval began when I discovered Agent of Change in Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Book Store sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. I found Conflict of Honors and Carpe Diem on the same trip. I read the books, fell in love with the characters, and then began to search for more -- with no success.
Sharon and Steve tell the story of their rocky road to book publication in their books. But, in essence, the birth of the internet kept them writing. Back in the days of usenet groups rec.arts.sf.written was a gathering place for devoted fans of the first three books in the Liaden Universe. Loyal fans created a group called the Friends of Liad. The Friends encouraged Sharon and Steve to continuie to write in the Liaden Universe. The wikipedia article here gives excellent information about the series and the world. When Sharon and Steve could not find a publisher, they met the needs of their fans by writing and selling annual chapbooks containing further stories in the Liaden Universe. (Halfling Moon is the latest.)
There is also a website about the Liaden Universe here.
I have all of the books and chapbooks that are available. I have the books in multiple edtions and on my Kindle so that I can always get my Liaden fix. I reread the books at least once a year and am always eager for the next new thing.
Here are brief summaries of the first three books which are getting hard to find but are well worth the search:
Agent of Change -- Fleeing the scene of his latest mission, Val Con yos'Phelium finds himself saving the life of ex-mercenary Miri Robertson, a young Tarren on the run from interplanetary assassins. Thrown together by circumstances, Val Con and Miri struggle to elude their enemies and stay alive without slaying each other-or surrendering to the unexpected passion that flares between them.
Carpe Diem -- On the run from interplanetary assassins, covert operative Val Con yos'Phelium and former mercenary sergeant Miri Robertson end up stranded on a distant planet-with no rescue in sight.
Conflict of Honors -- Declared legally dead by a High Priestess of the Goddess and abandoned by her mother, Priscilla Delacroix has roamed the galaxy for ten years, surviving and becoming a woman of extraordinary skills. Now, she's been betrayed and abandoned once again, left on a distant planet by the Liaden starship on which she had been an important officer. But she's not alone: starship captain Shan yos'Galan has his own score to settle with the same enemy and is about to offer her an alliance.
After reading these, I wanted more of the story. Ten years went by. Then, luckily for me, Sharon and Steve were able to find a publisher (Meisha Merlin) for further adventures and published Plan B, Local Custom, Scout's Progress and I Dare from 1999 to 2002. But then Meisha Merlin folded leaving Sharon and Steve in publishing limbo (and owed a bunch of money) again.
They took to the internet and used the storyteller's bowl model to continue to write the story after I Dare. The model is pretty simple -- the authors would write a new chapter when a certain amount of funds are received. Sharon and Steve set the amount of $300 for each chapter thinking that they would have time (maybe even weeks) before the $300 total was reached. They determined that those who contributed at least $25 would receive a copy of the finished book if or when it became a published book. They were surprised to find that the Friends of Liad and many others were eager for these books and some large number of chapters was paid for even before chapter 1 appeared. I contributed and got to read the stories that became Fledgling and Saltation as they were being written -- one chapter every week or so.
Those books were eventually purchased by and published by Baen Books. Fledgling came out in September 2009 and Saltation will be published in April 2010. Baen is also publishing the earlier books in the Liaden Universe. I see that The Dragon Variations containing Local Custom, Scout's Progress and Conflict of Honors will be published in June 2010. Baen has also purchased new adventures in the Liaden Universe.
I'll admit that I am a sucker for a good science fiction romance. My favorites of all of them, because of the romance aspects, are Local Custom and Scout's Progress. Mouse and Dragon, which continues Aelliana and Dav's story, will be coming out June 1, 2010. You can be sure that it is on my list to be purchased.
If you like character-driven space opera with doses of romance (and 8' tall turtles of great age and power), I invite you to give these a try. Join the group of the addicted and become a Friend of Liad.