Authors: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Publisher: Baen (September 4, 2012)
Description: Stirring space adventure from master storytellers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller – #15 in the award-winning Liaden Universe® saga. Space ships, action, adventure – all tied together with a strong dollop of romance and intrigue – make this a compelling series for a wide range of readers, from romance to military SF lovers.
First Class courier pilot Theo Waitley was already known as a nexus of violence – and then she inherited the precarious captaincy of a mysterious self-aware ship designed to serve a long dead trader. Now she has a trade route to run for Clan Korval while she convinces the near mythic ghost ship Bechimo – and herself – that she wants to commit herself as the human side to their immensely powerful symbiosis. While her former lover battles a nano-virus that's eating him alive, she's challenged to rescue hundreds of stranded pilots and crewmen from an explosive situation in near orbit around a suddenly hostile planet. Lovers, enemies, an ex-roomie, and a jealous spaceship are all in peril as Theo wields power that no one in the universe is sure of, especially her.
My Thoughts: I just couldn't wait until September to read this story. I bought the eARC from Baen Books as soon as it was available. This was filled with excitement and intrigue but is definitely not a place for a newcomer to jump into the Liaden Universe. This is the fourth book in the Theo Waitley arc of stories and follows immediately after Ghost Ship in time.
Theo is aboard Bechimo with Clarence O'Berin and a contract from Korval to explore a potential new trading route. Shan has given Theo some possible contacts on a variety of worlds but Theo soon learns that Korval is not necessarily welcome on those worlds now. The Department of Interior is not nearly so destroyed or disorganized as Korval hoped and they seem to have a particular interest in Theo and her Old Tech ship Bechimo. This leads to a variety of problems and near escapes. Bechimo is a major character in this story.
Theo even has to go back to Eylot to rescue pilots in peril though she has been marked there as a nexus of violence and more or less run off the planet. This causes a number of problems but does allow her to expand her crew with the addition of her old friend Kara ven'Arith who is a Second Class pilot but has tech skills that make her attractive to Bechimo.
There is also a thread which has Theo's mother Kamele taking a year's sabbatical and determining to visit the Delm of Korval to find out the fate of her onagrata Jen Sar Kiladi who is more widely known to Liadens as Daav yos'Phelium. She proves that scholars from Delgado, especially those who had a close relationship with Jen Sar Kiladi, can be very resourceful and can rise to unexpected challenges.
We also get glimpses of things that are going on with Daav and Uncle and a few glimpses of Val Con and Miri at home on Surebleak. We even get a closer look at the Norbears especially in the person of Hevelin. All in all this was a satisfying episode that leaves one aching for the next book to find out how all these plot threads resolve.
Favorite Quote (may be different in edited copy):
"Violence is a tool. You might be violent to prove that you can be violent. Certain value in that, sometimes. Best use--you're right--is when there's a point to be made, or defended, or Necessity. Wasn't that here, was just someone's frustration."I bought this eARC the day it was available and started reading it right away. I have also pre-ordered my finished copy already. You can get your copy here too. (If you have my level of patience and want the eARC, you can buy it here.)