Author: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Series: Liaden Universe (Book 19)
Publication: Baen (July 5, 2016)
Description: A new novel in the popular and exciting science fiction Liaden Universe® series. Over a half million Liaden Universe® books sold with an audience that keeps growing!
Beset by the angry remnants of the Department of the Interior, challenged at every turn by opportunists on their new homeworld of Surebleak, and somewhat low on funds, Clan Korval desperately needs to reestablish its position as one of the top trading clans in known space. To this end, Master Trader Shan yos'Galan, aboard Korval's premier trade ship, Dutiful Passage, is on a mission to establish new business associations and to build a strong primary route that links well with existing Loops and secondary routes.
But reestablishing trade and preserving the lives of the few remaining members of the clan aren't all of Korval's problems. Matters come to a head as Dutiful Passage, accustomed to being welcomed and feted at those ports on its call-list, finds itself denied docking, and blacklisted, while agents of the DOI mount armed attacks on others of Korval's traders, under the very eyes of port security systems.
Traveling with Dutiful Passage on this unsettling journey is Padi yos'Galan, the master trader's heir and his apprentice. Padi is eager to make up for time lost due to Korval's unpleasantness with the Department of the Interior. She is also keeping a secret so intense that her coming of age, and perhaps her very life, is threatened by it.
My Thoughts: ALLIANCE OF EQUALS seems to take place concurrently with DRAGON IN EXILE.
One thread follows the Dutiful Passage trying to forge new trade routes while being subverted by their own reputation and subtle actions of the Department. This is Padi's first tour as an apprentice trader since Plan B was invoked and she spent time at Runig's Rock. The stress of that situation has had a lasting effect on all the children and Padi is dealing with the effect on her. Her elders are watching but giving her a chance to heal without their intervention.
Another thread of this story follows Daav and Aelliana who are still with the Uncle and undergoing big changes of their own. Changes the worry Daav and surprise the Uncle and which are definitely orchestrated by Korval's tree.
The third thread stars Tocohol Lorlin who is Jeeves' AI daughter, Tolly Jones who is a manufactured human who socializes AIs, and Hazenthull Explorer who is an unintended passenger and Tolly's friend. Their purpose is to see if Admiral Bunter, an AI created and abandoned at Jamiatha's Jumble Stop, can be socialized or destroyed. Meanwhile, Tolly is on the run from his creators who want to use them for their own gain.
All three threads are entertaining and further the main story arc of Korval settling on Surebleak and remaking the clan now that they are not part of Liad. Things will go so much better when they are finally able to root out the remaining bits of the Department who are still ruthlessly trying to rid the universe of Korval. I liked the focus on characters who are not part of Korval and I liked getting to know Padi.
While I wouldn't necessarily recommend starting with this book, I think that those familiar with the Liaden Universe will enjoy it very much.
In fact, she had known she had been slow. She had been, not to put too fine a point on it, only slightly more useful to her ship than a stuffed bunny. At least a stuffed bunny would have been amusing.I bought this eARC on the first day Baen made it available. You can buy your copy here.