Tuesday, December 3, 2019

ARC Review: Accepting the Lance by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Accepting the Lance
Author: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Series: Liaden Universe (Book 22)
Publication: Baen (December 3, 2019)

Description: Exiled from Liad after bombing a city to save it from The Department of the Interior’s infernal weapons and plans, Clan Korval has gone to ground on the back-water planet Surebleak, whose people are as untamed as its weather. The old Boss-controlled fiefdoms largely fell to Pat Rin yos’Phelium’s influence, but the world is restive, the influx of outworld lawyers, guns, and money a brewpot for armed dissatisfaction.

Far beyond the surface of frigid Surebleak Korval’s farflung trade network needs a serious reset to recover from exile. From flagship Dutiful Passage to the experimental—if centuries old—self-aware Bechimo co-captained by the Delm’s blood-sister Theo Waitley, the clan’s ships are prowling space lanes seeking trade. Meanwhile, Old Tech from a failed universe—the ancient but revived Tinsori Light—and the machinations of the mysterious Uncle are coalescing into dangerous opportunity or nefarious trap.

And the Department of the Interior is not done with Clan Korval yet. They seek a final fully reckoned revenge, with Surebleak and Korval’s ships and people everywhere in the crosshairs.

My Thoughts: In this 22nd adventure in the Liaden Universe a number of plot threads are tied off. It is a novel filled with changes.

TerraTrade has sent a survey crew to assess Surebleak's potential as a trading hub. However, one of the crew is prejudiced against the planet because Clan Korval has settled there. He is convinced that Clan Korval are pirates who subjugated the world to Korval's desires which is almost true. Nonetheless the current plan is not to make waves while the inspectors are on planet.

But Theo and Bechimo arrive being trailed by on overzealous scout who wants to decommission and reprogram Bechimo because he's a complex logic - a self-aware and self-governing space ship. But Val Con makes a judgment in his role as a Scout Commander that complex self-aware machines are people and may not be interfered with if they have jobs and are socially responsible. This is an epic, potentially universe changing idea.

When a group of these complex logics, most of them war machines that survived the Old Universe, are pointed at Surebleak by the Commander of the Department of the Interior as the next phase in the DOI's plans to wipe-out Korval, Theo, her crew, and her ships are there to stop the invasion in a very Delgado sort of way. Theo teaches the invaders consensus building as a way of problem solving and averts the invasion without a shot being fired.

While these things are going on at or near Surebleak, another plot thread begun in an earlier book has some survivors of the DOI going off to try to defeat it. It is a longshot attempt that is led by Rys Lin pen'Chela who was a former Agent of Change who was adopted by the Bedel who live secretly on Surebleak.

Speaking of the Bedel, they have long been on Surebleak having been dropped off by their ship which never returned for them. Only now a message comes in and they find that they have been found and a ship will be coming for them. The problem is that most of the current generation of Bedel have made Surebleak their home and don't want to go back.

Still another plot thread has a Boss Surebleak wanting to return things to the bad old days and wants to retire Boss Conrad (Pat Rin) and the Road Boss (Miri and Val Con). No one knows who Boss Surebleak is but our heroes are pretty sure he/she is another part of the plot set up by the DOI to eliminate Korval. The consequences of this lead to the development of voting as a way to indicate support for either Boss Conrad or Boss Surebleak which is an idea that is very new to Surebleak and not much more common on Liad.

All of these plot threads and others I didn't talk about are wonderfully woven into a fascinating story that brings us up-to-date on many of the characters who have starred in earlier books in the Liaden Universe series. But I still want more! What about Shan? What about the children who are now young adults? What will happen as a result of Val Con's judgment? What is happening at Tinsori Light?

Favorite Quote:
On Surebleak Port, now, anything could happen -- and often did; a tendency that had only gotten more pronounced with the arrival of Clan Korval.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Baen. You can buy your copy here.

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