Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Audiobook: Crystal Soldier by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Crystal Soldier
Author: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Narrator: Kevin T. Collins
Publication: Audible Studios (Sept. 4, 2012)
Length: 13 hours and 51 minutes

Description: Centuries in the past, mankind fought a seemingly unbeatable adversary from sector to sector across the Spiral Arm until the war ground to a standstill and the Enemy withdrew. Believing that they had won, the citizens of the galaxy rebuilt. The Inner Worlds, which had escaped the worst of the war's ravages, became even more insular, while the Rim worlds adopted a free and easy way with law and order. Now, hundreds of years after their withdrawal, the Enemy is back - and this time they'll be satisfied with nothing less than the extinction of the galaxy.

My Thoughts: This story is the beginning of the Liaden Universe. Characters who are legends in the new (in the timeline) Liaden books are the main characters in this one with all their strengths and flaws.

The story begins with an M series soldier named Jela on a planet that is dry and desiccated. His ship was damaged and he was forced to land and hope for retrieval by his own forces. M type soldiers are generalists and explorers which means that Jela decides to explore while waiting for pickup and begins following a trail of fallen trees. He follows and watches the trees become smaller and smaller on their way down from the hills to what was once a river and now is just a dry bed. There at the end of his trail, with him running out of food and water, Jela comes upon a living tree - the sole survivor of its species.

When Jela is finally rescued, he brings the tree with him. He made it promises as they waited for pickup by his crew. Jela feels that the tree is able to communicate with him. It also provides him with edible seedpods.

Jela and the army he is part of have been fighting the enemy for all of his life. They are losing the war. The enemy has weapons that eat planets and they are determined to remove all life from the universe and remake it to their specifications.

Jela is chosen to be part of a last-ditch effort to slow the enemy down. It is on this mission that he meet Cantra yos'Phelium.

Cantra is a smuggler and the last of a line that was eliminated by its creators. She is on the run from those creators and trying to keep a low profile. She stops on a planet and decides that she needs some company which leads her to having dinner with Jela who was expecting someone else to dine with him. Warned by one of the servers that they are under observation, they end up having to fight off various enemies before they are able to escape from the planet bringing the server - a batch created slave named Dulsey - and Jela's tree with them.

After visiting the planet where Cantra has a cargo to drop off and running afoul with her buyer, they decide to take Dulsey to the one place where she might be safe. Cantra knows where the Uncle makes his home since he helped her get away from the creators who wanted to repossess her. The Uncle is trying to find a way to make the enemy's tech into weapons that humans can use to defeat the enemy. Jela doesn't believe that is possible or desirable. Uncle doesn't want to let either Cantra or Jela go since they could be useful to his plans. This leads to still another fight and another narrow escape for our heroes.

The story was filled with danger and action and intriguing characters. I loved seeing Jela and Cantra as humans rather than as icons. The narration was well done. I also enjoyed the interview of Kevin T. Collins done by Steve Miller which gave a lot of interesting information about how narrators work and also about how authors work.

The cliffhanger ending mean that CRYSTAL DRAGON has just gone on my "read NOW" list.

I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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