2011 Top Ten: Liaden Universe

I can’t remember who recommended this series to me. I think it was a series brought to my attention five or six years ago when I did a general plea and people pointed me to C.J. Cherryh, C.S. Friedman, and Bujold. Unlike those three I found the Liaden books hard to find which contributed to me not reading them until this year. I used to scour used bookstores for them. I bought a number of the books, but could never get them “in order” so they just piled up unread.

I finally picked one up, regardless of order, and went with it. It was Conflict of Honors which turned out to be as good of place as any to start. Great timing as the key relationship in this one reminded me of the one in the Peter Wimsey series I had just read. Where the romance is based on two strong characters finding each other while in a moment of unbalance (one in power and one not) and unwilling to move on the relationship because of fear of losing themselves in the process or taking too much. Only this one is in space and everything obviously. (handwaves) It is space opera spanning multi generations with a sentient tree and space turtles. Oh, and there are tons of books. Baen has them in kindle/ebook form which is how I read them in the end. You can buy them in bundles. I was going on a long train ride and needed to fill my Kindle. Easy sell. The authors even have a recommended reading order I completely disregarded.

The series is written by wife and husband duo Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. They’ve been writing in this ‘verse for years with no end in sight. I find Liaden ‘verse light and entertaining with some soapy drama in there too. So more like Bujold than C.J. Cherryh. There are some mob/spy stuff, some science/universe/origins stuff, sentient trees, teleporting cats, pilot stuff, commerce drama, race relations, music…it really depends on what book you pick up. I read everything this year and am now up to date with what is being written give or take a short story here or there. I regret nothing!

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Conflicts of Honor

I’ve been meaning to read Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s books for a while now. I had been slowly gathering them from used book stores and paperback swap and I was going to read them. Some day.

I am glad I finally did a couple days ago. I read this book in 22 hrs. I swear I wasn’t reading during the entirety of that. I think it was two sittings with work and a tiny bit of sleep in there too. Either way it was fast read. The only thing going against it was that it was part of a giant, 900 page paperback compilation and was impossible to hold. I ended up buying three ebooks at the Baen site about half way through it (which also solved my “how do I find these books? Arg!” problem I was having) and since then have started a third book.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the book except to say it was a pretty good modernization/scifi of Dorothy L Sayers’ Peter Wimsey series (intentional or not it is) complete with it’s own Harriet Vane. I think that’s what I liked about it.  The characters are in a similar situation.  An act of injustice happened to the main character, Priscilla, while she was just a teen and because of that she’s been fending for herself with various degrees of success for over ten years. She worked her way up in the shipping business, but it seems like it’s only a matter of time before she completely loses it what with the rough, cut throat crews she finds herself with. When that final shoe drops she is at her lowest of her lows, betrayed by her employers, and stranded on a backwash planet. In a bid to get revenge on her old crew she puts in with a rich, eccentric captain who seems to operate in a completely different (and better) universe than the one she’s been living in. He’s got a funny face for his race of normally attractive aliens and even among his own kind he is considered weird for like humans so much.

They have the Peter/Harriet thing going on complete with her wanting to stay in control and he wanting to help but liking her so much like she is he does not want to interfere with her affairs too much and risk taking from her the last few things she has control over. They are in the Gaudy Night stage of things in this book. So yeah, if you are a fan of this series check out Dorothy Sayers books with Harriet Vane in them. I started with Gaudy Night. If you like Dorothy Sayers and are looking for something similar in spirit, but with space ships and stuff, give this book a try.