The Liaden Universe Shared Read
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Depends - do you like fantastic space opera, with comedy (and occasionally tragedy) of manners, psi, spaceships, giant sentient turtles (and ditto ditto trees), and lots of cats? http://korval.com/why-read-liad/ . My answer is YES, you should read it - everyone should read it. The stories are amazing, and fun! Agent of Change was the first published - there are several entry points, but that was mine so of course it's the best way.
I will be publishing the entire oeuvre in a following post in publication order. That includes a number of chapbooks published independently when Miller & Lee did not have a publisher. I haven’t gotten hold of a number of those yet. The regular books are in bold, and that is what most of us will be reading. I have put the names of the omnibus editions along with what books are included in each--these have an asterisk.
In August, the Category Challenge people will be doing a group read in the Liaden Universe and will be posting their comments here. The 75ers will be using the thread from July 1 through next year as we hope to entice a lot of people into discovering the charm of this series and reading multiple books, similar to our Vorkosigan read last year.
Again, this isn't an organized group read. It's a vehicle to encourage people to try out this universe. In August, the Category Challenge people will use the thread to discuss their planned group read of Liaden books, and so we'd like to encourage the 75ers who are participating to plan to read at least one book during that month as well. Other than that, just like with the Vorkosigan read last year, it's read at your own pace and come talk about it on the dedicated thread. Several people will go ahead and start reading in July, which is just fine, and you have a whole year to tackle as much of the series as you want to. I personally love the books and will probably do a complete reread, ymmv.
Agent of Change
Conflict of Honors
These five are the original story arc. They suck you in, intrigue you, introduct you to Liad and Val Con and Shan and Miri and Priscilla and Korval and, last but by no means least, the TURTLES! Agent of Change is free in ebook form. I strongly recommend starting here!
By the time you have read these, you will have a strong curiosity about the parents of Val Con and Shan, and ideally that would lead you to Pilot’s Choice which combines Local Custom and Scout’s Progress.
You also may find yourself wanting to know more about Cantra and Jela and how they came to found Liad, and that can be found in the far past prequels, Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon. However, these two can be eliminated entirely if desired.
At the end of I Dare!, a character comes onstage in the very last pages of the book and produces a cliffhanger. I could have shot the authors at that point. But then M&L put out a series of books that give that character’s history and bring us up to the timeline of Plan B. These books have more of a YA feel to them, probably because of the age of the character.
Fledgling (also a free ebook)
Now we are up to date and there are two story strands going on simultaneously, one following our character above (Ghost Ship and Dragon Ship) and one following our first cast of characters (Necessity’s Child and Dragon in Exile). But they overlap and link. CORRECTION! Ghost Ship has much more of the mainline action than I remembered and should be read prior to Necessity's Child!
Mouse and Dragon was a late addition to the story of Val Con’s parents (Scout’s Progress) that explains some of the things that crop up in the later books. You can read it when you read the first, or wait until later.
Balance of Trade and Trade Secret have nothing to do with any of the above books except that they occur in the Liaden Universe about 300 years earlier when Liadens and Terrans were first starting to trade.
Below are some suggestions for reading orders, as well as a list of books that may be read with no prior knowledge of the Liaden Universe®.
Novels that may be read with no prior reading in the Universe: Agent of Change, Conflict of Honors, Local Custom, Scout’s Progress, Balance of Trade, Fledgling, Crystal Soldier, Necessity’s Child
Novels that are direct sequels: Carpe Diem, Plan B, I Dare
Fledgling, Saltation, Ghost Ship, Dragon Ship
Crystal Soldier, Crystal Dragon
Balance of Trade, Trade Secret
Novels that may benefit from being read in a particular order: Carpe Diem really is more comprehensible if read after Agent of Change, and perhaps also benefits from reader familiarity with Conflict of Honors
Mouse and Dragon may be more accessible to those who have previously read Scout’s Progress.
The order in which the books were written:
Agent of Change, Conflict of Honors, Carpe Diem, Plan B, Local Custom, Scout’s Progress, I Dare, Balance of Trade, Crystal Soldier, Crystal Dragon, Fledgling, Saltation, Mouse and Dragon, Ghost Ship, Dragon Ship, Necessity’s Child, Trade Secret
Internal Chronology: Crystal Soldier, Crystal Dragon, Balance of Trade, Trade Secret, Local Custom, Scout’s Progress, Mouse and Dragon, Conflict of Honors,Agent of Change, Carpe Diem, Plan B, Fledgling, I Dare, Saltation, Ghost Ship, Necessity’s Child, Dragon Ship
Check out www.korval.com for additional information.
2 Conflict of Honors by Sharon Lee
3 Carpe Diem by Sharon Lee
4 Two Tales of Korval by Sharon Lee
5 Fellow Travelers by Sharon Lee
6 Plan B by Sharon Lee
7 Duty Bound by Sharon Lee
8* Partners in Necessity by Sharon Lee Omnibus "Conflict/Agent/Carpe"
9 Certain Symmetry by Sharon Lee
10* Pilots Choice by Sharon Lee Omnibus "Local Custom/Scout's Progress"
11 Local Custom by Sharon Lee
12 Trading in Futures by Sharon Lee
13 Changeling by Sharon Lee
14 Loose Cannon by Sharon Lee
15 Scout's Progress by Sharon Lee
16I Dare by Sharon Lee
17Shadows and Shades by Sharon Lee
18 The Cat's Job by Sharon Lee "King of the Cats"
19 Quiet Knives by Sharon Lee
20 Balance of Trade by Sharon Lee
21 With Stars Underfoot by Sharon Lee
22 Crystal Soldier by Sharon Lee
23 Necessary Evils by Sharon Lee
24 Crystal Dragon by Sharon Lee
25 Calamity's Child by Sharon Lee
26 Allies by Sharon Lee
27 Fledgling by Sharon Lee
28 Dragon Tide by Sharon Lee
29 Eidolon by Sharon Lee
30 Misfits by Sharon Lee
31 Saltation by Sharon Lee
32* The Dragon Variation by Sharon Lee Conflict of Honors/ Local Custom & Scout's Progress
33 Halfling Moon by Sharon Lee
34 Mouse and Dragon by Sharon Lee
35 Skyblaze by Sharon Lee
36* The Agent Gambit by Sharon Lee Agent of Change/Carpe Diem
37* Korval's Game by Sharon Lee Omnibus "Plan B/I Dare"
38 Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee
39 Baen Free Short Stories 2011 by Baen Books Short Story, "Intelligent Design"
40* The Crystal Variation by Sharon Lee Omnibus "Crystal Soldier/Crystal Dragon/Balance of Trade"
41 Dragon Ship by Sharon Lee
42 Necessity's Child by Sharon Lee
43 Baen Free Short Stories 2013 by Baen Books Short Story, "Eleutherios"
44 Trade Secret by Sharon Lee
45 Dragon in Exile by Sharon Lee
Liaden Universe ® Companion (Volume One) by Sharon Lee
Liaden Universe ® Companion (Volume Two) by Sharon Lee
A Liaden Universe ® Constellation: Volume 1 by Sharon Lee
A Liaden Universe ® Constellation: Volume 2 by Sharon Lee
Liaden Universe Constellation Volume III (BAEN) by Sharon Lee
I don't think I'm going to read the whole universe, but I'll be reading at least a few Liaden books this year (since there has not yet been a whole year in which I have _not_ read at least one! Including the dry years when there were only three books in the whole universe...), so I'll stop by and comment now and then.
I've only read Agent of Change, Fledgling and Saltation so far. I'm tentatively planning to read Conflict of Honors next.
Book #65 Agent of Change by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (247 pp.)
Book #66 Conflict of Honors by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (326 pp.)
Yes, the Liaden Universe series year-long group conversation started July 1, and I started with it. These are the two introductory books. Again, as stated above, if you enjoy adventuresome space opera with great characters, turtles, dragons, cats, and trees, this may be for you. A lot of new readers will have tried out the Vorkosigan books in 2014, and if you enjoyed them, you will also enjoy these.
Either of these two books can serve as a starting point. For the Vorkosigan readers, if you preferred The Warrior's Apprentice to Shards of Honor and Barrayar, start with Agent of Change. If vice versa, start with Conflict of Honors. These two then come together in Carpe Diem, the third book.
I'm about to start Necessity's Child!! Hooray for Liaden.
Ah yes, I've reviewed some stuff.
What I can't remember is at what point everyone gets what is going on -- like the rest of the family etc. Can't be more open without risk of spoiling although I could use that feature discussing this?
>17 souloftherose: Delighted to hear it, Heather!
>18 sibylline:, >22 sibylline: Lucy, there is a point in Carpe Diem where Nova accesses some files and uncovers the mission statement of the Department of the Interior. I think that is the point, as it is also the point where Plan B goes into effect. You might want to skim all the segments of Carpe Diem that are not on Vandar to get the big picture. I think that is sufficiently vague not to provide any true spoilers to those who haven't read the books yet.
>19 jnwelch:, >21 jnwelch: Good plan, Joe. These are just such fun to read, real entertainment.
>20 LizzieD: I'm in the middle of Plan B as well, Peggy. This may be my favorite book, so much happens.
I haven't gotten back into Dragon, I've been clearing out several other books (which were also not very good). Tomorrow I'll dive in and finish Dragon, and go back to the other stories. And possibly do a full reread, though I need to check how many new books I've read to see if I'm allowed to (personal rule this year - two new-to-me books for every reread).
And I'll probably reread I Dare, at least - I _love_ Pat Rin here, and his adventures on Surebleak. If I'm reading any Liaden, I reread this one.
>24 jjmcgaffey: I've really enjoyed the Theo stories. Another great character in this series.
Book #67 Plan B by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (330 pp.)
Book #68 I Dare! by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller 467 pp.)
So, a funny thing happened after Lee and Miller wrote their first two books. Their publisher told them the books didn't sell well enough and canned them. And there things rested for 9 years. (It could have been longer--MM also picked up P. C. Hodgell's Kencyriath series after a long hiatus) But in the meantime, the internet grew and became a public venue and there were these people called fans who kept begging for more, because, see, THEY were reading the books. And so Lee & Miller were at long last picked up by a publisher named Meisha Merlin who were known for picking up quality fantasy/sf series that no one else would continue. And so these two books were published in trade paperback, that being the default size for MM, rather than the mmpb editions of the first three books. It was a sad day when MM went out of operation in 2007.
And there is practically nothing I can tell you about these two that wouldn't be spoilers for the earlier ones, except that it is very exciting, more great characters, and very satisfying.
Now, for the first time, I will go directly to the next in the straight storyline, skipping the 8 books written in between the two for the time being, and read Necessity's Child.
Lovely book - lots of bits that begin to tie together a lot of established threads. I'm already looking forward to the next (which has, I believe, been turned into to the publisher).
Book #69 Necessity's Child by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (328 pp.)
After Meisha Merlin closed down, Lee and Miller wrote the next two books, Theo's story, by subscription. I well know this as I was one of the subscribers to Saltation and received a copy of the book when it was published. As a result of the subscription support, Baen Publishing took them up and has published them ever since, to the satisfaction of all their fans.
The only problem I had with Necessity's Child was the introduction of a completely new variable on Surebleak. I was not at all sure that was necessary, but am more reconciled to it upon a second reading. Again, more would be spoilers for earlier books. Now, a reread of Dragon in Exile next, to complete the current state of the main storyline.
I'm enjoying the novels on a re-read at least as much as the first time around, and maybe more.
I warn you ahead of time that my spelling is going to be atrocious because I'm too lazy to go 2 rooms over to pick up the books. I'm not very far into Plan B and remarking how much Liaden Melant'i is reminding me of Atevi man chi in Cherryh's *Foreigner* series. I don't have anything to say about it; just noting the fact.
I just have short story book 2 left and then it will be time to start all over.
For fear of spoiling things, my reviews will stay over on my thread or on the book's book page but I will report on what I am reading here
So I did gobble up Dragon in Exile in about three days. Couldn't help it! So much going on!
So far, I've only read Agent of Change, which I liked a lot, and Two Tales of Korval, which I liked even more. (Really enjoyed reading the short story of how Val Con met D'Carias, et al.) I've got Conflict of Honors and Carpe Diem on reserve at the library, just waiting for them to become available, and am looking forward to reading the entire series over the next months.
So, today I read my two collections, originally labeled Liaden Unibus I and Liaden Unibus II, and the bad news is that they don't correspond exactly to the Constellation collections. Liaden Unibus I includes the first 13 stories in A Liaden Universe Constellation I, but the latter also contains 5 more stories. Four of those are the first four stories in Unibus II, with the last story, "Sweet Waters", not being in my collections. The rest of Unibus II is the same as the first 8 stories in Constellation II. BUT there are 8 more stories in Constellation II that I don't have, so I will have to buy that one as I only have the first half of it, in addition to Constellation III, which just came out. Ah well, more reading!
Reading books out of order. Dear me, I dont know whether I can.
Publication order is pretty simple, at least for the novels. Internal order...not so much.
I quite like romance, as long as an SF story is not a romance with trappings (if the same story could be told by swapping the space ships for horses, or cars, that's a poorly written story, not just a "romance"). So I'm not the best judge. But for me, the romance is one strain in a complex and interesting story, in CoH and all of Liad.
ETA: the prequel books - Local Custom and Scout's Progress - are a little more directly romances; I find Local Custom annoying because it uses a standard romance trope (misunderstanding) that I happen to hate. But I still read and reread it for the characters, and the world(s).
Book #80 Fledgling by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (375 pp.)
Book #81 Saltation by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (325 pp.)
Book #82 Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (328 pp.)
Book #83 Dragon Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (373 pp.)
Fledgling and Saltation are the backstory of Theo Waitley, who shows up on Liad in the final pages of I Dare!--her raising on the Safe Planet of Delgado and her pilot training at Abingdon Academy as the result of a trip off planet with her mother. I had forgotten how much of Ghost Ship had to do with the mainline plot of Korval moving from Liad to Surebleak and will have to correct that on the Liaden Universe thread. One should not move from I Dare! to Necessity's Child without reading Ghost Ship in between. It's one of the newer books--this was maybe my second reading but probably my third, and while yes, it advances Theo's career, it also merges the two story lines. Dragon Ship is more concentrated on Theo but also follows the main clan and, especially, Theo's mother, putting them in place for the last two books (to date) in the series, Necessity's Child and Dragon in Exile. It would also help if one had read Pilot's Choice and Mouse and Dragon before these four books, but it isn't essential. As always, Miller and Lee take us on a rollicking good adventure!
I just read the short story Changeling, and have a much better feeling for Ren Zel now. He seemed to sprout up fully formed in I Dare, as if we should know him and understand the esteem in which he's held. Changeling really helped on that score.
That's why I love that everything's coming out in the Constellation collections.
I am starting, finally, the 2nd book of stories and have #3 on order so it should arrive soon!
Carpe Diem is next for me but will have to wait for library books in the queue first. I'm really enjoying the audios of this series. I think there 5 are available in audio. The rest will have to be in Kindle/Book format.
Back to add my review, such as it is for Constellation v.2:
Nothing to say that I didn't say in my remarks about Vol 1. I love getting these side stories: Yulie seeing the arrival of the Tree, how the Liaden cab driver came to Surebleak, Natesa's beginnings, a time spent with the actual dragons and the trees with whom they shared a planet once . . . all quite wonderful. One thing I have come to love about Liadens is how seriously they take themselves and what they do, from Korval, with the responsibility for the good of Liaden to the smallest, the delm of a cab company with three cabs. Love it! I'm also beginning to understand the meaning of 'necessity' in Liaden, quite different from our own idea of it.
Also to report that the spousal unit, although not a member of LT is participating in reading all the Liaden books. Presently reading Korval's Game, the 3 in 1 tome. Before that he was reading Theo's story in backwards order, not on purpose.
September Series & Sequels
Btw, good to see some Category Challenge people show up.
I picked up Local Custom when I came to it in the publication order, but it wasn't working for me. I'm sure I'll go back and read it and the others I've skipped at some point.
I think I've convinced y favorite librarian to order all three of the Constellation books......
>88 Dejah_Thoris: Local Custom and Scout's Progress are much more traditional romance novels, to my eye. Local Custom has the misunderstandings trope (which I hate) - but then it's Er Thom and Ann misunderstanding each other, and a lot of cultural information, so I still reread it. Scout's Progress is "abused woman learning to trust again", a trope I love - the fact that it's Daav and Ailanna (and I cannot remember how to spell her name!) only makes it better. And the third one in that prequel set, Mouse and Dragon...I don't know, I've only read it once so far and I was too busy enjoying it to analyze it. If you go in expecting an adventure with romance, like most of the Liaden books, you may find the feeling off; if you go in expecting a romance with a great setting and characters, it works better. IMHO.
And the X-strain, I'd forgotten!
I've ordered a copy of Conflict of Honors, I hope it will arrive in the next week or so.
I just finished Conflict of Honors. I found Shan and Priscilla's story more fun than Agent of Change, and I'm pretty excited to see the two stories meet up in Carpe Diem (or so I've heard). Shan seemed like a much more approachable character than Val Con, but I'm sure that will change.
#106: Carpe Diem by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller – The stories of Val Con/Miri and Shan/Priscilla intersect! I liked this "backwards world" setting of this one a lot, and warmed up to Val Con and Miri a bit more.
#107: Plan B by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller – This book was more of a war novel, and I found it a bit boring. Most of Erob didn't seem to have much personality (or maybe Korval has so much personality that they paled in comparison) which I found odd since the action is mostly set in Erob's house. The Yxtrang also seemed like one-dimensional enemies.
#108: I Dare by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller – I enjoyed I Dare a lot, it was nice to get a bit more insight into Pat Rin, and I was glad to finally see the (presumably) last of the Department of the Interior. It was nice to see all of Korval finally together too. Also, I can't quite believe that lifemates are rare in Liaden society, there seem to be nothing but lifemates (this book had Pat Rin and Anthora lifemate).
#109: Fledgling by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller – Probably my favourite of the Liaden books so far, because Theo is adorable. This is more YA/coming of age, but it was really well done, and it was nice to have a bit of a break from all the propriety that is Liaden society. Delgado has its own proprieties, but Theo and her father are both pretty irreverent, and I enjoyed that.
I just bought the audio of Ghost Ship from Audible because I couldn't find a Kindle version from my library system(s) and paperbacks are hard for me anymore. Can't wait to start!