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Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
book cover

Liaden Universe prequel
2004, February, Meisha Merlin
Buy from Amazon.com (hardcover)
Buy from Amazon.com (trade paperback)

Who recommends: Suzanne, Edith
Who discommends:

For you Miller and Lee fans, I just finished their latest--BALANCE OF TRADE--and really liked it.  There's just a hint of a possible romance to come, so it's not SFR, but I thought it better than THE TOMORROW LOG.

It is set in the Liaden universe a couple of hundred years prior to the Clan Korval series, and is a kind of "Cinderella" story about a terran teenage boy, Jethri Gobelyn, who has been raised on a trading ship, but is despised and given the lowliest jobs on the ship by its captain (who is also his mother).  He performs a deed that gets the notice of a Liaden master trader and drastically changes his life.

The book has Miller and Lee's trademark sparkling dialogue and wonderful character development.  Jethri just comes to life on the page.  I followed his trials and tribulations with great anticipation.  The book is stand-alone, but leaves enough unresolved threads (including that possible romance) that there should be a sequel, although on Miller and Lee's website they say they haven't contracted for one.  I hope that situation will change since Jethri is a character whose story is definitely worth following further--I just fell in love with him.--Suzanne (16 Mar 04)

I finished this last week.  Honestly, if it didn't have Miller and Lee's name on the cover, I doubt I would have bought it.  The book has one seriously hairy-butt-ugly cover.  I can't figure it out 'cause the artist is famous and his other covers aren't bad.  (He did the cover on Martha Wells's last book, which I loved.)

I also liked the story and absolutely concur with Suzanne's statement that BALANCE OF TRADE has "Miller and Lee's trademark sparkling dialogue and wonderful character development."

The nice thing about this one is that you don't have to remember the names and relationships of 20-odd people.  If they'd written a sequel to the last Liaden universe book, I DARE, I think I would have had to read the whole series again to properly appreciate it.--Edith (16 Mar 04)

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