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The Crystal Variation [Paperback]

Sharon Lee , Miller Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 6 2011 Liaden Universe® (Book 2)
#2 in our “Omni” three-volume compilations of Liaden Universe® novels.  These are the “origin” novels in the  breakthrough, hugely-popular Liaden Universe® space opera series!  Across a fallen galaxy, the Liaden have risen to take on the challenge of bringing trade and civilization to the stars and, in the process, made themselves the aristocrats of known space.  Adventure, intrigue, romance – on an interplanetary scale!

The three Liaden Universe® universe “origin” novels collected together for the very first time in one omni edition!  Across a fallen galaxy, the Liaden have risen to take on the challenge of bringing trade and civilization to the stars and, in the process, made themselves the aristocrats of known space.  Bred to scout, to pilot and to trade, Clan Korval is ascendant among other families arrayed within the incredibly intricate and formal Liad social structure.  But along the way Korval makes powerful enemies.  Lee and Miller quite simply set the modern standard for full-on, audacious space opera. 

Crystal Soldier
The galaxy is in danger.  A mysterious alien race of energy being called the shereika is rapidly unmaking – dissipating, lock, stock and quark -- entire star systems.  Humans are making their last stand.  M. Jela is a top-of-the-line of soldier who realizes the peril and persuades a talented space ship pilot named Cantra yos’Phelium to help what humans remain to escape to an alternate reality with unpopulated, but livable, star systems: the Liaden® universe! 
Crystal Dragon
Cantra is revealed to be no merely a great pilot, but a genetically engineered aelantaza, or assassin and spy whose specialty is taking on the entire personality of her “cover,” so much so that she believes it herself.  She remakes herself, as only a aelantaza can, and infiltrates the scholarly towers on the university world of Landomist where she narrowly avoids being killed in scholarly conflicts.  There she liberates the scholar Liad dea’Syl, along with the equations for escape stored inside his head.  Once in her new domain, Cantra creates a hereditary alliance to protect her child by Jela – to be known (and become legendary) as Clan Korval.

Balance of Trade
Young Jethri Gobelyn is a young Terran, working on his family's trading spaceship.  Jethri has ambition, and he sets out to make a name for himself in the time-honored fashion of his family by investing in a trading scheme with what he takes to be a bona fide Liaden® master trader.  But when Jethri discovers he’s been had, Jethri must master the intricacies of Liaden society, which include many formal rules and regulations of behavior, to regain his place – and face – within the clan.  
About the Liaden Universe® series:

“Every now and then you come across an author, or in this case, a pair, who write exactly what you want to read, the characters and personalities that make you enjoy meeting them. . . . I rarely rave on and on about stories, but I am devoted to Lee and Miller novels and stories.” —Anne McCaffrey

These authors consistently deliver stories with a rich, textured setting, intricate plotting, and vivid, interesting characters from fully-realized cultures, both human and alien, and each book gets better.” –Elizabeth Moon

“[T]he many fans of the Liad universe will welcome the latest…continuing young pilot Theo Waitley’s adventures.” – Booklist on Saltation

“[A]ficionados of intelligent space opera will be thoroughly entertained. . .[T]he authors' craftsmanship is top-notch.” –Publishers Weekly on Lee and Miller’s popular Liaden® thriller, I Dare

Frequently Bought Together

The Crystal Variation + The Agent Gambit: Agent of Change / Carpe Diem + Fledgling
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Product Description

About the Author

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller live in the rolling hills of Central Maine with two insistent muses in the form of cats and a large cast of characters. The husband-and-wife team's collaborative work in science fiction and fantasy include twelve novels and numerous short stories in their award-winning Liaden Universe®. In addition to their collaborative work, Steve has seen short stories, nonfiction, and reviews published under his name, while Sharon has published short stories, newspaper pieces, and two mystery novels, and, most recently, Carousel Tides, from Baen.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lee and Miller - every story a delight. June 20 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An incredible universe created quite a few years ago and absolutely believable characters. All their stories tie in together throughout the books and become old friends that you love to meet again in their future stories.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  37 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply satisfying, long awaited Sept. 7 2011
By Barb - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Crystal Soldier was the first Liaden Universe novel I read -- just picked it out from a new books shelf at the library. Then came the search to find the other novels, which weren't always easy to come by after the demise of the original publisher. Years passed, and the library no longer had a copy of Crystal Soldier, and it, like several of the other novels, even became hard to get through inter-library loan.

As the others have been republished, I've bought them, and the same for the newer Fledgling/Saltation/Ghost Ship series. But until now, I haven't had a chance to revisit Crystal Soldier or Crystal Dragon. And when the new omnibus arrived yesterday, I sat down and started reading. While I liked the books well enough first time through, this time -- having read the others -- there was so much more. If you also read these books out of order, or many years ago, you may similarly find richness and depth and background that makes far more sense today. It was a deeply enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, an evening, and most of the next day. Some day, I hope Lee & Miller come back and write about the early days of Liad.

I've been fortunate enough to have Balance of Trade in a trade edition for a while now, so this is just a bonus copy in the omnibus. It is a fabulous story, and one of my favorites in the Liaden Universe.

My only issue with the omnibus is that I wish they had issued in in hardcover. I'll take good care of it, but that big a book, with that kind of binding is inherently a little fragile. But, the price is tough to beat, and the stories within will probably keep you up just as they did me.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why not read all the books in the original series. March 20 2012
By J. Parks - Published on
There are eight books in the original series. The internal order and the publish order are not the same. I recommend reading them in the internal order. The internal order is: Local Custom, Scouts Progress, Mouse and Dragon, Conflict of Honors, Agent of Change, Carpe Diem, Plan B, and I Dare.
Then there is the spin off series featuring Theo Waitley, Fledgling, Saltation, Ghost Ship and the to be released in Sept. 2012 Dragon Ship. You get a hint of the characters for this series in Plan B.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Books 1, 2, 3 of a 17+ book series plus a few short story books Oct. 14 2013
By Michael Lynn Mcguire - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
OK, I've got your space opera by the pound here. 1.6 pounds, 1200 pages, of prime supernatural space opera for only $10.47 at Amazon.

Psionic Elves in Space! Psionic cats! Trees that transcend space and time and influence elf genetics! All this and more await you in this awesome series of space opera. Did I mention the Elves in Space?

OK, based on my last contentious experience of trying to order the books, here is my reading order
by book, not story (I read a book at a time):
1, 2, 3: _The Crystal Variation_ omnibus of _The Crytal Soldier_, _The Crystal Dragon_ and
_Balance of Trade_
4: _Trade Secret_
5, 6, 7: _The Dragon Variation_ omnibus of _Local Custom_, _Scout's Progress_ and _Conflict of Honors_:
8: _Mouse and Dragon_:
9, 10: _The Agent Gambit_ omnibus of _Agent of Change_ and _Carpe Diem_:
11, 12: _Korval's Game_ omnibus of _Plan B_ and _I Dare_:
13: _Fledgling_:
14: _Saltation_:
15: _Ghost Ship_
16: _Dragon Ship_
17: _Necessity's Child_

I have read books 1-2-3, 5-6-7, 8, 9-10, 11-12, 13 and 14 now.

From Jessica, "for what it's worth, here is the authors' own commentary on reading order":

On to _Ghost Ship_ !
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Origins of the Liaden Aug. 30 2011
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on
The Crystal Variation (2011) is an SF omnibus in the Liaden Universe series. It containing three prequel novels: Crystal Soldier, Crystal Dragon, and Balance of Trade. The initial work in this sequence is Agent of Change.

Crystal Soldier (2004) is the first SF novel in the Great Migration duology and the earliest work in the sequence. It is set millennia before the events within Agent of Change.

In this volume, humanity lives in a different universe within the multiverse. The inhabitants of Sherieka have transcended into a higher state. Unfortunately, they did not lose their emotions during their evolution.

The Sheriekas felt that other humans were hindering their progress and decided to purge them from the universe. They constructed many large and powerful machines and biological entities to destroy lower humans. These other humans have been fighting the Sheriekas for millennia.

In this story, Jela is stranded on a desert world. He had attacked an enemy vessel to protect the Trident. His light-duty vehicle has been holed multiple times in the battle.

The Trident and the enemy vessel had fled the system while his craft landed on the planet. His craft is damaged enough that it cannot make orbit, so he has to wait for rescue. Meanwhile, he is exploring the planet with a rescue beacon in his pocket.

The world obviously contains something of interest to the Sheriekas. It had been a normal planet with a pleasant environment, but the enemy had turned it into desert. Only the remains of giant trees are left of the original biosphere.

The giant trees grew in the foothills, but a line of dead trees extends toward the seacoast. Each tree had fallen toward the coastline and deposited a single seed for the next tree. The tree remains grow smaller as the line approaches the coast.

As Jela follows the tree line, he gradually realizes that the trees have displayed intelligence in their effort to survive. Furthermore, he decides that the trees have somehow held back the Sheriekas. He begins to think of them as allies.

When Jela reached the last dead tree, he discovers that a sapling is still alive. He waters it from his dwindling supplies and provides it with shade. As he sleeps near it, Jela begins to have dreams.

Jela is finally rescued and insists on taking the sapling with him. His stubbornness is resented by the other soldiers, but he doesn't relent. When he gets back to the Trident, Jela finds that he is the senior survivor of his wing.

Many of his fellow soldiers resent -- and are envious of -- Jela. Then he gains an ally in Do Gayda. She offers him choices for his future and he takes the most demanding one.

Cantra has loaded cargo on Faldaiza and will leave port in the morning. Her recent voyage was long for a solo pilot and she yearns for food, company and rest. She books a room in a good hotel and goes out for a decent meal.

She tries several restaurants, but none are quite right. Then she finds The Alcoves and likes the look of it. She asks the host if any pilots have registered a wish for a tablemate.

Jela has made such a request and she is taken to his alcove. The server informs him that a pilot would like to dine with him and he agrees. Cantra is introduced and is seated by Jela.

After the meal, Jela accompanies Cantra on a walk. They are attacked, but destroy the attackers. Then they discover that the attackers had visited The Alcoves before confronting them.

Everyone in the restaurant seems to be dead. Then Cantra hears a thump and finds Dulsey within a hide. Afterward, Dulsey accompanies them to the Dancer. Nothing they say to Dulsey dissuades her from traveling with them.

Crystal Dragon (2005) is the second SF novel in the duology. It starts within Sherieka space, where a young aspiring dominant is watching the zaliata flying within an aetherium. They travel along the ley lines feeding on the energy. She moves closer and closer until the containment forces flare.

These zaliata display power and grace. They have been captured at the height of their abilities, contained, and exploited by the Iloheen. While it is theoretically impossible for her to perceive the zaliata, she enjoys watching them.

She and her sisters have survived two Dooms. Now they are facing the third -- and last -- Doom. She prepares a vessel for her submissive. When she is called, she steps into the darkness and is told to download a tumzaliat -- a tamer version of the zaliata -- into the vessel.

She carefully restrains the vessel on the tile floor. Then she enters the lesser aetherium and herds a tumzaliat down into the vessel. Unlike other birthings that she has witnessed, the downloaded tumzaliat does not scream. She names it Rool Tiazan.

Cantra, Jela and the tree transit to Landomist. She prepares false papers for all, takes Jela to bed with her, and then wakes early to prepare herself. The tree gives her a seed pod, which helps her go into trance.

When she awakes, Maelyn tay'Nordif is eager to present her request for a seat in Osabel Tower. She has her kobold Jela carry the tree as they present themselves to the portmaster. He provides them permission for a short-term visit.

Then Maelyn goes to the tower and faces the admissions committee. She states her name and specialty. Then she states that she was a student of Liad dea'Syl. Her proof is accepted and she is welcomed to a seat in the tower.

Tor An is returning home to the Ring Stars. He sets up the navigation computer and enters transition. The Light Wing stutters and drops back into normal space with an error message. After several attempts and tests over several hours, Tor An accepts the unavailability of the target coordinates and reports the problem to the nearest authorities.

Tor An gets no aid from the authorities. The soldiers even shoot him. Bandaging himself, he sets the controls for transit to Landomist.

Balance of Trade (2004) is set later than the Crystal duology, but prior to Agent of Change. The Liaden have been in this universe for centuries. They have found Terrans traveling between the stars.

Jethri Gobelyn is a shipborn adolescent just short of manhood. He is the youngest aboard the Gobelyn's Market. His mother -- the Captain -- has decided to transfer him to another ship belonging to the family.

Iza had borne two children by her husband Arin, but Jethri had never been accepted by her. Her antagonism has only gotten worse over the ten years since Arin died while rescuing strangers from a warehouse fire.

Jethri has been given the responsibility by his Uncle Paitor for trading a lot of textiles. He approaches the Liaden trader Sir bin'Flora with his merchandise. With the payment for the sample bolt, Jethri decides to loan the money to a fellow trader with a shortage of available cash. The trader has a firm guarantee of a four-for-one payment on previous merchandise from the Liaden Master Trader Norn ven'Deelin.

Since the man has the Master Trader's card as warrantee on the deal, Jethri doesn't see how he can lose. However, the man fails to show with the payment and Jethri finds out from Norn ven'Deelin that the card was counterfeit. The Liaden sense of balance insists that ven'Deelin owes Jethri for bringing this situation to her attention.

When the attempt to restore balance goes badly, she offers to take on Jethri as an apprentice. Iza Gobelyn reluctantly agrees and Jethri relocates his few goods to the Liaden ship. Jethri soon finds that being Norn ven'Deelin's apprentice is hard work. He also discovers that some Liadens don't like Terrans.

Meanwhile, the Gobelyn's Market lands in a shipyard for refitting and the Captain soon finds herself in trouble with the shipyard boss and the police. Since her eldest son is temporarily on a long haul pending completion of the refit, her daughter Seeli takes over supervision of the refit and Iza finds herself another long haul. Grig has also stayed behind to help Seeli and he has an unwelcome reunion with his uncle and sister.

These tales provide some more background on the Liadens. Cantra, Jela and the tree are the founders of Clan Korval. Jethri is an early example of the merging of the two cultures.

Highly recommended for Lee & Miller fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of the origins of the Liadens and the relationships between human and Liaden cultures. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin
4.0 out of 5 stars The beginning of the story (maybe) June 25 2014
By David Start - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As I came to the Liaden Universe through Fledgling, this served as background story for me. It isn't essential, but Lee and Miller have yet to disappoint me with anything they've written.
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