The Dragon Variation: Local Custom / Scout's Progress / Conflict of Honors Paperback – Jun 1 2010
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About the Author
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller live in the rolling hills of
Steve was the founding curator of the
Top Customer Reviews
Fast paced action,not new themes but well written with characters we learn to appreciate and want to know more about.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I read each of these books separately - lucky to get them for one low price - with my first Lee/Miller book being the third of these. I then went on to the next 2 in the series, because these weren't out yet, but this is now in the proper order - though it surprisingly doesn't matter in which order you read these, other than when you hit Carpe Diem, the next one up, it is a good time to stick to the timetable in the Clan Korval books.
When I was reading these, I wasn't even thinking about the romance that is in them, and that's the way I like it. Romance, but not like romance novel stuff. No, these books have the feeling of McCaffrey, or some Heinlein, or Andre Norton, or McKillip, or McKinley or Moon or well, you know what I mean. And there really aren't enough non-fantasy books out there that do this which aren't primarily military sci-fi somehow. The characters are just much more interesting, while being as honorable as I like them to be.
Plus, I like a little bit of paranormal in my sci-fi.
So - perfect!
The first novel in this omnibus is "Local Custom," which is about Er Thom yos'Galan and his ex-lover Anne Davis. yos'Galan comes from Liad, where short-term contract marriages are the rule rather than the exception, and lifetime matings are few and far between. Er'Thom never was quite able to put Anne out of his head, nor his heart, while Anne has never forgotten Er Thom, either.
When Er Thom shows up again on Anne's doorstep, she proudly introduces him to their son, Shan yos'Galan. Er Thom does not doubt this is indeed his son, but is both frustrated and clueless as to what to do next -- his mother, a powerful woman, does not like Terrans in general (nor does the society he comes from), and he knows she will not welcome Anne into their home. Yet Er Thom cannot leave his son with Anne, as it would be dishonorable; he knows they must become a family. So he offers the legal and moral best he believes he can offer -- a limited contract marriage, of the sort his society most values. But this is anathema to Anne Davis, who believes love is the only reason to have a relationship, much less to marry, and Er Thom has not spoken to her of love (it being rare in his society, partly due to the overly mannered way most Liadens tend to communicate with one another).
So you might be asking, "What is it about this book that you enjoy so much, as this is a tried and true romance plot?" The answer: plenty. The authors' worldbuilding skills are excellent. The romance feels realistic, something that could indeed happen between two intelligent, spirited people who think everything's against them (including their cultures of origin), with the dialogue, descriptions, mannerisms and mores spot on. I found it an excellent story the first time I read it, and appreciated it even more this time.
The second book in the omnibus is "Scout's Progress," which is about my favorite heroine in all of Lee and Miller's fiction -- Aelliana Caylon. She's a mathematician, a scholar, and is extremely intelligent, yet comes from a family that doesn't seem to understand or appreciate her in any respect whatsoever. Her brother is in a position of power in the family, and relentlessly abuses her, while her mother (the only person more powerful than her brother) turns a blind eye to the abuse; only her younger sister seems to care at all, which has made Aelliana feel as if she is lower than dirt at the start of this book.
However, her life is about to change; she wins a starship in a game of chance, and decides on the instant that she will learn to fly it and leave Liad forever in order to get away from her brother's abuse. This puts her into proximity with a man known only to her as "Daav," another highly skilled pilot who offers to help train her. Yet Daav has secrets of his own; that he's very powerful in his own right in his own clan (being Delm of Korval, an extremely noteworthy and influential Clan of Liad) is something he instinctively hides from Aelliana as he's afraid of scaring her off.
The romance here is somewhat understated, and takes many detours, which I found extremely realistic. There also is a great deal about piloting, pilots, mathematics and how it all relates to piloting and pilots, and of course a great deal about the culture and mores of Liad.
How Aelliana reclaims her own power, and realizes her own abilities, is for you to read -- but I can guarantee you will enjoy this book if you've ever read any romances of any sort, or any military SF with romance, or any SF with romance.
The third book is "Conflict of Honors," which is about Priscilla Delacroix y Mendoza. She's been cast out of her own world, Sintia, and has had to make shift where she can as a "spacer" (someone who works on spaceships) in the ten years since her abrupt dislocation. Priscilla is competent in many spheres, yet she, too, has been ground down by circumstance until she barely realizes her own power in any way, shape or form. And when she's knocked out and marooned on the backward planet Jankalin, it seems as if her luck has completely and totally run out. Yet this is not the case -- she's about to meet Shan yos'Galan (son of Anne Davis and Er Thom yos'Galan, from "Local Custom"), and find that sometimes, the worst of circumstances leads to the best of results.
All three of these books are excellent; they draw you in, and don't let you go until the book is done. Better still, as this is an omnibus, there's three great books to enjoy at one low price -- all honor to Baen Books for putting this book out, and for picking up Sharon Lee and Steve Miller as authors.
"Local Custom" -- five stars, highly recommended.
"Scout's Progress" -- five stars plus, with the highest recommendation possible.
"Conflict of Honors" -- five stars, highly recommended.
NOTE: Authors you might like if you like Lee and Miller include, but are not limited to: André Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Lois McMaster Bujold, Mercedes Lackey, Rosemary Edghill, Georgette Heyer, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie (though she's a bit lighter than the rest) and Jennifer Roberson.
Local Custom (2000) is the first novel in this series by internal chronology, but the fourth novel published. Er Thom yos'Galan is caught in an emotional and moral bind: Liaden law requires him to provide children to the clan, yet he is infatuated with a Terran woman that he had met several years before on Proziski. After a whirlwind affair, the two had parted, with Er Thom returning to his ship and trade route.
Now that his clan has demanded his child, Er Thom finds himself unable to become interested in any other woman. In a spirit of desperation, he borrows a ship from his foster brother and tracks down Anne Davis at her university. Their affair resumes immediately, as if no time has passed.
But then Anne introduces Er Thom to their son, Shan yos'Galan. Suddenly their love affair runs afoul of a difference in customs. To Er Thom, the boy is a child of Clan Korval and Line yos'Galen and must be presented to the delm and thodelm to be accepted into the clan and line. Anne doesn't see him quite that way.
Anne considers Shan as her child, with Er Thom only the sperm donor. She refuses his offer of a contract marriage, seeing it as only another temporary fling.
Scout's Progress (2000) is the fifth SF novel in this series. Aelliana Caylon is a Scholar in Subrational Mathematics at Chonselta Technical College. She teaches a course in Practical Mathematics -- Math for Survival -- to Scout Academy students and is well liked by her classes.
Aelliana makes the mistake of disagreeing with a financial issue with Ran Eld. He challenges her, but their mother -- the Delm of Mizel -- thinks that there is some truth to her arguments. She orders Ran Eld to allow Aelliana to invest her quarter share as she wishes and to track the progress.
Aelliana presents the student Scouts with a practical problem with parameters defined by themselves and requires them to document the solution by the next class. Later she encounters two of her students while she is wandering the streets in thought. They invite her to their table, wine and dine her, and then take her into the new casino.
Aelliana observes the play of hands at a Pikit table. When the holder of the table invites her to sit and play, she seats herself. When the matter of stakes is raised, she puts forth her quarter share, but he is persuaded to risk his ship.
Aelliana plays skillfully and wins. The ship is docked at the Binjali Garage. It is soon registered in her name and she can take possession the following day. She drops by to see her ship and gets a personal tour by the owner of the facility.
She is pleased to see that Ride the Luck is a jump ship. Now she has to get a Second Class Pilot license and to learn Terran so that she can become independent. First she takes the test for a Second Class license and passes.
Her license will be Provisional until she has acquired sufficient hours of piloting a ship. When she comes to ask Jon to tutor her on ship handling, Daav is on duty by himself. He has a package to deliver on Outyard Eight, so he acts as her copilot as they fly to the station.
Conflict of Honors (1988) is the second SF novel in this series. Priscilla Delacroix y Mendoza is a Terran, a native of the planet Sintia. She became a spacer at age sixteen. She is now Cargo Master of the Liaden ship Daxflan.
The Terrans on the Daxflan are very disgruntled by the conditions. They are treated as nonpersons and eat disgusting food in an impromptu messhall away from the Liaden crew. Priscilla's friend Shelly has just bought out her contract to get off the Daxflan.
After Shelly leaves, Priscilla saves the file containing her suspicions of contraband in the sealed cargo. Then she is unexpectedly assigned to go down to Jankalin. Since the planet is only a dropoff point, she is puzzled about being in the landing party.
On the world, Dagmar takes her aside to help carry something. Once they get through the recalcitrant door, Priscilla is knocked out and left in the locked room. When she awakes, Priscilla discovers that she has been stranded on Jankalin.
Priscilla gains employment on the Dutiful Passage to overtake her ship. The captain requires her to take a battery of strange tests before hiring her under personal contract. Then he assigns her to Lina as Pet Librarian, with additional duties as needed.
Priscilla does many and varied tasks on the Dutiful Passage. The pet library is one of the most pleasant, but she really enjoys the piloting lessons. These are required in her contract, but are not charged to her account.
When the Dutiful Passage next encounters the Daxflan, someone tries to murder Shan. Priscilla saves the Captain, but he does not allow her to reveal their suspicions of Dagmar's involvement. Shan does tell her of Dutiful Passage's outstanding complaint against Daxflan. Shan even mentions the conflict between his sister and Sav Rid.
These tales involves Clan Korval in various issues between the clans. Telempathic talents also lead Korval clansmen to their lifemates. Sometimes such talents are a blessing and other times not.
The stories reveal much about the history of Clan Korval and Liaden. Indeed, the history of Liaden is closely related to Clan Korval. The Delm of Korval is the Clan Captain. Always remember that Korval means ships, pilots and responsibilities.
The tales have a degree of similarity, but follow three different males within Clan Korval. Although Conflict of Honors was published first, this omnibus has the tales in internal chronological order. Read and enjoy!
Highly recommended for Lee & Miller fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of alien cultures, social conflicts, and paranormal talents. If anyone is not familiar with this series, the initial volume is Agent of Change.
-Arthur W. Jordin
Set in a future Universe we have space, traders, differing worlds and practices, wizards, dramliz, rigid codes of practice, dragons oh and a sentient tree in stories written with a very deft hands that give us characters that we care about and want to hear more of.
As you read each last page you inevitably want to know .... "what happens next?"
I read a lot and also topping my book list are Lord of the Rings and Pride & Prejudice - the Liaden books from Sharon Lee & Steve Miller provide a child from Tolkien & Austen, written with JRRT's creation of worlds and cultures yet with the lightness of touch and observations of people of Austen that makes them such a pleasure to read again and again...
Just buy and enjoy.
The main characters, Anne Davis and Er Thom, have hot sex and feel the need to say, "I love you," every few chapters; otherwise, they're pretty dull. The plot is slow and plodding and there isn't much action except for a clumsy kidnapping and rescue towards the end. The kidnapping seems to come out of left field as does the "secret proof" discovered by Anne's deceased linguistics mentor.
If vivid characters and a clash of alien cultures is what you want, Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan, Kate Elliot's Jaran, or Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series do it so much better.