PILOT’S CHOICE (LIADEN UNIVERSE)
Author: Dan Simmons
Meisha Merlin Publishing / 605 pages / February 2001
Just the mention of some authors makes you smile. Announce that there is a new Liaden Universe volume out and you are going to see a great many people grinning, and laying down their money for their own copy. Certainly, you’ll find me scooping up the latest Lee/Miller collaboration as soon as it hits the shelves. You won’t find me putting it down until I’ve zoomed through to the last, satisfying page.
Legions of Liaden fans have already discovered the adventure, romance, and action that these novels pack. Pilot’s Choice takes reader back to the time before Partners In Necessity to see where heroes Val Con and Shan sprang from. It’s a sweet inside peek at the history, custom, and world of Liaden, the only place that could have produced these courageous and gentle men.
Liaden is a world unlike any other, as you shall find out. Local Custom introduces the character of Master Trader Er Thom yos’Galan Clan Korval. A contract-marriage awaits him on Liaden, but he has a pressing obligation to fulfil before he consents to perform his duty to the clan. Clan Korval must have an heir. Er Thom cannot go forward with the contract until he returns to the woman who holds his heart but doesn’t even know. There are surprises — good and horrifying — in wait for Er Thom and his clan.
The second novel in the omnibus, Scout’s Progress, begins the compelling story of Aelliana Caylon Clan Mizel. Despite the scandal and the danger inherent in the move, Aelliana sees no choice other than to abandon her clan and escape from Liaden. Her very life depends on it. Of course, her path will eventually cross Clan Korval’s and bring her to the notice of Daav, delm of Korval, one of the most unforgettable, appealing characters in science fiction. Her desperate situation may be more than even the might of Korval can defeat. Lee and Miller’s depiction is strikingly real and chilling, an all-too-possible trap.
Of course, both novels offer additional insight into the very alien world of Liaden. The clan structure is a rigid system that few civilisations on Earth could match for severity. So many potential threats to Melant’I. So much custom to guard. So often the wishes and feelings of the individuals must be ignored to further the best interests of the clan, for on Liaden, clan is everything. And to Liadens, in this universe, Liaden is all.
There just aren’t that many guaranteed good times out there these days; take advantage of those rare promises that follow through every time. Lee and Miller’s writing is a “sure thing.” No one does space opera better than Lee and Miller. No one blends adventure and action with the irresistible allure of the Liaden books. Even if you’ve sworn off series, make an exception for these entertaining and thought-provoking books — you’ll be so glad you did.