Balance of Trade

Customer Reviews

175 Ratings

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5 out of 5 stars
By Charlie on 09-16-12

Outstanding! Early Liaden Trader Tale

Balance of Trade is the third book (chronologically) in the Liaden Universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and the last in the "Books of Before" sequence. It is outside the mainline story of the Agent of Change sequence, but has important background to improve enjoyment of later books. This book can easily be read standalone, and doesn't depend on the other two books in the Books of Before sequence.

In Balance of Trade, we follow the early career of Jethri Gobelyn, a young Terran trader in the early days of Terran and Liaden interaction. Jethri becomes Apprentice to Master Trader Norn van'Deen, Clan Ixin. What follows is a classic Trader tale, or a classic Coming of Age tale, or a classic Mix of Cultures tale. Or maybe all three. Whatever, it's a rousing good story and a pleasure to read!

The reading is done by Kevin T. Collins and is as superb as his reading of the other two books in this sequence. Each character has a distinctive voice, but the distinction is subtle and doesn't interfere with the narrative. The Liaden Books of Before are my first encounter with Mr. Collins' narration, but I certainly hope not my last.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Elisabeth Carey on 05-06-16

A young trader gets a dangerous education

It's some centuries after Cantra yos'Phelium and Tor An yos'Galen lead the great migration from humanity's previous home universe. Jethri Gobelyn is a young trader, living and working on his family's ship, Gobelyn's Market. He knows a little bit about all the different areas he needs to know as a trader, and is learning more--including about the Liadens. He's even learning the Liaden language

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. His knowledge of Liadens is just enough to get him in a major tangle that leads learning a lot more about Liadens.

And about his deceased father. And about himself.

But most of all, he's off on a great adventure.

This is a great look at the Liaden culture, at a point when they're well established but not yet what they'll be in later ages. Jethri is a a great character, smart, curious, well-intentioned, and a lot more naive than he thinks he is. He's also finding out that all ships, and all families, have secrets, and they aren't always harmless.

We also another look at Uncle and at the "old tech" he's so involved with in later ages--and why that "old tech" is so dangerous.

Lots of fun. Recommended.

I bought this book.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Skipper on 08-27-13

Character-Driven Stand-Alone in the Liaden Set

I love this narrator. Could listen to him read the phonebook. As for the story and the series, Lee and Miller have created enjoyable, frustrating, highly improbable featherweight science fiction / space opera, with the focus on relationships and characterization.

This story — another frivolous space-opera — appealed to me, even though the 3rd-person POV hops around like a drunken spacer, the protagonist is a teenager, and the pace is slow at times.

This story has nothing to do with Clan Korval and occurs 1000+ years after the prequel, *Crystal Dragon* and is not set on planet Liad. It opens on planet Terra, which seems to be a new Earth, revised in a new universe. Liadens play a large role.

Balance of Trade portrays the admirable Jethri Gobelyn, a 17-year old "spacer" from planet Terra. All Jethri wants to do is travel the galaxy, trading goods and making his fortune, but mommy dearest is a dream buster, big time.

However, a savvy Liaden trader, Norn ven'Deelin of Clan Ixin, notes Jethri's integrity (melant'i) and takes him under her wing. We see him learn the rather elitist Liaden culture, including how to interpret and enact specific types of highly nuanced bows. (Liadens are similar to the Japanese, small of stature and concerned with maintaining honor).

We also see our spacer learn self defense and become accustomed to gravity, mud, sweat, vineyards, and mountains. As the plot twists, he'll need to know how to fight, in full gravity.

There is no romance in this book, but you get the feeling Jethri and Miandra (a healer, a dramliza wizard) might make a go of it, someday. Several action scenes with the cat, Flinx.

The suspense plots are fairly obscure, and will probably be a challenge for readers who know nothing of the "Befores" or "fractins" or "The Uncle" and other plot threads. Refer to the glossary at the end of the *Crystal Variation* trilogy — not included in this Audiobook.

Bottom line on this book? Good story, but as far as I can tell, nothing occurs in *Balance of Trade* that relates to the entire series.

Excellent narration. Kevin T. Collins is great!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Tom on 06-01-13

Good but disappointing in the end.

Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon, but those two finished with loose ends I had hoped might be brought to completion in this third book (in the Books of Before "series.") So now here again in Balance of Trade. While I enjoy the storytelling and the performance, the ending left so many unanswered questions...just when you finally get really attached to the characters and the story lines, it ends abruptly and apparently none of it will ever be mentioned again in any of the future books. It's been 9 years since this one was completed and as far as I can tell, there are little if any references in future books to what was presented in this one, so it may be safe to assume there never will be. Because of this, I've pretty much decided to not continue with other books in the Liaden Universe "Series." Read Balance of Trade for a good story that you will enjoy as you go through it, but regard it as a stand-alone book and have no expectations of any kind for series continuation or you also may find the ending sudden and disappointing.

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3 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kindle Customer on 02-15-13

Loving the Liaden Universe

If you could sum up Balance of Trade in three words, what would they be?

engaging, delightful, brilliant

What did you like best about this story?

It was a breathe of fresh air. I am now a huge fan of Kevin T Collins narration and the Liaden Universe. I have read the the books as Audible as listed them and have been fascinated by the universe, the characters and absolutely loved the narration.

What does Kevin T. Collins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Every characters voice is remembered perfectly, I felt he had a extremely strong attention to detail. As a vision impaired person who cannot read paper books and even struggles with a Kindle or iPad on maximum font settings I rely on audio books for my only access point into this great universe. At first I found the pacing quite rapid, but it took maybe 10 minutes to adjust, as it does when starting any new series and I was immediately captivated and held engaged the entire time.

I was impressed by scenes that involved multiple people and how smoothly he switched voices. Fantastic.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Lets just say there where nights I only got 2 or 3 hours sleep because I couldn't stop listening. Normally if I do this with a book I find I fall asleep, but this never happened with these books.

Any additional comments?

Cannot wait for the Trade Secrets book to be put on Audible which is the sequel to this one (Balance of Trade). Hope Kevin T Collins is able to read it again!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 09-11-12

Old Friends and New

Would you consider the audio edition of Balance of Trade to be better than the print version?

Not better but just as good because I can listen will driving for hours as my life requires.

What did you like best about this story?

I had read this books years ago but lent out my copy and the chance to revisit this story was a pure delight!

Have you listened to any of Kevin T. Collins’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Not applicable

Any additional comments?

Sharon and Steve are masters at storytelling! I have been reading their books for many years and the News Audible was bring out their bact list was great Good News.

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3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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