You can't go home again...
What do you do when home is a conspiracy that's been discovered and destroyed? When home is a planet in a star system that's gone missing? When home means working for the destroyers of galaxies? When home is a spaceship that's calling out to the enemy? Cantra 'yos Phelium isn't a quitter, but she has more than a little problem: the Enemy has accelerated its attacks and how do you fight an Enemy whose major form of attack is the de-crystallization of everything around itself? A smuggler with a rogue soldier for a co-pilot, and a tree with an attitude for crew, Cantra's the only one who can get close to the man who holds equations that might, that just might - thwart the Enemy. All she has to do is help a young pilot from a missing world, juggle a slippery promise she never quite made to a pair of wizards, and then forget who she is along with everything, and everyone, she's ever known.
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Cantra (the Dragon) to the Fore
A good story but skewed by the presentation
This book is in the middle of the pack. I like the story but the performance badly damaged it for me.
This story concludes the founding of the Liaden universe and explains how a reasonable subsection of humanity came to a place far from their origins. Mostly the story is pretty well told, but sometimes the flaws in characters are beyond belief. A person who is a general expert on just about everything who can handle complex mathematics and espionage who is also bonded to a sentient alien that defended a planet doesn't seem like the sort of person who would dismiss its communications as an irritant. Hard to believe the people who associated with the alien never bothered to talk to it. Is it cargo or something? Are they supposed to be that stupid? Now I understand why people write fan-fic.
How a story is perceived and the opinion you form of the characters is hugely influenced by the voice that you give to each person. A character can be benign, or angry, or calm, or casual all while saying the same thing. I found the choices made in this performance to be very detrimental to the stature of the characters. Contra is almost always played with a southern US accent and on the edge of anger. If you actually went through your life always on the edge of yelling or threatening you'd get nowhere. It certainly isn't how a person of poise and capability presents themselves. In the Liaden universe character and poise are a big deal and these first books are supposed to be the foundation of that universe. When Contra is supposed to sound like a young woman of refined origins she sounds like a quavering seventy year old. Maybe the reader never met a couple of high end combat pilots, he'd have done himself a favor if he had. Certainly the RAF pilots I knew were all very assured and confident. When you do have the capacity to unleash mayhem you don't shove it in everyone's face. The text also says when she's turning on the accent, it isn't necessary to use the accent for everything she says and for all the narration. People's internal voices are not burdened with a thick accent.
When I read this book found some of it very touching, but listening to it on a long drive through CA, OR, WA and in to Canada... well now I'm sorry I didn't just hand my wife the book and let her read it. We spent a lot of time laughing at odd pronunciation. I'd have to listen to it all again to identify the particular words, but the problem is that it pulls you out of the story and suspends the disbelief.
Listening to the performers interview with one of the authors made me want to give him a break. Dude, you aren't baritone. You are tenor. But I just found the performance too disappointing. It spoiled the book and made me less forgiving of some of the issues in the story.
- Chris H