New novel in the Liaden Universe series. Over a quarter million copies sold in this series to-date! Space ships, action, adventure – all tied together with a strong dollop of romance and family saga – make this a compelling series for a wide range of readers, from romance to military SF lovers alike. Theo Waitley is an ace starship pilot – and pure maverick. Her mom is a renowned Terran scholar and her birth father is an interstellar aristocrat in hiding. She still feels like a socially challenged misfit. But after being selected to train with the best-of-the-best at the pilot academy, she figures she can leave behind those gawky, misfit days of teenage angst that made life so complicated before! But for Theo, life is about to get even MORE complicated – and deadlier still. For even though she’s survived the Academy and become one of the best pilots in the galaxy, the past is about to blast her with gale-force winds. Theo can run, but she can’t hide. Her destiny as master pilot and leader of a powerful Liaden clan calls, and there are lots of enemies who will try to make sure she’s quite dead before she has the chance to make an answer.
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In this book, Theo Waitley meets and pilots Bechimo, a fabulous self-aware space ship of artificial intelligence, created centuries before by "The Builders" of mysterious origin.
Theo and Bechimo engage weapons, battling the evil Department of the Interior. The DoI wants Theo AND her amazing Ghost Ship, Bechimo. Theo and her AI ship slowly develop trust in each other, with some bumps along the road. Sometimes amusing little spats, as Bechimo is unsocialized, having been alone and in hiding for centuries.
Theo pilots her Ghost Ship to planet Surebleak. Clan Korval has arrived and Jelaza Kazone (sentient, ancient, wizardly tree) is sinking its roots in, influencing the micro-climate. Surebleak citizens welcome Boss Conrad's kin, who promise to maintain an open Port Road. Wild, lawless Surebleak is adjusting to a more benign form of leadership, and most folks welcome Boss Conrad's government style, but change is difficult, and Korval must deal with sabotage and even worse. Nelirikk gets to leap into action, along with Val Con, Theo, Daav, etc. Of course, the treacherous DoI is at work here.
On Surebleak, Bechimo meets the AI butler, Jeeves (good scene) and eventually gains a co-pilot. Now, with three on board, the interaction gets more interesting. Soon a fourth crew member boards..
A third plot thread takes place on Planet Vandar, with Val Con and Nelirikk. This section of the story is brief. There is a short story that elaborates on it, called Prodigal Son.
The POV changes too much. Sometimes before you can turn a page. It's frustrating.
The story ends on a major cliffhanger, involving Daav yos'Phelium and Uncle. This book and the next book (Dragon Ship) and the next book (Necessity's Child) collectively go almost nowhere. It's an interesting and sometimes highly entertaining journey, walking in circles, but compared to the plot of Tolkien's trilogy, these three books are meandering indeed.
Oh, and a baby is born. Sweet. Several sweet scenes with Tree, too.
Narrated by Eileen Stevens. The narrator is okay, for the most part. I have no real complaints, but several quibbles. I do want to defend Stevens, though: She does not make Miri sound like she is laughing all the time, as one reviewer states, but she does put a chuckle into her voice quite often. When the topic is serious, however, Miri does not sound merry. Personally, I liked Steven's take on Miri.
I agree with said reviewer's statement that male voices sound quieter than female voices, so one must sometimes adjust the volume. In general, male voices sound muffled, like a female trying to sound gruff.
Stevens pronounces Bechimo this way: Besh--ee--mo, emphasizing the middle syllable, ee, giving it a French sound. Personally, I would say Beck'-uh-mo, rhyming Bech with Tech, with stress on Beck. But who knows?
She mispronounced the French word "frisson" (she said something very like "freeze on").
For the word "mercenaries" shortened to "mercs", she says the short form like this: merce. I have never heard the short form pronounced merce, as in "mercy." Whenever I have heard it, it rhymes with "jerks" — people say "merks" — even though mercenary has the soft Ss sound for c. But again, who knows?
The continuing saga has not lost its charm. The narrator, however, is not the best. Ms. Stevens mispronounces words on a regular basis, and her reading of Edger the Clutch Turtle is terrible. She makes this very large creature sound small. Andy Caploe's narration is far superior in this regard.