The Dragon Variation (Liaden)
by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Cover Artist: Alan Pollack
Review by Gayle Surrette
Baen Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781439133699
Date: 01 June 2010 List Price $12.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The Dragon Variation is a collection of three Liaden Universe novels: Local Custom, Scout's Progress, and Conflict of Honors. Each is, at heart, a love story because they're are the story of how a couple came together as lifemates.
Local Custom: In many ways, this is my favorite of the three. Er Thom has been ordered to contract marry and produce an heir by his mother. Only he's still in love with Anne Davis, who he met when on a trade mission several years ago. He knows that to marry he must forget Anne and before that he must tell her he loves her. However, when he arrives he learns that Anne has had a child by him and named him Shan yos'Galan. Thus begins the misunderstanding.
This is not only a romance but also a comedy of errors as misunderstandings develop between the major characters based on cultural confusion and language difficulties. There are several scenes that you could image being written by Jane Austen. The story draws you in from the first page and never lets up.
Scout's Progress: Daav yos'Phelium has seen the happiness and joy that Er Thom has gained since he married Anne Davis and he wants a similar joy for himself. He knows that he must marry and finds a likely match for a contract marriage to produce an heir for Korval. The contract is signed but he must wait for her to finish her pilot duties and return to Liad. Meanwhile, he busies himself by working at Binjali's Repair Shop where he meets Aelliana Caylon who has recently become an owner of a jump ship. To Daav's great surprise, Aelliana wins his heart. But there is the problem of his contract wedding. However, Aelliana believes Daav is just an occasional worker at Binjali's and a retired Scout. She is trying to free herself from an intolerable situation at her clan house. The tension revolves around their budding romance, Daav's efforts to free himself from an iron clad contract wedding, and Aelliana's efforts to win her freedom from fear.
Conflict of Honors: Priscilla Mendoza has had to leave her home planet and earn a living. She's taken various positions, but is now cargo master on a Liaden ship, Daxflan. Based on this ship's treatment of humans, she's not very impressed with Liadens. She suspects something is not right aboard ship. When she's beaten and abandoned on a out of the way planet, she asks to work on Dutiful Passage, a Liaden ship run by Shan yos'Galan, who is now Master Trader and Master Pilot. Shan is willing to take a chance on hiring her, but he's also taking on trouble from Daxflan because they seem to be out to destroy Priscilla at any cost. But he's already balancing a debt with that ship, so this just adds to the scope of the debt -- until he realizes that he and Priscilla are lifemates.
This is a huge book for a paperback -- 957 pages plus Author's Introduction and a Liaden/Terran dictionary. These three novels are the basic Liaden books to set you up with the major characters so you'll be ready to read the rest of the novels.
Romance, science fiction, great writing, and wonderfully fleshed out characters and a rich detailed universe with various cultures interacting -- what more could you want?