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The Agent Gambit (Liaden) by Sharon Lee
Cover Artist: Alan Pollack
Review by Gayle Surrette
Baen Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781439134078
Date: 04 January 2011 List Price $12.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The Agent Gambit contains two previously published Liaden Universe novels: Agent of Change and Carpe Diem. This gives readers the first two books that feature Miri Robertson and Val Con yos'Phelium in one volume.

Agent of Change:
Val Con yos'Phelium has just finished his assignment when he happens to come across a lone woman holding off several assailants. He observes for a while and surprises himself by helping her. During the altercation he's knocked unconscious and when he comes to he finds that the woman has somehow gotten him to a safe area. One incident leads to another and they realize that they must forge a partnership in order for either of them to stand a chance to get off planet alive.

When I first picked up Agent of Change back when it was first published, I was enthralled by the characters, the story, and the world. Lee and Miller manage to tell an exciting action-packed story while putting in enough world and societal details to make it real to the reader.

This is also the reader's introduction to the Clutch essentially a turtle race. We get to met them and learn a bit about them since Val Con is the adopted brother of the head of the delegation on the planet.

So we have a love story, action adventure, space travel, and cultural exploration all rolled into one story that will keep you turning the pages. Of course, since it's in the same volume you don't have to wait until the sequel is published to find out what happens after the cliffhanger ending, because you can just turn the page and start reading Carpe Diem.

Carpe Diem:
The last few pages of Agent of Change are repeated as the start of Carpe Diem. Miri Robertson and Val Con yos'Phelium are stranded on a derelict space ship with barely enough energy to make one jump and the possible end points of that jump are all interdicted worlds that have no commerce with sparefaring worlds. So, even if they make the jump they'll be trapped on the planet they land on for the rest of their lives.

Is there anyway for them to get back to the world they've left behind? Maybe. If someone wants to find them badly enough to look off the beaten track. The problem is that while Korval and the Clutch may be looking for them, so are their enemies. The question is who will find them first if at all.

However, the major problem right now is can they manage to fit in, learn the language, find a way to earn money to survive when most of the skills they have are not used or needed on this world. This is also a pause in the constant assaults on their lives that Miri and Val Con were experiencing in Agent of Change -- a chance to actually get to know each other and become comfortable with their partnership.

For readers new to the Liaden Universe, this is a great chance to read two books that are so closely connected that it makes sense to read them one after the other. For fans of the series, here's a chance to buy new copies of beloved books that have probably been read so many times that they are now fragile and need replacing.

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