Dragon Ship (Liaden Universe(r))
by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Review by Gayle Surrette
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451637984
Date: 04 September 2012 List Price $22.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Dragon Ship starts shortly after the end of Ghost Ship. First class pilot Theo Waitley sitting first board, first class pilot Clarence O'Berin sitting second board, and Bechimo, a self-aware trading ship, are now off on a shake-down cruise of a new trade loop designed by Clan Korval's master trader. They also have Scout Win Ton yo'Vala in the ship's hidden remastering unit which is his last best chance to survive and possibly correct what the Department of Interior (DOI) did to his genetic makeup.
You'd think that this would be a tour of various stops in the trade loop with Theo learning a bit more about the universe in which she lives. But she's got a contract with Korval and the DOI has not forgotten how Korval threw a wrench in their plans. Soon Theo and Clarence are just trying to do their job and stay alive and in control of their ship. Bechimo is trying to learn to deal with humans aboard his ship and the give and take that is required when crew are aboard. He's growing and learning how to deal with and interact with people.
Meanwhile, there are several other plot threads that at first seem tangential but Lee and Miller's books are nothing if not exciting, action packed, twisty; playing fair but still surprising, requiring concentration on the small things that are going to be big things later.
Since I'm a big fan of the Liaden books since I first read, Carpe Diem, you should factor that into my review. However, what I enjoy about the books is the depth of character that is given to each character, the rich background of the various planets and stations, and the surprisingly complicated and realistic political and economic conditions that effect the universe, the characters, and the way they interact with each other. Personally, I find the books rich and engaging and enjoy submerging myself in the story.
Dragon Ship moves at a fast clip and seems to come full cycle but there's hints, plot threads and ideas that point to more to come before there's peace, or what passes for peace for Korval, and resolution to much of what is happening and seems to be related to the core Korval series featuring Val Con yos'Phelium and Miri Robertson.
If you're looking for something more than voyages of exploration, space battles, and alien invasions -- give the Liaden Universe books a try. They're hard to describe because so much goes on between the lines for an astute reader, and yet totally enjoyable if all you care about is what is on the page. They're political and sociological studies of cultural interactions, a comedy of manners occasionally, and entertaining, enjoyable, and addicting.