Trade Secret (Liaden UniverseŽ)
by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Cover Artist: Sam Kennedy
Review by Gayle Surrette
Baen Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476737041
Date: 25 November 2014 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This review originally ran in our November 2013 and refers to the hardcover edition.
Readers of any of the Liaden series books know that Liaden society has a strict code of honor and behavior, and slights of any kind are serious and can be punished by anything from taking your dessert at a dinner to killing you. Jethri Gobelyn was raised on a family trade ship and, when he went to a Liaden trader regarding an on-port trader that was falsely using her name, he disobeyed an order from his family to never deal with Liadens. The false trader was taken care of and Jethri was offered a place on the Liaden trade ship as an apprentice trader.
Now he's been adopted into Clan Ixin as the son of the trader he first contacted, Norn ven'Deelin. Along the way, Jethri managed to insult a scion of a Liaden high house. He then made things worse when he helped a son of the same house, who was being forced to fail at his job as trader, get a better posting and join him in a trade partnership.
However the insulted scion neither forgives nor forgets, and when they meet again at a trade conference, he wants revenge for every real or imagined slight.
Jethri is quickly learning his trade as well as adapting to a culture that he was not born into, and where there are many layers of meaning to nearly every gesture or action. He is also curious about his previous ship and their crew because he's being hunted for something he knows nothing about, that has to do with his biological father. This mystery might also explain why his mother was so cold to him aboard ship and had planned to throw him off before he found a berth on Clan Ixin's trade ship, Elthoria.
The book deals with the various groups that are determined to get information from, or seek revenge upon Jethri Gobelyn. He's got to stay sharp and aware in order to keep on his feet and win free of the complicated web of deceit, deception, and negotiations he finds himself embroiled in.
Clan Korval is mentioned in the book, but doesn't play a part. None-the-less, this is a great addition to the series as Jethri is an interesting character with a lot of backstory and enough current interests to support some more full-length novels dealing with his life and its problems.