The theme for this month’s challenge is to pick up a book in a series on which you’re behind. This was a great excuse for me to go back to the Liaden universe, a fabulous science-fiction romance series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. The story of this series is fascinating, since it has been in and out of print and it relied on word of mouth and the very early internet to gain enough of a following to justify more stories and books after the first three.
I started this series in the middle, with the book Local Customs, which is an extremely powerful romance and a good introduction to the world. I read the three books set in between Local Customs and Agent of Change, but then I moved away to other things. It was great to return to the work of these two authors.
Agent of Change was actually the first book published in the series, in 1988. It tells the story of Val Con, a Liaden Scout-turned-spy, and Miri, a retired mercenary on the run from an organized crime organization because she worked as a bodyguard for a man they consider an enemy. Both main characters are kick-ass fighters, and neither is looking for a romantic attachment, but working together seems to produce the best odds of them both staying alive. Over the course of the story, they are hunted by organized crime and the authorities; they are chased, kidnapped, assaulted, rescued for a time by giant turtle-like beings, and ultimately end up dependent on each other and very much together.
This book has all the hallmarks of the others I’ve read in the series: strong, unique characters (both men and women), good romance plot lines, great action and fight scenes, interesting applications of science and technology, plenty of humor, and that look at larger issues that is the hallmark of the best science fiction, facilitated by a context in which human beings are not the only, or even the most, sentient or civilized race.
Miller and Lee write well, and the ebook formatting is pretty good, which isn’t always the case with re-released works. I was bothered by the use of hyphens instead of both em and en dashes, but that was the only real problem I noticed. This was a tough book to put down, and it moves fast. When I reached the end, I was VERY glad that the ebook includes Carpe Diem, originally published in 1989 and a direct sequel to Agent of Change, which ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.