Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Crystal Soldier (Liaden Universe #1) (Books of Before #1), by Sharon Lee (author), Steve Miller (author), Kevin T. Collins (narrator)

Audible Studios, September 2012 (original publication 2005)

M Jela is a soldier, genetically engineered, of the "M" strain. He's still young, but a hardened warrior, and very nearly gets killed in space battle with the Sheriekas, humanity's enemy returned after centuries of absence. The Sheriekas' distant ancestors used to be human; that hasn't been true for a very long time. And the Sheriekas' plans for the galaxy, and the universe, are not compatible with human survival.

Cantra yos'Phelium is a jump pilot with a surprisingly well-armed ship, and a murky background.

They meet up by chance when Jela is trying to hook up with his intended contact, on a detached assignment intended to bring the war to the enemy, and Cantra is just seeking some enjoyable downtime on a stopover before taking off with her new cargo. Events lead to them fleeing the planet together, in Cantra's ship, with Dulsey, a batch-grown slave of the owner of the restaurant they dined at. Oh, and Jela's tree, a sentient tree he rescued off of the planet where he nearly died.

And their adventures have barely begun.

This is fast-paced space opera, with Lee & Miller's typically excellent pacing, mood, and character development. It's also a peek back at the origins of the Liaden Universe their fans have come to know and love. You don't need to be familiar with other books in the larger series, but if you are, there is some extra fun along the way in recognizing things that will be very significant to later generations.

What can I say but great fun, and highly recommended.

I bought this book.