#18 in the popular and exciting science fiction Liaden Universe®. Clan Korval rebuilds its fortunes on the gritty, semi-anarchic planet of Surebleak. Over a quarter million Liaden Universe® books are in print with an audience that keeps growing!
Star-trading Clan Korval—known to Terrans as the Tree-and-Dragon Family and to the locals simply as "the Dragon"—has been convicted of crimes against the homeworld. No matter that one of the "crimes" consisted of saving the elitist planet of Liad from very real internal threats, the Council of Clans wanted Korval heads to roll. Unfortunately for the Council, the Dragon's allies conspired to impose a milder punishment for saving the world: banishment, rather than execution.
Now relocated to the free-for-all world of Surebleak, the Dragon is under contract to keep the Port Road open to all traffic, and to back the New Bosses in imposing law and order on a society originally based on larceny and assassination. This modest rustication is going surprisingly well, until Korval discovers that the enemy they'd sought to destroy. . .wasn't quite destroyed, and is more determined than ever to eradicate Korval.
While the banishment killed no one initially, many of Korval's trading allies are spooked, and some are reneging on ancient agreements, leaving the Dragon to make its own way. The clan's efforts to stealthily recruit new allies is going haywire, and a secret death toll is rising even as the clan's adherents endure increasing exposure to danger and deceit off-world.
To make matters worse, an active portion of Surebleak's native population liked the Old Ways just fine, and are conspiring to take the New Bosses—and the Dragon—down, and are sure they have the firepower and people to do it.
The exiled Dragon has to make an urgent choice—accept an alliance with criminals or face down each and every enemy in person, one by one.
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In Lee and Miller's sprawling and satisfying 18th Liaden Universe novel (after Trade Secret), the spacefaring Clan Korval settles into its new home on the crime-ridden planet of Surebleak after being exiled from Liad. The pilots, traders, and rogues of Korval approach a wide variety of problems with calm determination and cunning resourcefulness, imposing their rules and customs on the natives of Surebleak while countering the corrupt Liaden Department of the Interior and its brainwashed agents. Lee and Miller juggle numerous plot lines (which interweave with previous entries in complicated ways) and introduce a new problem for every one that's solved. Space opera mixes with social engineering, influenced by Regency-era manners and delicate notions of honor. For established fans, it's like spending time with old friends; however, many ongoing story lines are still unresolved by the end of the book. Newcomers are advised to choose an earlier entry point to the series.
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Should Start with Earlier Book
This review was originally published on Kurt's Frontier.
Clan Korval has been convicted of crimes against the homeworld. The crime was firing on the homeworld to eliminate real internal threats to the homeworld. Now the Clan Korval’s enemies want to see them destroyed. However, their allies conspire to impose exile.
Clan Korval, also know as the Tree-and-Dragon clan, has set up shop on the world of Surebleak. The clan is under contract to keep the Port Road open to all traffic. They have also agreed back the New Bosses in imposing law and order on a society run by a criminal syndicate. The syndicate wants their power back. Adding to the complications, their enemy has survived. Most of the clan’s trading partners are spooked. With allies growing scare, the clan will have to make some hard choices.
I picked up Dragon in Exile at a book signing at the Toadstool Bookstore in Milford, NH. I will be honest: I should have started with an earlier novel in the series rather than jump into the latest release. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have woven together a complex saga.
In this book we see a space faring family of traders who have taken up residence on a world run by a mafia type syndicate. The syndicate’s activities including murder, extortion, and destroying the livelihood of anyone who doesn’t pay. The clan seems to have made many enemies in the past including a dark power that brainwashes people into being their agents.
While it’s easy to see why Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have a huge following, I found the writing style hard to get used to. Again, I concede that this may be that I allowed myself to be dropped into a story without enough background to fully appreciate it. Fans of the Liaden series will be please. If you aren’t familiar with the series, I suggest you start with an earlier book.