Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Just Reviewed “The Crystal Variation” at SBR

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Folks, if you’re looking for three great books at a very nice value, look no further than Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s latest Liaden Universe (TM) omnibus, THE CRYSTAL VARIATION.  In this compilation of three earlier-published novels (including CRYSTAL SOLDIER, CRYSTAL DRAGON, and BALANCE OF TRADE), Lee and Miller do something extremely difficult: they have a nice balance in the two prequels (CRYSTAL SOLDIER and CRYSTAL DRAGON) between information long-time readers such as myself want and need and the action-adventure that’ll help draw in new readers without confusing them.  This is a very neat trick that very few authors can pull off.

Now, the third novel, BALANCE OF TRADE, is a stand-alone novel set two hundred years or so before the bulk of the Liaden Universe novels but over one thousand years after the prequels CRYSTAL SOLDIER and CRYSTAL DRAGON; thus, we see Liadens and Terrans who distrust each other far more than they do during the time of LOCAL CUSTOM, SCOUT’S PROGRESS, etc.  The clash of cultures narrative is striking, but what’s even more striking is that this is one of the few young adult novels Lee and Miller have written — it has no sex, little violence, little if any swearing, and yet it’s as riveting as if it had all those things, which is another neat trick to pull off.

Excellent stories at an excellent value.  How could you want anything more?  (Except for a sequel to BALANCE OF TRADE, that is.  I definitely want that, m’self.)

Here’s the link to my review:


Written by Barb Caffrey

January 6, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Book reviews

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