"Two novels set in the Liaden Universe whose society invokes the air of a Regency"
Pilot's Choice contains two novels set in the Liaden
Universe. Liad is a planet inhabited by a race who is
slightly smaller in stature than humans and far more
concerned with social customs and what they call melant'i,
which is one proper code of conduct for the societal role
in which one is currently acting.
In the first novel, Local Custom, Master Trader Er Thom
yos'Galan has been ordered to choose a wife, but he has a
serious problem: he is in love with a human woman whom he
met on a trading expedition. Most Liadens believe humans
are beneath them, and a Liaden of good birth would never
sink so low as to marry a human. Er Thom knows he should
put the woman from his mind, but instead, he goes in search
of her, thinking that if he sees her one more time, he will
be able to say good-bye and do his duty to his family. But
complications arise, and Er Thom has to choose between
following his heart and following duty.
In the second novel, Scout's Progress, a young math genius,
Aelliana Caylon, decides to escape from Liad and her
abusive brother who plans to use her to gain power for
himself by taking a pilot's license and earning her passage
off world. After winning a ship in a game of chance, she
must to learn to fly, and one of her instructors is Er
Thom's cousin and cha'leket (heart brother), Daav
yos'Phelium. Daav, as Delm (or clan leader) of the
powerful Clan Korval, is in a position to help Aelliana
escape from her brother's clutches, except for one problem:
she is unaware of his identity. As the two grow closer,
her brother's schemes and Daav's duty to marry and produce
an heir threaten to pull them apart.
The details such as language and descriptions of
complicated social customs that the authors included in the
portrayal of Liaden society give it such an authentic feel
that I am surprised I can't actually travel to Liad.
Excellent character development is another strong point in
both novels. As each one came to an end, I found myself
wishing I didn't have to say goodbye to the fascinating
personalities that I had gotten to know.
My husband was thoroughly convinced that I would love this
book so when I said it would be awhile before I got to it,
he decided to read it aloud to me. I was skeptical,
because I do not usually read sci-fi, but he was right: I
thought it was wonderful. The emphasis on manners and
proper conduct in Liaden society invokes the air of
Regency. In their introduction, the authors cite Georgette
Heyer as one of their inspirations, and I think anyone who
enjoys Heyer, Austen or other books written in a similar
style should try Pilot's Choice.
Sarah Neal © Copyright 2002
Reviewed for PNR Reviews
Reviewed by Sarah Neal
Posted February 9, 2002