In which reviews are endlessly fascinating

Dragon is Exile has now entered the Review Arena, by which I mean that reviews are beginning to appear in various venues, in anticipation of the June 2 manifestation of the Hardcover Itself.

We have, first, a review from Publishers Weekly, which is a very good venue in which to see your book reviewed.  Publishers Weekly — aka PW — is the weekly industry news magazine for the publishing industry.  It also reviews books (though not, by any means, All The Books).  Booksellers use PW reviews to choose stock; some libraries also choose new books from the PW review lists (though I hear nowadays more librarians are depending on Library Journal and not referencing PW — is there an acquiring librarian in the house?  Can you tell me if this is correct?).

So, anyway, a PW review is a good thing, and a good PW review is doubleplusgood.

The whole review will appear in tomorrow’s (April 13) edition of PW; I’m just going to excerpt some shiny bits here.

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.

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.

*stands back and considers the above*

Not bad.  Not bad, at all.

Oh, and about that “Newcomers are advised to choose an earlier entry point”?  We hear that a lot.  Mostly established fans, who have been reading along with us, are of the opinion that newbies cannot possibly comprehend the action in any new book you’d like to name (including those volumes that Steve and I wrote deliberately to be portal books) unless they start with Agent of Change and go forth, systematically, until they arrive at the new book.

They are, let me hasten to say, perfectly reasonable and within their rights to hold and express this opinion.

However.  Because this is How They’ve Done It, they don’t have the perspective of a Brand New Reader coming to the universe for the first time with New Title Of Your Choice.  (I also lack this perspective — but my perspective isn’t that of a reader, either.)  Among other things, this insistence on starting from the beginning reveals a touching tenderness for the sensibilities and story-sense of new readers.

Steve and I, however, like to think that most people who seek out SFF as their reading drug of choice are tough, savvy readers, with an excellent sense of story and character, who can therefore come up to speed with frightening quickness, no matter how strange the terrain.

Occasionally, we’re vindicated in our belief, as in the following review, from Otherwhere Gazette:

The 18th book in the Liaden Universe®Dragon in Exile, is as gripping as the rest most likely are.  Readers of the series will buy the book as a matter of course.  However, there are people (such as this reviewer) who have never read anything in this series.  The good news is that this book can stand alone quite well.  The bad news is that people (such as this reviewer) who pick this book up will now be on the hook for seventeen more books.

The new reader will be introduced to a complex cast of characters who will interact based in part on seventeen books worth of prior history.  However, the authors do paint their characters quite well.  It is quite easy to believe in and root for the characters without knowing the back story.

For folks who like their plots spare and their characters few, perhaps this is not the book.  But for those who like high adventure and fascinating cultures and plots and characters so intertwined that the book should be written on a mobius strip; here’s your book, the first of eighteen that you will buy.

You can read the whole review here

*smiles fondly at the above shiny bits*

I particularly like the moebius strip comment, because that’s exactly what writing these five (well, OK, two, so far) books feels like, from here.

So! Today around the Cat Farm is Terrorizing the Cats (also known as vacuuming), washing dishes (gave that a miss, yesterday, in order to work with Padi), and packing what I hope will be the last box of papers to go to the archives.  Also, writing.

It’s a clear and sunny day here at the Confusion Factory.  If it’s not too windy, I may even go for a walk.

I hope everyone’s enjoying a pleasant Sunday.




13 thoughts on “In which reviews are endlessly fascinating”

  1. If I recall correctly, I read Carpe Diem first of all. That should have been very confusing. But I enjoyed it enough to get me hooked for the consecutive 25 years. Of course, I had already been reading this stuff for nearly 40 years, even Way Back Then, so I was used to figuring out what had gone before, or setting the problem aside for later, if I couldn’t.

  2. Good to hear, that a new reader found they could jump right in! I tend to be obsessive about reading from the beginning – fortunately (for me), I did (still have my copy of Agent of Change with turtles on the cover). But I have often recommended the Liaden Universe, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to say “read this, and there’s a lot more” than “this is great, go find the first one” (DISadvantages of having the turtles! Not lending that out, thankyouverymuch…).

  3. What wonderful reviews!

    I find the the second review’s description of your series spot on and lovely: “for those who like high adventure and fascinating cultures and plots and characters so intertwined that the book should be written on a mobius strip.”

    Congratulations! I can’t wait for the new book to come out in June.

  4. I came to your universe with the first travelers — having somehow missed you until you wrote the back — and fell in love with the tree. But it is true, there are many doors into your books — I’ve used Theo to lure a few teen girls. Glad you are getting good press!

  5. Wonderful! Good to see that even reviewers appreciate the Liaden Universe. Hoping this will create great sales for the new book.

  6. At my library, we primarily used Booklist, plus Goodreads, and a notification list called Any New Books which sends out most of the newly published books to your email.

  7. At the smallish library system (8 branches) I work at, we use a large variety of resources including Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Romantic Times, and various websites. (I use Amazon a lot) But we find more and more that our vendors are working hard to provide us with proprietary tools for selection and this may keep us from spending as much time with other resources.

    We purchase your books because I love them and recommend them to readers at every opportunity! Being a busy mom of 3 little boys, I’ll be scheduling reading time for the new book.

  8. “Sprawling and satisfying”–sounds quite promising to me!

    I’ve always been inclined to start at, well, the start–so I entered the Liaden Universe with Crystal Soldier, and moved forward chronologically from there. I gather that’s not a popular approach, though.

  9. No, the popular consensus is that the Crystal books “take dedication.” We were going for the old timey pulp feel — I mean, c’mon, when the villain is capable of crystalizing a universe, what choice do you really have? They’re different enough in “look and feel” from the “modern day” novels, that the advice is usually to leave the Crystal books until you’ve read the “real” Liaden books.

    All that said, you are not the first who found their way in via the Crystal books, and none of you seem to have taken lasting harm. 🙂

  10. I love this part of the review from Otherwhere Gazette: “The bad news is that people (such as this reviewer) who pick this book up will now be on the hook for seventeen more books.” So true! I’m very glad to see y’all getting great reviews; it is way beyond time!

  11. I entered with “I Dare”…and it’s still my favorite. In fact I’m not sure I would have been so enamored as to read everything I could get my hands on if I had started with “Agent of Change” — but that’s impossible to tell since it didn’t happen that way 🙂

  12. I found my way to Liaden via Fledgling for free at Baen. I loved Fledgling, the others of her story, not so much. It did get me started reading the other books and have now read them all multiple times – everything about every 6 months. I own them all as e-books and I am working on paper. I went back last week and read all 4 of Theo’s books. With the extra background, I thoroughly enjoyed all 4 so I think to really enjoy Liaden, you have to read them multiple times to see how everything interrelates.

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