You can't go home again...
What do you do when home is a conspiracy that's been discovered and destroyed? When home is a planet in a star system that's gone missing? When home means working for the destroyers of galaxies? When home is a spaceship that's calling out to the enemy? Cantra 'yos Phelium isn't a quitter, but she has more than a little problem: the Enemy has accelerated its attacks and how do you fight an Enemy whose major form of attack is the de-crystallization of everything around itself? A smuggler with a rogue soldier for a co-pilot, and a tree with an attitude for crew, Cantra's the only one who can get close to the man who holds equations that might, that just might - thwart the Enemy. All she has to do is help a young pilot from a missing world, juggle a slippery promise she never quite made to a pair of wizards, and then forget who she is along with everything, and everyone, she's ever known.
©2005 Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
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"Cantra (the Dragon) to the Fore"
Crystal Dragon continues the story (begun in Crystal Soldier) of Cantra yos'Phelium (the Dragon) and M. Jela (the Soldier), and of the great migration that creates the Liaden Universe. If you haven't yet read Crystal Soldier, stop now and read it first.
In Crystal Dragon, Cantra must transform herself to go deep under cover and save the mathematical equations of Scholar Liad dea'Syl. With these equations, and the luck, some may survive and escape the decrystallization of the universe by the sheriekas. That she succeeds, and that it leads to the founding of Clan Korval, is at no time certain while reading the book.
This is the second book in the Books of Before sequence on Audible. These three books are very much a prequel to the mainline Liaden Universe books in the Agent of Change sequence. The narrating of the Before books by Kevin T. Collins is superb. Each character has a distinctive voice, but the distinction is subtle and doesn't interfere with the narrative. The Liaden Books of Before are my first encounter with Mr. Collins' narration, but I certainly hope not my last.
"A good story but skewed by the presentation"
This book is in the middle of the pack. I like the story but the performance badly damaged it for me.
This story concludes the founding of the Liaden universe and explains how a reasonable subsection of humanity came to a place far from their origins. Mostly the story is pretty well told, but sometimes the flaws in characters are beyond belief. A person who is a general expert on just about everything who can handle complex mathematics and espionage who is also bonded to a sentient alien that defended a planet doesn't seem like the sort of person who would dismiss its communications as an irritant. Hard to believe the people who associated with the alien never bothered to talk to it. Is it cargo or something? Are they supposed to be that stupid? Now I understand why people write fan-fic.
How a story is perceived and the opinion you form of the characters is hugely influenced by the voice that you give to each person. A character can be benign, or angry, or calm, or casual all while saying the same thing. I found the choices made in this performance to be very detrimental to the stature of the characters. Contra is almost always played with a southern US accent and on the edge of anger. If you actually went through your life always on the edge of yelling or threatening you'd get nowhere. It certainly isn't how a person of poise and capability presents themselves. In the Liaden universe character and poise are a big deal and these first books are supposed to be the foundation of that universe. When Contra is supposed to sound like a young woman of refined origins she sounds like a quavering seventy year old. Maybe the reader never met a couple of high end combat pilots, he'd have done himself a favor if he had. Certainly the RAF pilots I knew were all very assured and confident. When you do have the capacity to unleash mayhem you don't shove it in everyone's face. The text also says when she's turning on the accent, it isn't necessary to use the accent for everything she says and for all the narration. People's internal voices are not burdened with a thick accent.
When I read this book found some of it very touching, but listening to it on a long drive through CA, OR, WA and in to Canada... well now I'm sorry I didn't just hand my wife the book and let her read it. We spent a lot of time laughing at odd pronunciation. I'd have to listen to it all again to identify the particular words, but the problem is that it pulls you out of the story and suspends the disbelief.
Listening to the performers interview with one of the authors made me want to give him a break. Dude, you aren't baritone. You are tenor. But I just found the performance too disappointing. It spoiled the book and made me less forgiving of some of the issues in the story.
This is my least favorite of the Liaden universe series. Rool Tiazen and his lady - just different, and confusing if you haven't read the previous book (Crystal Soldier). Though this book takes place before the others, it was written later, and I think it is easier to understand if you have read the others first. In other words, read in order of publication, not chronological order. The narrator is excellent! Great job!
"The Liad universe gets itself born. :)"
Having escaped the enemy for the moment, Cantra, Jela, and the Tree have to make some big decisions--the first of which is whether they're sticking together while Jela keeps his promise to Rool Tiazen and his lady, to get and distribute Liad dea'Syl's equations that hold the only hope of defeating or escaping the Sheriekas. Once they're all committed, things start to go a little haywire. Liad is inside a scholars' tower, Osabei, on Landomist. It's an inner world, and has harsh laws about the genetically engineered, like Jela. Getting in to Osabei is going to take Cantra taking on a whole new identity--and believing it, right down to the core. Jela knows why they're there; Cantra doesn't even know who they really are.
And the Sheriekas are still after them, and there's an enemy from Cantra's past inside, and then Tor An yos'Galen young Trader pilot whose home star system has just been destroyed by the Sheriekas, shows up looking for an old friend of his grandmother...
As they gather their allies and their enemies close in, Jela, Cantra, and Tor An all learn unsettling things about themselves, their own pasts, and what they're really willing to do. The Tree, too, is learning, sharing its ideas via images, and engaging in unauthorized biopharmacology without prior discussion.
The Great Migration is about to happen, if they can live long enough, and get enough of the human species moving.
This is another enjoyable Liaden adventure, and some of the fun in this one is recognizing people and things that will be important in the history of the chronologically later books and stories.
I bought this book.
"Great story well done"
This is a series worth multiple reads and listens. Over the past 2 decades and more I continue to enjoy the story as it continues to unfold.
"It's very good, but maybe not quite 5 stars?"
I enjoyed the first book, and enjoyed the second book. Good characters excellent narration, interesting universe and story. Still, after finishing book 1, I thought for a little while before deciding to listen to book 2. I also enjoyed book 2, but am now deciding whether I want to listen to book 3. One thing that says is that the books do stand pretty well on their own, but they seem to lack something (for me) that pushes them into the territory where I'm desperate for the next one.
I'm pretty open-minded about most things.… But this book was top-heavy sadomasochistic material. Was it really necessary? I'm gonna past on listening to the third book...if there is one.
"Confusing beginning, fabulous ending"
Yes, I would recommend it to Liaden Universe fans, conditionally. Outstanding narration. I could listen to him forever.
The first chapters are confusing and boring. The authors describe how the dramliz (sherieka-made wizards) are made from energy particles (I guess). Each dramliza is paired, dominant and subservient. A little kinky. We learn how this happens and how some dramliz broke free of the evil Eloheen (shereikas), particularly Rool Tiazan. His descendants appear across the series, along with other free dramliz, gifted with various magical talents.
The next section is good, but I wish we hadn't spent quite so much time in the university, at the math tower.
Meanwhile, the parts where we meet Tor An yos'Galan are gripping, but yet...I couldn't quite feel his pain. Loosing a whole planet of friends and family stretches my empathy, or the authors didn't write it with enough depth. Also, I don't believe the military would be so non-responsive in the face of a world-ending event, and even worse.
The last half of the book is perfect. From the time the main characters leave the university to the end of the book is nonstop adventure, slowing for character building and relationship development (especially between Cantra yos'Phelium and Tor An yos'Galan). Vivid, wonderful ending.
"Human Story good but "Alien story" too S&M"
I get the feeling that Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are under pressure to make their books more raunchy. This is not their forte'. The story of the pilots in this book is well written but the story of the villains was too S&M sexually centric which is an odd quality for universe destroyers. I would picture such a culture with lack of interest or empathy for life.
I also love their books but am getting pretty worn out of hearing the word "Pilot" as an overused pronoun.
"Fantastic I didn't want to stop listening"
Yes, if you like fantasy this was one of the better ones
There were so many where would I start
Yes I found it very difficult to take a break - the narrator was great
You need to listen to Crystal Soldier the first book in Great Migration Series (only two books in this series) which I also thoroughly enjoyed.
I'm really sorry that there is not another book in this chapter of the Liaden Universe.
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