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Necessity's Child (Liaden Universe) by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Cover Artist: David Mattingly
Review by Gayle Surrette
Baen Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451638875
Date: 05 February 2013 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Authors' Website / Show Official Info /

Clan Korval has now relocated to Surebleak, a planet that has, until recently, lived up to its name. Prior to his clan's arrival, Pat Rin, known to the natives of Surebleak as Boss Conrad, had secured an open road to the spaceport. Now the clanhouse and the tree anchor one end of the road with the spaceport at the other. Now Korval is busy working with the various bosses to bring business and prosperity to Surebleak.

The worm in this apple is the Department of Interior. When Korval fired on the department's headquarters, much of the power of the department was lost, but some of its agents were on field assignments and their programming has kept them attacking Korval. While there have been several attacks against the clan, Korval has remained vigilant and continued to work to settle back into routine -- a fairly easy job for a clan of pilots invested in ships and trade.

With Necessity's Child, we learn that there is another group of people on Surebleak -- the kompani. The kompani seem to be a lot like gypsies or travelers. They keep to themselves and when going on the streets they are lightfingers and entertainers. Otherwise, they are extremely loyal to their group holding strictly to custom, family, and their history. Kizzi, is a young girl learning the role of luthia from grandmother Silain -- the group's wisewoman and healer. Silain works with the headman to help maintain the cohesiveness of the group while they are on Surebleak waiting for their ship to take them home.

Syl Vor is the son of Nova yos'Galan. He is the youngest of the clan left on Surebleak now that the other children are offworld on their apprenticeships. He's at loose ends. As there is some resistance to the new unified school for the children of Surebleak, it is decided that Syl Vor will attend the temporary school to show Korval's support and faith in the project.

Kizzi, while on a short expedition into the streets of Surebleak, is swept up by the new police force and taken to the school. Syl Vor takes an interest in this new girl setting in motion a chain of events that will effect both their lives and the lives of their clan groups.

That's only the setup that puts the characters in motion. Will there be more attacks by the Department of Interior? What will happen to Syl Vor and Kizzi? How will the kompani's existence on Surebleak effect Korval and the fragile peace between the bosses that Korval is working to maintain?

It begins to look like we'll be seeing more of the younger generation of clan Korval. They may be on a new planet, but they are a force for change, and they are changing Surebleak and themselves. The adventure continues.

Lee's and Miller's writing pulls you in from the beginning. In the first chapter you don't know where you are or what's happening, but as you keep reading -- because this narrator is interesting -- you find yourself drawn in and wondering what will happen next, until you find yourself on the last page wondering when the next book will be out. (Their blog mentioned they'd signed a contract for several more Liaden books.)

For fans of the series, Necessity's Child appears to be taking place after Plan B and maybe after Ghost Shipbut before Dragon Ship. I'm a bit hazy on the timeline.

If you've never read the previous books, go ahead and jump in but you'll definitely want to start at the beginning to enjoy the entire saga. I'd suggest starting with Pilot's Choice.

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