Sharon Lee & Steve Miller,
Carpe Diem
(Del Rey, 1989; Ace, 2003)

Carpe Diem flings the reader headlong into the universe inhabited by those intriguing and complex Liadens. This time, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller weave the fascinating tale of the evasion of Val Con yos'Phelium and his lifemate Miri from the combined attacks of several different hostile forces. Shan yos'Galen's multi-talented foster brother is kept on the hop; outwitting the terrifying and relentless Yxtrang, the increasingly sinister machinations of the Liaden Department of the Interior, the sworn vengeance of the powerful criminal Juntavas organisation and the advance troop of a rebel invasion force!

By his side and at his back, the fiercely independent terran ex-mercenary soldier and bodyguard, Miri Robertson, holds her own under attack while battling with dark secrets from her traumatic past. Marooned on an interdicted, rural planet, Miri's love bond with Val Con results in an unusual but vital link to Shan and his own beloved dramliza, Priscilla. As the beleaguered couple try to adapt to life in the backwoods, the enigmatic Edger, a venerable Clutch-turtle, champions their interests across space. An 8-foot-tall reptilian being, he styles himself as brother to Val Con, and thus terms Miri his sister. The headman of the Juntavas has never confronted Clutch-turtles before, and the two members of the Knife Clan appear slow and pacifistic before his hasty human fury. Meanwhile, while Clan Korval searches for its missing Delm, it becomes clear that Korval itself is under threat from the agents of the Department of the Interior. The far-reaching schemes of the paranoiac Commander bring menace to Trealla Fantrol, deep in Korval's valley, precipitating initiation of Plan B.

Lee and Miller have added another addictive book to their "Agent of Change Sequence," which forms the recent history of Clan Korval in the Liaden Universe. These masters elevate the often derogatorily termed "space opera" to the realm of pure magic, and had me caught in a tractor-beam from the first page! Switch off the phone and seize yourself a day's reading and a fast-paced, unpredictable journey in the company of compelling characters. You don't have to read the other Liaden Universe books in order to thoroughly enjoy Carpe Diem; like the others, it can stand alone quite satisfactorily. Be warned, however -- once entranced by this entertaining drama, you too will be searching eagerly for all the other titles!

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 6 September 2003

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