Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Birthday Review: I Dare, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

I Dare, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Meisha Merlin, Decatur, GA, 2002, ISBN 1-892065-03-7, US$18.00, 472 pages

A review by Rich Horton

Steve Miller was born on July 31, 1950, and so I decided to resurrect this review I did for 3SF back in 2002. It's a fairly brief review, conforming to the format I used for 3SF.

[I should note that my favorite Liaden novels are a pair of books set a generation before the main plot line which was started in the first book (Agent of Change) and concluded in the book reviewed here, I Dare. Those books are Local Custom and Scout's Progress, books written in the early '90s but not published until 2001 by Meisha Merlin, and 2002 by Ace. Both have significant romance plots (unlike most of the Liaden books, which are more adventure oriented), and I really enjoyed them. I reviewed them for Dave Felts' small 'zine Maelstrom, but I've lost my copies of those reviews. (I have the Maelstrom issues somewhere, and maybe I'll retype them from the paper copies whenever I find them.)]

I will also add that Lee and Miller now publish with Baen, and I Dare and its immediate predecessor, Plan B, have been republished by Baen as Korval's Game.

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller published their first Liaden books in 1989. The series was picked up by Meisha Merlin and continued in 1999. I Dare is the seventh novel, and it ends the long plot arc begun in the first book, though there is plenty of room for further books in the same universe.

This book follows Plan B, in which the powerful but controversial Clan Korval was forced by the machinations of the sinister Department of the Interior to abandon the Liaden main world, Liad. The current novel follows several threads. On the planet Erob, many of the main Korval Clan members are gathering to muster a force that can resist the Department, while back on Liad the wizard Anthora tries to maintain the home front. But Anthora may be getting help from an unexpected source … And the somewhat raffish gambler, Pat Rin, has been isolated from the rest of the Clan, and he gathers a beautiful gangster and some more friends and tries to set up another power base on an isolated, rather anarchic, world.

As the above summary might suggest, the book is rather busy, probably too much so. I think it could have benefited from judicious cutting, perhaps the complete excision of at least one thread. The authors also give the good guys such power (essentially magical powers) that too much suspense is leached from the conflict – they cannot lose. It's still exciting. I liked the sections with Pat Rin particularly. As usual, there is a heavy dose of romance to go along with plenty of action. It's by no means the best of the Liaden novels, and it's not a good place to start, but I Dare does resolve longstanding questions, and is should satisfy long time fans.

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