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| Back in the Thirties and Forties, the
Saturday Matinee at the local theatre included a double feature, cartoons
and... a chapter play! (Otherwise known as a serial.) Just in case you'd
missed the previous ten chapters, serials always began with some variant
on "Our Story So Far..."
"Our Story So Far..."! Wonderful words; for the next fifteen or so minutes, you were going to see the hero and/or heroine battle incredible odds, thwart the Black Scorpion's latest insidious scheme, save the girl... and then, just as a stunning reversal of fortune left the Good Guys suddenly facing Certain Death the dreaded words "To Be Continued" would flash upon the screen.
"Our Story So Far..." -- except for, perhaps, "Once Upon a Time...", there are not four words as magical in the English language, because they promise another installment of some incredible adventure that you simultaneously want to go on forever and want to rush ahead to the end to find out how it all comes out.
And so we come to "Plan B". In chronological story order of books published in Miller and Lee's "Liaden" series, "Plan B" is, so far, The End Of the Line (and, be warned, though the ending of this book is not quite so screamingly tense as the end of a chapter play installment, it *is* "To Be Continued".
I think i would not recommend following the stories in true chronology -- the two stories in Pilot's Choice are, in fact, earliest in story order, but i don't think they're really easily understandable if you read them first -- too much is, i think, assumed to be known to the reader.
No, i would find Partners in Necessity, which collects the first three stories actually written, and i would happily devour all three stories in that volume, getting to know Shan and Priscilla and Val Con and Miri and their friends and relations, so learning something about the wonderful Universe that Miller and Lee have created for their characters to play in.
And get to know Edger and his companions, the Clutch-Turtles. That alone is almost enough reward for reading the first volume...
*Then* drop back about thirty or forty Standards and read "Pilot's Choice", which explains much and foreshadows more.
And then come here to "Plan B".
Our Story So Far: Korval, one of the mightiest clans of ultra-civilised Liaden, has clashed with a super-secret organisation within the Ministry of the Interior. Powerful as Korval is, temporally and militarily, it is felt best for the Clan proper, the members of the central yos'Galan and yos'Phelium families, to disperse and continue the battle from widely-separated locations.
Captain Shan yos'Galan and his lifemate, the wizard Priscilla Mendoza, First Mate, aboard "Dutiful Passage", Korval's most powerful ship, are seeking Shan's foster brother, Val Con yos'Phelium, rightful head of the clan, who is fleeing the vengeance of the Ministry of the Interior, for which he had been an Agent of Change (a spy/asassin).
With Val Con is his new lifemate, Miri, a former mercenary soldier who, believing herself all her life to be Terran, has recently discovered that she is the long lost scion of an important Liaden clan, one of Korval's closest trading partners. They are also fleeing the Juntavas, the Galaxy's most powerful criminal organisation, which has the death-mark on Miri.
Arriving at the Clanhouse of Clan Erob, on that clan's home world, all is going well (though a recent series of civil disturbances have unsettled the world)... when the Yxtrang, the cruel space-raiding race who are, as the Clutch Turtles asy, "the third race of Man" arrive and invade, leaving Val Con and Miri and some other mercenaries trapped on world to organise a defense... And leaving "Dutiful Passage", who has been having troubles of her own, sailing unaware through hyperspace straight into the midst of a powerful invasion fleet.
Now Read On...
Some questions left over from the previous books remain unanswered, as do some more Interesting Points raised in the course of this book, at the end.
There is definitely one more book coming, i believe, and i *think* at least one more after that.
I hope so. I want some explanations. I want to know just how the co-founder of Korval, Jela, was related to the Yxtrang. I want to know just what *is* it with that blasted tree.
I want to know what happened in the thirty or so years between the end of "Pilot's Choice" and the beginning of "Conflict of Honors", the earliest of the stories, first in "Partners in Necessity.
And i want to know what finally happens with the Ministry of the Interior. If ever there was a spook shop that needed a thorough cleanup and daylighting, they're it.
But mostly, i just want to read more stories about these people i like so much who have such fun adventures.