Review of Local Custom by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Local Custom by Sharon Lee & Steve MillerLocal Custom
By Sharon Lee and Steve Miller; Read by Michael Shanks
1 MP3-CD or 8 CDs – Approx. 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0979074916 (MP3-CD); 096572557X (CDs)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Romance / Space Opera / Galactic Civilization / Love /

“Each person shall provide his Clan of origin with a child of his blood, who will be raised by the Clan and belong to the Clan, despite whatever may later occur to place the parent beyond the Clan’s authority. And this shall be Law for every person of every Clan.”

So far there are seven novels set in the Liaden Universe, though this one isn’t the first published it is chronologically the first to happen. Local Custom is a simple story, a Romeo And Juliet, tale, except with a happy ending and a few more spaceships. Master trader Er Thom yos’Galan is from the planet Liaden, an honour based society of humans. His family, and especially his mother are demanding an heir from Er Thom, as is only right and proper. But Er Thom cannot think of the traditional contract-marriage to some Liaden clan daughter when his true love is back on Terra. Anne Davis, a professor of Liaden studies on Terra had a brief affair with Er Thom years ago. When Er Thom shows up on her doorstep her secret and his duty will embroil them in a galaxy spanning scandal which threatens the honour of clan Korval.

Much of the interest here is in the worldbuilding, Liaden culture is richly imagined and the idea of “melant’i” is fodder for lots of drama. Melant’i, is a conveyed honour, not dissimilar from that created by Jack Vance for The Moon Moth. While the resolution of complex culture clashes makes for good drama, the effect here also makes many long dialogue scenes.This was coupled with a general lack of description – I didn’t know what anybody or anything looked like. The plot, centering around Er Thom’s marital fate, is spread thinly – while the novel never actually bores I kept wondering when something meaty was going to happen – very little did, this is a personal family drama set in a science fiction setting. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have obviously built themselves an interesting universe here, and I think it’d be one worth visiting again, especially if there is a story in it with a wider-ranging plot. Fans of the series are vehement in their ardor for it.

Some of the exposition is placed at chapter or scene beginnings, mostly notes on Liaden history and cultural norms. This helped the general flow of the telling. Also helpful was Buzzy Multimedia’s engagement of screen actor Michael Shanks for the narration. Shanks appears as Dr. Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG1, but he’s a capable narrator, giving distinction to male and female character alike. There were a few times where I thought I heard Shanks stumble over a word, but generally these were in dialogue, and they may have been deliberate – they certainly didn’t detract from the production. The first three chapters are available for FREE MP3 download on the Buzzy website.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *