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Followers of the Liaden Universe in particular and aficionados of intelligent space opera in general will be thoroughly entertained by Lee and Miller's latest episode in the far-future, star-spanning adventures of Clan Korval on the planet Liad. In this immediate sequel to Plan B (1999), which is recommended reading for those who wish to get the most out of this one, the action is nonstop from the first page, as the members of Clan Korval, fleeing from the Department of the Interior, aid their allies of Clan Erob in defeating the invasion of the Yxtrangs, a nasty militarized culture with overtones of ancient Sparta. The Department hopes to neutralize all clan members, except for the last Korval on Liad, the ne'er-do-well Pat Rin yos'Phelium, whom they intend to turn into a puppet. But Pat Rin has unexpected depths, no use for the Department's plans and several schemes of his own. Meanwhile, the Department tracks Val Con yos'Phelium, a former Agent of Change for the Department, to his hideout, hoping to capture him alive and use him "as both bait and bridle to the remainder of Korval." A cliff-hanger ending leaves a number of story lines unresolved until, hopefully, the next title in the series. Purely escapist this book may be (perhaps not a bad thing at this moment in history), but the authors' craftsmanship is top-notch, recalling the work of Elizabeth Moon and Lois McMaster Bujold, as well as, at a less exalted level, the military SF of writers like Robert Frezza. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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