The 18th book in the Liaden Universe®, Dragon in Exile, is as gripping as the rest most likely are. Readers of the series will buy the book as a matter of course. However, there are people (such as thisreviewer) who have never read anything in this series. The good news is that this book can stand alone quite well. The bad news is that people (such as this reviewer) who pick this book up will now be on the hook for seventeen more books.
The blurb behind the title page gives a good plot synopsis which can be summed up: exiled clan must adapt to new world. But the devil is in the details. Clans don’t get exiled for not making enemies after all and there are old scores that need settling. Furthermore the former leaders of the new planet would like their old mores back. But the details are the people themselves, Terran and Liaden.
The new reader will be introduced to a complex cast of characters who will interact based in part on seventeen books worth of prior history. However, the authors do paint their characters quite well. It is quite easy to believe in and root for the characters without knowing the back story. And the Liaden environment is also complex. The new reader will not understand exactly how Dreaming works or what the Tree really is or how two more cultures (clans?)fit into the mix.
The book does bounce from scene to scene, culture to culture, subplot to subplot … if baroque is not for you, hang in there, there are fights, assassinations, treachery and mischief also. But this is definitely a sub saga of a much larger saga. For folks who like their plots spare and their characters few, perhaps this is not the book. But for those who like high adventure and fascinating cultures and plots and characters so intertwined that the book should be written on a mobius strip; here’s your book, the first of eighteen that you will buy.