Ace, 2003 (2002)
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
his is the fourth in a series that began with
, in which brutal
mercenaries (on behalf of their
employers) sold entire Earth urban populations as slaves. One group, including many species and a shanghaied
named Zainal, was dumped on an unknown planet to sink or swim. Though many wanted to kill Zainal, Kris Bjjornsen spoke up for him, and Zainal's skills helped them to survive. They named the planet Botany, and learned to deal with the
that harvested it. Zainal's plans enabled them to capture spaceships and to successfully rebel against the
. Now they want to rebuild on both Earth and Botany, and to find and rescue more of the enslaved peoples.
, is essentially a long drawn out trading mission - on Earth and on Barevi - in search of badly needed technical materials looted from Earth. An assorted band, including Kris and Zainal, travel to Earth, where they trade food and minerals for coffee and dental supplies. They then set up in the Barevi market to sell coffee beans (prized by the addicted Catteni) and dental work. Of course it's not quite that simple and obstacles include the corrupt market manager Kapash, who might have had something to do with Zainal's inclusion in the Botany dump in the first place.
hat is the appeal of this series? Though by no means extraordinary as SF, readers are drawn in (as always in Anne McCaffrey's works) by an Irish style invitation to join the ever enlarging extended family of friends and loved ones who surround the principal characters. It's a positive, compassionate and tolerant community, and these tales of
make great comfort reading.
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