by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
This is the newest novel in the authors' popular Liaden Universe series. "Necessity's Child" is a standalone novel, not in the Val Con/Miri or Theo Waitley story arcs, but complementary to them. The story follows Syl Vor, one of the younger generation of Clan Korval, as he adapts to the clan's new life on Surebleak, and Kezzi, a child of the Kompani, a secretive family group living underground on Surebleak. But this story also revolves around Rys, an agent for the Department of the Interior, injured and left for dead on the doorstep of the Kompani. Left with amnesia from his head injury, Rys finds a place with the Kompani while trying to discover who he is. But if he remembers his past, will his agent training reassert itself, making him a danger to Clan Korval? Or will he become the man he was before the Department of the Interior brainwashed him?
There are a LOT of Liaden Universe stories, and I've never been disappointed in any of them. This one is no exception. Lee and Miller know how to write characters you care about, and they've created a universe for them that's so real, you feel as if you've been there. Reading one of their novels is a time-consuming activity - not because they're overlong, but because as soon as I finish, I feel the need to re-read everything else in the series, revisiting all my old friends.
While this is a great novel, it's probably not the place to start if you've never read any of the other Liaden novels. It assumes the reader is already familiar with the characters and setting, and would probably be too confusing for a beginner. Start with "Agent of Change" and work your way up from there. And leave yourself plenty of time: These are books that will have you reading "just one more chapter," until you look up and realize it's hours past your bedtime.