When you say you’ll be reading the stories in chronological order, what exactly do you mean?

Good question, hypothetical reader!

There are two problems that must be faced when attempting to put the Liaden stories in chronological order. The first is that not all of them are clearly dated, and the second is that some of them overlap.

Unclear dates

Eight of the short stories, and two of the novels, don’t have any clear indication of when they’re set. Some of them can be dated approximately (by the ages of recurring characters, for instance), while others could be set at any point within a span of several centuries.

If necessary, I’m not above arbitrarily assigning them positions (if all else fails, I’ve got positions picked out based on grouping with stories concerning similar themes), but if there is any useful dating information about any of these stories that I’ve overlooked, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

The stories are: “Eleutherios”, “Intelligent Design”, “Landed Alien”, “The Space at Tinsori Light”, “A Spell for the Lost”, “This House”, “Where the Goddess Sends”, and “The Wine of Memory”.

The novels are Fledgling and Saltation.


A not-insignificant number of the short stories are set inside novels, between chapters or addressing chapters from an alternative viewpoint. For that matter, some of the novels overlap other novels; there’s at least one place where three different novels are occurring simultaneously.

The question here is: How do I deal with this? Should I treat novels as indivisible, read them straight through from beginning to end, and fit in the overlapping stories before or after as seems appropriate? Or should I feel free to chop them up and shuffle chapters into whatever order is most chronological?

Your thoughts on this are invited.

5 thoughts on “Chronology

  1. Ariaflame

    I got the impression that Fledgling happens about 15 years after Mouse and Dragon, but before Agent of Change, given that the Agent of Change to I Dare takes place within a fairly short period of time, maybe 2 standards at most. Saltation is partially overlapping with Plan B / I Dare, but only towards the end where she’s at Hugglelans Galactic.
    So maybe read Fledgling after Mouse and dragon and then the Agent of Change sequence in its entirety and then go to Saltation to bring yourself up to the meeting in the garden at Jelaza Kazone and then on to Ghost Ship.
    As to the short stories, personally I wouldn’t pause mid-book to read them. Maybe between books cover the short stories covered in the time covered by the book, or that fill in bits of the book.

  2. Paul A. Post author

    Note to self: My announcement of this project in the comments of Sharon Lee’s blog has produced some useful discussion from the readers there. For future reference, announcement and comments are here.

  3. Bob

    My experience is that the books are richer going through them after reading them all – the various tie-ins and references are more satisfying. For example, I think there is an advantage to having a knowledge of “Breath’s duty” as close to the internal chronological reading order as possible. Similarly, reading the Lute and Moonhawk stories before encountering Priscilla and Shan as adults gives better context.

    In general, I think it makes a sort of sense to read the short stories in about the same order as they appear in the timeline, plus or minus a book – they seem a bit richer when the characters are fresh in your mind. However, I have read them so many times I lose track of whether certain events were in stories or books. Making the jump between book and stories is a bit bothersome unless you have mapped it out in advance.

    Personally, I would read the Theo arc by itself, without interposing Necessities Child in between.

  4. Paul A. Post author

    On reflection, I should probably have said more about the stories with unclear dates. Unclear doesn’t mean, in most cases, that I have no idea at all where they go.

    “Intelligent Design”, for instance, I can narrow down to one of two places: it goes either immediately before “Heirloom” (the position of which is known with certainty), or immediately after. It is only that I am not quite sure which.

    And “Landed Alien” obviously goes as soon as may be after Saltation; its uncertainty of position reflects my uncertainty about Saltation and Fledgling, which again I know roughly where they go, but for purposes of mapping out the re-read precision and definition are required.

    “Where the Goddess Sends”, “A Spell for the Lost”, and “The Wine of Memory” obviously go together, and somewhere after Crystal Dragon but before Local Custom.[1] Again, it’s a question of “where precisely?” and “they have to go somewhere”. (I’m leaning toward putting them before Balance of Trade, because they seem old and have no Liadens in, but I’m open to other suggestions.)

    “The Space at Tinsori Light” has no clear indications of period that I’ve noticed, except that it’s after the Great Migration and before any of the modern generation of Korval. I’m leaning toward placing it after “Naratha’s Shadow” on account of similar concerns.

    Another unclearly-dated one I’m pulling that trick with is “This House”, which I’m leaning toward putting near “A Day at the Races” because podracing. That’s kind of superficial, and of all these speculative positions it’s the one I’m least happy with.

    That leaves “Eleutherios”, which is perhaps the least clearly dated of all, being as it has no Liadens or clear references to any part of the galaxy we’re otherwise familiar with. Oddly enough, I have a very strong gut feeling about where it goes. (One thing I never considered for a moment, which someone suggested elsewhere, was that it might go after “Necessity’s Child”. To my mind, it’s before, and quite a long way before.)

    [1] And this is a place where chronological order is perhaps not wisest, since from the point of view of keeping tie-ins and references fresh in memory it might be better to re-read them, along with “A Matter of Dreams” and “Moonphase”, just before Conflict of Honors. But I’ve said chronological order, so here we are.

  5. dcb

    This may encourage me to do a full re-read as well.

    I think I would follow the chronological order as suggested over on the Korval pages, but I would read Fledgling after I Dare, because for me, Fledgling and Saltation are so closely woven (they were, after all, initially intended as one book), that I would find it irritating to separate them.*

    I’ll be very happy to be lazy and follow any suggestions you have for the short stories, because I so do not have the time to consider this just now!

    * As an aside, reading those chapter by chapter as they were originally written was an amazing experience – and getting the hardbacks once they were published was great as well (yes, of course I subscribed – I’ve been hooked since I first bought and read “Conflict of Honors” and went straight back to the bookshop to get “Agent of Change” and “Carpe Diem” and inhaled them.

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