A Suggested Reading Order

The issue of a reading order for the Liaden Universe is a complicated one, because the Liaden Universe is not a single series but a setting in which many stories take place, some widely separated and some so close together they overlap. There are many possible ways to approach it, and which is best depends as much on the reader and the situation as anything else.

(The authors have some wise things to say on the subject on the Reading Order page of their own site, which are worth reading.)

Of all the possible approaches to take, I’m only going to address internal chronological order here, since that’s the one I can speak on with some confidence, having just read all the stories in that order, more or less. “More or less” is inevitable: as I’ve already said, some of the stories overlap, and sometimes you just have to make a judgement call about what order to read two things that occur more or less simultaneously.

With that in mind, here is my suggested internal-chronology-based reading order for all the Liaden novels, and then, in case the fancy should some day take you as it took me, for all the stories set in the Liaden universe.

Liaden Novels by Internal Chronology (More or Less)

Crystal Soldier, Crystal Dragon, Balance of Trade, Trade Secret, Fair Trade, Local Custom, Scout’s Progress, Mouse and Dragon, Conflict of Honors, Fledgling, Agent of Change, Carpe Diem, Plan B, I Dare, Saltation, Ghost Ship, Dragon Ship, Necessity’s Child, Dragon in Exile, Alliance of Equals, The Gathering Edge, Neogenesis, Accepting the Lance, Trader’s Leap

All Liaden Stories by Internal Chronology (More or Less)

“Dragon Tide” ², “Necessary Evils” ², Crystal Soldier, Crystal Dragon, “Eleutherios” ³, “Where the Goddess Sends” ¹, “The Wine of Memory” ¹, “A Spell for the Lost” ¹, “Standing Orders” ⁶, “Preferred Seating” ⁵, “Ambient Conditions” ⁵, Balance of Trade, Trade Secret, “Out of True” ³, “Dead Men Dream” ⁵, Fair Trade, “Excerpts from Two Lives” ⁴, “Naratha’s Shadow” ¹, “Sweet Waters” ¹, “The Space at Tinsori Light” ³, “Moon’s Honor” ³, “Phoenix” ¹, “Due Diligence” ⁴, “Dark Secrets” ⁵, “Pilot of Korval” ¹, “A Choice of Weapons” ¹, “The Beggar King” ², Local Custom, Scout’s Progress, Mouse and Dragon, “Guaranteed Delivery” ³, “From Every Storm a Rainbow” ⁶, “Veil of the Dancer” ², “Heirloom” ¹, “Intelligent Design” ³, “A Matter of Dreams” ¹, “Moonphase” ¹, “Cutting Corners” ⁴, “Command Decision” ⁵, “Fighting Chance” ², “To Cut an Edge” ¹, “A Day at the Races” ¹, “Shadow Partner” ², “Certain Symmetry” ¹, “This House” ², Conflict of Honors, “Changeling” ¹, “Degrees of Separation” ⁴, “Fortune’s Favors” ⁵, Fledgling, Agent of Change, Carpe Diem, “Quiet Knives” ², Plan B, “Breath’s Duty” ¹, “Daughter of Dragons” ², “Persistence” ², I Dare, “Misfits” ², Saltation, “Landed Alien” ³, “Moon on the Hills” ², “Code of Honor” ³, “Hidden Resources” ², “Kin Ties” ³, Ghost Ship, “Prodigal Son” ², “Songs of the Fathers” ⁶, Dragon Ship, “Wise Child” ⁶, “Skyblaze” ², Necessity’s Child, “Roving Gambler” ³, “The Rifle’s First Wife” ³, Dragon in Exile, “Chimera” ⁶, Alliance of Equals, The Gathering Edge, “Shout of Honor” ⁵, “A Visit to the Galaxy Ballroom” ⁵, Neogenesis, “Opportunity to Seize” ⁵, Accepting the Lance, Trader’s Leap, “The Gate That Locks the Tree” ⁵, “Block Party” ⁴, “Our Lady of Benevolence” ⁶, “Revolutionists” ⁴

¹ can be found in A Liaden Universe Constellation: Volume 1
² can be found in A Liaden Universe Constellation: Volume 2
³ can be found in A Liaden Universe Constellation: Volume 3
⁴ can be found in A Liaden Universe Constellation: Volume 4
⁵ can be found in A Liaden Universe Constellation: Volume 5
⁶ not yet collected in a Constellation: From Every Storm a Rainbow, Wise Child, Chimera, Our Lady of Benevolence, Standing Orders, Songs of the Fathers


61 thoughts on “A Suggested Reading Order

  1. Linda Shoun

    Thank you so much for this. I have just discovered your project, long after it was completed, of course. I have been reading the posts backwards, that is, in chronological order. I’ve wondered why sometimes many chapters or a complete story do not appear to have a post. Is it just that you did not encounter anything during them that you wanted to comment on?

  2. Paul A. Post author

    I put up a post for every chapter and story I read, even when all I had to say about it was that I didn’t have anything to say. I didn’t want to confuse people by having bits missing. (Though apparently I’ve managed to do that anyway!)

    For anybody who comes along later and has the same problem as Linda, I’ve put up a new post about a more convenient and reliable way of navigating the archive, which shouldn’t result in missing out on any posts (even the boring ones where I didn’t have anything to say).

  3. Skip

    I wonder why you removed Street Cred?

    Timeline: It occurs in autumn on Surebleak. Val Con is considering the alliance with the Juntavas, which was offered to him in Dragon in Exile (DiE). Corner qe’andra apprentices are training, which Miri suggested in DiE. Also, at the end of Street Cred, the Liaden Council of Clans published a statement forbidding taking personal balance / vengeance against Korval for Skyblaze, because all their debts are paid, so Street Cred ends after the Liaden Trader tried to kill Quin, in DiE.
    It occurs after Code of Honor, because Tommy Lee is already working for Korval.

    It could occur roughly simultaneous with Rifle’s First Wife, or even after it.

  4. Paul A. Post author

    If you have any questions about why I did a thing in this post, click on the [Appendix] link at the bottom: that’s where all the explanations are.

    To answer your specific question: I removed “Street Cred” because the authors have explicitly declared that it is a non-canonical “what-if”, and it is the policy of this blog to take the authors’ word on things like that.

  5. Paul A. Post author

    Also, there is this to be considered:

    In “Street Cred”, there is a scene where Miri reads the report on the progress of the storefront qe’andra project, and learns of the addition of Jorish Hufstead to the project. On the same day, Val Con goes down to the Road Boss office without a bodyguard, and gets beat up in an alleyway, kicking off the plot.

    Neogenesis also contains the scene where Miri reads the report on the progress of the storefront qe’andra project, and learns of the addition of Jorish Hufstead to the project, but states that Val Con took Nelirikk as his bodyguard that day, and shows him coming home un-beaten-up.

  6. Skip

    How should readers know that a published book — bought and paid for based on the synopsis — isn’t truly part of the official Liaden universe? Its subtitle is Adventures in the Liaden Universe. That’s just nuts. Where did you learn this?

  7. Skip

    Ps. I clicked on Appendix and saw no explanation for removing Street Cred. Cannot find that.

  8. Paul A. Post author

    The chapbook that contains “Street Cred” also contains an Afterword stating that it’s non-canonical and explaining why it isn’t (and why, that being so, the authors found that the necessity existed for them to write and publish the story anyway). Admittedly, it’s hidden away at the back of the book, which is why I’d already added “Street Cred” before I read the Afterword.

  9. Skip

    Thanks. Okay. I just read the afterward. It doesn’t state, explicitly, that this is non-canonical or what-if. It does state this:

    “Some scenes were removed from the final novel, Neogenesis. (Val Con’s attack, the letter from Lady yo’Lanna, Miri and Val con’s argument)….we decided to — take those three outtakes and weave them into a story, dammit. So, that’s what we did. Nothing in this story spoils Neogenesis, by the way, though you’ll find some echoes of the story and vice-versa.”

    Paul, I found nothing indicating non-canonical status of Street Cred on any of Sharon Lee’s blogs (Eagles, Ro Lanni, Sharon Lee Writer, Blog without a name, Korval, etc). There was no hint of this in the advertising synopsis on Amazon. Nor on Pinbeams books. Nor on Baen.

    My vote? Keep it in, unless author explicitly says take it out.

    The slight misalignment with Jorish Hufstead scenes in both books can be explained away, IMO. I just reviewed those sections of Neogenesis and of Street Cred, and see no difficulties beyond the normal level of discrepancy found throughout this series. Little stuff.

    Val Con’s attack? Business as usual on Surebleak!

  10. Paul A. Post author

    ALU #23 is actually the second Adventures in the Liaden Universe chapbook in a row to contain a “what if” story. The author’s note in ALU #22 is — apart from being, more helpfully, at the front of the book, so that one encounters it before the story it refers to — more explicit about the situation (it turns out to be the one I was thinking of when I was reaching for a phrase and came back with “what if”, which doesn’t appear in the #23 author’s note). But there’s a common thread over both author’s notes of talking about how a development didn’t fit into a novel’s plot and thus became an outtake, and so I am satisfied in my own mind that they’re talking about the same thing.

    And that, I think, is going to be my last word on the subject. I have answered your request for an explanation in considerable detail, and if I haven’t satisfied you yet, I don’t suppose more detail is going to make any difference.

  11. Ed8r

    Paul, it’s your site, so it’s yours to choose.

    That said, as someone new to the Liaden Universe, I would be happy to see “noncanonical” Liaden works shown here, simply as a source for a complete list in chronological order.

    And *that* said, I had been planning to ask about “Shan and Priscilla Ride Again.” I only know about it because my research into the Universe led me to Sharon’s explanation of it on Splinter Universe. But I fully intend to read what’s available before I proceed to the next short story.

    (btw, do you plan to add Neogenesis, above?)

  12. Skip

    Oh, dear. I just wanted to be clear that the authors never say Street Cred is not canonical. Sorry to pester you — your site is much appreciated, and your own rules apply. Canon, though. Now that’s a pretty strong word.

  13. Paul A. Post author

    Skip, no hard feelings. I’m a bit snappish lately anyway, on account of other things going on that don’t have anything to do with Liad or this blog.

    Ed8r, thanks for the reminder. I generally don’t add a novel until I’ve finished reading it, just in case there are any surprises, but here I’ve finished the novel and forgot to add it. I’ll do it now.

  14. Ed8r

    Question: According to your list above, you decided to put “Naratha’s Shadow” after Trade Secret, even though in the entry for that story, you say that it seems to belong between Balance of Trade and Trade Secret. If you’ve reordered your internal chronology, I wonder if it would be appropriate to add a comment to that effect, on the individual entries that are now shown in a different order than you’d originally thought (as you’ve done with some of the stories of Lute and Moonhawk)?

  15. Paul A. Post author

    in the entry for that story, you say that it seems to belong between Balance of Trade and Trade Secret

    I don’t, or at least I didn’t mean to; I’ve always placed “Naratha’s Shadow” after Trade Secret. I’ll add a clarification.

  16. Kez

    Hi, I can see you have added [update: added Neogenesis] and other recent stories but I can’t seem to find a list of Reading Order with this on. Sorry I’ve gone round and round but no luck finding a list after Dragon Ship, Skyblaze from the main Reading Order Page – what have I missed?

    I’m hoping to find what short stories/chap books you’ve placed in the timeline when

    Thanks for the help

  17. Paul A. Post author

    That list is on this page, under the heading “All Liaden Stories by Internal Chronology (More or Less)”, just above the beginning of the comments section.

    At least, that’s where I put it, and where I find it when I look for it. If it’s not there when you look, I’m not sure what to tell you.

  18. Kez

    Thanks!!! I don’t know why but I just didn’t see it!!

    Thanks for the reply – even thou I should of read the whole page

  19. Paul A. Post author

    [update: notations for stories to be found in Constellation volume 4]
    [update: added “Fortune’s Favors”]
    [update added Neogenesis outtake]

  20. Paul A. Post author

    [update: added “Excerpts from Two Lives”]
    [update: added “Revolutionists”]

  21. Paul A. Post author

    [update: added Accepting the Lance, “A Visit to the Galaxy Ballroom”; shifted “Block Party”, “Shout of Honor” in light of AtL]

  22. Ed8r

    Somehow I missed your update comment, and I kept working from the old list. I’ll wait till we finish the chapter-by-chapter posts on AtL before I ask about moving “Revolutionists.”

  23. Paul A. Post author

    I don’t have any plans to move “Revolutionists”; on the information currently available, there’s grounds for assuming that it’s set decades after everything else, so I’m happy leaving it at the end of the chronological list unless and until we get more precise information about where it fits.

  24. Ed8r

    I expect I’ll see exactly why you moved it once you’d read Accepting the Lance, it’s just that I hadn’t *noticed* you decided to move it. Personally, I’m hoping we see Disian and Geral show up in Trader’s Leap. btw, cover art for that book is now available to view on Sharon’s blog.

  25. Paul A. Post author

    The reason you didn’t notice me moving “Revolutionists” would be that I haven’t moved it. I added it to the end of the chronological list, on the assumption that it’s set decades after everything else, and it’s been at the end of the list ever since.

    Is it just me, or is the cover art for Trader’s Leap framed a lot like the cover art for Mouse and Dragon? I wonder if that’s significant.

  26. Ed8r

    I should know by now that your questions like that indicate that you yourself have thought it possible, and have guess(es) about that point (too many that‘s, sorry). So, I’ve come back to ask . . . what occurred to you about any significance this might have?

  27. Ed8r

    Oh, wait . . . do you mean this might be picturing Kor Vid and Daaneka? Maybe, but I thought the book was supposed to be a direct sequel to Alliance of Equals, which would suggest it is primarily about Shan and Padi, with maybe some mention of Hazenthull, Tolly, and Tochol-Tinsori Light.

  28. Paul A. Post author

    In this case, I actually don’t have any theories. I just thought it was interesting that it was a “two people standing in a city” picture when we usually get (as the family portrait demonstrates) spaceships and explosions.

    I’m pretty sure it’s not Kor Vid and Daaneka; it doesn’t look anything like they’ve been described, and this artist is usually pretty good at matching the descriptions. If I had to guess, my guess would be “Padi and somebody we haven’t met yet”.

  29. Skip

    Quoting from KORVAL website:

    TRADER’S LEAP, the 23rd novel in the Liaden Universe® will be published in November/December 2020. This novel follows the adventures of Shan yos’Galan, Priscilla Mendoza, and the crew of the Dutiful Passage, as they struggle to fulfill the duty put on them by Delm Korval — establish new and profitable trade routes before the clan runs out of money!

    Steve is even now working on the direct sequel to Trade Secret, featuring Jethri Gobelyn. That novel is due to be turned in at the end of May 2020, and will be published some time in 2021. This will be Liaden Universe® novel Number 24.

    After that, Steve is lead on another book starring Jethri Gobelyn — the sequel to the book above. It is due to be turned in January 2021. This will be Liaden Universe® novel Number 25.

    There are two more books contracted after those listed above, to wit! Liaden Universe® novels Number 26 and 27. We don’t know what those will be about, yet.

  30. Ed8r

    Yes, but also Sharon has shared that this book is actually concurrent with Accepting the Lance and in fact was part of it until she and Steve (and maybe their editors at Baen) realized there was too much material for one book. And also—was it on Sharon’s blog?—it has been said that Trader’s Leap is a direct sequel to Alliance of Equals, which would indicate that it could include the characters at Tinsori Light and also Kor Vid and Daaneka, who were revived during that book.

  31. Skip

    That could be interesting. I’d like to see more of Tinsori Light crowd. Maybe in Traders Leap Theo et al aboard Bechimo will head over to the light (their new assignment from her contract holder, Shan) and meet Tocohl, etc. And maybe Shan et al aboard Dutiful Passage will be there, too.

    Plus…They still have to stomp out the Lyre Institute

  32. Ed8r

    RE: Stomping out the Lyre Institute.

    I had wondered if the authors would simply make Lyre the next Big Bad.

  33. Ed8r

    Paul, I know you made a firm decision some time ago to include only canonical works on this site.

    But now that Splinter Universe Presents! is being published, I wonder whether you’d reconsider putting up a section to cover the “bits and bobs” that do give us some information about Liaden characters and background that is not contradicted by canon? The comparison may not be apt, but see how much weight has been given to details that are only available to Tolkien scholars and fans in The History of Middle-earth? We know it’s not canon, per se, and yet it is volumes (eek! pun not exactly intended) of additional information that is fascinating to those who are truly interested in getting off the beaten path and into the thickets.

  34. Thomas Bryson

    It seems logical that the Lyre Institute will become the antagonist, now that the DOI is kaput.

  35. Ed8r

    Paul, when are you thinking you might begin to post about Trader’s Leap? (I’m not impatient or anything ;))

  36. Paul A. Post author

    Probably this weekend. I have a few demands on my time at the moment, so I’m allowing space for the possibility that I won’t get to it immediately.

  37. Paul A. Post author

    [update: added Trader’s Leap]
    [update: added “Preferred Seating”]
    [update: added “Ambient Conditions”]

  38. Paul A. Post author

    [update: added “Command Decision”]
    [update: notations for stories to be found in Constellation volume 5]

  39. Paul A. Post author

    [update: notations for stories to be found in Constellation volume 5; Neogenesis outtake now officially titled “Opportunity to Seize”]

  40. Paul A. Post author

    [update: in the list of where to find short stories, added specific details for stories that aren’t in a Constellation yet, since it wasn’t very helpful just telling people where they aren’t]

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