In which the ancestor of a major recurring character goes a-voyaging.
“Dragon Tide” is definitely a prequel, I reckon, in nature and not just by accident of birth. It’s chronologically the earliest story of the Liaden Universe, but it’s not a good one to read first.
For one thing, if you expect the first story of a series to give an idea of what the series will be like, this story doesn’t do that. It’s told in an atypical mode, features a cast of characters we’ll never see again, and a setting that will be revisited only once, briefly, and then much changed.
For another thing, if you don’t know what’s coming after this, you’re missing out on part of the story, the way that in places it parallels or foreshadows events yet to come. I don’t know what I’d have made of this story if I’d come to it cold.
(I wonder if anyone ever has come to it cold? Some of the short stories debuted in general anthologies, but this one was a chapbook original; I don’t think it’s ever appeared in a book that wasn’t being pitched specifically at readers who were already Liaden fans.)