Necessity's Child, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Science Fiction. Hardback, 328 pages, um... Fifteenth? Sixteenth? (Do we count the two omnibus short story volumes?) in the Liaden Universe.
This book is set on Surebleak, in a notch of the timeline shared by Dragon Ship and a couple of short stories. The plot focuses on the intersections of three people. The main character is Syl Vor, only child of Nova yos'Galen.
He is old enough to be allowed out on his own, but young enough not to be apprenticed to pilot or trade yet. So what is a bored boy on a new planet to do...? Through various plot twists and turns, Syl Vor becomes acquainted with Kezzi, a child of the underground clan known as the Bedel, and they become friends like middle-schoolers do - with plenty of sharp words and kind actions. However, the Bedel have also taken in a badly-wounded stranger who they take to calling "brother" and who fears the Dragons.
I take issue with the decision made by someone (Nova? Anthora?) at the very end of the book, and I hope that Lee and Miller plan on making that decision bite them all where it hurts. If Alys can be fighting an Xtrang invasion on Lytaxin at 10 years old, then Syl Vor can darn well... anyway...
I picked it up because it's another Liaden book (duh!). I recommend it for the same reason. It's also somewhat unique in that it could be used as a gateway book to the Liaden Universe for people who like working a series backwards. It stands cleanly enough on its own for most of the plot that only the epilogue gets confusing.
For what it's worth, the "gateway" Liaden books are (in my mind, and in Universe-chronological order): Crystal Soldier, Balance of Trade, Local Custom, Conflict of Honors, Agent of Change, Fledgling, and now Necessity's Child. A reader could enter the universe at any of the previously listed points and get a fair chance of understanding what is going on in the culture and with the language. And hey, seven out of sixteen (eighteen?) books is a pretty good count for accessibility. (Note that the authors' own reading order recommendations
are similar.)Books for 2013