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Local Custom

(Liaden Universe #5)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  2,454 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Master trader Er Thom knows the local custom of Liaden is to be matched with a proper bride, and provide his prominent clan Korval with an heir. Yet his heart is immersed in another universe, influenced by another culture, and lost to a woman not of his world. And to take a Terran wife such as scholar Anne Davis is to risk his honor and reputation. But when he discovers th ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 29th 2002 by Ace
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  2,454 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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Local Custom has been described as a Regency romance in space. I would have to agree with that assessment. The romance between Er Thom and Anne is the major plot of the book, highlighting the differences between the two. They are not only of different social classes, but from different planetary societies. It is very much a novel of manners, as Anne tries to deal with the very honour-bound and visciously polite Liaden society that Er Thom inhabits. Think “going to Japan” on a grand scale—meeting ...more
Lilia Ford
Good solid sci-fi story with a refreshing focus on well-drawn characters and human-scaled conflicts about duty to self vs. duty to tribe, love vs. family, and the challenges of raising a child torn between two cultures. Probably longer than it needs to be, and though it does avoid info-dumps, it ends up if anything a bit too sparing of details, especially for someone totally unfamiliar with Liaden as I was. But the authors have imagined a remarkably complex culture in Liaden, inventing an incred ...more
Laura (Kyahgirl)
3.5/5; 4 stars; B+

Bernadette Dunne was the narrator of this book. I have kind of gotten used to Andy Caploe's voice but this narrator did a good job too.

The good thing about listening to this story was I was more aware of the background conflict derived from the historical linguistics research that Anne Davis was part of. The bad thing was that after re-visiting the story I downgraded my rating. I didn't enjoy this one near as much as the Agent of Change story arc.
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oops, I meant to continue to Trade Secret after rereading Balance of Trade but I ended up thinking about this novel, another one about a Terran getting entangled in Liaden family life, this time through romance rather than apprenticeship, and rereading it instead.

This novel has felt... unusually slight since I first read it, and this latest reread did nothing to change that impression. I like it mainly for the glimpses we get of characters before the rest of the series happens (toddler Shan and
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a great story with a lot of subtle layers.

It is at it's base a love story. A rather intense love story.

But then you add in some intercultural challenges. Er Thom is an heir of the prime clan on the planet Liaden. Anne is a simple scholar from Earth. They meet and have an intense relationship for a bit before he must leave Earth to continue on with his life and the duty of his station on his planet. Both Er Thom is drawn back to Anne, unable to forget her. As they reconnect he and Anne st
Gail Carriger
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I like my ending HEA and so Lee and Miller give me problems with their romantic resolutions in some of their books. Not so with this one. Probably the most "romance" of their space opera / anthropology Liaden Universe series, that's also probably why I like it best. I started the universe with this book, and it's the only one I ended up keeping. (Though I did dither over a few of the others during one of my many book shelf purges, but this is the one I always come back to.)

If you are a fan of ro
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

I have been meaning to re-read the Liaden Universe books for a while now. I loved them when I initially read them (meaning I swallowed them whole) in 2005-2006, but haven't kept up with the newer ones. That "so many books, so little time" problem rears its ugly little head yet again.

When I heard that Audible was releasing the entire series in audio, I decided that was my opportunity. I could listen to everything! "Foolish Terran!"as the Liadens might say.

Am not and never have been a huge fan of romance novels. Liaden adventures seem to be romance novels in a scifi setting. Not for me...
Chronologically, this follows Balance of Trade, set about 200-300 years earlier. I read this in The Dragon Variation e-book collection. In essence, this is a romance novel, complete with sex. It's not steeped in science fiction, with only one or two intergalactic flights and some empathic and telepathic exchanges. For the most part, it could have occurred on Earth, today or in the past. The authors suggest is is similar to a Regency Romance, set in ~1800 England. I would agree; there are lor ...more
Jun 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 9, sf, ebooks, reread, 2010
A totally lovely reread of a series that has been a keeper ever since a friend introduced me to it. I moved to hardcover with the series and eagerly await new books.

I decided to go in chronological order for my reread and I found myself wondering if this would be the best way for a new reader to go. There were parts where I found myself harking back to what I could remember of the later books (which were, in fact, written first). It'll be interested to see what I think when I get up to the ones
Kathy Martin
Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite science fiction romances. I have read it more times than I can count. Er Thom yos'Galan, Clan Korval, falls in love with linguistics scholar Anne Davis. But the fact that they are from two very different cultures causes a lot of misunderstanding and pain until they work through a way to their "happily ever after." I love the language, the melodrama, and the story.

This episode in the Liaden Universe is definitely a romance - a cross-cultural romance. Er Thom yos
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Local Custom stressed me out so much that I kept skipping to the ending and reading it over and over again just to make sure everything would be OK. I can’t say it was a relaxing read, but it was a far more realistic, and ultimately very rewarding, depiction of a romance between a human and a person who is arguably human in genetic terms but very alien in terms of culture.

Local Custom is part of the Liaden universe series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.
Laura (Kyahgirl)
4.5/5; 5 stars; A

I re-read this book recently as I've decided to go for a foray into the Liaden Universe and re-aquaint myself with the old books as I add in the newer books.

Re-reading this book was a joy, from start to finish. I was astonished that I had overlooked or forgotten so many little things in the story.

What struck me most strongly when I re-read this book was the concept of Liaden honour and the clan system. I don't think it really hit home the first time. The characters in this boo
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Just reread this for sheer pleasure. After loaning it to my cousin who doesn't read much SF I can see that the volume of jargon could easily waylay someone who is new to the Liaden universe and/or not accustomed to reading SF/F, with it's tendency to layer on the language differences.

But Lee and Miller write as if they themselves were Liadens, with delicacy and a sensitivity to nuance that seems "other"; they use certain words and terms in a way that has really become their own - certain ones po
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, reread
Culture clash! Epic culture clash! Glorious, unrepentant epic culture clash!

I'm really not objective about this one -- there is nothing I like more than epic unrepentant culture clash in all its myriad forms -- but then again, who is objective about the books they love? I can't decide if this is the perfect introduction to the Liaden universe -- as again, it is a side-story, taking us back to the previous generation -- or if it's a treat that should be saved for later on once the reader has mor
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, keeper
What an amazing book, this series reads like a space opera with all the twists and turns you would expect. I am about to immerse myself in everything Liaden during this period of self isolation. I originally read the what is now books 4(Conflict of Honors), 5(Agent of Change) and 6 (Carpe Diem) in the late 80's and have had them on my keeper shelf ever since. Now that I have the rest of the series I will reread them in the order they are placed time wise. So let the play begin................ ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
This is the only m/f romance I’ve ever read where the heroine is six feet tall. It’s also the only romance where the hero’s maybe a foot short than her (we’re never told exactly how short he is, but the doors and furniture are significantly too small for her body.)

This is a big deal because these unequal height couplings of this nature are never represented in fiction. So I’m dumbfounded by the cover art (I’m reading this in the Pilots Choice compendium) which shows the hero as though he were p
Jun 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Local Custom has a secret baby plot and space elves, so I was pretty much sold from the get-go. Jokes aside, the majority of the plot actually revolves around miscommunications caused by cultural differences between Anne who is a Terran (basically us) and Er Thom who is a Liaden (a race of humans with a highly stratified and formal clan culture and Aryan Nation levels of dislike for race mixing with Terrans). This had all the makings of a story about racism, xenophobia and cultural differences b ...more
May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
So this is sci-fi romance at it's best; Romance with a capital "R". The sweetest and tenderest hero I've read for along time. Maybe even ever, he made himself so Beta to her Alpha.

The most intersting element for me was the discomfort felt about the level of affection Daav expressed for Thom and the modes of expression. I love my M/M, but these interactions freaked me out, esp since they are first cousins. I kept telling myself "Get your mind out of the gutter!These are innocent expressions of ca
Genre: Space Opera, Audio Book

The audio edition of this book is very compelling; it's read by Michael Shanks (of Stargate fame) and his is a very nuanced reading, despite seeming like an "invisible narrator" - not getting in the way of the words at all.

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that it's addictive - it made me go and re-read all the other books in the Agent-of-Change series! I'm not sure how much sense the book would make without some background with the other books i
David Chittenden
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I have read by these authors thus far. I would rate it more than 5 stars if I could. The authors do an excellent job of showing the confusions and conflicts which so readily arise when extremely different cultures come together and collide. I am a multicultural specialist, and I am a white man from the US. My partner, on the other hand, is a Chinese lady from Malaysia who has never been to the States. Together, we are living the life of navigating two very different filial ...more
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
I should have known better than to reread some of the short stories because I wanted something quick... they always pull me back into the universe, and then I have to decide where to start rereading - chronological beginning, logical beginning, a central book, an edge book, a specific character or plot point...

Local Custom is a good entry point for those wondering where to start, and far enough in for readers already familiar with the series to know the players.
Aug 15, 2014 rated it liked it
I found the story to be slow moving until Er Thom and Anne arrived on Liad. Then it flowed faster. All I had read in previous books about Anne and Er Thom encouraged me to read this story but I was disappointed a bit with the characters. I think I expected Er Thom to be more like Daav. And Petrella was a huge disappointment, so much like Daav's sister Kareen! Over all, Local Custom was an interesting story.
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The audio version of this book is outstanding! No, really. Michael Shanks doesn't just read the book, he reads the story. Everything from emotion to things as simple as clearing his throat (as the book directs) is perfectly placed. I can't recommend this audio highly enough, and I wish they (Buzzy multimedia) would do the rest of the series. ...more
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Valerie by: Marni Rachimel
Shelves: space-opera
My favorite science fiction novels often concern the huge gaps in misunderstanding when 2 cultures meet...this book was a wonderful example of this. How two honorable beings can misconstrue each others meanings and intentions, by ascribing to them the definition of honorable that holds true for their own culture.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I honestly don't know any more superlatives to give this series. So, I will just say that I enjoyed this entry as much as the other six books I have read.

04/29/2018: Starting to re-read this.
04/30/2018: Just as good as the first read through. So good, this series is like literary crack.

03/04/2020: I am starting this book again. I love these books where you meet the characters.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This entry in the Liaden series takes the reader back in time to when Shan yos'Galen is a child. The difficulties his parents face are due to the fact that, while they love each other, they are of different races (one Terran and one Liaden) and so have different 'local customs' and thus often misunderstandings occur. ...more
Jenny T
I read this back in 2011, with a re-read this past week because I'd like to continue with the series this time.

This is utterly wonderful, compulsively readable, romantic space opera, and I loved it.
Ian Suddreth
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Didn't really feel like a space opera to me, no matter what the cover said. ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm reading the Liaden Universe series in chronological order as of 2017, which makes this the fifth book, and the first of the third set (each set featuring the same characters). I should really write reviews for the other books, since I liked them all better than this one, but alas I find it easier to kvetch. ;)

This is basically a romance before it is a space opera, and beyond our hero and heroine traveling between planets, there isn't really anything in this about space. Which isn't what I ex
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Sharon Lee has been married to her first husband for more than half her lifetime; she is a friend to cats, a member of the National Carousel Association, and oversees the dubious investment schemes of an improbable number of stuffed animals.

Despite having been born in a year of the dragon, Sharon is an introvert. She lives in Maine because she likes it there. In fact, she likes it so much that she

Other books in the series

Liaden Universe (1 - 10 of 22 books)
  • Crystal Soldier (The Great Migration Duology, #1; Liaden Universe, #1)
  • Crystal Dragon (The Great Migration Duology, #2; Liaden Universe, #2)
  • Balance of Trade (Liaden Universe, #3)
  • Trade Secret (Liaden Universe, #4)
  • Scout's Progress (Liaden Universe, #6)
  • Mouse and Dragon (Liaden Universe, #7)
  • Conflict of Honors (Liaden Universe, #8)
  • Agent of Change (Liaden Universe, #9)
  • Carpe Diem (Liaden Universe, #10)
  • Plan B (Liaden Universe, #11)

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