‘Ghost Ship’ is the newest novel in the popular ‘Liaden Universe’ series of books from Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, A husband and wife team with years of experience in science fiction literature. Theo Waitley is a young pilot in the far future who is being chased by assassins because her father isn’t what he seems to be and a sentient ship is also looking for her. She seeks help from Clan Korval, who are being forced to leave Liad.

Imagine Howard Stern’s former lackey Stuttering John trying to perform a monologue of material taken from the Anakin and Padme romance scenes from Attack of the Clones. Now imagine 328 pages of it. That’s what it was like trying to get into Sharon Lee’s and Steve Miller’s ‘Ghost Ship. The husband and wife team make no effort to bring new readers up to speed. Apparently this is a sequel to the books ‘I Dare and ‘Saltation’.

Judging by the number of 5 star ratings on Amazon (and on the book’s jacket), it is a very popular series – I do not know why. I found it extremely difficult to get through for a number of reasons, one of them being that I had no idea what was going on. It’s admirable that the authors chose to service their established fan base, but to do so at the expense of new readers is a misstep.

There are also way too many characters to keep track of. The new reader is inundated with, from what I’ve learned from die-hard fans, numerous cameo appearances from characters in the other books. In addition, they’re names are impossible to remember. Lee and Miller seem to be attempting to give them exotic future-sounding monikers but it comes across as random syllables combined to make sounds. Can you relate to someone named Anthora yos’Galan? What if your father’s name was Daav yos’Phelium? Wait! He is also known as Jen Sar Kiladi.

Another problem I had was with the writing itself. At first I thought I just found the characters dialogue stiff and awkward, which was making it hard to follow the plot points. But the Laiden Universe seems to be set at least 700 years into the future; of course language would have evolved from how we speak in the present, however the stilted prose runs throughout all parts of the book, lurching and staggering about, making it difficult to read. It took forever to get into the book, then another forever to actually get through the book to an ending I personally found unsatisfying.

I can not recommend this title to new readers. If the story sounds interesting to you though, pick up the other books first. Under no circumstances should you attempt to read this one as a stand-alone story.