Time is running out for Liam Munson. The hard fact of human life is that it is all too short and Liam has decades left at best, while his Rownt lover Ondry will live for centuries. The idea of being without Liam for so long is something Ondry finds untenable. With his Tuk status confirmed, he finally has the status to begin trading with the Imshee, a highly evolved insectoid race that can alter genetics.
But just because the Imshee can manipulate genes, doesn’t mean they will. Trading is a tricky business and when it involves the health of a beloved palteia, emotions are going to run high. At Ondry’s side is a revered Grandmother, who also seeks genetic alterations for her human, Zach Mora. As Ondry and Liam begin the most important trade of their lives, they have to rely on all their skill and their love for one another to achieve the ultimate profit.
Expeditions, Estimation and Other Dangerous Pastimes is the fourth in the Claimings series and these books must be read in order. There is simply too much world building and relationship information to understand if you’re trying to come in as a new reader. But Expeditions, Estimation and Other Pastimes, like the rest of the Claiming series, is absolutely worth your time, especially if you enjoy science fiction and unusual romances.
As always, Liam and Ondry are at the heart of this book and their devotion to one another is what makes me love this series. They complement one another on nearly every level and they have such a strong connection, it’s truly a delight to revisit their romance. There’s little doubt that Liam is more Rownt than human, at least in his thinking, and this book provides an obvious contrast to this in Zach Mora. Zach, now palteia to a Grandmother, is young and all too human. His relationship with his Grandmother is more awkward and uneven than that of Liam and Ondry and a lot of that comes down to Zach’s humanity. He has none of Liam’s history of trauma and he still has strong ties to Earth. He’s the military go between that Liam refused to be and the juxtaposition of these two pairs makes for interesting reading.
We finally meet the bizarre and insect like Imshee, who have been mentioned numerous times before and they are truly alien. The author does a great job of exploring the anxiety associated with this kind of contact, as well as the apprehension of knowing the Imshee and only the Imshee can extend Liam and Zach’s lives. I have little doubt that should humanity actually ever get a chance at contact with an alien species, that we shall promptly screw it up. It’s what we do. But at least with Liam and Ondry, we see the way such things might be handled better, even in the fact of real threat.
Expeditions, Estimation and Other Dangerous Pastimes is another excellent entry in the Claimings series and not be missed if you’re already a fan. The characters are strong and the story is exceptionally well developed. I found it impossible not to be drawn into this world and and hopefully we’ll see more of Liam and Ondry.