Podcast Review #38: Taken Liberty – A Tale from the Arbiter Chronicles

Title: Taken Liberty
Author: Steven H. Wilson
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 31 March 2006 –  25 May 2006
Located: iTunesPodiobooks
Formats Available: Podcast and Dead Tree
Rating: R for sexual situations and some violence

Occasionally, I listen to a podcast for no apparent reason. This is one of those times. After having listened to the first couple of eps, I was interested enough to continue with it, but I’m not sure who recommended this story to me. If YOU did, please let me know and I’ll be sure to give you credit.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Aer’La only wants to be free…

The Confederated Worlds are unparalleled as a society of free people, yet, somehow, slavery still manages to exist. Aer’La, a non-human, was bred to serve as a pleasure slave. Years ago, she escaped her masters and masqueraded as a human, joining the Confederate Navy, where she worked her way up to ship’s Bos’n under the heroic Captain Jan Atal. Now, Aer’La’s secret has been discovered by Atal’s superiors, the media, and the world at large. Branded a sociopath, she learns that even a free society isn’t willing to grant freedom – or justice – to all.

Production: The production on this story was really well done and I was fine with the results. I know that production really seems to get the least knocks from me, but the reason is that as long as the production doesn’t interfere, or really enhance, I can give it a pass. So, again, the production for Taken Liberty was well done, but nothing extraordinary.

Cast: The story was a straight read by the author, Steven H. Wilson. He does a nice job and does a good bit of differentiating the voices both with modulating his tone and inflection. Well done indeed when you figure a good number of his characters are women.

Story: The story is actually quite a bit different from what I was expecting after the first episode. In that first episode, you meet the crew of the Titan, flagship of the Confederation. I was expecting a space fairing tale of daring do. What I got was a future version of JAG. Kind of.

More of that in the verdict.

The thing you should know coming into this story, which I didn’t, is that the Arbiter Chronicles seems to be a series of stories prodcast from Prometheus Radio. I really don’t anything about Prometheus Radio and am neither recommending or suggesting you avoid them. However, Taken Liberty, is a novel taken from season 2 of their series. I was still able to follow easily enough, but you definitely got the feeling that there was a depth to the characters that somehow you were missing. I also can’t recommend you listen to season one, as I have not. So, are you feeling brave?

Verdict: Taken Liberty was a very interesting story for most of the story. I can say I enjoyed it. I can’t say the big reveal was really as unexpected as I would have hoped. I love a twist. I felt this was more of a speed bump.

So, do I recommend it. No. Not really. Do I suggest you avoid it. Again no. I did find it interesting, and it is a rather short novel, so if you feel like giving it a chance, it really isn’t a huge investment of your time. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t find anything that really frustrated me, I just didn’t finish it and think “good story”, either. So, if you’re a fan of space law, you might find this interesting. If you give it a shot (or all ready have), let me know what you think!

Disclosure: I do not believe I know Mr. Wilson, or follow him on Twitter (you can’t always be sure). I can say, for sure, that I was not asked to write this review, or offered anything in return for it.

Comment Pages

There are 8 Comments to "Podcast Review #38: Taken Liberty – A Tale from the Arbiter Chronicles"

  • Nobilis Reed says:

    Personally, I have to disagree with this review.

    Taken Liberty was one of the first podcast novels I listened to, before I started listening to Prometheus Radio Theater, and I think it’s one of the better novels on Podiobooks. I found the universe to be an interesting twist on the “enlightened interplanetary federation” trope, and the characters were both well-grounded in that world and also entirely approachable human beings.

    Personally, I’d give it four stars out of five, rather than the (implied) three that Odin gives.

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks Nobilis! I always appreciate a dissenting view. I agree the characters were well rounded, however, I just felt I was coming in in the middle of the story. You are right however, I would have given this story a 3 out of 5 star.

  • Bryan says:

    It’s funny. I’ve seen this cover on the main podiobooks page many times, and I always assumed (without taking the time to read the blurb) that it was the story of an abused military wife. Funny what a cover can impart. I’ll have to give it a try next time I’m looking to add to my story cue.

  • Jeffrey Hite says:

    Well I have never read this book, but it sounds interesting. I have never been steered wrong by Odin in the past. Maybe I will have to check out Prometheus Radio to get a good feeling for it as Nobilis suggests.

  • I’m the one that recommended it to you — naturally, along with Nobilis, I disagree with the review. Dissenting views R us!

    Taken Liberty is one of the best books on Podiobooks, methinks. It’s got the feel and halmarks of a golden age science fiction story with updated sensibilities and very good depth of characterization. And, again unlike most books on Podiobooks, it is a character-driven story (yet the plot moves at a good clip). It also bears up well under repeat listening – or reading (the podcast-version is abridged — the print version of the book goes into greater depth on a number of points).

    The production is professional level, single-reader. Steve Wilson does an excellent job giving individual voice to the characters and there’s none of the awkwardness with cross-gender characters that one usually finds in the semi-pro domain. It was Steve’s facility with voice differentiation that made me interested in bringing him on board Antithesis, where he plays three roles — but it’s the charm, intelligence, and fearlessness of the story that keeps me coming back to Taken Liberty from time to time for another listen or read.

    I also recommend The Arbiter Chronicles series — though sometimes not as polished as Taken Liberty, they never fail to entertain, and some are very arresting. Think Star Trek with a very modern sensibility, and echoes here and there of Heinlein and Bradbury, put together by a cast that’s obviously having way too much fun for their own good.

    For what it’s worth
    -J. Daniel Sawyer
    Author/Director of Antithesis, Sculpting God, and Down From Ten

    • odin1eye says:

      NOW I remember. You are correct, I now remember the recommendation. I love a good dissenting conversation. I liked it okay overall, but felt that we (the listeners) were supposed to pick up with characters that might have been established previously. They didn’t feel fleshed out to me until late in the story. I would LOVE to hear more of these stories now that they’ve been introduced. And I guess that is, in a nutshell, my realization: Taken Liberty feels almost more like an episode than a stand alone story. It was good, I just wanted/expected more. Thanks for the comment and the dissension!

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