Meisha Merlin, Feb 2004, 25.00, 464 pp.
He has lived on the spaceship Gobelyn's Market all his life going wherever the trading takes him but he knew at an early age that he was an unwanted child. His mother and ship's captain Iza Gobelyn wanted to abort him and the only reason she did not is because her husband talked her out of it. When the ship goes in to dry dock for repairs, Jethri is told that he has been transferred to another ship.
Since he doesn't want to go on the ship his mother chose for him, he is happy that when he does a favor for Liaden Master trader Norn Ven ‘Deelin, she insists he be an apprentice aboard the Elthorial, He is the first Terran to be apprenticed by a Liaden and he incurs the enmity of those Liadens who feel threatened by him and wish to see him fail. His friends and family, both Terran and Liaden, go to extreme measures to make sure that Jethri is left in peace to trade on behalf of the people who adopted him.
BALANCE OF TRADE takes place in the early days of space trading when Liaden and Terran preferred to ignore the other's existence. The protagonist's innocence and naiveté endears him to his to the audience who hope he gets his heart's desire. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are great world builders; so much so that readers find themselves actually believing the Liaden Universe actually exists.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner