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Freedom's Ransom
Anne McCaffrey
Bantam UK, 320 pages

Fred Gambino
Freedom's Ransom
Anne McCaffrey
Anne McCaffrey was born in Cambridge, MA. She graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, majoring in Slavonic Languages and Literatures. Her first novel, Restoree, was published by Ballantine Books in l967. However, she is best know for her Dragonriders of Pern novels. Del Rey has developed an extensive site dedicated to her Pern novels.

Although she used to make appearances throughout the world, arthritis has now restricted such travel. She lives in a house of her own design, Dragonhold-Underhill, in Wicklow County, Ireland.

Anne McCaffrey Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Nimisha's Ship
SF Site Review: Black Horses for the King and If Wishes Were Horses
SF Site Review: The Masterharper of Pern
Excerpt: The Dolphins of Pern
Excerpt: Dragon's Eye - aka Red Star Rising

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Years ago, Earth was invaded by the Catteni, who stripped the planet bare of everything they could take; food, car parts and people. Several of the newly enslaved humans were taken off-planet to different worlds, where they were dropped off just to see if they could survive. Zainal, a Catteni of high rank and intelligence, was also dropped "accidentally" with several humans, to a planet that was soon named Botany. Zainal and Kris, a human female, led a rebellion to free all the enslaved races from the Eosi.

This is all you need to know to understand this review, but not all you need to know to read this new book in the Catteni Sequence.

In Freedom's Ransom, Botany and Earth need to recover some of the stolen goods so they can re-start their industries. The Catteni originally stored the captured goods on Barevi, and so the colonists and earthlings begin collecting the things for which they think the Catteni will be willing to trade. Zainal, who was involved in the capture of many of the humans, feels honor bound to find every slave ship and free the rest of the humans, and believes that the information will be on the computers at Barevi. Most of the book is then concerned with the mechanics of trade goods. Such things as coffee roasting and gold teeth, two things the Catteni are wild for, are described exhaustively. There are also short vignettes starring different interesting characters, bringing us up to date with many personalities from throughout the series.

When I was 13, I read my first Anne McCaffrey book, DragonSong, and she won a place as one of my very favorite authors. It hurts me then, to say that this book really doesn't forward the series much, in fact, the things accomplished could have been summarized in a couple of chapters. I began reading it for review, and got so immediately lost that I had to go back and reread the whole thing, so I could understand what significance the events in this book have on the series. True, it does advance the plot forward slightly, but the ending pretty much promises that there will be yet another book in the Sequence. Fortunately, by revisiting the whole thing, I was able to remind myself of the magic of the series... the first book is excellent, and the second two pretty much keep up the same level of interest.

In this book, though, when we finally revisit Earth, we don't get a lot of description. I was hoping to see what happened to Earth, to see the changes the Catteni's invasion wrought, but I left disappointed. I was, however, able to enjoy revisiting the characters, because McCaffrey is still a powerful and enjoyable writer. To tell the truth, reading an Anne McCaffrey book, even one that sounds like a merchant's manual much of the time, is always a treat. She's that good of a writer. Freedom's Ransom is just not quite what one was expecting or hoping for. Fortunately there are strong leaders who keep the book going, and a sense of idealism, almost a building of a utopia that, in these times of war, makes for charming, hopeful reading. If you are a fan of this sequence, it is a pleasant enough addition. If you haven't read the series yet, you definitely don't want to start with this one. There are a lot of possibilities still left in this series, and I am looking forward to reading the next volume.

Copyright © 2002 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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