When Kris Bjornsen and her fellow slaves were dumped on an uninhabited planet by the alien Catteni overlords, they would surely have died-without the help of Zainal, a renegade Catteni exiled by his own people. But they did survive on the planet they named Botany, and in time they drove the Catteni away from Earth and neighboring planets.
Technologically limited but rich in natural resources, Botany must find its place in the newly configured universe. A trip to Earth shows Kris and Zainal how desperately the devastated home planet needs what Botany can give. Other worlds too have had their wealth skimmed by the Catteni regime; the nearby planet of Barevi is little more than a corrupt bazaar, where bits and pieces of Earth’s once powerful technology can be traded for with grain and mineral ores. Earth needs food. Botany needs technology-and, some say, the will to protect itself from being overrun by refugees. As alien influence fades, the people of Botany must decide what kind of world they will become.
Freedom’s Ransom is the fourth novel in Anne McCaffrey’s Freedom series, also known as the Catteni Sequence. The sequel to Freedom’s Landing, Freedom’s Choice, and Freedom’s Challenge, Freedom’s Ransom will please some fans of this star-spanning science fiction series, but others will find the book slow-paced, talky, and lacking in action. Freedom’s Ransom ends conclusively, with no major unresolved plot lines, yet leaves space for at least one sequel.
The planet Botany was settled by a mixed group of humans and aliens, slaves of the alien Catteni and their alien masters, the Eosi. But one Catteni was dropped on Botany with the slaves: Zainal, who helped them win their independence. Now Botany must establish trade with other planets in order to survive. But the other worlds have been ravaged by the Catteni, and once-proud Earth has been reduced to primitive poverty, its technology stolen by corrupt Barevi merchants. To save Botany, Zainal and Kris Bjornsen, his human lover, must find a way to help all the worlds.
While the preface of Freedom’s Ransom crisply summarizes the preceding books, this series has so many characters, races, and planets that newcomers should start with the first book, Freedom’s Landing. Sophisticated SF readers aren’t likely to enjoy the series, but it should hook young adults; if you’re looking to broaden a child’s reading beyond Harry Potter, try Anne McCaffrey’s Freedom series and Dragonriders of Pern series. —Cynthia Ward