It's rare for the conventions of space opera to be used for characterizations of this depth and clarity. SPEAKING DREAMS functions quite well as an adventure story, but it _shines_ as a study in character -- the effects of trauma, the difficult, risky necessity of trust, and the effort needed to overcome one's past. It is also, and oddly for a book containing so much vividly realized pain, charming. I'd even use the word sweet for parts, if it didn't have negative overtones and didn't contrast so starkly with the strength and honesty of the portrayals.
This is the sort of book you read several times; and also the sort that makes you determined to look at anything new that appears under the author's name.
-- S.M. Stirling