In my review of C.J.Cherryh's 'Pride of Chanur', I said I like my science fiction to be nice and Traveller-esque. By that I mean 'in the style of the Traveller role-playing game setting'. Until I came across these stories, I'd never quite found the series I was looking for in this respect.
I should have looked here earlier. Poul Anderson's 'Technic Civilisation' saga has long been cited as an influence on Traveller. In my defence though, it has been difficult to get hold of in a sensible format. You see, these stories are mostly short stories, and appeared over several decades in a variety of SF magazines and anthologies. They were written and published out of chronological order too. So hats off to Baen for collecting all the stories together and publishing them in several volumes (of which 'The Van Rijn Method' is the first) in the order in which the stories are set.
So we start off in 'The Saturn Game' with the first expedition to the moons of Saturn, then meet our first aliens one short story and a century later in 'Wings of Victory'. And that's before we've even met the title character, the merchant prince Nicholas van Rijn.
Van Rijn is a larger-than-life interstellar merchant. If they ever make a TV series of these books (and they would very much suit a TV series), Omid Djalili could play van Rijn. MoneysuperMARKetdotCOM.
Some of the short stories are good, some are very good and some read like a really good role-playing group playing one of the classic Traveller adventures. 'The Three Cornered Wheel' in particular was like this. It features the other main character in this part of the saga - a young merchant officer called David Falkayn. The one longer story (short novel in length) in the book doesn't quite reach the quality of the short stories.
Highly recommended if you're looking for some (Traveller-esque) good old fashioned space opera.