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Changing Vision (Web Shifters) [Mass Market Paperback]

Julie E. Czerneda
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 483 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton / Signet (Aug 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0886779049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0886779047
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.6 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,555,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

Esen, the sole survivor of a race of shape-shifting aliens, and her human companion, Paul, are plunged into the heart of a diplomatic nightmare that threatens to ignite interspecies violence and reveal them to the hunters out to destroy them.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but could be much better. 1 Nov 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
We are fifty years on from the events of `Beholder's Eye' in which the shapeshifter Esen went against all the rules of her race and revealed her true nature to Paul Ragem, the man whose life she saved. Having destroyed the mindless shape-shifting beast from which her race developed, she is now labelled as being the monster itself and, along with Ragem, is in hiding, although still being pursued by the determined and now psychotic Captain Kearn, one of the few people who believes the monster still exists.
Although a satisfying read, there are serious flaws in the novel. Do humans in this future have a greater longevity or is Ragem just a very sprightly seventy-year old?
The novel could also do with some judicious editing. Out of its five hundred pages, it seems as if at least two hundred consist of Esen unburdening her guilt on the hapless reader, whining on about her dead relatives and her relationship with Ragem. The nature of her relationship, despite the hand-wringing, is a little vague, although having given him a sample of her body in an amulet, it appears they are now part of the same `web'.
The plot relies far too much on the extremely unlikely coincidences of people running into each other on the same planet. This is not a safe bet even in a small town, let alone in a galactic civilisation teeming with worlds. Esen remarks early in the novel that `there is no such thing as coincidence' but then fails to explain how these seemingly coincidental events could have been arranged.
On the positive side the novel rattles swiftly along, as did the first, from location to location, providing highs, lows, cliffhangers, a couple of amusing moments and some fairly decent characterisation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy sequel 3 Aug 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The fascinating story of Esen-alit-Quar, introduced in "Beholder's Eye" continues 50 years after the end of book one. Coaxed on a vacation by Paul, Es finds herself embroiled in a species conflict which sees her confronted with the darkest secret of Ersh, the Oldest of her Web. An element of menace is included early on with the re-appearance of Kearn, the shifter hunter, who wants to destroy Esen, and who is now backed by a mysterious and dangerous entity. The main plot, meanwhile, centers on the adventures of the webshifter and her only true friend. The relationship between Paul and Esen is drawn wonderfully, I especially enjoyed the contradiction between both personas' actual and relative ages - a contradiction which contributes nicely to the development of story and characters.
After finishing this sequel I am still fascinated by a being capable of changing shape, particularly since the author has created consistent and (in the context of a Science Fiction story) logical rules governing the web shifters' existence. Her universe, populated by numerous intriguing species, is well drawn and provides a satisfying background to the tale.

Deserving of negative comment is only the uneven pacing, evident in my view especially in the slow start. However, this might be a characteristic of Julie Czerneda's style, as I have encountered this also in her Trade Pact series.
In all, the story of Esen continues to fascinate me and I am looking forward to read the third book in the series, "Hidden in Sight". This is an enjoyable if not very fast read and the writer's ideas interesting enough that I will seek out her other books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another hit from a rising star!!! 18 Aug 2000
By Mfitz... - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
At the heart of this book is the relationship between Esen Alt Quar, a 500 year old shape changing being and Paul Ragem, a human male. This might make your want to put this book with the SciFi novels that are really romance novels in SciFi costumes. That would be a big mistake. Although "Changing Visions" is personality driven it is also a first class space opera full of interesting aliens, plot twists, and wonderful characters.
Ms.Chzernda shows how immage effects the way we react to an individual by showing how various caracters, who know Esen's secret, react differently to her as she changes form. At the same time she exlores how biology influences personality as Esen's physical forms effect how she reacts to each new situation. Then there is the problems that arise from the differences in the life span of the main charactes. As the plot twists throught a series of adventures that could be labeled 'the perils of Esen' you come to realise that Paul and Esen are not suffering from unrequinted love, but a bound by much ties that are deeper and truer than that. I particularly like Paul'd "It takes a villiage..." answer to the problem, even though Esen resents his solution.
The cliff hanger last chapter leaves not doubt that there will be more adventurs ahead for Esen and her Web. I can't wait.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent sequel to "Beholder's Eye" - hooray! 3 Oct 2000
By Hank Schwartz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book begins 50 years after Czerneda's fine story "Beholder's Eye" ended.
We now find Paul Ragem and Esen-alit-Quar living as partners of the trading company "Cameron & Ki" on the fringe planet Minas XII. Their comfortable and amusing life is interrupted when Paul takes the reluctant Es on a "vacation" trip.
We continue to meet wonderfully detailed alien cultures and to follow the amusing escapades of the hapless shape changing Es as she continues her dedication to understanding and protecting all sentient lives. The fact that Paul shares the same goals is complicated by the desire of each to protect the other from the inevitable tribulations of their complicated life together.
I felt that this book started out slower than "Beholder's Eye" but came to no less satisfying a conclusion. In each case, Czerneda has demonstrated her considerable skill at portraying remarkably different beings and cultures in a way that makes them comfortably familiar, intriguing and exciting to us. Her plots are absorbing and her writing is eminently readable.
I'm decidedly looking forward to the next installment of Web Shifters!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Acceptable 21 Jan 2001
By C. Bickford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
While I liked the predecessor to this book, I found this one hard to read. On a gross level, the various pieces of a good story were there. There were interesting characters, well developed background and a well-developed plot.
Unfortunately, this book tends to be somewhat disjointed, with what I find to be unnecessary amounts of tension in the various threads that make it up. Items that could be resolved are dragged out in excruciating detail as the various characters viewpoints don't permit the obvious resolution. Which is ok, since most problems in life aren't easily solvable, but some of the items could be left unresolved, instead of contortions being made to wrap everything up neatly, despite the fact that a neat wrap-up isn't really possible.
The last disappointment was in the villians. I tend to find narrow-minded fanatics as villians a bit of a disservice. Creating a compelling villian that is interesting enough to be plausible while not dominating the scene is difficult in the best of times. Somehow the quality of the opposition didn't seem to rate effort the victories required. Or, didn't seem to merit the victories. Villians overcome by an obvious and silly fatal flaw just aren't good villians.
That being said, the book is still worth reading. It's just not a book that excites me.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful characters in an edge-of-your seat adventure! 15 Aug 2000
By Annette Griessman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I must start out by saying that if you haven't read the first book of this series, entitled "Beholder's Eye" then you should do so now. This is a wonderful book series by a very talented author.
"Changing Vision" continues the story of Esen-Alit-Quar as she tries to adapt to her life among humans and other aliens. At her side is her human friend Paul Ragem. Together, the two try to establish a life for themselves...one that will keep Esen's true identity a secret. Unfortunately for Esen, there are those that still hunt for her and her kind--and one of those is none other than the very determined Lionel Kearn. By the end of the story, it is hard to determine who has learned more about themselves and those around them--Esen, or her assorted enemies.
It is an understatement to say that the story is full of surprises and plot twists. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and one that I recommend highly. Ms. Czerneda writes the most delightful characters in print today. Humor, wit, and adventure abound throughout each of her books. Don't stop until you've read all her works, including "A Thousand Words for Stranger" and "Ties of Power." She is a gem of a writer and I hope to enjoy her writing for years to come.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best alien cultures ever depicted in SF. 24 April 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As with "Beholder's Eye," in "Changing Vision" Czerneda creates and describes beautifully detailed alien biologies, cultures, and languages (the Ganthor and Ket species remain my personal favorites). It was a stroke of genius to create Esen, a shape-shifter WITH LIMITS. Every time Esen becomes Human, for example, she becomes the SAME Human, and will retain any scars incurred while in that form. In addition, she must consume living mass in order to shift from shape to shape. Without these limitations, she would be too powerful to be an interesting character, and would be able to shape-shift into a table or a vase, like Odo on "Deep Space Nine", which is a little too silly to be believeable.
Plotwise, this book became slightly confusing at the end, with crosses and double-crosses and triple-crosses. At first I wasn't sure whether or not to be pleased about Paul's resolution, but it has been growing on me since I finished the book and have given it more thought. There is also a nice cliffhanger teaser that doesn't make the reader feel cheated -- "Changing Vision" is still a complete story within itself.
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