Four Novellas Let Readers Revisit Sharon Shinn's Worlds
Sharon Shinn has a genius for creating in her books interesting
cultures and not just interesting characters, but entire communities
of interconnected people. In each of these four novellas she revisits one
of the worlds she has created. I wouldn't suggest starting with these,
as a new reader would miss lots of context. But for fans of her
creations, these are terrific. I only give it four stars because it's
not something anybody can pick up and get five stars worth out of; for
Shinn fans it's definitely worth five stars!
"Flight", which is presented first, is from Shinn's "Angel" series, and
takes us back to the time of the first book, when Raphael is Archangel.
This seemed a bit dark, to me, which may be why so many readers have
found it the least satisfactory of the novellas. It did make me long
to reread the whole series, however.
"Blood" returns us to the world of "Heart of Gold", where there are
Indigos and Gulden, with brightly different skin colors and radically
different cultures, and uneasy relations between them. Set twenty
years after Kitrini and Nolan meet in "Heart", Shinn uses the story of
Jalci, Kitrini's niece, and Kerk, a Gulden fatherless male, to open up
further developments in this world, as people seek for options beyond
those determined by their cultures.
"Gold" also takes us down a generation in the world of "Summers at
Castle Auburn", where an army is coming to attack and the heirs must
be hidden far away. The princess is sent to Alora, where the formerly
imprisoned Aliora live in what is basically fairyland. What
interested me most was how the princess, at first resolute in
maintaining her identity and purpose, is gradually worn away to become
like the hedonistic fairies, succumbing to pleasure and indolence.
The love story was predictable but not annoying, at least to me, and
Alora was wondrous.
"Flame" was last, set in the "Twelve Houses" series, mostly about Senneth,
the mystic of fire, with a little Kirra and Donal. It seemed to have been
set only a few years after the end of the action in the series. People
still fear and hate mystics even as the kingdom depends upon them. The
King's Riders make only a brief appearance at the end. But Senneth gets
to do lots of fire stuff and make a brief trip back to Lirreth.
I enjoyed all of these books, especially "Blood" and "Flame", and I
only wish that Shinn would write much more. How about a novella from
the world of "General Winston's Daughter"? But this is definitely not
the place to start reading her books.