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Wrapt in Crystal (Ace Science Fiction) Mass Market Paperback – May 1999

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books (May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441006167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441006168
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.3 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,629,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Interfed Agent Cowen Drake journeys to a distant, unfamiliar world ruled by a stark spirituality to catch a serial killer preying on the priestesses of the planet's two religions only, to find himself caught between two remarkable women and torn between duty and desire.

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First Sentence
Travel on the commercial cruiser was excruciatingly slow, but the vast Moonchild fleet made few visits to Semay, and the planet's government had asked that this mission be started, at least, as quietly as possible. Read the first page
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 May 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Wrapt in Crystal is a deft blend of mystery and social science fiction, with colorful characters and complex world building. In particular, the Goddess-with-two-faces idea powers the plot through the mysterious deaths of priestesses and the soul-searching of a heroic detective. Shinn's crystal prose is always a delight, and no less in this tale than in her delightful Samaria series. Don't miss this one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Louise Grenfell on 1 July 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"On a planet of barren beauty near the edge of the civilised galaxy, two religions are practiced. Both sects worship the same goddess -- the Triumphantes in joy and splendor, the Fideles in solemnity and selflessness. As different as day and night, sun and shadow, joy and grief, the two sects are now bound together in death ...

A serial killer is stalking the prietesses, killing first a Triumphante, then a Fidele, in turn. Six women are now dead, and the plantary authorities are at a loss. Enter Interfed Agent Cowen Drake. A cunning professional, he must immense himself in an unfamiliar world of stark spirituality to catch the killer. A world that would trap him between opulence and sacrifice, between duty and desire, and between two extraordinary women -- one who could become the killer's ultimate victim ..."
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 28 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Not quite on the level of Archangel, but good nonetheless. 10 Jan 2000
By Kevin McCarron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A suspenseful murder mystery/lovestory. Shinn has created yet another masterpiece. While not quite as good as any of the books in the Samaria trilogy, this book has its share of qualities that should delight anyone who is a fan of Shinn's work. I have found all of her books a great read and always tough to put down once I start reading. Ms. Shinn cannot write books fast enough for me. As soon as I finish one I want to read another. Definitely one of today's great authors. Deserves much more appreciation and fanfare than she gets.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Shinn's best book yet 18 April 1999
By Peter F. Delaney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I stayed up all night to finish this book. Not only does she do action and romance well, but she manages to portray people with very different viewpoints in a sympathetic way. I usually don't like romance much, and I usually like more poetic prose -- but this author makes me feel comfortable and warm, using simple, readable prose to portray likeable characters. The only way I can describe the story is to say it is a science fiction space opera detective romance action novel with strong religious overtones. How's that for a combo?
Our hero is Drake, a pretty standard stereotypical "private dick" character who is the perfect leading man for a romance novel or action story. He's sort of a gentleman space marine with a keen mind and unearthly competence - the kind of guy that doesn't really exist, but that women dream of. Fortunately the women in the book and the plot are interesting enough that rather than be distracted by the uber-detective you will be constantly wondering which of the ladies he's going to end up with, and whodunnit. The book is fun and suprisingly intelligent while seeming very down-to-earth and accessible.
If like her angel stories, you'll like this book, too.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Pretty good for weekend reading. 12 Dec 2000
By Asphalt Jungle Guide - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first Sharon Shinn book I've ever read, but I've heard good things about her other books (Archangel, Jovah's Angel) so I decided to give it a try.
I liked the setting, but I do wish some things had been explained in a bit more detail, like the Moonchildren. I especially liked the use of words from "our" languages, altered to reflect the passage of time. It's a detail many "colony of earth" sci-fi writers ignore or bungle.
I can't say the mystery enthralled me, I figured the second biggest mystery about half-way through the book. The "whodunnit" part was weak, but this book is worth reading purely for the philosophy of the Triumphantes.
It's a believable world, and the characters are well-drawn. I don't regret buying it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Probably my favorite Shinn novel, if just for the ending 7 Sep 2007
By Lilly Flora - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read about this book for years I have no idea why it was so hard for me to read it at first. I would pick it up, put it down, and find a new book to read (something I never do) and then try t again. Something just wasn't clicking for me. Finally I decided that I had read too many books by this author and they were too formulaic somehow. All of Sharon Shinn's heroes are noble, hopelessly, selflessly, charmingly, noble. Admittedly if one must have a hero in a book it is good to make that hero a good man, but the profile with this author is too narrow. You could take a hero out of any of her novels and drop into another one and with the exception of some angel wings, never know the difference.

Only this book is different. To summarize-"Wrapt in Crystal" is about a planet that is on the verge on joining a confederation of planets (think Star Trek) and brining with it a much wealthier planet. But this planet has some reservations. So when priestesses of the major religion on the planet, from both sects of the religion, start turning up murdered the planetary forces strike a deal. A Moonchild investigator (the moonchildren are like the space police) will come and solve the serial killings, and then maybe the planet will federate.

So we meet Cowen Drake, a man who lost his faith a long time ago. Like all of Shinn's heroes he is selfless, smart, charming, and more than a little bit damaged. He's also puzzled about the murdered because on Semay (the planet) the priestesses are sacred and off limits to any kind of violence. There is no discernable reason anyone would want to kill either a joy worshiping Triumphante or a more solemn Fidele. In fact the only clue he has to this mystery is one that doesn't even fit the puzzle-a young Triumphante priestess who disappeared into thin air after unspeakable tragedy.

And as he learns the language and culture of the planet, and becomes friends with two very different amazing priestess ("as different as joy and sorrow") the murdered is coming closer and closer to what he seeks....

I say this book is different because of the spiritual nature of it. Shinn obviously put in a lot of thought to the religion she created and the culture it serves. Not only that but the book raises some interesting issues in and off itself about faith and it is a double edges sword: how easy it is to lose it, or lose yourself in it to avoid life altogether. There's also a current running through this book about light and redemption that is-well, almost spooky because of how appealing it is. I would recommend this book for that aspect along, although the mystery isn't that bad. I figured it out before Drake did, but he was a little distracted, and too be fair I didn't have every element figured out.

So in the end this is a book worth reading. Tragic heroes do have their place after all, and Drake is a great example of that. And the ending is amazing.

Four stars.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Intriguing mystery/sci-fi combo 15 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While Wrapt in Crystal did not enthrall me the way Archangel did, it was an excellent, suspenseful mystery (but don't read the Kirkus review-- it gives it all away). Shinn's writing, as usual, is lyrical and lovely and the plot moves quickly.
I'm really not much for sci-fi, and am the antithesis of religious, but apart from that, I had one major quibble. The language is supposedly a mixture of Spanish, Italian and French. As an avid Spanish student, I noticed many major grammatical errors in noun gender agreement, misuse of the Ud./tu form and inconsistent use of the subjunctive... It annoyed me so much that my enjoyment of the overall book was lowered. So if you speak Spanish, be prepared! All in all though, still a very well-written book.
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