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5.0 out of 5 stars Return to the worlds of Shinn, 15 Jan. 2011
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Quatrain (Mass Market Paperback)
Fantasy and science fiction writer Sharon Shinn here provides a collection of four novellas.

All run a little over eighty pages, and are divided into shorter chapters so they're not one long narrative.

All take place in settings that have appeared in earlier works from the writer. But whilst they do on occasion reference those earlier works, they are all completely self contained and those who haven't read the earlier books will have no trouble getting into them.

The first story is called flight. This takes place on Samaria, a world of remote towns and farms and the occasional angel stronghold. The latter are winged humanoids who rule the planet. And to get into a relationship with one is the dream of many a young lady.

Salome lives on a remote farm, along with her niece whom she is bringing up. Salome isn't as pleased as everyone else when angels come to visit the farm because she has a history with them. And as a result she'd rather her niece didn't get involved with them.

But nobody can ever get what they want....

A tale of how grown ups are desperate to prevent the young from making the same mistakes that they did, even if the young won't listen to their advice. Also about past regrets and possible second chances.

The second story is called blood. This takes place on a world where two different types of humans live in and around a large city. Some have gold skin. Some have blue. The former lord it over the latter. Kerk is a young man who has come to the city to work, but also to find his mother, who left him many years ago. His search takes him into the blue areas of the city, and into close contact with one blue lady in particular.

A story about how you can get obsessed with trying to find something, and when you find it may not be what you expect. But other things can result....

The third story is called gold and takes place in the magical realm of Auburn. The land is beset by war as a pretender tries to claim the throne, and young princess Zara has been sent to nearby kingdom Alora for safe keeping. A guard who is very good at his job and whom she has a love hate relationship with has been sent to take her there. Alora is a magical place and offers a great place to live. Will Zara want to go home?

A story about finding new places and new loves, but never forgetting what you have.

The fourth story is called Flame, and takes place in Gillengharia. A realm ruled by twelve noble houses, where certain people have magical powers. They are called mystics, and tend to be objects of fear and distrust for everyone else. Senneth is a mystic who can control fire. She roams the realm on her own helping people and occasionally doing a service or two for the king. She likes her solitary existence. But when she visits a town and meets a man who might like to get to know her better, outbreaks of strange magic leave her under threat.

A story about accepting difference and the value of trust and friendship.

As regular readers of Sharon Shinn's book will now, her strength as a writer lies in characterisation and setting. Thus all these stories produce believable and appealing characters in interesting realms, and they become a delight to read as a result. Especially as they always feature a touch of romance.

Four pleasant reads from an excellent writer make for a very entertaing read for fans of her work, and a good jumping on point for new readers.

If you're not familiar with her other books then:

For more of Samaria start with Archangel

For more of the golden and the blue read Heart of Gold

For more of auburn read Summers at Castle Auburn

And the Gillengharia stories start with Mystic and Rider (Ace Fantasy Book)

Regular readers of the series will probably wish to know that Fire takes place before Mystic and Rider.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful romantic fantasies, 10 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Quatrain (Hardcover)
*4.5 stars*

I love good novellas - they're such a fun length, just enough to really enjoy a long, discrete story without all the complications of a novel. Quatrain is a collection of four novellas, each set in a different world that Shinn's novels have been set in. I had read the novels set in all those worlds before, but some of them I'd read SO long ago that I couldn't remember them in any detail. It didn't matter - these four stories stand alone perfectly, and the first three star heroines and heroes who don't (as far as I can recall!) appear in any of those linked novels.

I absolutely loved the first three novellas, especially "Blood". They're all the perfect blend of romantic fantasy that I most enjoy about Shinn's work, with wonderful world-building, great characters, smart issues (including some real darkness) and really well-earned, deeply-felt romance.

The fourth novella was my least favorite - it was a prequel to her MYSTIC AND RIDER series, starring the heroine of MYSTIC AND RIDER, and not only was it missing the romance element which I'd enjoyed in the other novellas (since Senneth's romance doesn't start until her own book begins!), but it felt slightly less complete and less perfectly structured than the other three novellas, mostly because of its prequel nature. Still, the characters were all very good, the issues in it were well-done, and I enjoyed reading it.

Despite my slight disappointment in the last novella, this is an absolutely wonderful collection. I'm so glad I bought it, and I'll definitely be re-reading the first three novellas again and again and again.
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Quatrain by Sharon Shinn (Mass Market Paperback - Sept. 2010)
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