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Babylon 5: Casting Shadows: The Passing of the Techno-mages: Book I [Mass Market Paperback]

Jeanne Cavelos
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 27 2001 Babylon 5 (Paperback Ballantine) (Book 1)
The spectacular space epic continues, as the techno-mages face the growing threat of the Shadows . . .

As Elric and his student Galen watch with taut anticipation, dragons, angels, and shooting stars rain from the sky, heralding the arrival of the techno-mages on the planet Soom. It's the first time Elric-a member of the ruling Circle-has hosted such a gathering, and if all goes well, Galen and the other apprentices will emerge triumphant from the grueling initiation rites, ready to embrace their roles as full mages among the most powerful beings in the known universe.

But rumors fly of approaching danger and Galen and his young lover, Isabelle, are chosen to investigate the dark tidings. An ancient race has awakened after a thousand years, thirsty for war, slaughter, and annihilation. Will the techno-mages be the deciding factor in the war ahead? Or the first casualties?


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About the Author

Jeanne Cavelos began her professional life as an astrophysicist, working in the Astronaut Training Division at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Her love of science fiction sent her into a career in publishing. She became a senior editor at Dell Publishing, where she ran the science fiction/fantasy program and created the Abyss horror line, for which she won the World Fantasy Award. A few years ago, Jeanne left New York to pursue her own writing career. She is the author of The Science of Star Wars, The Science of The X-Files, and the Babylon 5 novel The Shadow Within. Jeanne is also the director of Odyssey, an annual summer workshop for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. You can visit her Web site at www.sss.net/people/jcavelos or contact her at jcavelos@sff.net.

J. Michael Straczynski is one of the most prolific and highly regarded writers currently working in the television industry. In 1995, he was selected by Newsweek magazine as one of their Fifty for the Future, described as innovators who will shape our lives as we move into the twenty-first century. His work spans every conceivable genre from historical dramas and adaptations of famous works of literature (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) to mystery series (Murder, She Wrote), cop shows (Jake and the Fatman), anthology series (The Twilight Zone), and science fiction (Babylon 5). He writes ten hours a day, seven days a week, except for his birthday, New Year's, and Christmas.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Soon the war would come.

With a cry of joy Anna swooped toward the barren moon,
her sisters behind her. As her sleek body cut through the invigorating
vacuum of space, she surveyed the training site
eagerly, hungry for challenge. The Eye had specified the coordinates
to be attacked. This exercise was to be at close
range, surgical, precise.

Anna loved training, exploring her abilities, honing her
skills. She had learned the dizzying delight of movement, the
exhilarating leap to hyperspace, the grace of flexion, the joy
of the war cry. She had learned to deliver from their confinement
great balls of destruction; to calculate the most efficient
patterns of attack; to engage and never break off, not until the
enemy was utterly destroyed.

This would be the first time she uttered her war cry. As
she wheeled toward the target, Anna held her body in perfect
control. She felt tireless, invulnerable. The machine was
so beautiful, so elegant. Perfect grace, perfect control, form
and function integrated into the circuitry of the unbroken
loop, the closed universe. All systems of the machine passed
through her; she was its heart; she was its brain; she was the
machine. She kept the neurons firing in harmony. She synchronized
the cleansing and circulation in sublime synergy.
She beat out a flawless march with the complex, multileveled
systems. The skin of the machine was her skin; its bones and
blood, her bones and blood. She and the machine were one: a
great engine of chaos and destruction.

The rocky brown surface of the moon grew closer, taking
on definition, detail. She located the seven targets, boulders
within a wide, shallow crater. She and her six sisters were
each to destroy one. She narrowed her focus to her assigned
target, coordinated her speed with her course. Excitement
gathered in her throat. She plunged into the crater and
shrieked out her war cry. Her body rushed with an ecstasy of
fire. Energy blasted from her mouth in a brilliant red torrent.
The boulder was vaporized.

Around her, her sisters fell upon the targets, their mouths
screaming destruction.

Chaos through warfare, the Eye said. Evolution through
bloodshed. Perfection through victory.

One of the targets was not completely destroyed. A fragment
remained. Anna pounced on it, eager to shriek again.
She targeted it, screamed out chaos. The exhilaration shot
through her. The fragment was obliterated, a hole scorched
into the surface below.

Excited by the activity, her sisters fell upon the vanquished
target, shrieking out a cacophony of chaos. Particles of rock
flew up as they blasted a great hole into the moon, firing again
and again. Anna drew energy up into her mouth, screamed it
out in blazing red.

The greatest excitement is the thrill of battle, the Eye said.
The greatest joy is the ecstasy of victory.

Anna's greatest desire was to feel it. And she knew she
would soon.

For soon the war would come.

The ship sang of the beauty of order, of perfect symmetry
and ultimate peace. It glided through the calm blackness of
space, absorbing it. Energy circulated through its petals in a
regular rhythm. The serenity of its silent passage, the unity of
its functioning, the satisfaction of service wove through its
melody.

Ahead, a blue-and-white orb glowed in the blackness, the
goal of the journey. The ship slipped through the stillness
toward it, following Kosh's direction eagerly. Obedience was
its greatest joy.

Within the song, Kosh slowed the ship's speed, directing it
to stop a safe distance from the planet, which was known to
its inhabitants as Soom. Although most of the planet's inhabitants
had little technology, two lived among them and served
as guardians, two fabulists, who would detect his presence if
he went too close.

Soon more would come as the fabulists gathered for their
assemblage. Long had Kosh watched them, for three hundred
and thirty and three such assemblages. He had watched as
different races had become dominant within the group, the
most recent being Humans. He had watched as the fabulists
gradually transformed from anarchy to order. They had
achieved some admirable goals, had created fleeting moments
of great beauty.

But now the universe was gathering itself for a great conflagration.
The forces of chaos had returned to their ancient
home and had begun to build their resources for war. The Vorlons,
Kosh among them, likewise prepared. The fabulists did
not know the danger of their position. They carried great
power. They could be the pivot on which the great war turned.

Many among the Vorlons thought the time for action was
now. They did not trust the fabulists. Yet Kosh felt they must
watch just a while longer. The fabulists faced a difficult decision,
and they should be allowed to make it. If they chose
wrongly, then they would die. But let them first choose. Great
power carried both great danger and great possibility.

Kosh altered the ship's song, directing the ship to extrude
several buoys, which would take up positions around the
planet and observe it. Then he would return to Babylon 5.
And he would watch this one, last assemblage.


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute MUST!!! May 25 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The technomages trilogy by Jeanne Cavelos is an absolute MUST for any B5 fan. The plot and storytelling is superb, and it really fills in the holes that the series leave in some points. Just remember to start reading when you'll have some time off, because once you start you won't be able to put the book down. Specially the last book of the trilogy is mindblowing. I sincerely hope Jeanne C will in the future write more books for B5 fans, we would truly appreciate it!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely Engrossing Aug. 10 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Any fan of Babylon 5 MUST read this series. It ties up all (ok, most) loose-ends and mystery surrounding the Technomages. And anyone new to the series (poor deprived souls! Get caught up!) will love it too. HIGHLY addictive, engaging story lines that bring the characters flying off the page. Emotion is high, feelings are real and intense.
And Galen!... well, this is Galen at his most frustrating, endearing and far too fallible and human. The relationship between Galen and his mentor Elric is touching yet frustrating because of its restraint. And another example of masterful writing.
Read carefully, for Jeanne likes to foreshadow and hint at things to come with details.
Not merely episode tie-ins, this series incorporates scenes from episodes smoothly (Book 2, with "the Geometry of Shadows") while creating depth of character and personality for all characters the author creates with the stroke of her pen.
Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Late to the party, but glad I came! Feb. 18 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I loved B5/Crusade when it was on, and taped every show. I didn't much care for the knockoff books, though, and so stopped after reading two.
Then I ran across this book, and this series, and realized what I had missed. Unlike the first efforts, this one has some input from JMS and not only follows, but expands the canon.
The technomages were deliberately kept indistinct in the two series. What were they? Where did they come from? Why did they exist? What happened to them? These were questions hinted at but never resolved on TV.
Then came these books. Much like the appendices on TLOTR, they reveal a great deal of information just hinted at before (like the answers to all the above questions). Unlike the appendices in TLOTR, they are fully-fleshed-out novels, though, with three dimensional charactors.
No one who liked the B5 series can rob themselves of the pleasure of seeing this story unfold in all its fascinating detail. Though the story starts slowly, building up the mystery as Galen slowly explores what the Technomage "Council" is hiding, the denouement is worth the wait. I was literally blown away by the implications it presented.
Best of all, the series is so well-written that even a non-B5 fan can get into it. Though it assumes a certain knowledge of the B5 universe (like the nature of the Shadows), all the links to the B5 story are explained well enough that as a stand alone series, it still works. If you have friends that still love trek and won't watch B5, then get them to read the books as an example of how deeply fascinating and conflicted this fictional universe can be.
Five thumbs up!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Young Galen Dec 16 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Usually when I read television based books they come off as poorly characterized fanfiction but the opposite is true of this book. Galen's character was so on that I felt as if I was watching an episode of Crusade. Galen isn't the only character you'll find from the Babylon 5/Crusade universe; Morden, Kosh, Anna Sheridan, Isabelle, Elric, and Alwyn also appear. You don't have to be familiar with the B5/Crusade universe to enjoy this book though. This is one of the best science-fiction pieces I've ever read. It was especially interesting to learn about the order of the techno-mages and to see the start of the Shadow war from their perspective. The best part of this book though was Galen........ok I'm awfully biased because he was my favorite Crusade character but I don't care.
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1.0 out of 5 stars How to ruin a wonderful idea with a terrible book June 29 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If it was possible to give 0 stars to a book, then thats what i would have given to this book
As a Babylon 5 fan, I've bought all of the Babylon 5 books i could get to complete the holes that left in my minds after the show was over.
I got this book for the same reason.
Boy was I wrong...
did the author of this book got paid by the amount of pages she wrote? well it sure looked like it.
it seems like the first half of the book describe about 5 minutes and in the worst possible way!!
I don't think that there's enough coffee in the world to wake me up from the coma this book got me into....
I just hope that in future books, they'll use better authors that focus on the story, and not on their ability to describe a second of emotion of way too many pages...
hopefully the next trilogy will be as good as the rest...
this one however is not.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Opener to the greatest trilogy ever June 14 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I loved this book. I loved the whole lot. Beautiful prose and an incredible story in typical Straczynski style. Never letting you know who not to trust and what exactly is going on and what are the motives behind all the lies. Everything gets sorted out beautifully by the end of book three. If you are a Babylon 5 fan or not I recommend this book for all.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Techno-Mages were always a corner of the Babylon 5 Universe I found quite interesting, but not one that I ever thought was explored to its fullest potential. Jeanne Cavelos's trilogy seems ready to fix that.
"Casting Shadows," the first of three books, is the story of the initiation of Galen, a young Techno-Mage, and of how the Mages react to the news of the return of the Shadows.
I enjoyed this book a lot, on two levels. First, it gave a wonderful insight into the workings of the Techno-Mages, how the sect evolved and how they viewed themselves. Second, it was a good character study of Galen, his teacher Elric and of other Mages. It is a tragic love story disguised as a political sci-fi thriller, and I am quite anxious to see how the rest of the trilogy plays out.
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