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on October 8, 2003
I loved The Shapechanger's Wife. I loved the Samaria Trilogy (except for the plethora of "riotous curls").
I could not stand Wrapt in Crystal.
The world was minorly interesting, but the religious beliefs did not have the fullness and richness that marks the beliefs of any religion I've encountered before. (...Dogmatic people tend to be dogmatic about more than one thing...)
Also...the characters.
Her male hero is completely unbelievable. He's supposed to be macho, but the guy waxes poetic about pretty scenery, children, etc., etc. Split personality.
As with some of the other readers, the mystery was not something to carry me. Nobody that I cared about was murdered. Until the end, no part of the mystery provided tension. In fact, the "lead" that the hero follows seemed rather weak throughout.
And if I read one more word about flowing, golden, riotous, silken hair...
Is this worth my meager tuppence? Is it worth spending on a book rather than upon dinner for a few days?
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on September 12, 2002
The religion and its two denominations were very interesting, but the plot is thin and the characterisation sorely lacking.
It's your basic detective story -- we immediately imagined Nicholas Cage as the worlds-weary Drake -- set on a slightly stereotyped Earth colony where Catholicism has mutated into a form of Marian devotion with a bit of Isis thrown in. Sin and chastisement are downplayed in favour of emphasis on works of faith and charity (which in one of the two major religious orders, may include sexual favours).
Someone is murdering sisters from both orders, and Drake is sent to track down the killer. Part of his investigation leads him into a situation right out of a famous 1940s noir movie -- can't say more without giving it away, but so much is predictable you'll probably see it immediately even if you don't know the film.
Much of the plot, settings and characters will be familiar to anyone who's spent a few afternoons with his dad's old Analog SF and Ellery Queen magazines. It got a bit tiresome after a while -- how many times do we have to hear about the Moonchildren's deadly skills and penchant for danger and excitement? I get it already, they're lethal! The spaceport bar scene was so predictable we could almost quote the dialogue before we read it. And yes, the stereotyped male and female roles were all there, and being tiresome as ever.
The linguistic variations didn't strike us as errors, but as things that are bound to happen as a language travels to a distant place, gets mixed in with other languages, and evolves. However, the story was predictable enough that we began counting the narrative glitches. In the otherwise interesting wedding scene, we were enlightened to read the bride wore shoes on her feet. Not on her head?
This impressed us as a good first outing by a newcomer, not by a seasoned writer with four or five previous works. It could have serialized in Analog thirty years ago. For sf/fantasy novels that concern religion, we recommend Walter M. Miller's "A Canticle for Leibowitz" and Mary Doria Russell's "The Sparrow".
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on August 12, 1999
I regret spending the money to buy this book.In simple terms, it was not very good-- not fom the likes of a writer of Sharon Shinn's caliber.She has shown her capacity for breathtaking and lyrical writing in the past, but she is sleep-walking through this book.Purely going through the motions.Some might find it unfair to compare two bodies of work, since Shinn's Samaria novels are not related to "Wrapt in Crystal" and has a totally different story concept.True,but it is completely fair to compare the reality of the two cultures and, quite frankly, Samaria seemed like a rich, detailed and fully-realized society to me and Semay did not.The desert planet and the larger galactic society surrounding it is composed of bits and pieces of SF hash that has been seen before in dozens of books.There is nohing unique about any of it.There are also many embarassing flaws in the novel.Although not a language savant like the other reviewer who noticed it, I too saw the grammer errors in the supposed language of Semayse.Shinn also uses laughable anachronisms all through the novel, like "stereo" and "radio".We probably won't be using these terms fifteen years from now, let alone centuries in the future."Personal computer" and "compact disc" weren't in the vernacular twenty years ago, remember?It is pure sloppiness for an author not to do the work it takes to render a future society truly futuristic, and that includes uses of language.I was also bothered by the fact that the three main female characters were such sexual stereotypes.I also disliked the fact that Drake seemed treatened and uninterested in the two who were in touch with their own sexuality and fell for the repressed one.What are you trying to say, Ms. Shinn?This is not to say, though, that I liked the behavior of any of the female characters, or any of the characters for that matter.I didn't care about one, single person depicted in the book, and that what is so surprising from a work of Shinn's.In her Samaria novels, whether you liked or hated them, she always made you feel for the characters.I only finished "Wrapt in Crystal" to find out who the killer was, and that, too, was disappointing.Without giving away the conclusion, let me just say that no person would ever go about matters the way the killer did.Stealth and inquiry would have served him much better than brutal murder, which only caused the authorities to put themselves on his trail, of course!Stealth and inquiry will serve you better if you seek out another book to read than this.
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on August 10, 2003
This is the 4th Sharon Shinn book that I've read, loved the first 3 but I struggled to get through this one.
I'd love to have known more about the Moonchildren but by time I was 3/4 finished, I no longer cared, I just wanted to finish it. I'll keep the other 3 Shinn books that I have but this one goes to the 2nd hand book store.
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on January 25, 2002
After reading ARCHANGEL, JOVAH'S ANGEL and THE ALLELUIA FILES I was very disappointed with WRAPT IN CRYSTAL. I found it predictable and the physical relationship gratuitous. This is not a Shinn book I would recommend.
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