Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Quatrain Quatrain by Sharon Shinn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sharon Shinn is one of my favorite contemporary authors because her stories are compelling, her main characters feel like people you know or want to know, and the worlds she creates seem real.

In Quatrain, Shinn tells four stories set in four separate worlds. The first--"Flight"--fits into her Samaria series--just before Gabriel becomes Archangel. Salome has spent the past 17 years avoiding angels and raising her niece, Sheba, and now her past is about to find her again.

In "Blood", Kerk's search for his long-lost mother leads him to a new understanding of the gender-based power dynamics in gulden society and a new appreciation for one particular indigo woman. This novella fits into the world Shinn created for her novel Heart of Gold, and the only thing I didn't like about it was that it wasn't longer! I actually exclaimed aloud in protest as I turned the last page and realized I'd come to the end.

The third novella, "Gold," is set in a world I didn't recognize (although for all I know, it may be from one of the remaining Shinn novels I haven't yet read). A petulant seventeen-year-old crown princess is escorted to safety in the magical kingdom of Alora to wait out the impending war. The longer she stays, the less she remembers her home and family. I think it's the weakest of the four stories, but I give Shinn credit for her portrayal of the self-absorption of so many teenagers.

The fourth and final story was, of course, my favorite. "Flame" features Senneth and the world of Gillengaria and its Twelve Houses. This one takes place in the days leading up to the start of book 1 of the series, Mystic and Rider. Senneth burns down three plague-ridden cottages as a favor for a village and later saves a small child from the flames of a hearth fire. In the process, she's exposed as a mystic and faces prejudice from both strangers and acquaintances when mysterious fires start erupting all over town.

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