City of Pearl (Wess'Har Series #1)

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Overview

Three separate alien societies have claimson Cavanagh's Star. But the new arrivals ? the gethes from Earth ? now threaten thetenuous balance of a coveted world.

Environmental Hazard Enforcement officer Shan Frankland agreed to lead a mission to Cavanagh's Star, knowing that 150 years would elapse before she could finally return home. But her landing, with a small group of scientists and Marines, has not gone unnoticed by Aras, the planet's designated guardian. An eternally ...

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City of Pearl (Wess'Har Series #1)

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Overview

Three separate alien societies have claimson Cavanagh's Star. But the new arrivals — the gethes from Earth — now threaten thetenuous balance of a coveted world.

Environmental Hazard Enforcement officer Shan Frankland agreed to lead a mission to Cavanagh's Star, knowing that 150 years would elapse before she could finally return home. But her landing, with a small group of scientists and Marines, has not gone unnoticed by Aras, the planet's designated guardian. An eternally evolving world himself, this sad, powerful being has already obliterated millions of alien interlopers and their great cities to protect the fragile native population. Now Shan and her party — plus the small colony of fundamentalist humans who preceded them — could face a similar annihilation . . . or a fate far worse. Because Aras possesses a secret of the blood that would be disastrous if it fell into human hands — if the gethes survive the impending war their coming has inadvertently hastened.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
City of Pearl, the debut novel by Karen Traviss, is a magnificently complex story about alien societies struggling to coexist on a remote planet similar to Earth. When a small team of marines and researchers -- led by hard-nosed Environmental Hazard Enforcement officer Shan Frankland -- comes in search of a lost human colony, their discovery is both astonishing and potentially deadly.

The planet is inhabited by an aquatic race of sentient, squidlike beings known as the bezeri. Another race, the wess'har, live on the planet's moon and are protectors of the planet's fragile ecosystem. Yet another race, the isenj, has made territorial claims on the planet and will not stop until they have colonized it. When Shan and her crew arrive, the tenuous balance is shattered when it is learned that a native parasite holds the secrets to immortality.

A fascinating blend of C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner novels (for their thorough, almost sociological study of the interaction between cultures) and Anne McCaffrey's Brain Ship novels (for their strong moral themes) -- with a touch of Harry Harrison's Deathworld trilogy (for its depticiton of strange alien flora and fauna as gruesome predators) -- City of Pearl is a not only an entertaining and utterly satisfying read, it is a thought-provoking novel that raises profound questions about the role of humanity in the universe. Paul Goat Allen

Jack McDevitt
“City of Pearl provides a compelling example of why really long-range planning never works. A stellar debut.”
James Alan Gardner
“...[Traviss] brings a rare combination of insight and experience that will greatly contribute to our field.
Gregory Frost
“ City of Pearl is science fiction with teeth.”
Locus
“Traviss,... mostly through her strong sense of character, suggests that she’s a writer worth watching.”
BookPage
“City of Pearl is a strong first installment and marks the debut of a writer to watch...
Gary Wolfe
A thoroughly competent and satisfyingly complex tale of human/alien interaction on a colony planet which at times evokes the earlier moral fables of Le Guin.... and at other times the revisionist critique of expanding human empires.....and at times the union of romance with SF that we see in the work of Catherine Asaro or Lois McMaster Bujold. The fact that Traviss manages to keep these sometimes conflicting modes in balance, mostly through her strong sense of character, suggest that she's a writer worth watching, in part because she shows enough resources that she might take off in just about any direction next time out.
Locus January 2004
BookPage
City of Pearl is a strong first installment and marks the debut of a writer to watch. Traviss takes what could have been a rote collection of characters (marines, cops, religious extremists) and slowly adds depth, complexity and color.
April 2004
Russell Letson
One of the things that makes the book so interesting ...(is) the skilful working of point of view, in which we get to see characters from inside and out, to lovely and often ironic effect.... City of Pearl provides large quantities of what I read SF for: situations and characters that test our assumptions about our natures and our relationships with others and offer opportunities to wear some very different skins.
Locus March 2004
New York Review of Science Fiction
intensely satisfying ...what makes City of Pearl such a good read is its unsentimentality and its clear sightedness.
January 2004
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060541699
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/24/2004
  • Series: Wess'Har Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 802,893
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Traviss is a former defense correspondent and TV and newspaper journalist. She has worked in public relations for the police and local government, and has served in the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service and the Territorial Army. The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of City of Pearl, Crossing the Line, The World Before, Matriarch, Star Wars-Republic Commando: Hard Contact, Triple Zero, and Star Wars-Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines, she lives in Wiltshire, England.

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First Chapter

City of Pearl

Chapter One

I will be honest in all my dealings with others.
I will avoid experiments on feeling life-forms wherever possible.
I will safeguard the environment.
I will not plagiarize or hinder the work of other scientists, nor knowingly publish false research.
I will put the common good before professional pride or profit.


The Da Vinci Oath,
popularly known as the Scientists' Oath,
amended 2078

Mars Orbital
April 25, 2299

I'm going home. "Good morning," said Shan Frankland, and held up her warrant card. "We're from Environmental Hazard Enforcement. Please, step away from the console."

She loved those words. They cast a spell. They laid bare men's souls, if you knew how to look. She looked around the administration center and in three seconds she knew the man at the desk was uninvolved, the woman marshaling traffic was surprised by the intrusion, and the man lounging against the drinks machine ... well, his face was too composed and his eyes were moving just wrong. He was the fissure in the rock. She would cleave it apart.

I'm going home. Five days, tops.

"Inspector McEvoy," she said, and motioned her bagman forward. "Over to you." She put her warrant card back in her top pocket and stood watching while her technical team flowed in and put in override codes on all Mars Orbital's systems. The station was temporarily hers.

This is the last time I'll have to do this.

"May I?" She walked across to the station's video circuit. The traffic marshal stepped aside. She settled into the seat and tapped the transmission key.

"May I have your attention, please? This is Superintendent Shan Frankland. This orbital station is now under the jurisdiction of the Enforcement Division of the Federal European Union. There will be no traffic movements or transmissions until the preliminary investigation is complete. Please report to your muster stations at 1600 station time for a briefing from my officers. Thank you for your cooperation. We'll be out of your way just as soon as we can."

She leaned back, satisfied. Space stations were lovely places to carry out environmental hazard audits. Nobody could make a run for it. Nobody could get evidence off the premises. There was only one way off Mars Orbital without a scheduled flight, and that was via an airlock. It was right and fitting that she should have a relatively simple rummage job as her final task before retirement. She had earned it.

McEvoy crouched down level with her seat. "All locked down, Guv'nor. We should have it logged and wrapped in six hours, but there's no reason why we couldn't start carrying out preliminary interviews now."

Shan cocked her head discreetly in the direction of the man she'd spotted at the drinks dispenser. "I'd make a start on him," she said. "Just a feeling. Anyway, I'd better go and pay my respects to the station manager. This has probably ruined her entire day."

And this time next month, I'll be clearing my desk.

Mars Orbital looked and felt exactly as the schematics on her swiss had told her it would. She took the little red cylinder with its white cross from her pocket and unfurled its plasma screen to study the station layout.

"You should treat yourself to some new technology," McEvoy said, and tapped the side of his head, indicating his implants. "How old is that thing?"

"Hundreds of years, and still as good as that thing in your skull. I'm an old-fashioned girl. I like my computing in my pocket." She stood up and oriented herself along the lines of the map on the swiss's screen, then set off down the main passageway. Looking straight ahead, she could detect the gradual curve of the main ring. For a second she felt she might be falling, but she looked straight ahead, resisting the temptation to stare out of the nearest observation area to goggle at a Mars that filled her field of view. It wasn't her first time away from Earth, but she had never been within touching distance of an inhabited planet before. She wondered if she might find time to do a few tourist things before departing. She'd never get another free flight like this again.

The station manager's office was exactly where the swiss said it would be. Its name-plated occupant, Cathy Borodian, was quietly angry. "I thought you people were on a fact-finding mission for the European Assembly."

"It wasn't a complete lie. We're still finding facts, aren't we?" Shan stood before her desk and watched the woman trying to cope without access to her mainframe, hands fumbling across the softglass surface; it remained steadfastly blank, showing only a system unavailable screen under the coffee cup and half-eaten chocolate brioche. "We'll be out of here as soon as we possibly can. Routine inspection for biological and environmental hazards you're not licensed to manage."

"I don't think Warrenders is going to be happy about this. They have a contract."

"Well, last time I looked, civilian government still just about ran Europe. Not corporations."

"Are you able to tell me exactly what the problem is?"

"So there's a problem?"

"No. Not at all."

"The Federal European Union doesn't ship out forty audit and technical officers unless it thinks there might be irregularities.

"Does that answer your question?"

"Not completely. What about our teams on the surface? Can they come back inboard?"

"If they need to, they can flash us and one of my people will escort them." Shan understood the woman, even if she felt no sympathy for her. She had schedules and commercial pressures, and shutting down the orbital was a major crisis, with or without a police investigation ...

City of Pearl. Copyright © by Karen Traviss. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 18 of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2003

    Exciting sf adventure

    Environmental Hazard Enforcement Officer Shan Frankland is looking forward to early retirement but Foreign Minister Perault gives her one last mission. A signal from the Constantine Colony was received and the authorities want to see for themselves if it is really suitable for the human race to reside there. Shan has a second mission, memory suppressed until she needs to know it............................................. When they arrive on Constantine, the colonists are not happy to greet them because they are there on sufferance. The planet belongs to an aquatic sentient species and is guarded by the Wess¿har against the isenj who want to colonize Constantine. The major guardian is Aras, who is unique even among his own people, and finds in Shan a kindred spirit who has the same moral code that he abides by. When tragedy strikes, Aras is forced to break the rules of his own people to save Shan who might not thank him for her new life........................................... The world of Constantine is a fascinating one, a planet that four races have a stake in yet it only really belongs to the race that can¿t use any of ¿the land¿ mass but doesn¿t want humans polluting their pristine world or conquering it. Aras is there to make sure that does not happen but he is a very lonely person, isolated in many ways from his own kind and the original colonists on Constantine. Karen Travis is a talented storyteller and this reviewer would like to see more adventures starring Aras and Shan....................................... Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2013

    Chuck

    Great story,fast pasted, and very well written. Don't start it unless youve got nothing to do, as its one of those books you woun't be able to put down.

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