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From Barnes & NobleThe 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