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City of Pearl (The Wess'har Wars) Mass Market Paperback – February 24, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews
Book 1 of 6 in the Wess'har Wars Series

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Editorial Reviews


“City of Pearl provides a compelling example of why really long-range planning never works. A stellar debut.” (Jack McDevitt)

“Traviss,... mostly through her strong sense of character, suggests that she’s a writer worth watching.” (Locus)

“City of Pearl is a strong first installment and marks the debut of a writer to watch... (BookPage)

“...[Traviss] brings a rare combination of insight and experience that will greatly contribute to our field. (James Alan Gardner)

“ City of Pearl is science fiction with teeth.” (Gregory Frost, author of Fitcher's Brides)

About 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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Product Details

  • Series: The Wess'har Wars (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; reprint edition (February 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060541695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060541699
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

#1 New York Times best-selling novelist, scriptwriter and comics author Karen Traviss has received critical acclaim for her award-nominated Wess'har series, and her work on Halo, Gears of War, Batman, and other major franchises has earned her a broad range of fans. She's best known for military science fiction, but GOING GREY, the first of her new techno-thriller series, is set in the real world of today. A former defence correspondent and TV and newspaper journalist, she lives in Wiltshire, England. She's currently writing the new G.I. Joe flagship comic series, and working on BLACK RUN, the sequel to GOING GREY.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a first novel by a British writer who has had short stories published in Asimov's, Realms of Fantasy, and other markets. It's the first of a trilogy, with the second volume due out in November 2004 and the third sometime in 2005.

In 2299, governments have grown larger in a mostly-futile attempt to keep up with the growth of corporations. Shan Frankland is an Environment Hazard Enforcement officer for the Federal European Union, on what will probably be her last enforcement action before retirement. Just after she and her team have seized control of a space station, and before they can begin any s erious investigation, she receives a visit from the FEU's foreign minister, Eugenie Perault, wanting to recruit her for a special job--one involving a trip to what's believed to be a human-habitable world, the second planet of Cavanaugh's Star. With relativistic travel, a round trip will take one hundred and fifty years, Earth time. She, the small detachment of Marines she'll have, and the scientists sent by various corporations will spend their travel time in cold sleep.

What's the mission? We don't really know, at first, and Frankland doesn't know, either. She gets a Suppressed Briefing--she hears all the information, and makes the go/no go decision on the basis of it, but then she has no conscious access to the information until the circumstances of the mis sion itself bring the information back to the surface. All she really knows is that there may be a surviving human colony on the planet, and that there are hints of possible alien contact.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
CITY OF PEARL, the beginning of a trilogy, is a fine debut for Karen Traviss. For me, the first forty pages or so were a bit rocky, but after that I was hooked, pulled slowly but surely through the first half of the book then literally unable to put it down throughout the latter half.
Traviss' prose isn't remarkable, but it is solid and readable. Her strength, though, lies in her characters. This book is, as other reviewers have pointed out, "hard SF," but it's not about its science. It does have a group of marines, but unlike so many other books with similar plots, it doesn't devolve into milporn with stock characters and action scenes. Each character is well-developed and human, often all too human. (In fact, one of my problems with this novel is one I have with a lot of SF novels: the aliens are too human for my liking. But that's a minor quibble.) This is a very character-driven novel, despite the silliness on the cover. Also, Traviss manages the tricky feat of integrating her various themes and ideas -- environmentalism, responsibility and loyalty, heroism and courage, humanity and its various strengths and shortcomings, and plenty more -- into the novel without coming over as preachy or pretentious.
One thing about the book that left me cold was the violence. There was remarkably little of it, but what there was was neither terribly engaging nor terrible effective; it just kind of happened. Makes me wonder how the inevitable violence in Traviss' upcoming Star Wars novel will turn out.
But that aside, this is an extremely compelling and quite satisfying novel that definitely kept my interest to the end and left me thirsty for more.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Seems like forever since an interesting, well-written, character-based science fiction novel has been released!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. What draws me into a book is usually the characters, and Traviss did an excellent job on this. Shan and Aras are both unique and full-fledged, with intriguing stories in their past. Their actions are believable and realistic, and the rest of the characters seemed honest as well.

I particularly liked the idea of a Suppressed Briefing. It's a device I hadn't encountered in science fiction before, and I thought it was very well done. A bit annoying at times, because I never would have gone for it, but satisfying none the less.

I also liked the idea of one's body being host to another sentient being, that could re-write DNA at will. It vaguely resembles what viruses can already do (minus the sentience of course), but it was a take I hadn't seen before. Very well done.

The universe Shan lives in is also quite thoroughly developed. The government(s) are complicated and the cultures are rich, with a bit of history thrown in.

I'm definately reading the sequel.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
World-building is one of those terms that infest science fiction and refers to how well an author can "sell" the reader on the notion that the fictional and usually alien background that they have placed their story in is real.
Karen Traviss succeeds in this in impressive fashion with an economy of language that keeps the story moving while at all times adding flesh to an already meaty book.
You have to watch Traviss, she moves on you and is hard to pin down. To simply call City of Pearl science fiction is to take away the fact that Traviss deftly mixes hard science, politics, romance, military jargon, religion and more in a seamless fashion.
Her sense of pacing and plot is excellent as the story moves from the always difficult task of initially setting the world up to getting involved with the meat of the plot. Traviss never overloads the reader with info dumps yet she gives depth to the world through which her characters walk with a sure hand.
Even though the fate of the main character is mildly predictable, this is easily forgiven as it sets the stage for what promises to be an intriguing series that is sure to contain many suprises.
Traviss closes the book well, giving the reader a sense of satisfaction and closure while at the same time placing the threads of the story that will continue her next book CROSSING THE LINE.
I can't wait
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