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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Return To The First-Person...
"Spherical Harmonic" is the seventh book in Catherine Asaro's somewhat non-linear Skolian Saga. Having dealt with many of the other major members of the Valdoria-Skolia-Selei family, Asaro now turns her attention to Dyhianna, the Ruby Pharoah and the woman that created the means by which the Skolian Imperialiate functions as it does: the psiberweb.
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Published on December 23, 2001 by Carl Malmstrom

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less a book than a report
This is definitely not the book to try first if you're new to Catherine Asaro's Skolian novels. Though it opens with drama and tension, that tension vanishes as soon as the danger does. The structure here, unfortunately, is a series of very long reports of backstory interwoven with scenes--and with Asaro's trademark delicious physics divertimenti. It's hard to stay...
Published on December 2, 2001


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Return To The First-Person..., December 23, 2001
By 
Carl Malmstrom (Monument, CO USA) - See all my reviews
"Spherical Harmonic" is the seventh book in Catherine Asaro's somewhat non-linear Skolian Saga. Having dealt with many of the other major members of the Valdoria-Skolia-Selei family, Asaro now turns her attention to Dyhianna, the Ruby Pharoah and the woman that created the means by which the Skolian Imperialiate functions as it does: the psiberweb.
For those of you not familiar with Asaro's Skolian universe, in a nutshell, humans crawl their way into the stars in the twenty-second century to find out that, surprisingly enough, humans already occupy most, if not all, of the inhabited planets in the galaxy. Two warring Empires, the Skolians and the Eubians, have fought to control about three-quarters or so of the inhabited planets in the galaxy between them. The Skolians are, in theory, a democracy, although power is uneasily shared between the Skolian ruling family and an elected council. They run their Empire-Democracy through the means of a sort-of collective mental net in which sufficiently sensitive telepaths can communicate instantly with each other, providing an unparalleled means of coordination within the culture. The Eubians, on the other hand, are not only tyrannic and imperial, but they are obsessed with genetics and virtually all the ihabitants of their Empire are slaves. Earth, which finds itself the great Switzerland of the galaxy, finds itself often on the sidelines holding together an alliance that provides the pivot on which the galactic balance of pwer hangs.
All of her previous books have dealt with various members of the Skolian royal family, but Pharaoh Dyhianna has always been a rather shadowy background figure. This book deals with her (from a first-preson perspective) in the wake of the Radiance War that nearly destroyed both the Skolians and the Eubians. It shows Dyhianna in a very surprising light - a woman who is not always easy with her power or the galactic attention she recieves. She is fiercely intelligent, but also quite jealous of her and her family's privacy and power, Dyhianna's saga in "Spherical Harmonic" involves her finding herself (literally) after the end of the war and her impressive struggle to reunite her fractured family.
As with the best books in the Skolian Saga, this one focuses equally on politics, physics and family. Asaro in this book also avoids her sometime tendency (which, admittedly, occurs more with male than female protagonists) to discuss their romantic exploits in quite graphic detail. It is tender, exciting and surprising all in one go. I recommend the entire Skolian Saga, but I do not recommend starting here if you're not familiar with the series. Begin with "Primary Inversion" instead. If you are, definitely read it and if you've been put off by some of the other books in the series, this is book to return to the series with.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less a book than a report, December 2, 2001
By A Customer
This is definitely not the book to try first if you're new to Catherine Asaro's Skolian novels. Though it opens with drama and tension, that tension vanishes as soon as the danger does. The structure here, unfortunately, is a series of very long reports of backstory interwoven with scenes--and with Asaro's trademark delicious physics divertimenti. It's hard to stay with this one; the internal thrust just isn't there, instead, the reader sticks with it to find out what happens to characters from other books they know and love. Either Asaro needed to write a whopping big novel so that events could be in realtime, or this should have been two or three books.
Fans will want to have it to know what's going on. New people, do try PRIMARY INVERSION or THE LAST HAWK for a more engrossing, and more linear, introduction to the Skolain empire and its leaders. This one is not the place to start.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Grand Coalescence, August 30, 2002
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lb136 "lb136" (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spherical Harmonic (The Saga of the Skolian Empire) (Mass Market Paperback)
Catherine Asaro's "Spherical Harmonic" is the latest in the Skolian Empire series, which could turn out to be one of the greatest sf series ever conceived. And maybe it's the best tale so far. Not only does it move the Skolian Empire series along in grand fashion, but it also brings some of the incidents in previous volumes (most notably "The Quantum Rose" and "The Last Hawk") that had seemed to be diversions into the "main line" of the series. In this episode Catherine zooms in on Dhyianna (Dehya) Selei, the Ruby Pharoah, who's been a shadowy presence in the series until now.
Catherine's time line, which appears at the end of every book in the series, simply tells us that in 2277-78, Dehya "coalesces." Exactly. The novel deals with rebirth, the physical rebirth of Dehya and of the Ruby Dynasty itself, as Dehya sets out to collect the Skolians' scattered surviving members (they've been decimated by a destructive war).
Dehya coalesces virtually naked and alone on a primitive world and doesn't quite know why. Throughout the book she keeps acquiring family members, friends, and allies (and clothing), and at the end is quite a formidable presence indeed. The structure in a way is similar to Ravel's "Bolero," which starts out with a single instrument and a single melodic line and ends colorfully and thunderously.
The story sweeps along in grand fashion, filled, as always, with action, romance, and painless lessons in quantum physics, as Dehya learns that sometimes she has to go against the people she admires and work with those she doesn't. All Catherine's characters are complex, reluctant heroes, and Dehya might be the most complex of all. She learns her lessons well and she learns the limits of power.
Notes and asides: Newcomers to the series should start with "Primary Inversion" and read the books in the order they're written in. And then, when you're caught up, you can wait breathlessly with the rest of us for "The Moon's Shadow," which is due out in 2003.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We get to know Pharoah Dhyianna at last, November 1, 2002
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This review is from: Spherical Harmonic (The Saga of the Skolian Empire) (Mass Market Paperback)
In many ways this is a fill-in-the-blanks book in the Skolian saga. This book concentrates on Dhyianna Seli, the Ruby Pharoah at the time of the Radiance War.
Unlike many of the other books in this series, this one does not concentrate on a romance, including grand sex scenes. Instead this is a political outing, which describes what happened in a political sense at the end of the Radiance war (primary iverson & the radiant seas).
Dhyianna comes across as being absolutely essential to the empire and her complaints of the control the skolian assembly has over her family has a sort of hollow ring given how much of what happens in the empire revolves around her individual skills.
For some reason, in the other books you get the impression that the 'trader experiment' which produced the hightron race happened in the recent past, but in this book that event is redefinied as having taken place thousands of years ago (which makes more sense).
This is not the most inspired book in the series, but it's a definate building block to be read for filling out the Skolian/Allied/Trader universe and the interesting mess that is the Ruby Dynasty.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than the reviews say, February 4, 2006
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This review is from: Spherical Harmonic (The Saga of the Skolian Empire) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is much better than you would believe from the reviews. We finally learn about Dyhianna Selei the Ruby Pharaoh, titular head of the Skolian Empire. Previous books pictured Dyhianna as a lonely genious who wasn't quite human. Distanced from the rest of humanity by her genious as well as her position as one of the rulers of the Skolian empire. In this book Dyhianna is a misunderstood woman who struggles to be understood but doesn't quite make it due to her unique thought processes. After all who will understand a person who thinks in arithmatic equations instead of words. To her the struggle for control of interstellar space between the Skolian empire and Eube is a puzzle which should be reduced to mathmatic equations. The answers she gets are cryptic; not really amiable to comprehension by us lesser mortals. However whatever her modes of thought she is quite human; she feels fear when escaping from torture the Eubian concorde; she loves her family and will do anything to recover her lost husband; she is fiercely loyal to her friends. I liked this book and recommend it to all Asaro fans. It should be a welcome addition to the Skolian saga; filling in blanks in the story such as the role of Dhyianna Seli, the Ruby Pharoah at the time of the Radiance War.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best in romantic sci-fi, December 18, 2001
Though both sides claim victory, the interstellar war devastated the Skolians and the Aristo Traders. Pharaoh of the Ruby Dynasty, Dyhianna Selei, obtains a fragile peace with the nefarious Aristo Traders, but both entities know that hostilities will continue anyway.

Dyhianna learns first hand that the "cold war" remains hot as she surfaces on a humanoid planet after making a desperate leap to escape her enemies' effort to kill her and her family. Her foes pursue Dyhianna, but she is rescued by a Skolian battle cruiser, only to learn that her invention the psychic-Internet no longer exists and that the Aristos haves captured her husband, Prince Eldrin. A desperate Dyhianna knows that Eldrin's psychic abilities accompanied by the ancient Lock the enemy controls will give the edge to the Aristos. She turns to her former spouse and his special kids on Earth as a last resort to stop the Aristo Traders from conquering her people.

SPHERICAL HARMONIC, the seventh Skolian tale is an engaging outer space novel that will excite fans of the series. The story line hops around the galaxy faster than the speed of light, but that is a two edged light saber as the action never stops, but the subplots do not fully mesh. Catherine Asaro's audience will enjoy this novel because it is fun to watch the wonderful gender bender heroine struggle to save her people at what might cost her the lives of her family.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book with a strong female heroine., December 13, 2001
As usual, Asaro delivers an excellent and intelligent novel. I enjoyed the pace of this book, the writing style and the storyline. The books starts off with a nice little mystery and has interesting tidbits of science fact. It is refreshing to read a book which assumes its audience is curious and intelligent. There was plenty of action and drama augmented by fine character development. Spherical Harmonic is a bit lighter on the romance than the other books but there is some that is reassuring. More emphasis was placed on dealing with the loss and destruction created by the Radiance War. I think the series needed a book exactly like this one. It was interesting to see her several storylines and characters together. My only caveat is that this is not the book to start if you wish to enjoy the others because it is a bit of a spoiler. Now, if only there is another book with Tina and Althor in it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep, September 9, 2007
By 
Stephen Daddona (Rocklin, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spherical Harmonic (The Saga of the Skolian Empire) (Mass Market Paperback)
Catherine Asaro's intellect is way beyond mine. I recommend reading her essay at the back of the book before you read the novel. The novel will make more sense if you do that. The Skolian Empire novels are all inter-related and I recommend buying all of them and reading them in the order of publication. I read several of them over a span of about three weeks and it was really cool to see the same event in one book from one character's viewpoint and then see the same event in another book from another character's viewpoint. She intertwines her novels in a very entertaining way. Her characters are real and she mixes erotic scenes, space battles, and suspense in a way that makes her books very difficult to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, but don't start here, February 20, 2008
This review is from: Spherical Harmonic (The Saga of the Skolian Empire) (Mass Market Paperback)
I've been a fan since meeting Asaro at a BayCon in 1997 and purchasing her first two books. Since then, I've followed her Empire as it became increasingly complex and rich. Spherical Harmonic will be confusing as an introduction. Unlike Primary Inversion, The Last Hawk and The Quantum Rose; Spherical Harmonic doesn't stand alone. It brings great detail and development to the Ruby Pharaoh, but without the background of three or four of the earlier books, figuring out what is happening, much less why, is tough.

So, buy it, Primary Inversion and Catch The Lightning. You'll be back for more.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Asaro is the new Andre Norton, February 7, 2002
By 
L. Coltharp (Somewhere in TX USA) - See all my reviews
SPHERICAL HARMONIC is the 7 th novel in the Saga of the Skolian Empire and it lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Dehyianna Selei, the Ruby Pharaoh, tells the story in the first person. SPHERICAL HARMONIC is the direct sequel to THE RADIANT SEAS. It tells the story of a family and civilization rebuilding itself after a war that nearly cost them everything.
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Spherical Harmonic (The Saga of the Skolian Empire)
Spherical Harmonic (The Saga of the Skolian Empire) by Catherine Asaro (Mass Market Paperback - August 19, 2002)
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