The Crystal Singer

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cystralsinger.jpg

Anne McCaffrey

GENRES:
Sci-Fi, Fantasy

SUMMARY:
Rejected from her chosen career as a classical singer, Killashandra impulsively leaves her life behind and has an intense affair with a member of the mysterious Heptite Guild. The Heptite Guild are a respected group of crystal singers who use their perfect pitch to harvest rare crystals from the planet Ballybran. The crystals only exist on the planet and our crucial for interstellar travel and communication. Little is known about the singers or their planet, but Killashandra decides to join the Guild at any cost.

After clearing intial requirements for entry to the planet, Killashandra and her classmates begin to discover the secrets of their new profession, along with the rewards and dangers.

RESPONSE:
As with most of her novels, McCaffrey uses rich and beautiful prose to describe the alien world in The Crystal Singer. Unlike the lush pastoral setting of her Dragonriders of Pern series, Ballybran is a stark almost sterile planet, but McCaffrey nonetheless imbues it with an alien beauty. The main non-human lifeform on Ballybran was unexpected and certainly sets up further mysteries to no doubt be discovered in the sequels.

I really didn't like Killashandra for most of the book. I found her arrogant, cold, and frankly, quite a little bitch. Nonetheless, her actions and ambition were admirable, and I couldn't help but hope our heroine succeeded by the end of the book. Rather than suggest that McCaffrey creates distasteful characters, I think Killashandra shows how well McCaffrey can develop complex characters and their faults while still managing to keep the reader engaged with them.

The Crystal Singer is early 80s sci-fi at its best, an entertaining if predictable story sandwiched between a dangerously unique alien world and flawed but admirable characters. However, McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series was more engaging, and I cared about the characters more which made me want to come back for more. I'm not so sure about The Crystal Singer. I'll most likely get around to reading the sequels over the next few years, but this book wasn't quite good enough for me to rush out and buy them.

POINT BLANK:
An entertaining if predictable story with rich characters, descriptive prose, and oh yeah, crystals.