Killashandra

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killashandra.jpg

Anne McCaffrey

GENRES:
Sci-Fi, Fantasy

SUMMARY:
Killashandra is a skilled crystal singer on the planet Ballybran, but her symbiosis with a native microorganism means that she needs to periodically leave Ballybran or succumb to the thrall of the crystal. Fortunately, she has just been offered a high-profile offworld assignment to replace crystals in a new Optherian Organ, a mysterious musical instrument that engages all senses of the listener.

After the pomp and circumstance of her arrival, Killashandra is attacked and kidnapped by an unknown rebel faction. She is left to fend for herself on a deserted island but soon uses her available resources to build a raft and find civilisation. During her ensuing adventures among the island population, Killashandra uncovers a corrupt government and an elaborate plot to restore authoritarian control to Optheria using the musical instrument she was hired to repair.

RESPONSE:
I enjoyed this book far more than its predecessor. Killashandra was far more likeable and engaging, and she actually seemed to earn the prestige and awe that were given to her because of her job. That's not to say that she's now one of my favourite sci-fi heroines - I still found her overly arrogant - but she wasn't neary as much of a princess as in the first book.

The plot was far more appealing to me as well, blending both standard and novel fantasy-scifi elements with a tale of island survival (there was even a reference to one of McCaffrey's Brain Ships). Killashandra was just far more action-packed than The Crystal Singer and had a much quicker and interesting storyline. Rather than focus on Ballybran and its mysteries, in this book McCaffrey explores a much more natural world (well, actually an entirely too-natural world!) in the pastoral prose that is her hallmark. I also liked the unravelling mystery of the Optherian organ and the government, as well as Killashandra's ingenuity and persistence in understanding and resollving the problem.

My big complaint with this book is the relationship between Lars and Killashandra. It all just seemed to happen so quickly and intensely, despite Killashandra's fairly recent break-up and heartache with someone else. The whole thing seemed very much like an almost ridiculously overly passionate affair between teenagers and just didn't gel with the new mature and wordly version of Killashandra that is otherwise prevalant in this novel.

POINT BLANK:
The Crystal Singer meets Robinson Crusoe - an entertaining, quick and rich sci-fi story.