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City of Pearl (Wess'har Wars, #1)
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City of Pearl (The Wess'har Wars #1)

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,593 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews

Three separate alien societies have claims on Cavanagh's Star. But the new arrivals -- the gethes from Earth -- now threaten the tenuous balance of a coveted world.

Environmental Hazard Enforcement officer Shan Frankland agreed to lead a mission to Cavanagh's Star, knowing that 150 years would elapse before she could finally return home. But her landing, with a small group

Paperback, 392 pages
Published February 24th 2004 by Harper Voyager (first published February 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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4.5 stars. One of the best debut novels I have read in years. Excellent world-building, fascinating aliens and a terrific main character. Looking forwrard to book 2 of the series.

The novel takes place in the years between 2198-2374 and involves an earth mission to a planet called (by Earth) Cavanagh's Star. The planet is already claimed by three alien races: (1) The Bezeri (squid-like water dwellers) who are the planet's natural inhabitants, (2) the Isenj (invaders there to take advantage of un
Oct 05, 2014 Robert rated it did not like it
This book is filled with ideological messages. On top of that it is a slow read. Nothing much happens. There is some walking around some talking and that's it!

But the worst is the ideological messages that are forced on you. No doubt the author is a fan of veganism. In the book the character Aras (the alien) say that he can't smell the meat on Shan (the female lead character) to which she replies something like "no of course not, we don't really need to eat meat some people just like it" What a
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Oct 05, 2009 Shannon (Giraffe Days) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, favourite, 2007
In the year 2198 Superintendant Shan Frankland is looking forward to calling it quits in the Environmental Hazards unit, retiring and finally growing those contraband, non-genetically-modified tomato seeds her father cultivated.

One government minister has other plans for her, though. She is sent to the far reaches of space, a trip that takes 75 years, on a mission that she knows nothing about because it is submerged in her brain, waiting to be released gradually once triggered. She joins a grou
I both enjoyed and didn't enjoy this at the same time. For one, it's very extreme in its views. There are little or no greys in the picture, it's basically black and white, this is good and this is terrible. So yes, very preachy. On the other hand, the story was somewhat compelling, and I did enjoy the book as I read more of it. It brings up several interesting points of discussion (even if Shan is very firm on her opinions of said points of discussion).

That said, I disliked the fact that all of
Jul 21, 2008 Brownbetty rated it really liked it
If you're reading this on Goodreads, you'll see I gave it four stars, and honestly, I almost gave it five, but decided not to only because of some uncertainty about the sequel. Not that I've read it, yet, because my public library, for reasons best known to certain city officials, lacks the funding to catalogue paperbacks, so every library expedition is a bit like a dungeon crawl. Does the library own the sequel? Who knows! Certainly not the Public Library! (Mr Katz, I hope to make you the numbe ...more
Ben Babcock
Some science fiction revels in its immersion in the futurescape, that unknowable presentation of technology and society that seems so distantly related to our own. Utopian fiction likes to posit that we will somehow overcome our vices (though, for the sake of story conflict, discover wonderful new ones). Dystopian fiction does the opposite, amplifying our vices with scary new methods of oppression, while also offering the hope of an easy dismantling of the totalitarian bureaucracy, very often by ...more
Sep 22, 2015 Angela rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, to-read-ebook
I really enjoyed reading City of Pearl. Most of the authors I read in SF/F are the F side of the genre, so whenever I come across a female SF writer it gives me an extra level of enjoyment. Julie Czerneda remains my SF powerhouse favorite, but I think Karen Traviss is now putting in a good strong bid for second place.

There were some small things I didn't quite like about the book, I'll admit--but they were fairly minor nitpicks. I'll get those out of the way first. The flow of time in the story
Mar 28, 2011 Ron rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
In keeping with my practice of cutting slack to debut novels.

Fun read. Well created worlds, though she didn't reveal why the "moon" has a higher gravity than it's "planet." Lots of conflict and confrontations. Nice to see the earthlings at the bottom of the technology pyramid.

I like novels which explore issues. Traviss looks at the effects licensing and patenting genetic-engineered food stuffs. It's sort of the back story, but critical to some people's motives.

Cover Art: don't you hate it when t
Adelaide Metzger
Yes, this is Karen Traviss’ first original novel. Yes, you should read it if you’ve enjoyed her work before. And, yes, there is Karen-drama galore!

As usual, Traviss has an extreme connection with her characters and plays off of our emotions to tell the story. I know I shouldn’t have expectations for books because it throws off what the author may have been trying to get across, but I went into this expecting some kind of Karen-drama moment to satisfy my girly, emotional side. I got what I asked
Ellie [The Empress]
May 28, 2014 Ellie [The Empress] rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any Science fiction fan
Recommended to Ellie [The Empress] by: Found it on GR

This is by far one of the best 'science-fiction/space-opera' books I've read. Actually the whole series. I am so happy I stumbled upon it and I am so surprised how underrated it is.

The rating of 3.89 indicates a good book, but with less then a 1000 votes I think it says even more. Karen has become one of my favorite writers. She has come up with amazing cultures and aliens. There is a lot of characters in the book and she is developing them with the story. I would highly recommend this.

descriptionThe only
Dec 15, 2010 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Sci-fi with an evironmental twist? Hmm…It’s not exactly space opera, since most of the story takes place on another planet. It’s not exactly military sci-fi, because the military presence makes up a small part of the cast of characters. It’s a mixture of a little bit of everything. The book touches on everything from religion, environmental policy, the scary possible future of the corporation, family values, ethics in journalism, and human/alien relations. It sounds like a lot, but all of these ...more
Coucher de soleil
Feb 01, 2012 Coucher de soleil rated it it was amazing
Just as a note (and here's hoping I don't sound pompous): this is the very first time I give a book 5 stars. However, I thought that in this case it was warranted.

I've read many reviews of this book on different sites and I noticed that many readers seemed uncomfortable with the ideas at the core of it, which is not surprising. The first thing I would say about this book is to acknowledge that the ideas within are extreme.

I don't agree with every principle suggested in this book and I doubt mos
Oct 31, 2011 Banner rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, alien
One of the best science fiction books I've read. The book flows so smoothly with action, character development and universe building. While this book is the beginning of a series, it is a very satisfying and self contained story. You will want to read the next book (I've already ordered mine).

Just a note about the alien culture, I think Karen Traviss has developed a truly alien culture yet was able to make it accessible. The alien protagonist is one of the most interesting characters in science
Dec 06, 2014 Andrew rated it liked it
This is a intriguing book- it is the first in the series (Wess'har Wars )which follow both characters and places first introduced in this book. I don't want to mention too much of the later books as they rather give away some of the surprises implied in this book - I know that is always the danger of a sequel but considering how heavily this book relies on them it does feel like a bit of an achilles heel.
The book however does suggest some interesting ideas and I must admit I do enjoy books where
Jonathan Bergeron
Aug 23, 2015 Jonathan Bergeron rated it it was ok
An ode to hardcore environmentalists everywhere - City of Pearl

When I was getting my AA, I was single, a few years before I met my wife. I took this Intro to Environmental Science class, because there were a lot of cute girls in the class. I learned a lot actually. I can still pick out a live oak from a turkey oak, slash pine from long leaf pine; point out palmettos and sea oats. I learned that Florida had the largest cedar forest in the world until a whole crap load of pencils were made, so the
Matt Braymiller
May 20, 2016 Matt Braymiller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm. I am a bit torn about this book.

What I liked: The interplay and friendship between Shan and Aras. Human being befriends alien, and even a brief glimpse into the day-to-day life in an alien culture. I liked the human colony . . . it was sort of an Amish community on a distant planet. I liked the Bezeri. They felt truly alien. I liked the small cast of characters . . . i just wish they were more fully developed.

What I didn't like: Beyond Shan and the settlement, the rest of humanity is painte
David King
Dec 21, 2011 David King rated it really liked it
The story is set at a time when various governments have merged together in an attempt to combat the growing powers of corporations. The main protagonist, Shan Frankland is a police officer for one of these governments who is preparing to retire from her duties in Environmental Hazards unit. However, when a government minister then offers her the chance to visit another world she decides to take on one more job. Her team of scientists and marines are heading out to the only habitable planet know ...more
May 23, 2011 Colleen rated it liked it
City of Pearl should have been an ordinary book. It was part Huff and part Webber. It was Starbridge and Uplift. It was a reaonably well-written book, with a typical plot and expected characters. But there was more to it than the usual trope that comes with an alien exploitation novel. The talent that Kareen Traviss has in telling the story is what makes me so pleased with having spent time with her. There were lectures about individual responsibility that were inextricable to the lectures about ...more
Apr 12, 2012 Chad rated it really liked it
For a book with little action and a focus on moral dilemmas, ethics and environmentalism, I liked this more than I expected to.

Traviss excels at subtle worldbuilding, especially in the hints of a falling apart Earth that we never actually see in the book. She often threw in random bits like the fact that opium poppies were driven to extinction by a genetically engineered virus. That's an idea that could probably carry a novel by itself, but here it's background info that lets readers fill in th
Nuno Almeida
Feb 27, 2010 Nuno Almeida rated it really liked it
Muito bom, mesmo. Ao contrário dos últimos livros que li, este puxou mesmo por mim e deixava-me sempre com vontade de saber o que ia acontecer a seguir. A história até evolui algo lentamente (excepto nos capítulos finais, em que acontece muita coisa, muito depressa, e acho que não lhe deram a importância devida), mas existem tantas personagens e tantas questões pendentes que há sempre qualquer coisa nova a descobrir.

O mundo criado é muito interessante, diferente e complexo sem no entanto sermos
Karen Ireland-Phillips
Dec 31, 2011 Karen Ireland-Phillips rated it really liked it
Well written, fast paced, with fascinating main characters and excellently drawn cultures, the first novel in Traviss' Wess'har series is well worth your time. Eco-cop Shan Frankland, on her way to retirement, is shanghai'd into a twenty-five year voyage to a (formerly lost) earth colony of religious fanatics. Her ostensible goal is to retrieve a gene database maintained by the colonists. But other cultures share the planetary system with the colonists - and one, the Wess'har, see their job as t ...more
Celia Powell
Aug 18, 2010 Celia Powell rated it really liked it
I love this series - five books, beginning with City of Pearl. We follow Shan Frankland, an environmental police officer, from an Earth controlled by corporations to a distant planet, where religious Earth settlers co-exist with several alien species. Shan is in charge of a group of scientists, who quickly get on the wrong side of the Wess'Har (the peacekeeping species who tend to ruthlessly move to eliminate any threat to the planet), and she becomes involved in increasingly complex negotiation ...more
Feb 22, 2016 ShelleyT rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I really enjoyed this series of the Wess'har Wars that starts with this book. Had started with Crossing the Line and found it interesting enough to eventually buy the entire series of five books. I liked the characters who seemed intricately drawn, and the plot which was an imaginative exploration of differing cultures with differing value systems and how they might behave. The view from both human and alien characters, and each looking at the other as alien I found of great value. I liked that ...more
Oct 22, 2014 Pancha rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I liked a lot of this book: aliens, investigating a new planet, future tech. But certain things really threw me, and dampered my overall enjoyment. Shan Frankland is a Pagan, I think mostly as a way to excuse her not wanting any biotech. But she's also fine with physical violence and killing (even though she is also a vegetarian who values all life, not just human). These are contradictions that can exist in one person, but I don't think the book did a good enough job examining them through Shan ...more
Jul 13, 2015 Lorelei rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
This series... started with promise and interesting ideas and degenerated into a self-indulgent, preachy (and poorly argued) treatise on the role of veganism in saving the planet's ecology. For 6 books the author goes around in the same moral circles without really showing any growth or insight.

The most problematic part of this series for me is the protagonist - a very unlikeable woman who does and says things that (I reflected whilst reading) would be entirely unpalatable in a male protagonist
I really enjoy this series, which is strange because about 3 or 4 years ago I would have hated it. Very little seems to happen plot-wise; all the books so far could probably have been condensed into 2 or 3 books if they were regularly-paced novels. But the character development, analysis of cultures and the prototypical post-modern Other, issues of conservation and deep ecology, these make it a very, very interesting series to me.
May 22, 2014 Melissa rated it liked it
I don't read much SF, but I thought this was pretty good. Someone said it's "a book with little action and a focus on moral dilemmas, ethics and environmentalism" which I think sums it up quite well. Because of the time it takes to travel some points become moot and kind of drop out of the plot, but I think it seemed entirely realistic and it probably what really would have happened. I liked Shan and Aras and the slow progression of events. Even the kind of non-ending didn't bother me (though ap ...more
Leon Aldrich
Excellent prose. Well written. The dialogue and character interaction reminds me of a Michael Connelly "Harry Bosch" novel (only this one is science fiction).

Her debut novel has made me a fan. Not only will I read more of this series, but I'll dabble at her Star Wars novels as well.
Sep 10, 2011 Alexa rated it liked it
I enjoyed the plot line thoroughly and eagerly looked forward to the sequel. However with each new book the author's underlying neo-fascist politics became more and more pervasive and now the entire series has left an unpleasant taste in my mouth.
Sep 24, 2012 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very impressed with this book. Great story. Great characters. I will be reading the rest of the series based on this.
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#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, G.I. Joe, 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 re ...more
More about Karen Traviss...

Other Books in the Series

The Wess'har Wars (6 books)
  • Crossing the Line (Wess'har Wars, #2)
  • The World Before (Wess'Har Wars, #3)
  • Matriarch (Wess'Har Wars, #4)
  • Ally (Wess'Har Wars, #5)
  • Judge (Wess'Har Wars, #6)

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“Every miracle's got a mundane explanation. [...] and you can choose - you can look at the wonderous surface or you can look at the crud beneath. I want to see the wondrous, believe me. I just know it isn't going to be there when I've finished looking.” 7 likes
“Humans have too many rights and not enough responsibilities.
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