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

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,180 ratings  ·  92 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 2,709)
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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...more
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...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
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...more
Dec 22, 2008 Angela rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
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...more
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
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...more
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...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
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
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...more
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...more
David King
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
Ellie [The Empress]
May 28, 2014 Ellie [The Empress] rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.

[image e...more
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
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...more
Nuno Almeida
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...more
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...more
Karen Ireland-Phillips
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
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
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.
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.
Very impressed with this book. Great story. Great characters. I will be reading the rest of the series based on this.
Mar 17, 2014 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
I held off on starting this series until I had completed the Mass Effect trilogy because, in my mind, learning about two made-up universes at the same time, with all their inherent new alien species and technology, would become confusing. However, I'm kind of glad I waited for another reason now: one of the main characters in this book, Aras, reminds me of Garrus Vakarian, one of my favorite characters from Mass Effect (albeit without the sense of humor), so much so that I heard Garrus' voice as...more
Having started to read a fourth book of the series I conclude that it is yet another piece written to chop some additional cash.

Not without it's peculiarities, of course. And I still like it.

For one thing - it's new. The first book in this series was written in 2004. Second - the book is written by a British author - a novelty for me in the SciFi. The language is very good - not too simplistic and not too crammed with complex constructions. The author uses a sensible amount of synonyms and keeps...more
This was exactly what I've been craving. A great read, with interesting characters, a humanitarian angle, eco-friendly, and ALIENS! Everything was so well thought out and the environments pulled me. The three different alien species were captivating and varied. It's refreshing to read new ideas on other life forms, not just evil alien who want to take over. This was a much more realistic view and I absolutely loved the relationship between Aras and Shan. 'City of Pearl' was a great mix of milita...more
Margaret Fisk
My older sister is adamant about reading books in order, something I've never paid much attention to, but suddenly, I'm faced with exactly why she feels this way and it is very frustrating. I have just finished City of Pearl by Karen Traviss, a debut novel of exceptional quality that has the complexity of characters and themes that first drew me to sociological science fiction and keeps pulling me back. Now I swear only coincidence led the first two books I mention to include ecological themes,...more
(Review originally posted on my livejournal account:

Why I Read It: This was calico_reaction's Dare for the month of December as well as the selection for The Women of Science Fiction book club.

When I first cracked open this book, I think it's worth mentioning that I had little to no idea what it was actually about. I had even avoided reading the summary for the book. I had reasonably high expectations for it because of calico_reaction's original review f...more
Roddy Williams
The backstory is that Earth has established a colony on a planet around a nearby star. A hardbitten female officer, Shan – on the verge of retirement – is suddenly pulled in for an interview with a high ranking Minister and put in charge of a mission to the colony planet. The journey will take seventy five years so the crew will be frozen.
It appears that colony – a vegetarian devout Christian settlement – is thriving. However they did have help from an alien whose people live on another planet i...more
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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, as well as regularly hitting the bestseller lists with her Halo, Gears of War, and Star Wars work. A former defence correspondent and TV and newspaper journalist, she lives in Wiltshire, England.
More about Karen Traviss...
Sacrifice (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, #5) Bloodlines (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, #2) Hard Contact (Star Wars: Republic Commando, #1) Revelation (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, #8) Triple Zero  (Star Wars: Republic Commando, #2)

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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.” 5 likes
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