Quatrain, as the title suggests, contains four novellas. Each of the four novellas are a sort of post-script to another series or stand-alone novel byQuatrain, as the title suggests, contains four novellas. Each of the four novellas are a sort of post-script to another series or stand-alone novel by Sharon Shinn. Due to spoilers I really recommend reading the related works first before reading Quatrain. The four stories are Flight, a prequel to Archangel, Blood, a sequel to Heart of Gold, Gold, a sequel to Summers at Castle Auburn, and Fire, a prequel to Mystic and Rider.
Flight is a 4 star novella. Sameria is a world ruled by angels, who intercede with the god Jovah to alter the weather, receive medicines from the god, etc. Angels have beautiful voices and Jovah can hear them anywhere they sing, and will answer their prayers. (view spoiler)[because Jovah is a spaceship and it's all done with science hahaha I love this series (hide spoiler)] When Salome was a young woman she ran away from home to become an angel-seeker--a woman who has sex with angels with the hope of bearing an angel child. While she was an angel-seeker she hooked up with the most important angel of all, the Archangel Rafael, the villain of Archangel. She escaped him roughly twenty years before the story starts, and now lives peacefully raising her niece on a farm as a straight-laced, middle aged farm worker. But when Rafael comes back she must take drastic measures to save her niece.
This is a slow-burning romance between Salome and the angel Stephan, who was her love interest back in her angel-seeking days. Most of the focus is on Salome's relationship with her niece and her tragic past. Stephan is more of a mystery, we know that he loved her, but couldn't seem to convince her of that when they were young, and that he searched for her everywhere and couldn't find her after she disappeared. But he's a bit of a cypher beyond that. Salome, on the other hand, is very controlled and fierce. She is very strong and intelligent, and not afraid of anyone, not even an Archangel she knows first hand is evil. Anyone who has read Archangel will not surprised about what her deep secret is, but its nice to see that Rachel, the heroine of Archangel, isn't the only person who knows about it. (view spoiler)[Rafael killed the woman who was supposed to be his god-appointed wife and replaced her with an angel-seeker. Originally he intended for Salome to be the replacement, but she refused. In the world of Sameria Rafael's action is considered tremendously blasphemous and potentially world-destroying. The Archangel's spouse is possibly the single most important person in Samaria, to kill him or her is to invite destruction. (hide spoiler)]
The story ends with a HFN ending. Salome is not willing to leave her farm and niece for Stephan, and Stephan is an angel and has duties to all of Sameria--he cannot simply leave his hold and move in with her. Those who have read Archangel know, however, that the situation with Rafael will not last forever (after all, what usually happens to villains in romance novels?), and Salome strongly hints that she is mainly staying until her niece is safely married to someone who loves her.
Blood. Five stars. Hands down, this is my favorite novella of the collection. Blood is a sequel to Heart of Gold, which is possibly one of my favorite books ever. The world of Heart of Gold is divided into three races, the indigo, the gulden, and the albino (but go ahead and forget about them). The Indigo are a matriarchal race who are, as their name suggests, blue in color. The gulden are, well, gold in color, and heavily patriarchal. Think tribal Pakistan level patriarchy. The Indigo, on the other hand, are heavily matriarchal, rather like the 1940s-1950s USA, and then reverse the sexes. Men stay home and raise the kids, women inherit everything and run everything, but some men are starting to strike out and get jobs outside of the home or military (the other place men can work traditionally). Naturally there is a lot of conflict between the two races, especially since they are trying to build a city together in order to exchange technology and goods. The world building is fairly shallow compared to Sharon Shinn's other novels, fortunately the world building isn't what snags me.
Kerk is a gulden man moves into the City with his stepmother and the man she married after his father died. As a fatherless gulden man his life is somewhat on edge, it is only due to the compassion of his step parents that he is even alive, let alone has a home and career. He is on a mission--his mother ran away from his abusive father to the City seventeen years ago with his infant sister, and he wants to try to find her. For previous readers of Heart of Gold this is an ominous situation, honor-killings are common among the gulden and it is not unknown for a husband or brother, or even a son, to follow a gulden woman into the City and slay her for running away. It is only due to the fact that I, as a reader, trust Shinn to give me a good story that kept me going. She would not write a hero who would murder his own mother. Kerk never once suggests that he would do such a thing, but with the circumlocution of the gulden he never clearly states his intentions, either.
Once in the City he locates the ghetto of the gulden women and meets Jalci, an indigo heiress, and distant relation to Kitrini, the heroine of Heart of Gold. Jalci is like no women he has ever met before, aggressive and outgoing. She volunteers at a community center for gulden women, lending her skills, wealth, and influence to help them. Like many indigo heiresses she's under pressure to marry a boring if politically valuable man. She finds herself captivated by Kerk, just as he is with her. Whether this captivation is something that will develop into a romance, or simply a good friendship, is left up to the reader.
Jalci brings Kerk to the gulden community center to speak to the director, Del, a gulden woman of strong opinions and a distaste for gulden men. There he discovers a loose plot thread from Heart of Gold, the young gulden sons of the women who had fled to the City. Fatherless and directionless, they often become violent or resort to crime. Kerk grew up fatherless as well, in a culture in which who your father is is vitally important, and knows better than anyone else what that's like. He becomes a father figure to the boys, teaching them the positive parts of being a gulden man, emphasizing treating others with honor and respect.
In fact, the entire story is about finding family, and not where you expect it, nor where you want to to be. I would love, love, love to see Shinn do a real sequel featuring Kerk and Jalci. I'd love to see more from Jalci (such as, how does her family REALLY feel about Kitrini and Nolan? And what would really happen if Jalci married a gulden man?)
Gold This is by far the weakest story in the anthology. It is a sequel to Summers at Castle Auburn. Zara is the daughter of the hero and heroine of Castle Auburn, and a rebellion has sent her fleeing reluctantly to the land of the Fae across the Faeylin River, where her uncle Jaxom now lives with the Fae queen. The trouble is the land of the Fae is seductive, it is beautiful and peaceful and the magic makes anyone who steps foot in there want to stay forever. By entering Fae she is at peril--not from any danger but because she may never want to leave. Only love, in the form of Orstin, a faithful palace guard, can set her free. Well, love and gold, the only thing the Fae cannot abide the touch of.
The trouble with this story is that Zara, frankly, is spoiled as shit. I wanted to slap her so much. She isn't bad-natured or terrible as a person, but I really feel that her parents would have done so much better if they had made her experience the (very brief, I must say!) siege. Orstin tolerates her spoiled behavior better than I would have, and for that he deserves a metal. This was a three star story.
The last story in this anthology is probably the only non-romance, and that's because Seneth and Tayse get their story in Mystic and Rider.Seneth is her usual self, full of magic and determined, and so very human it hurts at times. I'm in love with Seneth, she really is the best character ever (male or female). I'm a bit torn on this story, much of it revolves around various characters telling her that she needs to find a family or a close circle of friends. All of this is foreshadowing for the entire Mystic and Rider series, where she finds just that. Part of me appreciates it, and part of me is annoyed as character after character (most of whom don't even know her that well) tell her that she needs bond with people. It does fill in the details about how she discovered that moonstones don't really hurt her, and how she ends up meeting Tayse, but really. The mystery as to who, exactly, was setting the devastating fires was pretty easy to spot early on, but it still is somewhat shocking considering the amount of suffering it caused. Over all I give this story four stars, mainly because it features Seneth and I am really biased whenever Seneth appears. Did I mention that I love Seneth?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more