Linnea Sinclair – “An Accidental Goddess”

17 Jan


GENRE: Romance / Science fiction
PUBLISHED: Bantam Spectra Books, 2006

WHY THIS NOVEL? I liked Sinclair’s Gabriel’s Ghost very much.


The back blurb:
“Raheiran Special Forces captain Gillaine Davré has just woken up in some unknown space station, wondering where the last three hundred years have gone. The last thing she remembers is her ship being attacked. Now it seems that while she was time-traveling, she was ordained a goddess …
Gillaine’s only hope of survival rests with dangerously seductive Admiral Mack Makarian, who suspects her of being a smuggler – or worse. But he can’t begin to imagine the full extent of it. For Gillaine is now Lady Kiasidira, holy icon to countless believers, including Mack – a man who inspires feelings in her that are far from saintly … feelings she knows are mutual. But when their flirtation is interrupted by a treacherous enemy from the past, Gillaine’s secret – and secret desires – could destroy them both …”


An Accidental Goddess is Gillaine’s story. In some ways it’s a Mary-Sue story in reverse: Gillaine knows about her (special) powers and who she is and she doesn’t want that. She wants to be ‘just Gillie.’ A Mary-Sue character (often) wants to be special and have special powers and she doesn’t know that she has that. The story is (often) about the discovery of the ‘specialness.’

Gillaine is: ‘Raheiran, Kiasidira, RSF captain. Time traveler. Accidental goddess. All in one package she liked to call “just Gillie” ‘ (p. 416). In the course of the story, Gillaine is forced to reveal one part of her identity after the other: first she admits to being Raheiran, then that she’s a RSF captain, then that she has serious mage powers and finally that she is ‘the Kiasidira.’

Her reasons for revealing all that only slowly (and reluctantly) are understandable:

What really bothered Gillaine Davré was that during her three-hundred-some-odd-year absence, the damned Khalar had gone on a shrine-building kick and made her into a deity. (p. 5)

[…]

The Khalar had mixed everything up. Gotten it all wrong, right down to her name. There was no Lady Kiasidira. There was, or had been, she realized belatedly, Lady Gillaine Davré. Also known as Captain Gillaine Davré, Raherian Special Forces Division 1. Also known as Gillaine, Kiasidira. Kiasidira, like Captain, was a title, not a name.
The Khalar had gotten it all wrong.
But it had been wrong for over three hundred years. Their culture, their traditions were now intertwined with this legacy of error. (p. 30)

Then, there is the added complication of her feelings for Mack. Her whole life she had the problem that her mage powers singled her out:

She couldn’t remember the last time a man had reacted to her purely because she was a woman. To her people, the Raheiran, she had the cumbersome distinction of being a Kiasidira. A sorceress of the highest level, marked by the gods. Someone born with talents and the responsibility that went with those talents, far above even the average Raheiran.
To the Khalar, well, even before they’d made her into a damned deity, they still tended to trip over their tongues when she was around. No matter […] she was still a Raheiran.
Everyone wanted her to officiate at their daughter’s wedding.
No one ever asked her out on a date.
But to Rynan Makarian, she was just Gillaine Davré. Rim-trader captain. Someone to have coffee with before the start of the shift. Someone to share his complaints with, about living and working on Cirrus One.(p.80/81)

And later:

She didn’t know what frightened her more if Mack were to ever find out who she was: that he’d hate her for lying to him, or that he’d revere her, worship her, and never touch her again. (p. 206)

With all these secrets and revelations around, it’s nice to see that Sinclair doesn’t use the in the Romance world often seen ‘high-school-approach’ to the handling this problem: ‘You lied to me! How could you! I don’t talk to you again! EVAR!’ Instead we get this:

He couldn’t yet voice what he was afraid to ask, if sleeping with him was part of her cover. He didn’t know what he’d do if she said it was, only that the hurt would be more than he’d be able to bear.
Then he remembered she was very likely more than an empath.
She took the chair next to him, her hands resting on the tabletop as if she wanted to reach for him but was unsure.
Well, he was unsure too. He sucked in his fear, took her hands. (p. 281/282)

Willing to believe the best, not the worst. Nice.

In the end, An Accidental Goddess is about Gillaine’s acceptance of what she is, a sorceress of the highest rank – a Kiasidira – and Mack’s acceptance of her as ‘just Gillie’ despite the fact that she happens to be a Kiasidira. And it’s a look at what people, given enough time, can do to ‘things that could be taken as miraculous’ (p. 109) – make it into a religion.

Minor quibbles: A plot detail about Gillaine’s sword bothered me. There’s a ‘lost-son/daughter-of-a-duke’ twist near the end, and while not completely out of the blue (there are subtle hints to that end throughout the novel), at the moment of the revelation it felt ‘out of the blue’ because there was no time for an explanation and there it is. Also, Gillaine’s mage powers ARE serious – everything a Mary Sue could ever dream about.

The thing to do: as Gillie would say: ‘stuff a sock in it.’ I would say: go with the flow and you’re fine. Because, as it has been the case with every other novel I read by Linnea Sinclair so far, An Accidental Goddess is a damn good read. There’s no need to spoil it with over-active quibbling.


Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4,5 / 5


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