Linnea Sinclair – “Shades Of Dark”

23 Sep

GENRE: Romance / Science Fiction
PUBLISHED: Bantam, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I like Linnea Sinclair’s novels a lot.

The back blurb:
“Before her court-martial, Captain Chasidah ‘Chaz’ Bergren was the pride of the Sixth Fleet. Now she’s a fugitive from the ‘justice’ of a corrupt Empire. Along with her lover, the former monk, mercenary, and telepath Gabriel Ross Sullivan, Chaz hoped to leave the past light-years behind – until the news of her brother Thad’s arrest and upcoming execution for treason. It’s a ploy by Sully’s cousin Hayden Burke to force them out of hiding, and it works.

With a killer targeting human females and a renegade gen lab breeding jukor war machines, Chaz and Sully already had their hands full of treachery, betrayal – not to mention each other. Throw in Chaz’s Imperial ex-husband, Admiral Philip Guthrie, and a Kyi-Ragkiril mentor out to seduce, Sully, and not just loyalities but lives are at stake. For when Sully makes a fateful choice, changing their relationship forever, Chaz must also choose – between what duty demands and what her heart tells her she must do.”

Shades of Dark is the follow up to one of my favourite novels, Gabriel’s Ghost, and it takes up where Gabriel’s Ghost left off. In the beginning, I had a few troubles following all that is happening and immersing myself in the story. It’s some time since I read Gabriel’s Ghost and, especially in the first chapters, there’s a lot of political background info and reasoning about political machinations to get through, but around page 50, I was there.

Again, the story is narrated by Chaz in first person, and again, it’s a story where the focus is firmly on Chaz and Sully despite all the other things going on (which are a lot). Sully’s powers get stronger and are changing, and that’s becoming a problem because

My acceptance of Sully–human–and Gabriel–Ragkiril–became Sully’s acceptance of himself. And now here we were at the crossroads again. Only this time he had no idea who or what he was asking Chaz Bergren to love and to trust. (p. 85)

Then Chaz and Sully meet Del, another Kyi-Ragkiril. Sully is thrilled about finding someone like him so that he can learn more about himself and his powers while Chaz is wary. She explains her problems with Del in this telephatic conversation with Sully:

Let’s see. He ambushes me on Narfial, blocks you, wanted to neutralize Marsh, and then locks you away from me in some mystical woo-woo place that used to be a shuttle bay. In between all that, he has an annoying habit of calling me “angel” and “lover,” walks a very thin line between harmless flirtation and practiced seduction, and then has the balls to say I’m touchy. I have no idea why I think he’s a problem. (p. 243).

In Shades of Dark, Sinclair takes a close look at what it means to be as closely linked to another person as Chaz and Sully are. It’s certainly not sunshine all the time and Sinclair isn’t afraid to show and explore the darker side of such a link. It’s also a story about what power can do to you. Sully and Del have power over others because of the things they can do with their minds which practically means they can get what they want without really doing a thing for it. The question is then: What keeps you from manipulating other people? Can you stay away from manipulation in the long run or is it “power corrupts” and it’s just a matter of time?

As with Sinclair’s other novels, I enjoyed the way she writes her characters. Sully goes through a lot in this novel, and some of it was really gut-wrenching to read. And Chaz is such a capable woman. I particular liked that she doesn’t throw a hissy fit when things get rough with Sully. Instead she takes a step back and looks at it with a more logical frame of mind. She knows him and knows how to interpret his behaviour. For example, in on situation Sully is trying to anger Chaz but she doesn’t want to play is game (no stomping-her-dainty-foot-and-running-of-in-a-rush misunderstanding here):

[Sully:] “Kyi-Ragkirils are highly motivated by pleasure. Sleeping alone for the rest of my very miserable, very celibate life didn’t appeal to me.”
“So you’re just here for the sex, is that it?”
“That’s it.”
He wanted me angry at him. I wasn’t going to take the bait. (p. 150)

Chaz and especially Sully are not characters who are all black or all white, there are shades (ha). The secondary characters, mainly Del and Phil, are not your run-of-the-mill characters either. Del isn’t a “real villain” in that he’s all-out bad and evil. The motivation for his actions lies in what he’s been brought up to believe in his society and that’s different from the things humans believe in Sinclair’s world. I also like how Phil, Chaz’s ex-husband, turns into a good friend for Chaz.

With all that is going on between the characters, there is also a lot going on on the outside. One crisis comes after another, and Chaz and Sully most of the time can only cope with them than can take action themselves. It makes for a fast-paced story, and Chaz and Sully are good are capable, but sometimes I thought this too much “what can go wrong will go wrong.” It’s only at the end that finally they are one step ahead and can take action themselves. The jukor problem is solved then, but it happens largely off-stage. This might be a bit strange, since it gives the story its external conflict and (time)frame, but the focus and what kept me reading was the internal conflict about Sully’s growing powers and what this meant for Chaz and him.

The resolution of the internal conflict was my favorite part of the story:
Chaz’s realization (and her choice then) at the end. I didn’t see it coming quite like that but it’s logical. Talk about a powerful twist. You probably could have knocked me over with a feather then. Sinclair went for a lot there and oh, how it worked.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4,5 (5-) / 5


3 Responses to “Linnea Sinclair – “Shades Of Dark””

  1. Carolyn Jean Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 5:12 pm #

    oops! Taja, I totally hope you didn’t take my mention of your SD review the wrong way! I didn’t mean to get you caught up in anything. I really liked the review, and the comment made me think.

  2. Taja Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 6:55 pm #

    Carolyn Jean, no, I didn’t take it the wrong way. 🙂 I realized only later that you could probably take my comment the wrong way (thinking you did something I didn’t like) and I apologize. I didn’t intend that.

    I thought it very kind of you to mention my review. Really, I appreciated it, so no worry. I understood where you’re coming from and why you asked, and I didn’t feel caught up in anything by you (and I’m sorry if I appeared too defensive). The comments made me think, too, and that’s always a good thing because I’m a lazy thinker. 😉

    I didn’t want to say it on Thea’s and Ana’s blog because I thought it too “bragging” (not sure if that’s the right word) doing it there, but this is “my place” so “Thank you” for mentioning my review (and my blog). 🙂


  1. Weekend Reads: “Shades of Dark” + “Hope’s Folly” By Linnea Sinclair « Books and Games - Monday, May 11, 2009

    […] This is the second time I read Shades of Dark and I still like it as much as the first time. […]

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