Re-Read Challenge: “Gabriel’s Ghost” By Linnea Sinclair

30 Apr


Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009
This month:Re-Read Challenge: April!

GENRE: Romance / Science Fiction
PUBLISHED: Bantam Spectra, 2005

SERIES: “Dock Five” series, #1

AVAILABILITY: still available

The back blurb:
“After a decade of piloting interstellar patrol ships, former captain Chasidah Bergren, onetime pride of the Sixth Fleet, finds herself court-martialed for a crime she didn’t commit–-and shipped off to a remote prison planet from which no one ever escapes. But when she kills a brutal guard in an act of self-defense, someone even more dangerous emerges from the shadows.

Gabriel Sullivan-–alpha mercenary, smuggler, and rogue–-is supposed to be dead. Yet now this seductive ghost from Chaz’s past is offering her a ticket to freedom–for a price. Someone in the Empire is secretly breeding jukors: vicious and uncontrollable killing machines that have long been outlawed. Gabriel needs Chaz to help him stop the practice before it decimates Imperial space. The mission means putting their lives on the line–-but the tensions that heat up between them may be the riskiest part of all.”


Gabriel’s Ghost was the first book I read by Linnea Sinclair. It also was one of the first romances I’ve read written in first person POV and I really liked how Sinclair made it clear that Sully was in love with Chaz even though I didn’t get his POV (my comment then). This was around Christmas 2006. After I finished it, I went on my first author glom.

It was a few weeks later that I read the author’s note and learned that “Gabriel’s Ghost was inspired by and written to “Put Your Lights On” featuring Everlast on Santana’s album Supernatural, one of my favorite songs on that album.

More important and way cooler (though not surprising): song and book are a great fit.


The first sentence in Gabriel’s Ghost reads: “Only fools boast they have no fears.”

Gabriel’s Ghost is a story about fears – fears of rejection and fears of the unknown and unexplained. And it’s a story about trust – trust that someone will still love you even knowing all your hideous secrets and trust in someone who asks you:

“Can you accept me as I am now, on faith? With what you know, and nothing more?” He paused. “I fear that your need for facts, your need for explanations, for things that perhaps can never be explained, will destroy the only chance we have. And I’ll lose you.” (154)

Chashida Bergren, Chaz, is a woman who operates on facts. It’s what she was trained to do as Fleet, it’s what she does when she feels stressed: she gathers and analyzes facts to keep unwanted emotions or thoughts at bay until she is ready to deal with them. She’s confident and sure of her skills as a pilot. She does what she must do and she knows that it’s important to keep personal feelings from influencing a task that needs to be done. She wouldn’t withhold information just because she’s in a spat with someone. She’s a strong woman but she also knows fears because “only fools boast they have no fears.”

Gabriel Sullivan, Sully, is a ghost. He was believed dead for two years when he and Chaz meet again. He’s a man with many identities, although he is far from at peace with himself:

I’m already damned, consigned to a Hell I can never escape. It haunts me, consumes me. Until all that’s left are things that make me feel a pain I hope to God you never have to feel. Anger and pain are very valid reasons for what I do. Remember that. (64)

He wants to stop the jukor breeding and he needs Chaz’s help for that.

There are quite a few secondary characters in Gabriel’s Ghost, most important the crew of Sully’s ship the Boru Karn and there most important Ren. Ren is a Stolorth, a race with a humanoid form and feared, or at least viewed with wariness, by humans because of their mind talents. They are also known as mind-fuckers, and it’s widely assumed that meeting a Stolorth means he/she will play with your mind.

Besides Stolorths, there’s another non-human race in Gabriel’s Ghost, Takans. I pictured them like Wookiees though they can talk. Takan females are used for the breeding of jukors. Jukors are more like animals, once breed to combat the mind skills of the Stolorths. They are vicious, have wings, and smell like garbage. They also only have one spot where they are vulnerable. Some years before the events in Gabriel’s Ghost, it became clear that jukors couldn’t be controlled so they were all ordered to be destroyed. That someone seems to have taken up the breeding again in secret is bad news.

Gabriel’s Ghost is science fiction. It’s a world with a different society, with its own politics, different groups vying for power and influence, and a religion that centers around mythical beasts with the mind talents of the Stolorths and a shape-shifting form jukors are supposed to resemble.

Gabriel’s Ghost might sound like a action-driven novel and in a way, it is: the mission to destroy the jukor labs delivers the frame for the story: what Chaz and Sully do and where they go. But the story isn’t how they go about destroying the labs, it’s about a secret, darkness, and identity. And as often in such stories, there is an angel.

The action forces the secret out into the open step by step but Gabriel’s Ghost isn’t one of the stories where you want to bash the characters over the head because they just don’t talk with each other. No. The reasons for keeping things secret are vital. In Gabriel’s Ghost, the secret has to do with identity. Revealing it means being shunned, probably hunted, throughout the known world for what you are, for the darkness in you. Revealing it probably means losing the love of your life, your angel. Gabriel’s Ghost is a story about prejudice and about taking risks.

At the beginning of the story, Chaz knows Sully as a mercenary and smuggler who loves to play with words. She knows him as someone she hunted for six years because as Fleet that was her job. She interrupted his illegal escapades and shared conversations laced with innuendos with him then. She also knows him as someone she shared a few passionate kisses with in a seedy bar one night.

A short time later, she knows and says this about Sully:

Known terrorist, smuggler, mercenary. A passionate, volatile man. Angry, for valid reasons, he’d said. Gabriel Ross Sullivan. Poet. Warrior. Lover. (130)

But that is not the end of her discoveries. Discoveries hindered by her promise not to ask questions, to accept Sully on faith and to trust him; discoveries helped along by the mission to stop the jukor breeding. With Sully, it seems that for every question answered, several new ones pop up. Her discoveries – the revealing of the secret – are reflected in the list of words she uses to characterize Sully. Each discovery adds to or alters words on the list. Until Chaz knows all, she’s in for more than one big surprise and test of her trust. Then, her words for Sully differ greatly from the two she had in the beginning: mercenary and smuggler.

And all along the way, your heart will break for Sully. Chaz wants truths and facts, and in Gabriel’s Ghost she is thrown into a situation she is asked to base her decisions not on facts but on trust. Sully wants Chaz, and in Gabriel’s Ghost telling Chaz the truth about himself might mean losing her. Gabriel’s Ghost is a story about truth and lies.

Chasidah. Angel. I have lost those words that used to come so easily to me. They have all fled, shamed to be in my company. I’m left now with only a few simple ones. They are inadequate. They cannot begin to convey all that I feel. But they are all I have.
Chasidah. Angel. I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry.
Chasidah. Angel. The grievous wrong isn’t as much in the questions you couldn’t ask, but in the only real truth that I could tell, and did not.
Chasidah. Angel. I love you beyond all measure. That is the only real truth. (207, 208)

Reading Gabriel’s Ghost again for the challenge, there were two things I really noticed: 1) allusions and hints to the secret are present from the first chapter on; 2) the masterful way the different elements come together in this story – Gabriel’s Ghost is a rather layered story. I also think it’s neat that though Gabriel’s Ghost is written in first person and told from Chaz’s POV, it almost seems more like it’s Sully’s story rather than Chaz’s story.

One more thing, the most important one: most of all, Gabriel’s Ghost is a story about love. Love sometimes asks you to trust without knowing all the facts, love sometimes can be destroyed by keeping facts to oneself, love means opening yourself up to someone else with your whole self, trusting that you still will be loved with all your hideous secrets and darkness out in the open. Gabriel’s Ghost explores all this.

The last sentence of the novel reads: “Only fools underestimate the power of love.”

Verdict: The more often I read the novel, the more I appreciate it. Gabriel’s Ghost only gets better with each read for me. 5/5

Listen to Put Your Lights On, listen for the words darkness, fear, and angel, and you’ll have an idea what Gabriel’s Ghost is like.


16 Responses to “Re-Read Challenge: “Gabriel’s Ghost” By Linnea Sinclair”

  1. Jace Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 1:26 pm #

    Oh man … this is a fantastic review! You picked my absolute favourite LS book too. 😀 This is, for me, most definitely Sully’s story seen through Chaz’s eyes. I love how much he loves her, and how much she’s willing to trust and love him back … and I love both of them equally. (Lately, it’s becoming increasingly hard for me to like, let alone love, the heroes and heroines equally.) Oh, not forgetting Ren, of course. He just breaks my heart and this story would not be as awesome as it is if he weren’t in it. 🙂

  2. Christine Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    No way!! Gabriel’s Ghost was my pick for the TBR Challenge this month! Very cool.

    …. now if I had only actually met that challenge and read the book, THAT would have been cooler. 😉

  3. Taja Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    Jace – thank you! Obviously, it’s my absolute favorite LS as well. 😀
    I think it’s rather rare that both main characters seem to have their share of story, I really appreciated that Gabriel’s Ghost makes me feel like it’s their story. If I would need to name favorite characters, Chaz and Sully very likely would be on that list. Sully’s just so tormented and loves Chaz so much and Chaz is…well, I really like her. No crazy TSTL moves, able to stand up for herself, and willing to trust Sully despite not knowing all. And Ren – I would love to read Ren’s story/HEA. 🙂

    Christine – LOL! But all is not lost: there are still a few months left this year. 😉

  4. nath Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 7:50 pm #

    Hmmm, I’ve read Games of Command and it wasn’t my favorite… however, this one sounds much better 🙂 I kind of forgot about this book ^_^;

    I think I’m going to go get it tonight 😛

  5. Tracy Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

    I’ve only read 1 of her books, not being a sci-fi fan normally, but this sounds really good. I think Katiebabs has told me to read this a million times. Maybe this time I’ll get around to it. 🙂 Great review.

  6. Aymless Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    Ahh… Sully! Gotta love him!

  7. Taja Friday, May 1, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    Nath – I hope you’ll like it! I know it’s not easy to impress you. 😉

    Tracy – thanks. The importance of sci-fi elements will probably be comparable to the other book you’ve read by LS. And Katiebabs is right. 😀

    Aymless – hi! Yes, you gotta love Sully. *g*

  8. Linnea Sinclair Friday, May 1, 2009 at 5:30 pm #

    Wow, Taja, thank you so much. You have no idea how it gladdens an author’s heart when a reader “gets it.” GG was the book of my heart. I wrote the first draft–which isn’t all that much different from the final–in thirty four days. Sully wouldn’t let me sleep and the story–his story–just poured out of me. It IS Sully’s story. It’s just Chaz who’s telling it. 😉

    GG is a story, as you so fully saw, about prejudice, about trust. It’s a deep love story but it’s also about how we define who we are and whether or not we let others define us. It’s about acceptance, personal and romantic.

    For another line influenced by PUT YOUR LIGHTS ON, see the destruction of the Meritorious on pg. 240. I wove many lines/themes from that song throughout the book.

    Have you read SHADES OF DARK? Listen to Silence (Airscape mix), Sarah McLachlan/Delerium. 😉

    Thanks again, ~Linnea

  9. Taja Friday, May 1, 2009 at 11:49 pm #

    Linnea – wow, thank you for stopping by and commenting! 😀

    And thank you for confirming that GABRIEL’S GHOST is Sully’s story. I love the additional information you provided about writing GABRIEL’S GHOST (it must have been a very intense month!) and about how PUT YOUR LIGHTS ON influenced the writing of the story. You can be sure I’m going to look at page 240 again. *g*

    And let me just say that I love this:

    but it’s also about how we define who we are and whether or not we let others define us. It’s about acceptance, personal and romantic.

    I also thought it really interesting how prejudice and religion were connected in the story.

    I’m reading SHADES OF DARK again right now – I couldn’t let Sully go – so your music recommendation is very welcome. (I just looked and sure, a playlist comes with the book! lol)

    Thank you for your kind comment,


  10. Leslie Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 5:08 am #

    I totally skimmed your review because I’m reading GABRIEL’S GHOST right now and absolutely loving it! Thank you so much for adding that video – the song fits so well with Sully and Chaz and what they are going through. I’ve added it to my playlist. 🙂

  11. Taja Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 9:57 am #

    Leslie – thanks for skimming anyway! 🙂

    I thought PUT YOUR LIGHTS ON a great song before – I actually remember where I heard it for the first time and what I said to my boyfriend. Now I can’t listen to it without thinking of GABRIEL’S GHOST. Not that I mind that!

    Glad I could add to your playlist. 😉

  12. Linnea Sinclair Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 4:15 pm #

    Okay, for anyone reading SHADES OF DARK,
    SILENCE (airscape mix) is here

    Give me release
    Witness me
    I am outside
    Give me peace

    Heaven holds a sense of wonder
    And I wanted to believe
    That I’d get caught up
    When the rage in me subsides

    In this white wave
    I am sinking
    In this silence
    In this white wave
    In this silence
    I believe

    …(lyrics from

    When you get to reading HOPE’S FOLLY it’s “Toca’s Miracle/Toca Me” – Fragma

    If you’re gonna save the day
    And you’re hearing what I say
    I feel your touch, a kiss is not enough

    And if you believe in me
    Don’t think my love’s for free
    I won’t take nothing less
    Than I did for love

    Let me tell you, you, know, I, I need a miracle, I need a miracle
    It’s more than physical, what I need
    To feel from you

    Let me tell you, you, know, I, I need a miracle, I need a miracle
    It’s more than physical, what I need
    To get me through…


    Yeah, I spend a lot of time matching songs to books or vice versa. And my more recent books all have playlists in the front.

  13. francesdrakewrites Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 5:56 pm #

    Taja, what a great review. I just love reviews which make me want to go back and read a beloved book all over again. I love reviews which open my eyes to new possibilites in books which I have read time and again. Thank you.

    Frances Drake

    Writing Science Fiction Romance
    Real Love in a Real Future

  14. Taja Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    Linnea – I’m sorry your comment didn’t post right away. It was caught by the spam protection software here on WordPress which doesn’t always like links in comments all that much.

    I looked for the playlists for SHADES OF DARK and HOPE’S FOLLY yesterday and now here they are, together even with the lyrics!

    Thank you for posting them. I really like the additional insight into and feel for the story they provide. 🙂

  15. Taja Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    francesdrakewrites – hi and welcome! 🙂

    Thank you for your kind comment. If my post made you want to read GABRIEL’S GHOST again, then I’m flattered and delighted.

    Happy reading. 🙂


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

    […] Like Gabriel’s Ghost, both these novels come with a playlist. For Shades of Dark, it’s Delerium feat. Sarah McLachlan – SILENCE (Airscape mix) and for Hope’s Folly, it’s Fragma – TOCA’S MIRACLE/TOCA ME – youtube video and lyrics graciously provided by Linnea Sinclair here. […]

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