Book Review: The Shaman of Karres by Eric Flint and Dave Freer
The Witches of Karres are at it again…
Changes are coming to the galaxy. War is brewing between two worlds, a warrior of Na’kalauf needs psychological healing, and Captain Pausert just wants a vacation. To say nothing of finding time to wrap his mind around the fact that he will be marrying the Karres witch Goth soon.
But most of all, the Leewit is growing up. And she’s not happy about it.
Watching the Leewit fuming in annoyance from his Great-Uncle Threbus’ front porch, Captain Pausert questions his great-uncle to try to learn what the Witches of Karres have in store for him now. Threbus explains that Pausert, the Leewit, Vezzarn, and the Leewit’s Na’kalauf bodyguard Ta’zara will be heading to the water world of Na’kalauf. Although the Leewit has healed him physically from the effects of the battle with the Megair Cannibals, there is still some work to be done in regard to Ta’zara’s mind.
More to the point, the war brewing between Iradalia and Karoda has to be stopped. Karoda is a slaver world, and Iradalia hates slavery. Both planets share not only the same solar system but the same orbit, though they are drifting away from each other as the centuries progress. But in the manner of squabbling twins, their governments continuously jockey for position, and their present argument threatens to boil over in a truly dangerous way. If their battle of wills explodes into war, the galaxy will pay in blood if the victors aren’t prevented from accomplishing their goals.
Listening to his uncle, Pausert notes that there is someone Threbus is not counting as part of his crew – a very vital someone. Goth is not among the people Threbus says will be traveling to Iradalia and Karoda with him.
After excusing himself, Pausert finds Goth brooding in the forest. She confirms she has a separate mission taking her elsewhere and that she will not be heading to Iradalia and Karoda with him. To work out her frustrations, she goes hunting, so Pausert goes back to his ship – and discovers a mysterious cargo being loaded aboard to help him and his crew with their mission. Why doesn’t anyone tell him anything?
Before long, Pausert and the others find themselves neck-deep in emergencies, mysteries, and confusion. Meanwhile, Goth pursues her own mission solo: to find and rescue Pausert’s mother. Their separate assignments soon intertwine in ways they could never have anticipated, but will it be enough to prevent a war that will see a world of religious fanatics take over the galaxy?
Captain Pausert is a charming grump trying his best to roll with the unexpected punches both the galaxy and the Witches throw at him. For all his grumbling, though, he meets the challenges that face him with more aplomb and strength than he seems to believe he possesses. A man with rock-steady loyalties, one has to appreciate the down-to-earth attitude he brings to the scenes wherein he appears. Even when he’s rattled, this captain holds his ground with determination firm enough to surprise enemies and allies alike.
Goth is fun to follow for her competency as she navigates her way through her own solo adventure. Confident and capable, she gets herself out of more than a few scrapes on her own without coming across as a Mary Sue, in no small part because she knows she is not perfect. When she actually needs help, she goes to get it, without worrying about her pride or status as a “hot witch” at all.
The Leewit is the star of the show. Short-tempered and unhappy that she must “be responsible,” her childish habits are balanced well by her healer’s skills and determination to take care of her patients. None of which prevents her from giving the bad guys what-for; after all, a person who can heal can turn those same skills to causing discomfort, pain, and even death if the need arises. When the Leewit decides she has had enough, she really makes her displeasure known!
The galaxy is alive and vibrant with everyday mundanities at the same time hints of a strange past abound within the narrative. Ancient ruins sit side-by-side with a modern slave trade, while smugglers and police find themselves in agreement that corrupt conglomerates are bad business for everyone. In the midst of all this, hidden from regular sight, Karres monitors events and decides where to intervene to keep themselves – and humanity – as safe as possible.
None. This is a very politics-free book.
A PG-13 rating for the implications of certain forms of slavery is about all this book earns, as it is very accessible to any age. There is mention of cannibalism, but it is quick and does not go into detail.
Who is it for?
Fans of space opera looking for a new universe to explore will want to grab this book, while readers who enjoy paranormal powers and mysteries will find klatha skills intriguing. Anyone who has already been following the Witches of Karres will consider this book a must-read, of course, and those who want a pleasant escape from the everyday grind will find this novel satisfies that desire and then some. Furthermore, anyone who wants competent male leads who aren’t overshadowed by their equally competent female co-stars will love the dynamics in this book, as Captain Pausert relies on his girls’ strengths at the same time they rely on his. No matter how one looks at it, The Shaman of Karres has something for everyone!
Why read it?
It’s a good book that takes a reader far, far away from the present. Who doesn’t want a relaxing vacation to another universe this Christmas season?
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