C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp
2008, Shapeshifter Romance
Tor, $6.99, 422 pages, Amazon ASIN 0765356651 Part of a series
I have always liked tales that have a little touch of the paranormal or fantastic to them, and I've enjoyed the Thrall series from the writing team of C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, so I eagerly picked up Timeless Moon, part of their Sazi series. Unfortunately, the shapeshifting Sazi just didn't work as well for me. They're aren't dreadful, but I cannot say that this world held my interest either.
Josette Monier lives as a recluse since her abilities as a seer are so strong that she cannot live among others without finding the experience painful. As a Sazi, she is part of a race of shapeshifters gifted with various supernatural abilities. Most of her people live in the everyday human world, but Josette's sensitivity makes it difficult for her to function there. However, as the Sazi face an enemy that threatens to destroy their seers, Josette can no longer be permitted to remain in her exile. The Sazi are determined to bring her out of her retirement in order to save her kind.
A lifetime ago, Josette married Rick Johnson, and she believes herself a widow. Unknown to her, however, Rick merely faked his own death and now lives in an exile of his own. Like Josette, his exile is about to end as the Sazi visit him and give him a new mission to perform.
Josette resists attempts to bring her out into the greater world, but an attack by snake assassins forces her to shed her alias, take on a new identity, and move out into the world. Along the way, she discovers a potential Sazi on the verge of her first change - and learns that her late husband in fact still lives.
I must give these authors credit for creating an intricate world. The world of the Sazi is complex, and acts as more than just a thin veneer. These characters really do feel otherworldly. If only they showed their feelings to the reader, this would have been a much richer read. While the characters have moments where the shells around them seem to drop and reveal more multidimensional creatures, the main players in this tale often seem rather wooden.
This wooden quality makes the romance between the main characters feel forced. I don't know about you, but if someone I loved and trusted went off and played dead without telling me, I would have to do an awful lot of soul-searching before allowing him back into my life. Josette has the occasional outburst, but she masks the emotional depths of her situation more completely than one might expect or find satisfying.
Sadly, this state of affairs carries over into the entire story. I'm pretty sure that this novel was supposed to involve an urgent mission of some type. A few scenes, especially those involving the young soon-to-turn Sazi, conveyed that urgency, but most of the story didn't keep me on the edge of my seat. The authors actually have a good writing style, but their gift for rich worldbuilding unfortunately has a down side; the book gets bogged down in details. That problem, the characters' stiffness, and the distance I felt from them, result in an average read. I'll probably keep up with the Thrall series from these authors, but the Sazi just don't do it for me.
-- Lynn Spencer
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