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Beyond Varallan by S. L. Viehl

Review by Jojo

Spoilers for StarDoc!

Beyond Varallan is the sequel to StarDoc, the first book starring Cherijo Grey Veil.

The World
The bulk of this novel takes place on the Jorenian ship, Sunlace. Because the Jorenians fully embrace family, they have taken Cherijo in, despite the fact that her Jorenian husband has succumbed to the plague in the first book. Not only is she given shelter and protection, when her creator wants her returned and the League officially declares her non-sentient, but she is given place under the Senior Healer and is trained to be the Senior Healerís replacement.

The Characters
Naturally, we have Cherijo. Duncan Reever is with us, as well as Dhreen, Aluthani, and Jenner. For new faces, we have the entire crew of the Sunlace, especially Xonea, Cherijoís ClanBrother. Then thereís Squilyp, an Omarrian physician who starts out as a bitter rival.

The Plot
Actually seems to take forever to develope, as I think this is her style. There is angst--Cherijo blames herself for her Chosenís passing, though her adoptive family does not. There is Xoneaís growing attention, and Reeverís cold-then-hot-then-cold attitude towards her. There are scattering of apparent accidents that leave the victims with nothing but liquid in their chest cavities, and there is the ever present threat of League attack. When the plot is finally defined it is thus: there is a traitor on board that is attacking Cherijo, as well as others, and only the nonJorenians are suspect--including Cherijo.

The Grade
Despite the fact that it took a bit for the plot become clear, it didnít detract from the book. We puzzle and guess at where this is going, along with Cherijo. The book was a bit darker than the first, as in depressing, because Cherijo has so much guilt on her shoulders. Itís rather like season five of Buffy, I think. Still, I sat and read this book in a matter of hours last night. The ending is cliff-hanger-ish, more so than the first, and I was very glad to have the next book with me so I could start it immediately.

Four out of five amulets. Itís more mystery set in space, space opera than anything else, but itís really entertaining.


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