01/04/2007. Contributed by Pauline Morgan
Wraeththu are, to an extent, an unknown quantity, even to themselves.
Whether the subsequent rapid spread was deliberate or accidental is among Wraeththu, conjecture.
In the early stages, as the race moved towards dominance, human males were incepted. A blood transfusion caused changes within the body. The metamorphosis is akin, though not quite as drastic, as the change from caterpillar to butterfly. Incepted Wraeththu or har are true hermaphrodites. They have both 'male' and 'female' organs. The sex act, aruna, is not sticky and sweaty as between humans but is portrayed more as a mystical as well as physical sharing.
The spiritual nature is compounded by the method of reproduction. It is not so much a combination of sperm and ova but described as an opening of a cauldron of creation. The Wraeththu see the creation of a pearl as a drawing of the essence of the new har from some other place. The pearl grows inside the hostling before being expelled like a large egg with a leathery membrane rather than a shell reminiscent of a single, reptile birth.
Wraeththu are, to an extent, an unknown quantity, even to themselves. They do not know how long their life span is. They have carried across a number of human failings. They can be hostile and bloodthirsty. They are prone to the baser emotions such as jealousy. At the same time, a har can be both monogamous and free with their sexual favours.
Much of the first trilogy of the Wraeththu chronicles dealt with the relationship between Cal and Pellaz. Both of these are now Tigrons or heads of state in Immanion, the capital of the strongest of the Wraeththu tribes. This second series takes the development of Wraeththu into spiritual realms. The first of this series, 'The Wraiths Of Will And Pleasure', introduced another tribe, the Kamagrian, whose main attributes were feminine and who could incept female humans into their ranks. One of these was Mima, sister to Pellaz. One of his brothers has become an advisor. Pell feels it is important to find his other one.
One of the new characters introduced here is Moon. He is a harling whose father, Snake, is the missing brother. As Pellaz begins to gather in the missing parts of his family, other powers are intent on causing trouble. Wraeththu are able to travel very quickly from place to place via the 'otherlanes' with the help of sedim beings, who in this world have the appearance of horses. The sedim have rivals, the teraphim, who have aligned themselves with Ponclast, the leader of a particularly war-like tribe who have been confined within a supposedly impenetrable barrier. This group break out, intent on creating mayhem.
To a great extent this is a bridging novel. A number of things are clearly being set up here. During a bout of reconciliation and harmony between the Tigrons, Cal and Pellaz and their Tigrina, Caeru, the three create a unique pearl. However, before it can come to term, it is ripped from Caeru's body. This harling, which we know survives, disappears.
Cal, at the same time also disappears. Galdra, a har from the northern Freyhellan tribe, is manoeuvred towards Pellaz with the potential, in the eyes of some factions, of replacing the missing Cal. At the end of the previous novel, Lileem, a Kamagrian, vanished into another realm. At the end of this book, there are other unresolved factors. Constantine does not put things into her work that are not important. Therefore it is safe to assume that these elements will be returned to in the third volume.
Constantine also begins the development of themes that have, so far, lain dormant. Lileem's experiments that took her to the other realm indicate that their sexual powers have a greater potential than most har realise. One of the undercurrents running through 'The Shades Of Time And Memory' is a gradual realisation of what can be achieved. This is perhaps another signpost of what is to come.
As with the first volume of this trilogy, there are bonus tracks. The first, 'First Enchantments' is the first part of an unfinished manuscript that is a prototype for the original Wraeththu novels. The second is the continuation of the Wraeththu fairytale, 'Spinning For Gold'. To find out how it ends, you will have to wait for the next volume.
Although, I would highly recommend this series of books, this is not the place to start. There are too many characters and issues that begin in earlier volumes.
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