The Shape-Changer’s Wife, by Sharon Shinn (1995) E

Date read: 1.6.06
Read from: Public library
Reviewer: Emera

Always hungry for new knowledge, the magician Aubrey leaves his master to become the apprentice of the famed and reclusive shape-changer Glyrenden. Surrounded by a forest in Glyrenden’s decaying mansion, with only two eccentric servants for company, Aubrey becomes increasingly mesmerized by Glyrenden’s aloof and otherworldly wife, Lilith.

I read The Shape-Changer’s Wife at about the time that I began to be bored with standard fantasy, as evidenced by the fact that when I got it out of the library, I lost interest as soon as I looked at the cover. I read it anyway, just because it was relatively short and I liked the title, but overall it got a big shrug from me. I think it’s a combination of the aforementioned boredom, the book being Sharon Shinn’s first, and the fact that her prose is generally very… unassuming, as I’ve gathered from the others of her books that I’ve read (namely, the Samaria series, which I must admit to having enjoyed a good deal nonetheless). Granted, I prefer reliable writing over poorly attempted style, but Shinn’s writing is so straightforward and so devoid of stylistic interest that it leaves no impression on me afterwards. Add in the fact that I guessed Lilith’s “secret” 20 or so pages in, and a few annoying clichés and illogicalities, and there wasn’t much to be read. Still some nice details and scenes, but not enough to make this a memorable novel.

On a separate note, the [Profession/Status/etc.]’s [Wife/Sister/Daughter] titling convention/cliché has been amusingly documented by Isaac Marion here.

Go to:
Sharon Shinn
Archangel, by Sharon Shinn (1997) [E]
The Alleluia Files, by Sharon Shinn (1999) [E]

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  1. Maureen E’s avatar

    I’ve noticed that titling convention. I’m not a super-radical feminist, but for some reason that one just bugs the crap out of me. Seriously? And it’s not even original any more.

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  2. Emera’s avatar

    It’s very interesting from a sociological point of view, isn’t it? Something about the “mystique” of the [Wife/Sister/Daughter] figure being feminine and defined by her relationship to the male possessor (and it’s interesting how on hearing titles in this trend, you pretty much automatically assume the possessor to be male). Someone should attempt a counter-trend with a book titled “The Dentist’s Boyfriend” or similar.

    Actually, on further thought, I’m starting to think that the titling trend simply grows out of the fact that there are necessarily so many books about a woman being defined in relation to a given man.

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