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Changelings: Book One of the Twins of Petaybee    by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough order for
by Anne McCaffrey
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

Changelings is the first in a new series about the planet Petaybee, which was introduced in the authors' previous Power trilogy. Sean and Yana have had twins, a boy and girl, named Ronan (the boy) and Murel (the girl). As their father, Sean, is a selkie, a sort of shape shifter who can change into a seal, the children naturally have the same ability to change into seals any time they immerse themselves in water. The story begins with the birth of the twins, who quickly demonstrate their extreme precociousness. It then moves ahead to when they are eight years old. This is when the real drama begins.

Petaybee is a unique planet. It's sentient and also possesses the ability to accelerate its aging process dramatically, producing extreme changes as it constantly evolves, rather like the Genesis project in the movie Star Trek III. This of course attracts scientists from all over the universe. Unfortunately, it also attracts unwanted attention to Sean and Yana's children, as the inhabitants on the small planet are few and therefore no one can get lost in the crowd. Inevitably, their shape shifting comes to the notice of one scientist who becomes obsessed with them, and thus they are forced to flee the planet.

The beginning of the story is immediately intriguing, with strong descriptions of the planet and the people. The characters are interesting and diverting, and the background information on the planet and its peoples informative, especially if the reader hasn't taken in the previous Power books (I hadn't, although I have read several in the Dragonriders of Pern series). However, the characters aren't developed much and seem shallow and lightly drawn towards the end of the book. The story, too, never seems to get developed much beyond the initial plot set-up in the first chapters. While a pleasant read, the novel isn't meaty or every wholly satisfying. This first entry in a new series is good, but doesn't compare to McCaffrey's best work.

I recommend Changelings mainly to younger Science Fiction readers, especially to those who are already fans of the highly popular Pern books.

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