Killashandra was the most gifted Crystal Singer on Ballybran.With her partner, Lars Dahl, she held the record for cutting the terrible, fascinating, and infinitely rare black crystals - crystals that could destroy the brain of a Singer if they were not properly controlled.Killashandra and Lars Dahl together were an invincible pair.
So when, on the distant planet of Opal, a new, beautiful, unfathomable manifestation was discovered, Lars and Killashandra were the team asked to explore the 'Jewel Junk'.All those who had previously encountered it had died.Only the Crystal Singers, with the immune system of Ballybran in their blood, were thought to stand a chance of survival.The 'Jewel Junk' was brilliant and mysterious, and became even more so when fed with some of Ballybran's precious crystals.But it was to be twenty-five years before the planet Opal released one of its secrets - a secret that was to prove the salvation of Ballybran and the Crystal Singers.
McCaffrey again explores the effects of institutionalized memory loss on a culture in the third volume of a series that began with Crystal Singer . Killashandra Ree, one of the rare individuals with perfect pitch who can find and cut the Ballybran crystals on which much of the galaxy's economy is based, turns away from her lover and partner Lars Dahl when he becomes head of the Heptite Guild and, to her discomfort, moves to bring some order into the workings of the organization that controls the crystal trade. In order to work with crystal one must adapt to a symbiotic organism that heals humans rapidly and prolongs life; as a side effect, those who handle crystal lose their memories, forgetting the locations of good mining sites as well as the identities of their friends and lovers. While Lars undertakes various projects to overcome this disability, Killashandra has an off-planet fling. Eventually she reconciles herself to change, finding possible salvation for them all. As lacking in coherence as a crystal singer's life and bereft of interesting characters, this episodic McCaffrey effort is a major disappointment.