When I was running SF Site in the late 90s, I got hundreds of review books every year. Many appealed to me, though I had time to read almost none, and instead assigned them to our freelance reviewers. (Isn’t that always the way? You can have plenty of books, or you can have plenty of time, but you can never have both.)
Anyway, in the intervening 15+ years, I’ve long since forgotten most of the delightful volumes that passed through my hands. Yesterday I was in my basement — excuse me, the Cave of Wonders — making room for recent arrivals, packing up nearly a thousand old review copies to store in the attic, when I came across my dust-covered copy of Sunderlies Seeking, the first novel in Ghatten’s Gambit, a two-volume fantasy series published by DAW in 1998 and 2000.
I did remember Sunderlies Seeking. Even after 17 years, I recalled Mark Hess’s great cover and the evocative description on the back, promising a tale of adventure in a land of “convicts, rebels, and the unwanted refuse of society.” Not to mention a pair of friendly cats on the cover, helping sail a ship into the harbor. I’d never heard of author Gayle Greeno before Sunderlies Seeking crossed my desk in 1998, but after it did I sought out her other novels with great interest.
There are only six. The Farthest Seeking (2000), the second and final novel in Ghatten’s Gambit, was the last book Gayle Greeno published.
I’m not sure why. It doesn’t appear to be the usual reason writers stop writing — lack of sales. Greeno’s first three books, The Ghatti’s Tale trilogy, were steady sellers for DAW — and indeed, the first and third books are STILL in print, over two decades after they were first released.
The covers for Finders-Seekers and Exiles’ Return were both by Braldt Bralds; Mind-Speakers’ Call was painted by Mark Hess. All three were published in the mid-90s.
Mind-Speakers’ Call (1994)
Exiles’ Return (1995)
I know very little about Gayle Greeno, and for a while I wondered if the name might be a pseudonym. However, according to some reports she was an employee at NAL/Penguin (distributors of DAW), in the marketing department.
At their core, the Ghatti books are legal mysteries with a dash of adventure sf, although with a definite fantasy feel. The strong animal bonding theme clearly added to the appeal for a lot of readers. Most fantasy novels are out of print after just a few months… for these to stay in print for over two decades is an amazing achievement, and proves the books have an enduring appeal.
Here’s the book description for Finders Seekers, the first book in The Ghatti’s Tale.
Their technological resources destroyed, a colonizing expedition from Earth has been stranded on the world of Methuen for over two hundred years. Their continued survival is largely due to the organization of healers known as the Eumedicos and to the Seekers Veritas, a unique group composed of pairs of Bondmates, one human and one ghatti — a telepathic catlike being native to Methuen who bonds with a specific human for life. These Bondmates travel from town to town, settling disputes by truth-reading the minds and emotions of plaintiffs and defendants. While most people respect the Seekers, there are those who fear the ghatti powers. And now someone has begun attacking Seeker pairs.
What no one knows is that this destroyer has targeted one specific pair of Bondmates as special victims — the woman Doyce and the ghatta Khar’pern. For the key to defeating this deadly foe is locked away in Doyce’s mind behind barriers even her ghattas has never been able to break down.
In this first novel set on the far world of Methuen, Earth colonists have been stranded for two centuries with very little of their technological resources intact. Their continued survival relies on the Seekers Veritas, made up of Bondmates — one human and one ghatti (telepathic catlike beings native to the planet). Now, an unknown enemy is launching a lethal attack against the Seekers.
The Sunerlies — home to convicts, rebels, and the unwanted refuse of society — or so it has traditional been. Even now it is a land where, for the law-abiding population, the price of safety is eternal vigilance.
For Doyce’s and Jenret’s sixteen-year-old twins, Jenneth and her brother Diccon, the very name is a summons to exotic adventure. So when Jenret proposes taking them — and any friends who wish to make the journey — along on a business trip to the Sunerlies, the twins can hardly contain their excitement. The only thing more thrilling is the newfound bond Jenneth has made with the ghatten Pw’eek and Diccon with her sister ghatten Kwee.
Yet almost from the start the journey seems overshadowed with bad luck — or evil intent. Though Doyce, newly retired from the position of Seeker General, has come along in the hopes of restrengthening her emotional ties with her husband Jenret, they seem to be caught in a kind of private war neither can control. And before the party even sets sail, “accidents” begin to occur. First Doyce is thrown by her mount. Next a campfire explosion menaces Jenneth, Diccon, and the other children. Yet despite these ill omens, they are determined not to turn back.
But the real disaster strikes at sea, when a storm sweeps Jenneth and Pw’eek overboard. Desperate to find his lost twin, Diccon has no way of knowing what the worst of all of them still lies ahead — in the Sunerlies, where a once-vanquished and long-vanished enemy waits — a fanatic determined to eradicate Resonates and Seekers alike…
Greeno published one additional book with DAW, an adventure SF novel titled Mind Snare, in 1997. Her last book was The Farthest Seeking in 2000.
Sunderlies Seeking was published by DAW in November 1998. It is 570 pages, priced at $6.99 for both the paperback and digital versions. The cover is by Mark Hess. It is currently out of print, but available in digital format.
The Farthest Seeking was published in June 2000 by DAW Books. It is 676 pages, priced at $6.99 for both the paperback and digital versions. The cover is by Paul Youll. It’s also out of print, but available digitally.
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