Daw, April 2003, 6.99, 496 pp.
Humanity has colonized the stars and co-exists with many special humanoids as well as other sentient races but no species will tolerate the existence of a Web-being. They are near immortal shape-shifters that can eat intelligent life and turn living matter into more of their own essence. A mindless Web-being called Death destroyed a whole world and many of the inhabitants on it.
Essen, the only Web-being in the vicinity of Minos XII, is a gentle, caring soul whose web was destroyed by Death. She and her human, Paul Cameron have made a life for themselves on Minos XII, working in exports until a friend finds out Essen's true nature and tries to kill them. They escape to a waterworld planet where they learn Skalen, the only surviving member of Essen's former web, has out-maneuvered them. She makes her presence known because she needs them to go with her to Picco's Moon, the place where they were born to avert an interstellar war and so that the two-web beings can settle their differences once and for all.
Essen is one of the most unique and refreshing sentient beings ever created by an author and it is easy to see why readers will cherish her. After six centuries of life, she is still an innocent who reveres life and regrets that people can't see past the surface of what she is. Pail is the one person who cares for her, as she is, a man who understands her nature and still cares deeply for her. They have a relationship that can only be severed by death. Their adventures together make for a strong outer space science fiction tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner