DELIVERER by C. J. Cherryh

The ninth book in the Foreigner series.

I stole this plot description from a couple of reviewers  because there was no official plot description offered and I am tired of trying to synopsize a complicated and ongoing story line.

We get a new PoV. Cajeiri, the Son of Tabini, the great-grandson of Ilsisdi, is missing his human friends aboard the spaceship and is semi-successful in fitting in with the rest of the Atevi. He likes tech and is doing all he can to sneak away from his protectors.

Bren is becoming more and more confident in his position in the world, but he does make a few mistakes along the way. That’s all right. That’s Bren. He always thinks his way through problems and he’s as loyal a companion as anyone could want.

Cajeiri, however, has a big problem on his hands. He’s not growing up with all the proper instincts of an Atevi. For one, he’s ignoring his instincts and following a code of “friendship”, and he doesn’t think it’s a code for “salad”. Things are gonna get really hairy, now. ūüôā

There’s more action and intrigue in this one. Quite fun action and intrigue! But above all, it’s the world-building that shines.

Picking up from the situation left at the end of¬†Pretender, paidhi Bren Cameron is once again installed (albeit in a somewhat temporary accommodation) in the Bujavid in Shejidan, capital of the powerful Aishidi’tat. However, while the aiji Tabini has reclaimed his power from the pretender Murini and restored some sense of order, Murini himself is still at large and the political climate remains a bit shaken up. In short, Cherryh delivers another in depth study of atevi politics as focalised through Bren Cameron.

Cajeiri is only infelecitious eight. And too bright for his own good.  He is bored and up to mischief, and in the confusion of trying to settle who is safe and who is not, he is kidnapped and in real danger.

The story races along with Bren and the aiji’s dowager, plus their security, rushing to the rescue. Young Cajeiri is not slow in helping himself and the reader gets another layer of understanding in the intricate political alliances and feuds.



PRETENDER by C. J. Cherryh

Eighth in the Foreigner/First Contact series.

Let me begin by talking about the general premises of the series.  It is set in a far future where the human race of the planet earth have achieved space travel, and some kind of faster than light techniques, a folded space technique, that allows them into far distant star systems.  Due to some malfuction, a ship loaded with settlers, miners, etc. ends up in a place they cannot locate and the ship is out of fuel.  They use their equipment to build a space station hovering over a habitable planet, but when it becomes apparent the Pilots Guild only wants all that work to refuel their ship, the station folks begin leaving the station on one-way drop ships and inhabit the planet where they discover other inhabitants, the atevi.

The atevi, as best as I can understand, are a human species, much taller and bigger than humans from earth, and dark black skinned.  They have a court society. complete with fancy dress, lace, courtly manners, etc.  Think Louis XV.  Their society is millennia old.  Where did these court notions come from?  Very odd.  The society is basically a lot of competing clans and ruling families, and for the first time ever, the ruler of the biggest area with the biggest aggregate of clans now essentially rules the planet.

I just find the idea of another human species, only bigger, better and blacker, to be a strange concept, although the series is fun.  When the earth humans first arrive on the planet, in spite of their vast history, the atevi had only arrived at the steam age era of technological development.

Well, in this 8th installment,¬† exhausted from a two-year rescue mission in space, the crew of the starship¬†Phoenix¬†return home to find disaster: civil war has broken out, the powerful Western Association has been overthrown, and Tabini-aiji, its forceful leader, is missing. In a desperate move,¬†paidhi¬†Bren Cameron and Tabini’s grandmother Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager, along with with Cajeiri, Tabini’s eight-year-old heir, make planetfall and succeed in reaching the mainland. The brilliant and forceful Ilisidi seeks refuge at the estate of an old ally, and Tabini-aiji arrives at the door.

As word of Tabini’s whereabouts circulates, clans allied with Tabini descend upon the estate, providing a huge civilian presence that everyone involved hopes will deter impending attacks by the usurpers. But as more and more supporting clans arrive, Bren finds himself increasingly isolated, and it becomes clear that both his extremely important report of alien contact in space, and even his life, rest on the shoulders of only two allies: Ilisidi and Cajeiri.

Can one elderly¬†ateva¬†and and eight-year-old boy‚ÄĒhimself a prime target for assassination‚ÄĒprotect Bren, a lone human involved in a civil war that most¬†atevi¬†believe he caused?

More political intrigue, more internal musing by Bren.  Frankly, this volume felt a bit padded, stretching out the plotline from the previous volume of Bren and the Dowager and the 8 year old son, plus their bodyguards, their security, crashing through the terrain looking for the disappeared Aijii, hoping he is not dead.

The fun part of this volume is that they end up with the boy’s great uncle, at his venerable estate.¬† He is a curmudgeon, hates humans and the technology they have brought to his country, but the enemy forces of the aiji are showing up at his estate in attempts to murder both the dowager and the son, destroying lots of valuable property, ruining his fields and plantings, and every group who shows up he is forced by custom to house and feed, and is appalled by the cost of all this.

The Pretender in the title refers to a double-dealing upstart who has declared the aiji dead, and has taken over the government, and the justice system, and things are looking dire, but we can guess that he will get his just desserts in the end.



DESTROYER by C. J. Cherryh

Number 7 in the Foreigner/First Contact series.  I think you are stuck with this series until I get bored with them.

It has been two years since the starship Phoenix left Alpha Station on a rescue mission where over four thousand human spacers were under attack by a hostile alien race. Now, exhausted from their journey, the crew of the Phoenix yearns for home. But when the ship makes the jump into atevi space, they learn the worst: that supplies to the station have been cut off; that civil war has broken out on the atevi mainland; that the powerful Western Association has been overthrown; and that Tabini-aiji, Bren Cameron’s primary supporter and Ilisidi’s grandson and ally, is missing and may be dead.

With no one left to lead the Western Association, Ilisidi and Bren know that the survival of their allies lies in their hands. And with the atevi world at war, the only safe landing strip lies on the human colony at Mospheira. Although there are many dangers inherent in bringing a powerful atevi leader such as Ilisidi onto human lands, Bren realizes they have no other choice. But even if they safely survive their landing, will Bren and Ilisidi together prove strong enough to muster the remaining shards of the Western Association and regain control of their planet?

The world was practically unified under Tabini, but when Bren returns to the system only to find that supplies from the world aren’t getting to the space station and the main continent is in turmoil and Tabini is presumed dead, grandmother Ilisidi and Tabini’s young son and Bren go harrowing off to find support in the mainland or at least some word as to Tabini’s fate.

This one was more political, back more to the style and content of the first three volume sequence.


EXPLORER by C. J. Cherryh

I know.  I said I was going to read something else to give you guys a break.  So I lied.  So sue me.

Official plot description:

It has been nearly ten years since the starship¬†Phoenix¬†returned to Alpha, the station orbiting the world of the¬†atevi, which had been abandoned following a rift between a faction of the station’s inhabitants and the spacers’ Pilot’s Guild. The unexpected return of the¬†Phoenix¬†has forever changed the lives of both¬†atevi¬†and Mospheirans, for over the ensuing decade, the captains of the¬†Phoenix¬†have brought both species into space. Their motivation seemed simple: Reunion Station, a human station in another sector of space, had been destroyed by aliens.

But on his deathbed, the senior captain of the¬†Phoenix¬†admits that he lied to the crew‚ÄĒthat Reunion was merely damaged, not destroyed, and many people may have survived. At this disclosure, the crew rebels and forces the¬†Phoenix¬†to undertake a rescue mission to Reunion. Onboard the rescue mission are Bren Cameron, brilliant human¬†paidhi¬†representing the¬†atevi¬†ruler Tabini-aiji, and Tabini’s grandmother Ilisidi, a fearsome and ambitious¬†atevi¬†leader with an agenda of her own. Trapped in a distant star system with little fuel left, facing a bellicose alien ship, how can Bren help to avoid interspecies war when the notoriously secretive Pilot’s Guild aboard Reunion Station refuse to cooperate, and may have kept the inhabitants of their own station ignorant of their true situation?

The atevi ruler sends his feisty and dangerous grandmother, and his 6 year old son to the station.  It is working out pretty good, until the Phoenix gets ready to depart to rescue the folks left behind on the Reunion station, which is ruled with a heavy hand by the hated Pilots Guild.  So Tabini-aiji sends the elderly grandmother and his kid along on the space flight to Reunion!  WT actual F!   This is a two year round trip, with hyperspace jumps and all kinds of neat spaceship stuff.  But really, nobody knows what they will find in Reunion.

What they find is a nasty welcome from the head of the Pilots Guild and demands to board and examine the ship.¬† No way Jose, says the female captain.¬† But she agrees to board the station to present her papers, but the crew and Bren and the atevi’s aboard the ship are quite worried about this.

Meanwhile, there is a huge alien ship hanging around, and has been for six years, with no action.¬† But gee, the station has a giant frigging hole in it, damaged in a shootout with that ship six years ago.¬† Bren and the ship’s crew work out a way to communicate with that ship in pixel pictures, and learn than the ship sent a small explorer pod to the station six years ago, the station shot it down and captured its pilot, and have been holding him.¬† The alien ship wants its guy back.¬† They have been watching, waiting to see¬† what’s what before they do anything.

Bren tells the ship that they (the Phoenix people) will go in the station and rescue the imprisoned alien and return him (her) (it) to its own ship.

Lots of intrigue and action-y stuff follows, they do rescue the alien, bring him aboard the Phoenix.¬† He turns out to be huge …. I was getting a picture of the Pillsbury Doughboy as big as the atevi.¬† Bren and the alien work at creating a workable language and Bren learns they are the Kyo (or something like that, I forget) and they are a trading people, but have trouble because they are also an attaching people, and tend to swallow up those they come in contact with.¬† Fortunately, they are a kalebenty billion light years away, so won’t be dropping into Atevi space any too frequently for tea.

But they do tell of an even scarier menace on the far side of their stars, so the word is definitely out … we are not alone in the universe.

Much less political intrigue, musing and surmising who is doing what to whom, and more action and faster pace.  Very enjoyable.  I liked this one best so far.


DEFENDER by C. J. Cherryh

I promise I will try to read something other than this series for the next post, but for today, it’s the fifth in the First Contact/Foreigner series.

Nearly ten years after the unexpected return of the starship¬†Phoenix, the alien¬†atevi¬†have three functioning space shuttles, and teams of¬†atevi¬†engineers labor in orbit to renovate the space station. But these monumental advances not only add a dangerously powerful third party to an already precarious diplomatic situation, but rouse pro- and anti-space factions in¬†atevi¬†society to incendiary levels. To help negotiate these treacherous diplomatic waters, Tabini-aiji, the powerful head of the¬†atevi’s¬†Western Association, has sent the only human he fully trusts into space: his own¬†paidhi, Bren Cameron.

However, the threat of possible invasion by hostile aliens who attacked¬†Phoenix’s¬†station in a far-off sector of space hangs over them all. And when one of the senior captains of the¬†Phoenixconfesses that this station was not completely destroyed, as had been previously thought, the crew mutinies. How can Bren hope to mediate on a station overcome by a rebellious crew intent on taking the¬†Phoenix¬†on a rescue mission back into hostile alien territory?

OK, that was the official blurb.

The fun part.  That vicious old lady grandmother of Tabini-aiji also shows up on the station, bossing everyone around and you absolutely got to love her.  And she is going on the space ship, for the trip out to the allegedly dead station, along with her great grandson, the six-year-old klutz, who can not be trusted around precious objects.   She gets into it with the new ship captain, another vicious woman, and the sparks fly, the Security of all parties are strung way tight, and it is just a hoot.

PRECURSOR by C. J. Cherryh

The fourth in the Foreigner/First Contact series.¬† The series is conceived in trilogies, referred to as ‘Arcs’.¬† This is the first of the Arc 2 Trilogy.

Three years have passed since the events of Inheritor. Bren still lives among the atevi as chief human ambassador, with Jace working closely at his side as translator and linguistics expert. The atevi have made huge strides in the three years to develop technology, including a functioning space ship. With things going smoothly in the intervening time, and violence with the Mospheirans and orbiting station essentially non-existent, it comes as a major surprise to Bren when in short order he’s informed by Tabini of three things: Jace is being pulled from his staff and sent back to live with other humans in the orbiting station, secondly that Bren too is in for a space ride, his presence also required in the space station to find out why Jace was recalled, and thirdly Bren needs to take advantage of the trip to broker key trade agreements so that the personnel aboard the station get the resources they need and the atevi get access to the technology they desire. Negotiations initially going smoothly, when an appointed meeting doesn’t take place, and no word is sent about a re-schedule, Bren starts to get suspicious. But with rumors floating around that hostile aliens have been found in a nearby star system, things start to get tense.

This volume continues to be  heavily focused on alien-human relations and the subtleties of diplomacy, And political intrigue.

Who is the precursor here? There are a lot of possibilities. The station itself, mothballed for centuries, is the precursor of atevi presence in space. Bren is the precursor of Ilisidi, taking over the station. Ilisidi is the precursor of Tabini. The station is the precursor of a much wider space possibility. Phoenix is the precursor of other ships. And for that matter the book is the beginning of a new trilogy…

INHERITOR by C. J. Cherryh

The third in the First Contact/Foreigner series.  The following is a direct copy of the plotline from Goodreads.

“From its beginnings as a human-alien story of first contact, the¬†Foreigner¬†series has become a true science fiction odyssey, following a civilization from the age of steam through early space flight to confrontations with other alien species in distant sectors of space. It is the masterwork of a truly remarkable author.

Six months have passed since the reappearance of the starship¬†Phoenix‚ÄĒthe same ship which brought a colony of humans to the hostile environment of alien¬†atevi¬†nearly two hundred years ago. During these six months, the¬†atevi¬†have reconfigured their fledgling space program in a bid to take their place in the heavens alongside humans. But the return of the¬†Phoenix¬†has added a frighteningly powerful third party to an already volatile situation, polarizing both human and¬†atevi¬†political factions, and making the possibility of all-out planetary war an even more likely threat.

On the¬†atevi¬†mainland, human ambassador Bren Cameron, in a desperate attempt to maintain the peace, has arranged for one human representative from the¬†Phoenix¬†to take up residence with him in his apartments, and for another to be stationed on Mosphiera, humanity’s island enclave. Bren himself is unable to return home for fear of being arrested or assassinated by the powerful arch conservative element who wish to bar the¬†atevi from space. Desperately trying to keep abreast of the¬†atevi associations, how can Bren possibly find a way to save two species from a three-sided conflict that no one can win?”

So now we have a guy and woman who arrived on the planet from the spaceship Phoenix, by means of a drop shuttle, with two parachutes.  Technology from 200 years ago, but nobody has anything newer.  The woman is assigned to the human government on their island, and the guy to the atevi.  He has moderate rogi language, but the girl is far less competent.

More intrigue, more machinations,more political manipulations.  For those who prefer a wild and woolly style of space opera, they will be disappointed in this.  This series is more like the political intrigue of the Medici family  of the fifteen and sixteen hundreds in the Republic of Florence.