Cherryh, C. J. Protector.

NY: DAW, 2013.

This is the fourteenth novel in the author’s “Foreigner” series, which means I have now read about 5,000 pages of the adventures of Bren Cameron, the human paidhi-aiji (or translator, or gatekeeper, sort of) to the ruler of the atevi world, the alien and human inhabitants of which I have come to know and understand more deeply than I would ever have expected.

That’s Cherryh’s talent, to create a coherent, entirely reasonable and believable system of psychology that drives a non-human (but very humanoid) species and to show how one usually solitary human relates and reacts to it. Bren does this so well, in fact, that Tabini, the aiji, has come to rely heavily on him not just as the interface with the humans on their island refuge but as the paramount and necessarily neutral diplomat and go-between among the atevi themselves. At the beginning of the series, the paidhi-aiji was the only point-of-view character. Everything that happened, you saw through his gradually more sophisticated eyes. But as the series wound on and both the author and her readers became more conversant with how the atevi mind works, a second focal point was added: Cajeiri, the young heir to Tabini and presumed future ruler, if he survives that long. Cajeiri is about to have his ninth birthday, which translates to perhaps fourteen or fifteen in human physiological terms, and his greatest wish is to have his friends from the starship (well, “associates,” because love and friendship are literally alien concepts to the atevi, who have an instinctual sort of loyalty instead) come and visit him and attend his party. This involves major political adjustments because the atevi are an extremely political species. And, in fact, the kids do come down on the shuttle and are then caught up in the fringes of a longstanding struggle for power among the atevi clans. The whole book covers only a couple of weeks — and we haven’t even actually gotten to the party yet! I shall be waiting somewhat anxiously for the next installment because, as an avid fan of this series, I know that anything can happen. And, since I expect Cherryh will continue the story at least until Cajeiri succeeds to the aijinate, there are likely to be another dozen volumes to look forward to.

Published in: on 19 August 2013 at 8:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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