Betrayer by C.J. Cherryh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jacket Blurb: In the wake of civil war, Bren Cameron, the brilliant human diplomat of the alien atevi civilization,
has left the capital and sought refuge at his country estate, Najida.
But now he is trapped inside Najida—which has been surrounded by
enemies—with Ilisidi, the powerful grandmother of his ally, Tabini-aiji,
atevi leader of the Western Association. But Ilisidi, the wily
and dangerous aiji-dowager, is not inclined to be passive, and in a
brazen maneuver sends Bren into enemy territory, to the palace of
Machigi, the leader of the rebels.Bren's mission is to negotiate with
Machigi—a young atevi lord who has never actually seen a
human—and somehow persuade him to cease his hostile actions against the
West. Bren knows that the autocratic Machigi rules a fractious clan, and
that his hospitality is not guaranteed. Bren's genius for negotiation
enable him to make a daring trade offer to Machigi—one that seems to
interest the young warlord. But Machigi is suspicious of Ilisidi's
motives, and, to Bren's utter shock, evokes an ancient law that
jeopardizes Bren's life. Can Bren stay alive, not alienate and not
alienate Ilisidi or Tabini, while also representing the interests of
I darn near read this in one sitting. If you haven't read the first eleven in the series, this review really isn't going to have much context because the first eleven books lay the foundation for number twelve.
Bren, the Dowager, and Cajieri are in residence at Bren's Coastal estate. Toby, Bren's brother, and his girlfriend Barb are still stuck inside the house due to a hornet's next Cajieri and his ashid (household) kicked in book eleven. Lord Geigi, has returned from the Space Station to handle a nephew who started the current mess. Cajieri's two newest bodyguards have been problematic, and when Barb is kidnapped, they go after her. And all of this leads to Bren heading to Murini to deal with the fractious and young Lord Machigi.
This is a tangled nest of Atevi politics, customs, and Bren is caught firmly in the middle of it all. He begins to realize, perhaps belatedly, just how much Ilsidii can manipulate Atevi politics across the continent and across time. What she sets in motion is something that she has had her eye on since her husband and son were assassinated and she was denied the ajii position.
Cajieri, thinking in book eleven he was going to get away from the boredom of the Capitol and go on a fishing trip, is fast growing up and learning what it means to be Atevi. He has been assigned two young Guild guards who don't mesh with his household. He is vexed, frustrated, and annoyed. When they go harrowing off after Barb and Bren is sent after her, he grows up fast. I really enjoyed seeing this side of Cajieri as more than just another point of view. He brought more to the story this time.
I could go on about the intricacies of the game of chess the Dowager has set in motion, but really, this is a book that should just be read. Highly recommended.
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