Intruder by C.J. Cherryh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jacket Blurb: (lamest blurb ever) The civil war among the
alien atevi has ended. Tabini-aiji, powerful ruler of the Western
Association, along with Cajeiri his son and heir, and his human paidhi,
Bren Cameron, have returned to the Bujavid, their seat of power.
But factions that remain loyal to the opposition are still present, and the danger these rebels pose is far from over.
Cherryh's Foreigner books tend to slide fairly seamlessly from one to the next, and Intruder was no exception. Bren has left his coastal estate to be extensively remodeled and is back in "his" newly renovated apartment in the Bujavid. Tabini-aiji is down the hall, and the Dowager on the other side (this must be a massive complex...). It is now Bren's job to pave the way, so to speak, for Murini's pending visit to sign formal alliance documents with the Dowager.
Not a lot of action-action in this book, which I was entirely okay with. After the last three books with the cross country escapades, shoot-outs, bombs, kidnappings and assassinations, a respite was welcome. The most action that happens in this book is a lot monkey. However, on the political front in the atevi world, there is some very significant shifting.
And that's what makes these book so damn fascinating - Cherryh's world building goes right down to political alliances and factions, who has insulted whom, long standing grievances, and Cherryh moves her characters around with the skill of a chess master.
The political aspect is nicely balanced by the thoughts and actions of Cajeiri and his small ashid. The eight year old going on felicitous nine is learning how to be a leader, while at the same time, channeling the needs, wants and desires of an eight year old. Cajeiri also gives the reader a great look at the atevi culture and world: the concept of man'chi and how it's formed, allegiance to parents, the politics of raising a future leader, and well, the problems of raising a future leader.
My one small complaint with this book was I had the vague impression the books cultural "feel" shifted from an Oriental styled background to a Victorian one about midway through. Prior to this book there hasn't been any mention of social gatherings, and now everyone seemed to be planning a party, complete with verbal invites, and it just felt like something out of the Victorian era. Complete with lots of lace.
Highly recommended the whole series. Start with Foreigner however, not a series to be picked up in the middle.
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