Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Recent Reading: PROTECTOR

So, just finished PROTECTOR by CJ Cherryh. The Foreigner series is so satisfying, in a slow-paced intellectual way — all complicated politics all the time, convoluted talk-heavy diplomacy occasionally interspersed with attempted assassinations and other violence. Of course, this is the 14th book in the series (the 14th! Wow.), so by now the reader is very, very familiar with all the continuing characters and with the ateva society. We don’t need a fast-paced adventure or a hot love affair to care about what’s going on — if we did, we would hardly have made it to the 14th book, right? We want the whole complicated situation to work out, we’re rooting for Tabini-aji and the whole ateva society, and the peripheral human societies, too, annoying as they can be.

So: Cajeiri is finally getting his dearest wish for his birthday (the fortunate ninth birthday, following what we have to admit was a pretty infelicitous eighth year. Maybe there’s something to all that ateva numerology after all, hey?)

The human kids have finally made it down onto the planet, so we’re getting to actually know them for the first time. I like them all; in just a few words Cherryh has turned them all into real people. And how awed they are by ordinary river pebbles and things, since they’ve never been on a planet before. Very nice! I’m glad these kids are clearly going to be around for at least one more book; it wouldn’t surprise me to find them all continuing to be present through the rest of the series.

Naturally there are political complications wrapped around the birthday party, and it’s nice to see that the good guys are finally in position to take out a huge chunk of the opposition, now that they’ve finally figured out who that is. The plot for the third book in this particular sub-trilogy of the series is pretty clear, though no doubt something complicated will happen that we don’t yet see coming.

I’m pretty sure that this series is aiming at eighteen books. The series has just about got to include a sub-trilogy where the kyo, so often referred to since we met them, actually do show up again. If I were guessing, after the next book where the aji’s political situation will get resolved, Cherryh will do one last sub-trilogy where she brings back the kyo and everyone meets some major crisis and we actually get to a more complete resolution that leaves the whole world and all three species in a better place. I can see her setting it up. At least, I think I can.

Anybody else out there following this series? It’s certainly not what I would suggest for an intro to CJ Cherryh — far too long, and slow to get started, and not everybody likes complicated politics. But for creating an alien species and society that feels utterly real and complete, well, I don’t think it’s ever, ever been done half as well by anyone else.

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6 Comments Recent Reading: PROTECTOR

  1. elaine t

    I’m following it more or less, I thought it got draggy and formulaic in the middle: alarms, excitement, and Ilisidi intervenes and cleans up the mess. since the return to the planet, though, and Cajieri’s increasing role, I’ve gotten more interested again. But my very favorite part is when Brenn is figuring out how to talk with the Kyo. I’m sticking with it partly to see them again,and see Been do his thing again.

    Still on vacation in the rain, Elaine

  2. Rachel

    My favorite is also definitely the one where we meet the kyo. It’s great to see Bren in his translator/diplomat role.

    Has it been raining this whole time? : (

  3. Mary Beth

    I made it through a dozen or so of the books and then slipped sideways into the Alliance/Union books (though I still haven’t finished all of those, either!) But I just picked up FOREIGNER at the library for a reread, along with Martha Wells’ FALL OF IL-RIEN trilogy and several of Guy Gavriel Kay’s backlist! If only I didn’t have actual work to do…

  4. Rachel

    Yep, sounds like you need an uninterrupted week to get through all those! But sounds like fun. Let us know what you think of the Ile-Rien trilogy!

  5. Kootch

    You know you’re really, really hooked on a series when you get to the last page and immediately flip back to the first page to read it all over again. A new reader should start with “Foreigner” because it sets everything up. I also love C.J. Cherryh’s Alliance Union books. Excellent writer and such prodigious output.

  6. Rachel

    Exactly! I don’t necessarily read every page over again, but I definitely read bits . . . and then more bits . . . and finally I do wind up reading a good part of the novel over again. For me, Bujold is also like that — and so was Martha Wells’ WHEEL OF THE INFINITE.

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