So, here we are, the … 21st? Yes, 21st book in the Foreigner series.
As you may recall, I was not impressed by the 20th book, Resurgence.
The full sequence of the recent books is not tracking the trilogy model; that system broke down several books ago, which was signaled by the change in titles from titles that were words ending in -or and -er to titles that are words ending in -ence. So the current series includes Convergence, Emergence, Resurgence, and now Divergence. There will obviously be at least one more in this arc, after which who knows.
Now, I liked Convergence and Emergence a lot, and then as you know tripped HARD over a continuity problem between the end of Emergence and Resurgence, as Nomari was very definitely confirmed as lord of Ajuri at the end of Emergence and very definitely had not yet been confirmed in Resurgence.
I did not expect Cherryh to fix this — it is unfixable — so I went into Divergence with a gritted-teeth determination to tolerate this problem and pretend I never noticed the continuity problem. This, combined with a more active, fun plot, enabled me to enjoy Divergence much more than Resurgence. There is, however, a continuing problem with Nomari that got in my way through the whole book, which I will now share with you, so if it wasn’t bothering you and now it does, sorry, but here we go:
Nomari is three years older than Cajeiri’s mother. Yes, we are told this explicitly. I reread all the books of this arc, so I noted this speficially.
Damiri is, at a minimum, 28 years old. That assumes she married Tabini at 18 and had Cajeiri almost at once. This makes Nomari a minimum of 31. He could well be older than that, but he cannot be significantly younger.
In Divergence, there is great concern that Nomari and an unsuitable girl may be attracted to each other. She is 16. These two are referred to repeatedly, by Bren, not just by the Dowager, as “the young people.” This is just weird.
I am perfectly aware that in many or most human societies throughout history, girls of twelve or thirteen or fourteen routinely married young men in their late twenties and early thirties. Maybe this is typical of the atevi as well and we just have never seen enough of their marriage customs to know that. But it doesn’t matter. If Nomari is twice the girl’s age, it is just weird to call them “the young people” as though they are both teenagers. It is especially weird for Bren to do that, since he cannot be that much older than Nomari. It seems to me that CJC just decided, arbitrarily and for no reason at all, to age Nomari sharply downward and declare that he is in his early twenties. This was completely unnecessary, as she could have kept the exact same plot and aged the girl upward. Instead of a sixteen-year-old girl, she could have been a particularly shy, protected woman of twenty-four or so and that would have worked exactly as well!
So … FINE. Yes, I am unhappy by what appears to be real, continuing, carelessness from CJC or from her editor(s) or both. If you, as the author, change your mind, I think you have to do a much better job than this of fixing the continuity problems that you’ve created. But FINE. I will still go on with the series. A lot more happened in this book than the previous one, and I did manage to set aside my problems with this arc of the series and enjoy the story.
But I will never not be gritting my teeth during re-reads.