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Review: Cherryh’s Foreigner series

May 20, 2011
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Just read the latest  two books of C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series.  I’ve been reading this series since the first one came out.  I really enjoy it though it is quite different from my usual fantasy books.  The series is about humans being the minority on a planet of dark skinned, golden eyed beings who have an affinity for numbers and none for human emotion.  Humans had to be relegated to one island as the only means of protecting both societies. (to get an idea of scale:  a full grown adult human is the size of an atevi eight year old.)    The series is mostly about the politics in the unique atevi society (limited technology until humans arrived which causes its own issues) where policing issues are handled by an Assassins Guild who also double as body guards for the upper echelons of society.   Only one human is allowed on the mainland as a sort of diplomat to help keep the balance between the two differing societies.  He also ends up with some bodyguards, one of which eventually becomes his lover (but no this is NOT the focus of the book).

Cherryh writes this series in trilogies, so if you want to read it, buy it in sets.  These books have a lot of politics and social customs that are very formal but they also tend to be very action packed.   I just read the last two books (over the last two days…yeah Hubby and boy-child are not that thrilled with me) of the latest trilogy, Deceiver and Betrayer.   I say to buy in sets of three because they really are just one long novel.  Each book has a sort of ending but still leaves enough hanging that you are dying to dive into the next book.

I’m actually disappointed (ok more like peeved) with Betrayer because it ended with the completion of hostilities.  There was no chapter to tidy up any loose ends.   Loose ends that need to be tidied up before visitors from space, who are more advanced than both societies, arrive or they may destroy the whole planet.  Very frustrating.  Who knows how long I have to wait for the next one but hopefully this means the next one will not be that long in the future.

One of the interesting concepts of the atevi is baji-naji.  It means fortune-chance.  Things are in flux.  Fates have a hand in this.  It is what it is.  The books do not describe a symbol of baji-naji beyond it being 2 equal sides, one black and one white.  In my head, I envision a very intricate and stylized version of the ying-yang symbol.  There are a couple of fan versions on the ‘net but none that work with my mental image.  I looked because I had hoped that there was an official version that maybe I could chart…  Not sure if that is geeky or just lame.  😀

2 Comments leave one →
  1. henadology permalink
    May 23, 2011 6:17 PM

    (Serious SF nerd reveal here: destroy after reading!)

    I have a real weakness for the Foreigner books too. I gather that you haven’t ventured into Cherryh’s other SF, specifically her Alliance/Union universe? If you’re interested at all, I’d recommend a very specific route in; first, read 40,000 in Gehenna, then Cyteen. I read them in the opposite order (and actually read both of them after Downbelow Station, which is on the “Alliance” side), but I think reading them in that order would be really cool.


    • May 23, 2011 6:33 PM

      Oh no! I’m keeping this confession! Yeah for Edward! I haven’t read or heard of anything on her other universes.


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