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Conspirator (Foreigner, No. 10) Hardcover – April 28, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Readers unfamiliar with Cherryh's Foreigner series (most recently 2007's Deliverer) are likely to be somewhat at sea in this complex and sophisticated 10th installment, but those who persevere will be rewarded with a space opera where ideas are as important as action. This book continues chronicling the experience of Bren Cameron, who serves as the paidhi-aiji, the interpreter for human colonists stranded on the planet of the alien atevi. Cameron's current concern is the spread of human technology, which has the potential to wreak havoc with the formal communication protocols the atevi rely on to maintain their societal structure. Cameron must engage in subtle diplomacy and political maneuvering while evading attempts on his life and keeping track of a headstrong young atevi nobleman. The lack of basic background may discourage new readers, but fans will be delighted. (May)
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"Complex and sophisticated...those who persevere will be rewarded with a space opera where ideas are as important as action...fans will be delighted." —Publishers Weekly
"Her lucid storytelling conveys enough backstory to guide newcomers without boring longtime series followers. The characters are well drawn, and Cherryh's depiction of both human and alien cultures is riveting." —Library Journal
"The latest Foreigner science fiction thriller is a superb entry in a strong chronicle...once again C.J. Cherryh provides an interesting tale of a human living in an alien culture; however, the additional spin of the impact on an atevi youth having lived in a human culture for a couple of years refreshes the saga." —Midwest Book Review
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Rating wise this one is a very solid 4.5 star book. Ms. Cherryh did such a great job bringing the fire back into the storyline. There are three main focuses in this book; Bren's relationship with his brother Toby (this has been needing some work for awhile), the maturing and gaining control of Cajeiri, and the relationship between Bren and his Atevi estate (this had been awarded by Tabini in an earlier book). Ms. Cherryh addresses all three cases fairly nicely, however there is much more to be unearthed in all three cases (can you say sequel plus one). As always the writing is crisp with excellent dialog. This is particular shown in any dialog between Bren and any of the Atevi, especially Ilisidi (Grandmother to Tabini, Great Grandmother to Cajeiri). In cases where Bren is dealing with the Atevi (especially those of significant rank) I'm reminded of Alexander Dumas's The Three Musketeers (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)due to the formality of the words and the significance applied to what a person says (honor is very much alive with the Atevi). While this book only builds a little on the culture (I've considered the culture to be very feudal Japan with a possible mixing of Europe circa the 1500's), Ms. Cherryh's plot building is outstanding. As in all of the Foreigner series, the title gives us a nice clue on the books focus and Ms. Cherryh does a great job setting up the conspirator and the situation permitting the conspirator to bloom (actually it's been building for several books, we just weren't fully aware of it). Having said this and knowing that Amazon requires whole stars (no partials for a reviewer) I'm going to round this on up to 5 due to how good the story telling and plot were. This combination is making me look forward to Conspirator's sequel (Deceiver), something that is outstanding when you consider that you're reading the 10th in the series. Btw for those interested you can just pick this book up and read it without reading the earlier ones in the series; however you're missing some of the beauty of the series and would have to accept things as Ms. Cherryh presents them. Btw, the artwork on the front should be of Bren, Tano, and Algini.
As with most of Cherryh's recent novels, this one is fairly routine. Still, CONSPIRATOR has something that the last three books lacked. It's not action, though that's plentiful, and it's not psychological depth, which this book doesn't have. What it does have is an increased focus on atevi culture, atevi ethnicity, atevi local politics, and the lives of ordinary atevi. The atevi who live near Bren's estate and who work on his estate are members of atevi ethnic group that was displaced when humans were ceded the island of Mospheira, to minimize human-atevi contact. When they side with Bren against the Southerners, he and Tabini's grandmother Illsidi recognize them and reward their loyalty. It's not at all implausible that Cherryh had the inter-religious and inter-ethnic conflicts going on in Iraq in mind while she wrote this. Illsidi's active role in this book is also welcome; her sharp and merciless interrogation of a weak and foolish atevi lord is the highlight of the book.
All in all, this is a welcome addition to the series. I hope that Cherryh keeps up the good work in next two volumes.
Don't try to read this book though if you haven't read the series. Do yourself a real favor and start from book 1 - so much fabulous reading lies ahead of you - I am envious. Can't wait for books 11 and 12 (she seems to write in trilogies). Cajeiri is only 8 years old so the series has a lot of future possibilities.
These are not typical space opera but totally painless, utterly enjoyable courses in inter-cultural relations and the possibilities that are out there for understanding and agreeing with each other. Men and women alike can enjoy them.
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continues to meet the usual high...Read more