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Defender (Foreigner) Mass Market Paperback – November 5, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
One of the best long-running SF series in existence, Cherryh's Foreigner Universe books (Precursor, etc.) tell the story of a small human colony abandoned on a planet inhabited by the atevi, an alien race whose humanoid anatomy disguises radically different instincts and thought patterns. Misunderstandings have led to war in the past and make human/atevi diplomacy incredibly difficult. Bren Cameron trained for decades to be the paidhi, the only human allowed to negotiate with the atevi, overseeing the slow transfer of advanced human technology to the brilliant but less advanced natives of the planet in trade for vital raw materials. Eventually, Bren changed sides, becoming the representative of Tabini, the atevi's ruler, to humanity. Now the political situation has been complicated by the return of the Phoenix, the starship whose much hated crew abandoned the colonists some two centuries earlier, and, worse yet, by the starship's report that its crew has discovered a hostile space-faring race relatively nearby. The senior captain of the Phoenix, negotiating through Bren, agrees to help Tabini build a second starship to defend the planet, but as Bren learns after the captain's mysterious death, other plots are afoot and not all the information shared by the starship can be trusted. As usual, Cherryh provides a riveting plot that emphasizes intense human/alien interactions instead of physical violence. Perhaps undervalued because she writes in traditional forms that don't appeal to the literati, while too difficult for some fans of space opera, Cherryh remains one of the most talented writers in the field. (Nov. 6)Forecast: The pulpish jacket art by the usually quite competent Stephen Youll won't bring in new readers who will appreciate Cherryh's work, but established fans will know better.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
On the planet of the atevi, the arrival of the crippled starship Phoenix spawned technological and social change. Now the atevi have a space program and crews in space repairing the Phoenix, but they also have pro- and anti-space factions that are practically rioting in the streets. Tabini-aiji-, leader of the Western Association, sends his selected human spokesman, Bren Cameron, to the space station to find out what is really going on. A lot more than meets the eye, he discovers, including double and triple crosses, plots, subplots, counterplots, and all the other goodies arising from Cherryh's hallmark characterization and world building. This excellent and intelligent book by one of sf's most powerful imaginations sports a plot that is always complex, occasionally convoluted, and seldom independent of that of Precursor (1999), to which it is the direct sequel, continuing another of Cherryh's sagas of human-alien interaction. Like its predecessor, it is a good read, too. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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But the upshot is that this book not only doesn't stand on its own, being a bridge between Explorer and the preceding book, Precursor; it's unfortunately padded out to book length with endless and frankly repetitive internal angst on the part of the protagonist, Bren Cameron. This was an unexpectedly weak offering from an otherwise outstanding author. But fans of the Foreigner series will still want to read it in order for the following books in the series to make sense. Think of it as the broccoli you have to eat in order to get to dessrt.
Excellent plotting and great action. The world's greatest and toughest grandmother makes the players work to the best of thier abilities and keeps all of the sub-plots well fetched and on target. Besides, if you don't play nice she'll have you shot. Great reading.
So with that said there tends to be less action than other SCi-Fi books and in this world of fast paced adventure movies, I'm sure not every reader will enjoy this book or the series. But, each book builds on the last and gets better and better and better and if you have patience and can understand from the beginning that this is more of a cerebral type of book then it is my opinion that these books are apart of the best written Sci-Fi extant.
The author has the ability to, through the main character's musings and interaction with the other main characters, compare the differences between vastly different races and actually shed light on how we in our society could learn to interact with and live along side others who are different from ourselves. And as the series continues she continues to delve into the differences and similarities between races.
She sheds light on the inner workings of the human psyche in times of extreme pressure. Interactions between one human culture and another; between humans and aliens who though vastly different from humans, are, at the same time, similar.
However, this book fails in those expecatations. This is not to say it is not a good book, because it is. My impression is that this book is a sort of place holder - a necessary piece to setup the prerequisite items for the next book. The resulting characterizations lacked the depth and emotion of most of her previous books; my feeling at the end was that I had just read an interlude chapter to cover the time span between books that had somehow grown into its own book.
The majority of the book seems more involved with Bren's internal monologue of doubts and familial issues than it does with the story as a whole.
This will be a must read just to keep up with this evolving series, but it is definitely the weakest of the group and does not stand alone at all.