- Hardcover: 312 pages
- Publisher: Nelson Doubleday, Inc.; Book Club edition (1980)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0028H1SQI
- Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,300,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Serpent's Reach Hardcover – 1980
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Top Customer Reviews
I've heard that CJ Cherryh does a fantastic job of creating believable aliens, and I found this to be true in my first-ever CJ Cherryh read. Not only the very alien Majat, but also the almost-human Kontrin and their genetic creations, the Betas and the Azi, have cultures, ideas, and attitudes that distinguish them from we garden variety Homo sapiens.
This is pretty "hard" science fiction, with frequent breaks needed to page back through what you just read to try and soak everything in. There is very little of the old literary trick of having an ignorant character around all the time so that difficult concepts can be explained in dialogue (like Star Trek) or even of outright exposition by the author. Much is left to the interpretation of the reader. If you like that style of writing (I do!), Serpent's Reach is excellent reading. After finishing, I went out and bought a couple more Cherryh books set in the Alliance-Union universe.
One point should be made about this book being stand-alone. If you read Cherryh's web site, she lists this book as part of the Alliance/Union universe, but the timeline given in the book contradicts this. There ARE some elements in this book that are in the Alliance/Union series (such as the cloned humans called "azi"). However, the colonization of the first planet in this book happens at approximately the same time as most of the events in the "Company Wars" of the Alliance/Union series, which makes it hard to believe that these books are really in the same "universe". I believe the author attempted to fit some of her books written before "Downbelow Station" into the Alliance/Union chronology, but with this one especially, it's something of a stretch. However, it doesn't hurt the book. You will enjoy it just as much, but consider it a stand-alone book.
If you liked this book, I would suggest C.J. Cherryh's 'Pride of Chanur' which is a stand alone book that is followed by FOUR other books (A three book series and another stand alone). Alien cats, but not just your run-of-the-mill alien cats.
Raen is the sole survivor of the betrayal and extermination of her entire extended family. She maneuvers her revenge with the aid of a non-human species, the Majat. After the ensuing chaos she is allowed autonomy within the confines of powerful, near-immortal, multiplanet aristocracy whose main interests are alliances and assassinations. She becomes an expert survivor, evading assassins and trying to prevent the destruction of the Majat-Kontrin peace. This is a great story.
I just wished there was a follow up to this marvallous read. How about it Ms Cherryh?
Alexandra Wolfe -- Têtu & Wolfe Literary Agents
PS: Could someone please spell-check the Review for this book from ALA Booklist, the characters name is RAEN not Paen!
But regardless of where and when it occurs, the book is just a plain fun, fascinating read. Quite enjoyable entirely on its own. There has been no sequel or truly related future work. So this is a one-off book.
The work truly shines as science fiction because Ms Cherryh explores the long-term ramifications of both man genetically modifying man as well as man interacting with a sentient insectoid hive-mind species, the Majat, who have four sub-types labeled blue, gold, green and red. The work is set about 700 years after man first entered and started colonizing the Serpent's Reach portion of space. Initially resisted by the Majat, the two species come to an understanding, mainly based on mutually-beneficial trade.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
THE AUTHOR AND HER WORKS:
Most people who read science fiction tend to be aware of Cherryh's Chanur saga, the Foreigner series, and her books which are more fantasy than... Read more
This is my first Cherryh book. She creates a fascinating world of alliances between alien ant-like creatures and royal houses of humans. Read morePublished on January 2, 2011 by Miguel
It's probably safe to say that there isn't anyone better at writing aliens than Cherryh.
Sure, some people manage to pull it off at least once, but Cherryh seems to have... Read more
After reading Downbelow Station (highly recommended), I ventured into Serpent's Reach. Exceptional story telling and witt. Read morePublished on March 4, 2009 by Royce M. Carroll
Serpent's Reach (1980) is an SF novel in the Alliance-Union Universe. In 2223, the interstellar probe Celia discovered the majat, a sapient alien species, on Alpha Hydri III --... Read morePublished on September 17, 2006 by Arthur W Jordin
What would a world be like if Ants were the evolved creatures?
What would their cultures be like? What would their values be? How could they interact with Humans? Read more
Some of her works go slow for me, but I was completely enthralled by this story. Her characterizations are vivid and realistic. I've read it several times now!Published on August 12, 2002 by TK