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Serpent's Reach Hardcover – 1980

4.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • 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)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Moore on April 21, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Serpent's Reach has been cut off from contact with the rest of humanity for seven hundred years, and in that time, the settlers of these worlds have engineered fantastic technology with the help of the alien Majat. Against this backdrop, one noblewoman's family is slaughtered and she vows revenge on the perpetrators.
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.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great stand-alone work by Cherryh about an alien culture and a group of humans that has been genetically modified, with help from the aliens, to live incredibly long lives. As usual, Cherryh paints a very believable future society.
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
There are many reasons I love Serpent's Reach. 1) It is the first book by C.J. Cherryh that I bought (as I was judging it by the cover). 2. The Majat are a insect-like alien race and I like both insects and alien races, so for me it is a real treat. 3. C.J. Cherryh's might SEEM to start out slow, but she is really creating a setting and a foundation for a perfect story.
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is in my "permanent" connection. Serpeant's Reach is a powerful story of betrayal, revenge and survival told by a master writer. The society she creates is rich, detailed and alien, but still recognizably human.
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.
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By A Customer on January 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one Cherryh's finest stand alone books. A must for any reader of her work. The story centers around Raen, a young woman brought up in a very alien society, where the humans of a far distant and isolated colony have developed a strange beguiling society in unison with the ant-like insect inhabitants of the Reach. The story gallops along at a fast pace, taking us along for the ride as we see the child Raen's whole family betrayed at the beginning, to the ultimate revenge she exacts aided by the insects who begin to wage their own war amongst themselves, which ends with startling results for everyone. Simply superb!
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!
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Format: Hardcover
This great book was published in 1980, the year before her classic Downbelow Station (DS). While the book purports to be within the same Merchanter Alliance-Union (A-U) universe, there are some critical timeline problems with it that make it feel as if it were more in a parallel universe to same. Or more likely the author later changed dates and details about this universe based on the later book, DS. To better fit it within her future plans. One can compare the dating from Serpent's Reach (SR) to the detailed chronology in Angel With the Sword (AWTS, published in 1985). The later work's dating appears much more consistent with the A-U Universe, though even then there seem to be problems, mainly in that technology appears to be standing still for centuries in both the Serpent's Reach portion of the galaxy as well as the larger A-U portions of same. [A nearly identical problem plagues her first novel (published 2nd), Brothers of Earth, set in what she later called the "Hanan Rebellion" period.]

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.
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