Review: Protector, by C.J. Cherryh

This is the fourteenth – yes, fourteenth! – book in the Foreigner series, following the interpreter-ambassador Bren Cameron on his adventures through the Atevi’s world of deadly intrigue.

I confess that I’ve been waiting for Cherryh to pick up again on a plot thread left hanging in book 6, and it’s not like she’s forgotten about it. Indeed, the looming return of that plot thread is on everyone’s mind, but we did not get it in this book. I found that very disappointing in the previous book, but I did not mind it so much this time because the rest of the story was so engaging.

It would seem that young Cajeiri (son of the Atevi ruler) is finally going to have his felicitous ninth birthday, and to celebrate it, three of his human friends will be coming down from the space station to join him. Certainly, things have been tense, but it looks like, for once, he will have a nice smooth birthday.

Of course, not everyone wants it to come off that smoothly. He is a ripe target for assassination, as is his uncle, his great-grandmother, and Bren himself. Will the outlawed shadow guild actually make an attempt at all of them? Or are they unknowingly biting off more than they can chew?

It’s good old Atevi politics and assassination plots at their finest. If you’re an old Atevi hand, fluent in Ragi, and clear on your man’chi, go ahead and grab this one. It’s a worthy installment. I won’t say that it ends on a cliffhanger, but I’ve got a pretty good idea what the next book is about. Plus, Cherryh has hinted that the long-delayed plot thread from book 6 might be making a return soon. Can I hope?

If all of this is new to you, I direct you back to the first book, Foreigner. I admit it’s a bit of a slow start, but it sets the world off in the right direction. Think of the TV show Downton Abbey but with aliens and deadly politics.