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The fourth novel in Cherryh’s Foreigner space opera series, a groundbreaking tale of first contact and its consequences…
Over three years have passed since the reappearance of the starship Phoenix, which two centuries before left an isolated colony of humans on the world of the volatile atevi. Since that time, humans have lived in exile on the island of Mospheira; but the unexpected return of the Phoenix has shattered the fragile political balance of these two nearly incompatible races. For the captains of the Phoenix offer the atevi something the Mospheiran humans never could—access to the stars.
For three breakneck years the atevi labor to build a space shuttle which will bear their representatives to the Phoenix, to strengthen connections with their new human allies and retain their bid for control of their world. But as soon as the shuttle proves spaceworthy, the captains of the Phoenix suddenly recall their planetary delegates, breaking diplomatic contact and initiating a vicious bid for political dominance.
But the powerful head of the atevi's Western Association is not to be outmaneuvered, and he sends his own diplomat, or paidhi, Bren Cameron, into space to negotiate. Thrust into a political maelstrom with almost no preparation, can Bren gain control of the station and political supremacy for the atevi without sparking a three-sided interspecies war?
The long-running Foreigner series can also be enjoyed by more casual genre readers in sub-trilogy installments. Precursor is the 4th Foreigner novel. It is also the 1st book in the second subtrilogy.
In the fourth volume in her widely praised Foreigner series (Inheritor, etc.) Cherryh sends diplomat and translator Bren Cameron into space to conduct a tense three-sided negotiation among the Pilot's Guild on the recently returned human starship Phoenix, the atevi--the planet's indigenous sentient species, whom Bren now serves--and the Mospheirans, the human colonists whom the starship long ago abandoned in the atevi's world. Although there are beings of good will on all three sides, xenophobia, cultural preconceptions, factionalism and old animosities roil the situation, as do deteriorating conditions on the long-abandoned space station where the negotiators meet. Worse, a presumably hostile third intelligent species is lurking in the galactic neighborhood and may be in the process of tracking down the Phoenix. Making things even more difficult for Bren is his complicated relationship with his mother, who is driving him to distraction--via electronic mail--with her insistence that he reestablish a relationship with his recently injured former girlfriend and with her refusal to take seriously the danger she's in at the hands of Mospheirin factions hostile to Bren's mission. The novel features well-developed characters, Cherryh's trademark sophisticated political negotiations and strong prose. Of particular note is the author's ongoing exploration of the atevi, one of the more fascinating alien cultures ever imagined. Taken as a whole, this series, which promises to consist of six volumes when complete, represents mainstream SF at its very best.