Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Deceiver by C. J. Cherryh

Deceiver is the eleventh book in C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner series, one I've been following since it started in, oh my, 1994, with Foreigner. So, there's really two ways of looking at it: As a standalone and as a part of the larger arc.

I enjoyed Deceiver, on the whole. It's fast-paced and it was good to see my favorite characters again. The crafty Ilisidi is back, busily making plans for the good of everyone (most likely, anyway), Cajeiri is growing up and learning responsibility (but not too quickly), and Jago and Banichi are busy trying to keep everyone alive long enough to negotiate the next treaty. The atevi remain fascinating and alien, and Cherryh has developed a species that has more than one culture, so there's always something new to discover.

Deceiver picks up where Conspirator left off: Cajeiri is safe and Bren's house is secure, but he now has the putative lord of the House next door imprisoned in his basement, an uneasy neighborhood to soothe, the dowager grandmother making promises she may or may not be authorized to make, and someone else out there making threats and kidnapping one of his human guests. Like I said: Lots of action and plenty of familiar characters.

Bren has grown up nicely over the course of the series; he's a lot more confident than he used to be, which is all to the good; I mean, Cherryh's heroes are always under-slept, over-adrenalined, and operating on too little information but one would hope that an experienced diplomat would calm down after a while, and Bren has. Also, his family situation has stabilized, showing some growth and lasting change after the first six or seven books of status quo, a development I much appreciate.

On the other hand, much as I enjoy the Foreigner series, I wish the pace overall would pick up. After having finally met the kyo, dealt with Station Folk and Ship folk, and generally dealt with the wider universe, it's disappointing to be back to focusing only on atevi politics. Yes, the world as a whole needs uniting in order to deal with the kyo, but the events here were not so very different from those in Conspirator, when all's said and done, and not really that different from the first trilogy. And, what is happening with Jason? With the kyo? With all the people we last saw multiple books ago--I think not since Explorer.

So--enjoyed the book, but I'd like the series to get the move on.

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