Friday, June 30, 2017

James Review -- Foreigner: Visitor

This week I decided to review Foreigner: Visitor by C. J. Cherryh. 

The story begins not long after Mikas Tillington, the human leader on Alpha station, a space station orbiting Earth jointly controlled by the planet's Aevi natives and the humans who immigrated to the world long ago, had refused to shift power to the Atevi counterparts of his crew when scheduled, and locked down and cut communications to the section of the station inhabited by refugees from Reunion station, a distant human station that had to be abandoned due to severe damage suffered in a long ago attack by the alien Kyo. Since arrival Tillington had been treating the refugees as second- class citizens, and Bren Cameron, a human agent of a powerful Atevi leader, must weave his way through the various political messes caused by Tillington's actions such as the fate of a group of human children under Atevi protection who had to flee to Atevi territory to escape imprisonment.

Meanwhile a Kyo ship approaches with unknown intent, which is causing fear that another attack is imminent. The Kyo begin meetings with Cameron, who is trying to discover why the aliens attacked Reunion station once but never struck again despite many years passing. At first he suspects the Phoenix, the ancient starship which found itself lost with no way home and is responsible for building Alpha and Reunion station, and the initial human population of Earth, accidentally did something to provoke the Kyo, who have been at war with an unknown power for decades. But as talks continue and Cameron earns a deeper level of trust from the Kyo, he will discover the real reason for the long ago attack and the chilling secret of the distant war being waged...

I give this book 9 out of 10. This isn't a book for action fans; it is purely diplomatic, featuring political maneuverings with no combat scenes at all. That said, it is very well-written with a number of interesting charters and challenges they face. The main problem is that this is part of a very long series and when a series gets this long there are going to be a fair number of readers like me that haven't read it from the beginning. I think a short chapter at the beginning explaining how the story reached the point where Visitor began would have helped greatly. While the book did a decent job covering the setting's recent history, there are still many questions left unanswered which I feel should have been answered. 

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