Nearly two centuries after the starship Phoenix disappeared, leaving an isolated colony of humans on the world of the atevi, it unexpectedly returns, threatening the stability of both atevi and human governments. With the situation fast becoming critical, Bren Cameron, the brilliant, young paidhi to the court of the atevi is recalled from Mospheira where he has just undergone surgery. Upon his return to the mainland, he Cameron finds that his government has sent in his paidhi-successor, Deana Hanks—representative of a dangerous faction on Mospheira who hate the atevi.
Haunted by the threat of assassination, Bren realizes his only hope may be to communicate with the Phoenix as the spokesman of the atevi—an action which may cut him off for good from his own species. Yet if he doesn't take this desperate action, he may be forced to witness the destruction of the already precarious balance of world power.
I am well and truly hooked on this series! Bren Cameron is such an understandable main character. I’ve struggled with non-English languages--specifically several undergraduate courses in Ancient Greek--which almost broke my brain. The necessity of doing math in one’s head in order to know which word ending to use would reduce me to jelly in no time.
This book picks up quickly from where the first book left off. There is a great deal of tension provided by Bren wondering just how well he understands the atevi society around him. The atevi seem to thrive on intrigue and when that is combined with the cultural differences and a complex language, this is a fearsome barrier to understanding.
Despite this, Bren seems to have made a very favourable impression with the atevi around him. He is packed into a suite next door to the current ruler, complete with a large staff who all vie to provide the best service, be the most useful, and just generally receive his thanks. Technically they are Damiri’s staff, but she mock-accuses him of trying to sweet talk them away from her. Plus, she lets us know, all the female staff are longing to get their hands on him! Ah, the allure of novelty!
Cherryh leaves us at a critical juncture, making me wish I had book three in my hand right this minute! However, I’ll have to wait until the library produces it from one of the branch libraries. In the meanwhile, I’ll work on other books in my reading queue.
Book number 349 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.