I really like these books, and I was glad to visit again with the characters and become immersed in the language style. However, this is perhaps the weakest entry in the whole series (aside from the first book which is weak for entirely different reasons).
It’s 90% talking. That might not be so bad, but most of the talking is either rehashing of previous events, or even worse, Bren explaining the current Situation over and over again. Even that might have been tolerable if there was the usual bit of suspenseful action at the end, but this absolutely just peters out.
The Situation is the same as at the end of the previous book: the alien kyo have signed a treaty of good will and are leaving the solar system; there are 5000 people on the space station who need to be relocated to the planet as soon as possible; and the human children whom Cajeiri befriended on the station would be good candidates for future paidhi.
I have all that memorized, because Bren explains it, at length, at least a dozen times. He’s making a formal visit to the human island with his entire atevi entourage, and it should have been fun to see their reaction to the human region, and the reaction of the locals. Unfortunately Jago and Banichi speak hardly a word, and all Bren does is meet with various people and explain the aforementioned Situation again until you're ready to scream. The humans merely nod and agree with Bren entirely, unless they are small-minded conservative bigots who embarrass themselves by spluttering weak arguments.
Cajeiri’s part of the story is only slightly more interesting. He visits his uncle, gets assigned more bodyguards, and meets a distant cousin with some information about the tense political situation. At one point I thought there was potential for a good gun battle, or at least one hasty evacuation by bus, but no such luck. Cajeiri doesn’t get lost or kidnapped or even thrown off his mecheita. The only nice bit is that he's gradually accepting his role as a future leader.
I like Cherryh’s work enough to put up with a certain amount of repetition and slow pacing, but this book is a disappointment. This series has been fascinating and exciting at times, and I hope the next book will be much better. Reply