Book Review: Intruder by C.J. Cherryh

In Intruder, the political machinations continue as Bren works toward creating a lasting trade agreement (and hopefully peace) between the Western Association and the Marid, and the Marid and Ilisidi’s Eastern district. This is a very complicated tangle made even more complicated by Machigi, the lord of the Marid giving Bren a letter revealing a number of things about what had been going on behind the scenes in Deceiver and Betrayer. (That is, if anything the letter says can be trusted as accurate, since Machigi also states that some of the things he wrote in the letter are lies.)

If that were not complicated enough, the Assassin’s Guild has split up into factions, some of them supporting the aiji and his goals, and some of them violently opposed. In addition to dealing with the rebellious faction within the Assassin’s Guild, Bren ends up working closely with Tatiseigi, one of Ilisidi’s allies. Given the disastrous events of the previous books, Bren has rethought his position on introducing cell phones to the atevi. (The reasoning being that if there had been cell phones present, the political mess would have been a lot worse because there would have been no way to control the interactions between groups of atevi. )

While Bren is navigating the choppy waters of atevi politics, Cajeiri is glumly contemplating his future, which he is certain will be full of immense boredom as he is stuck in his parents’ apartment. (He is also not very happy about the idea of having a future sibling.) He does not like his tutors, he does not like being cooped up and he is not particularly fond of the relatives on his mother Damiri’s side of the family.

His outlook brightens considerably when his mother offers him the opportunity to choose how he wants his room to be decorated. Of course, things get complicated when Cajeiri decides that he wants to get a pet. (Without prior permission under the theory that he will be allowed to keep it if he can prove that he can take care of it.)

This increases tensions within the household, which is already under considerable stress due to pressure from Damiri’s family. It turns out that Damiri is getting increasingly upset due to Cajeiri’s apparent disrespect for her and her family. Feeling alienated by Cajeiri, resentful of Ilsidi and her influence on Cajieri, and stressed by the pregnancy, the home situation becomes explosive.

The mix of domestic and political problems provides a lot of insight into atevi cultureWith Cajeiri, we learn a lot more about atevi than Bren was able to relate via his point of view in the earlier books. There is also the factor of Cajeiri’s arc being a coming of age narrative in contrast with Bren’s “experienced statesman working through the latest crisis,” narrative. I feel that the combination of viewpoints gave more depth to the story than if it had been just Bren, (and frankly, Cajeiri is adorable).

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Filed under book, C.J. Cherryh, distant future, non-earth, political intrigue, Review: Book, science fiction, sociological

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