In Defender, Bren comes to realize he’s been left out of the loop on some extremely delicate negotiations between Tabini and Ramirez, the executive captain of the Phoenix. He discovers this after having to attend a mysterious memorial held in honor of Tabini’s father. (The memorial is mysterious because Bren cannot quite figure out what the political purpose of the memorial was. The general theme of the memorial gives us just enough information to be extremely alarmed when we find out what is happening.)
It turns out that Ramirez had been concealing some information about Reunion station; it was not completely destroyed in the alien attack, and there are still people on board the station. Ramirez tells Jase the truth just before he dies, and the information is leaked to the general populace by person or persons unknown. It is also revealed that Ramirez made arrangements with Tabini to allow atevi delegates accompany the ship back to the space station to rescue the people on the station. The person Ramirez had translate for him was Yolanda Mercheson, who is not really that great at speaking Ragi. (This may or may not be why Ramirez died.)
Bren spends a great deal of time attempting to figure out exactly what happened and why he was left out of the loop. He also has to deal with yet another family crisis in the form of his mother falling ill, his brother Toby rushing to her side and Toby’s wife Jill leaving him. (And somewhere in there is the eternally persistent Barbara, Bren’s ex-girlfriend.) While Bren is very good at figuring out atevi politics, he is much less astute when it comes to handling the continuous family drama provided by his relatives. (I think that in some ways he is not different from his predecessor whom he does not have much respect for. He just does not quite know how to handle other humans anymore outside of his job.)
Then he discovers he is going to be part of the atevi and Mospheiran delegations on board the ship. The atevi delegation included Tabini’s grandmother Ilisidi and his son Cajeiri. He must try to get some mutual understanding going on between the senior captain Sabin and Ilisidi. This is not an easy task since Sabin and Ilisidi are both extremely stubborn women. Sabin does not want there to be an atevi delegation and has no plans on following through on most of Ramirez agreements with Tabini. This creates a great deal of strife.
This book was extremely transitional and had a very strong “middle book” feel. There isn’t a lot of action in this one, since it is mostly Bren trying to catch up. It does manage some interesting and even entertaining moments such as Bren’s interactions with Geigi and Ilisidi. This is not one of my favorites of the overall series, but it still holds interest for me.