Protector is a direct continuation from where Intruder left off. As such, it is a tangled mess of the continued “Shadow Guild” arc plus some additional crises. Tabini and Damiri relationship has become extremely strained as a consequence of the events of the previous book, yet despite the continuing familial and political strife, Cajeiri finally gets permission for his human friends to visit him. This visit turns out to have some serious political ramifications, due in part to the atevi political climate and also due to increased tensions between Mospheirans, the ship, and the refugees from Reunion station.
Bren has a very complicated job ahead of him, even with back up from Jase, who arrives with the kids and also Kaplan and Polano, who are acting as his bodyguards. (I got a very “we are attempting to approximate atevi custom to show parity and cooperation with the atevi” feel from this arrangement. This is a big change from previous ship attitudes.) It does not help that in order to keep Cajeiri and his friends’ visit from putting additional strain on Tabini’s marriage that everyone gets sent to Lord Tatsiegi’s manor. (The weird part is that Tasiegi actually volunteers to host the kids, plus Bren and Jase.) It should be noted that this is the recently renovated manor in a still politically unstable region that was renovated after having been blown up as a result of said political instability. Things become very exciting very quickly when Damiri’s father is assassinated, and Tatsiegi’s manor sustains a security breach.
One point of interest in this book is the change in attitude Tatsiegi displays toward humans in general and Bren in specific. This is mostly because it seems to go a little beyond someone acquiring an unexpected political ally. He now treats Bren the with the same or similar courtesy he might show another atevi lord. It’s as if Bren has passed some bar and Tatsiegi now considers Bren to be in some sense atevi. Not that thinking in this manner is held to be extremely dangerous within the series! As such, it’s clear that Bren is handling this change in their interactions very carefully.
Cajeiri’s character arc continues to be very engaging, but the continuing Shadow Guild arc is considerably less so. (For me this is mostly because I become frustrated by protracted plot lines that show no sign of being resolved, that continue for a long time. This is also why certain manga series drive me straight up the wall.) I’m very interested in discovering more about the Mospheiran/Reunion conflict, and am eagerly waiting for the next book in this series.