Rereview: Deceiver, by C.J. Cherryh

Yes, I know, I reviewed it not long ago but since I have a) reread it, and b) people now have had the opportunity to read it, so now I can go ahead and be as spoilerific as I want :)

Most books I don’t read twice at once and I must admit that part of my motivation for doing so with this one was to be able to discuss it with my fellow Shejidanites – I just might have done it anyway, but I’m not 100% sure. Because normally I deem life too short, especially in relationship to all those unread books out there in bookspace.

Deceiver starts with the shortest and fastest recap in the history of the Foreigner series. The story go almost present-time in a record 15 pages or so, when Tabini storms into Bren’s office, demanding an explanation for the actions taken by the aiji-dowager; the aiji then proceeds to a shout-out with Ilisidi herself… and this pretty much sets the general mood of the book – non-stop action, and with lots of things that feels nice for the real fan, in terms of interpersonal relationships of all sorts.

Cajeiri gets to mature incredibly but believably fast, which makes for certain turns as not everyone recognises this and reacts as if he’s still just a kid behaving irresponsibly.

Toby and Barb gets their respective selves in their own kind of bad spots, and I generally agree with everyone who thinks someone should just, hrm, eliminate Barb… but she does provide the story with some humorous moments even if she herself doesn’t recognise it.

And the dowager… ah, well. A real piece of work, that lady. It’s entirely possible to sympathise with Tabini’s frustration over his meddling grandmother, but really she does know what she’s doing. Her agenda is hers alone, though, and as always it is risky. Which Bren gets to realise in a real hard way, this time around.

My only complaint is a rather large inconsistency in back history regarding a character in the supporting cast, but hey, I can live with that. The character is not that important, long term. And the atevi universe is one of my favourite unreal places, stuffed with wry reflections on our own value judgements, communications deficits and social or economic or political order, sneakily packaged as easily digested action.

I know this series isn’t for everyone, and the first parts of the first book… well, you have to read it, obviously, at least the first time, but it isn’t really what the core story is about. At all. Still I can’t but think that every fan of science fiction should at least give it a try.


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