Invader by C.J. Cherryh

The first book in C.J.Cherryh’s eponymous series, Foreigner, begins an epic tale of the survivors of a lost spacecraft who crash-land on a planet inhabited by a hostile, sentient alien race. From its beginnings as a human-alien story of first contact, the Foreigner series has become a true science fiction odyssey, following a civilization from the age of steam through early space flight to confrontations with other alien species in distant sectors of space. It is the masterwork of a truly remarkable author.

Nearly two centuries after the starship Phoenix disappeared, leaving an isolated colony of humans on the world of the atevi, it unexpectedly returns, threatening the stability of both atevi and human governments. With the situation fast becoming critical, Bren Cameron, the brilliant, young paidhi to the court of the atevi is recalled from Mospheira where he has just undergone surgery. Upon his return to the mainland, he Cameron finds that his government has sent in his paidhi-successor, Deana Hanks—representative of a dangerous faction on Mospheira who hate the atevi.

Haunted by the threat of assassination, Bren realizes his only hope may be to communicate with the Phoenix as the spokesman of the atevi—an action which may cut him off for good from his own species. Yet if he doesn’t take this desperate action, he may be forced to witness the destruction of the already precarious balance of world power.

The long-running Foreigner series can also be enjoyed by more casual genre readers in sub-trilogy installments. Invader is the 2nd Foreigner novel. It is also the 2nd book in the first subtrilogy.

Summary from Goodreads

As a sequel, Invader is a strong entry in the Foreigner series. I do have to say that it was a bit slower than the first book in terms of action, but when the action did arrive, it did not disappoint.

One of the defining features of this novel (and the series as a whole, I’m sure) is how cerebral the conflict is. As Bren Cameron, the main character, once comments, it’s a “war of dictionaries”. One misstep in translation between the two species’, the humans and the atevi, and it could lead to another war. Something Bren Cameron is desperately trying to prevent.

C.J. Cherryh writes intelligent, philosophical sci-fi. She’s obviously a language aficionado, if not an actual expert. The details she provides about the atevi, their alien way of thinking, their understanding of numbers and math and how that effects their philosophy, and Bren’s near-understanding of them that is sometimes near disastrous . . . all of these combine into one of the most cerebral, brilliant sci-fi novel I’ve ever read.

I already started the third in the series, Inheritor, and I’m excited to see what she has planned for the series next.

If you’re looking for some intelligent, good old-fashioned sci-fi, I highly recommend this novel (and the series).

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