92 points, 4 ¾ stars
Nearly ten years after the unexpected return of the starship Phoenix, the alien atevi have three functioning space shuttles, and teams of atevi engineers labor in orbit to renovate the space station. But these monumental advances not only add a dangerously powerful third party to an already precarious diplomatic situation, but rouse pro- and anti-space factions in atevi society to incendiary levels. To help negotiate these treacherous diplomatic waters, Tabini-aiji, the powerful head of the atevi’s Western Association, has sent the only human he fully trusts into space: his own paidhi, Bren Cameron.
However, the threat of possible invasion by hostile aliens who attacked Phoenix’s station in a far-off sector of space hangs over them all. And when one of the senior captains of the Phoenix confesses that this station was not completely destroyed, as had been previously thought, the crew mutinies. How can Bren hope to mediate on a station overcome by a rebellious crew intent on taking the Phoenix on a rescue mission back into hostile alien territory?
“We are not mentioning to the captain that Cajeiri is six,” Bren said. “She believes sixteen.”
“Sixteen?” Cajeiri crowed, delighted.
“Hush, rascal,” Ilisidi said.
“It’s a convenient misunderstanding,” Bren said, “saving argument. And there would be argument about his presence otherwise, in a dangerous place. Human custom is against it.”
“Do you hear?” Ilisidi said. “You must pretend ten more years, young scoundrel, to satisfy the ship-aiji’s expectations of your wisdom, your sense and your self-restraint.”
“I think the ship-aiji will suspect me,” Cajeiri said sadly, and the Ragi-speakers could not but laugh a little.”
BREN, GOING DEEPER INTO SPACE!
Defender was a book of mysteries. We learned almost nothing the entire time. Every step of the way there were more questions. Which isn’t how the other books went, but it isn’t not how the others went, either. We just typically have more answers than we got throughout Defender.
There is a massive time skip between this book and the last. A few years worth of time skip. It had me very confused. On the one hand, I get it, it makes sense. On the other hand, I was just confused. I couldn’t keep the timeline straight. I’m not used to series with such big time skips. I’m pretty positive I don’t like it because it skipped over so much character development I was craving to have.
I don’t remember when we find this out, and I may be breaking my own personal rule where the first 20% of a book is fine to spoil but be wary after that. But if I didn’t talk about it there would be nothing to talk about at all: the Reunion outpost that was attacked by aliens is actually alive and hopefully well, and the ship is going back to rescue them. Bren has been volunteered to go by Tabini, the ruler of the atevi. To go with Bren is Ilisidi, Tabin’s grandmother, and Cajeiri, Tabini’s kid. Yeah. Interesting times! This book is mostly setting up that journey and leaving.
There are some parts I don’t like, like the time skip. And the fact that Bren’s home life keeps interrupting important business and distracting him just when he needs to concentrate the most. But overall I’m so happy to be reading this series I could overlook a great many sins. This is just the best.