98 points, 5 stars


It has been nearly ten years since the starship Phoenix returned to Alpha, the station orbiting the world of the atevi, which had been abandoned following a rift between a faction of the station’s inhabitants and the spacers’ Pilot’s Guild. The unexpected return of the Phoenix has forever changed the lives of both atevi and Mospheirans, for over the ensuing decade, the captains of the Phoenix have brought both species into space. Their motivation seemed simple: Reunion Station, a human station in another sector of space, had been destroyed by aliens.

But on his deathbed, the senior captain of the Phoenix admits that he lied to the crew—that Reunion was merely damaged, not destroyed, and many people may have survived. At this disclosure, the crew rebels and forces the Phoenix to undertake a rescue mission to Reunion. Onboard the rescue mission are Bren Cameron, brilliant human paidhi representing the atevi ruler Tabini-aiji, and Tabini’s grandmother Ilisidi, a fearsome and ambitious atevi leader with an agenda of her own. Trapped in a distant star system with little fuel left, facing a bellicose alien ship, how can Bren help to avoid interspecies war when the notoriously secretive Pilot’s Guild aboard Reunion Station refuse to cooperate, and may have kept the inhabitants of their own station ignorant of their true situation?


“Jase-aiji suggests this maneuver will be extremely long, even days, and that for comfort and dignity—”
“No,” Ilisidi said abruptly. “We will not go below.”
“Nand’ dowager . . .”
“Interesting things happen here. Not there. If I were reckless of staff safety I would send after hot tea,” Ilisidi said. “I forego the tea. In that, I have taken my personal precautions and my staff is settled in safety.”



Explorer opens about a year after the previous book, when they are nearing the end of their journey to get to the Reunion outpost. And apparently they didn’t do a whole lot of anything on the journey over, because only now things are coming to light that have apparently taken an entire year to find out. Which is about the only thing that annoyed me out of this awesome, amazing book.

Once things started going in this book, boy did they start going. Like from 0 to 100 in a chapter flat. This has happened in every book in the series so far, but it was just soo much more this time around. Completely action packed and full of awesome.

Bren the diplomat. What scary thought. This anxiety-ridden man is in charge. And everyone could die based on Bren’s choices. Great. Marvelous writing. I loved it. I love Bren. I love this situation. I love these people. I love this story.

The cool thing was that there was an alien presence already at reunion when they got there. I expected the obstinacy from the Captain’s Guild at Reunion. That was boring and expected and whatever. You knew it was going to happen. It just had to play out. I didn’t expect all the action it engendered. And I didn’t expect aliens so quickly, either. I like Bren the linguist.

Overall, I really liked reading the book. And I need more. Always, more.