96 points, 5 stars

Blurb:

It’s coming up on Cajeiri’s birthday. The boy has been promised he can have the young human children he knew from his voyage sent down from the space station for a two week stay.

But there’s far a darker business going on in the background–a major split compromising the Assassins’ Guild, which furnishes security and law enforcement to the whole continent.  Tabini’s consort’s own father has been barred from court, and may be involved in a new conspiracy against him.
 
For safety reasons, Tabini wants Bren and Ilisidi to take charge of Cajeiri, and protect him and his young guests. They themselves are very likely targets of whatever’s going on, no question of it. So is Cajeiri. But having the targets separated and contained is an advantage.
 
It’s Bren’s responsibility to entertain the guests, keep the security problem secret…and let a lonely eight-year-old prince reestablish his controversial relationship with the only other children he’s ever met…inside the best security they can manage.

Quote:

“You are not to tell my parents,” he said, with his arm over his eyes, “but I drank a little brandy from a glass someone left and I am not feeling well this morning. One does not think it was poisoned.”

Review:

Glacial pace.

That is the theme of Protector. I should despise this move in the series. The speed at which events actually happen are so slow. Almost nothing ends up happening in full in this book. It should feel like the author is unnecessarily drawing out the story filling it with sawdust to make it bulkier and justify how long it takes to get anything done. But it doesn’t feel that way. Maybe I’m just hopelessly biased because I’m in love.

Protector is the start of the “Cajeiri birthday party celebration.” I say start because it isn’t over with just this book. It hasn’t even been a week and they’re supposed to be down for two weeks. Cajeiri’s human association is down from the space station visiting as a kind of test case to see how human and atevi can really coexist as not-friends but sort of friends. Plus Cajeiri really wants it and his father promised to make it happen. And it’s going to happen no matter how potentially dangerous it may end up being!

This was just so interesting because it was juggling Atevi politics with human children in the mix. The mainland still isn’t quite safe after two back-to-back wars that have the occasional flare up. And one of those flare ups just happens to be happening in the middle of a bunch of children visiting the planet. Shocker. So it is a careful balancing act between trying to keep them safe, giving them an actual visit with macheti (horseback) riding and viewing pretty things, and trying to solve whatever is going wrong in the first place.

It is actually as close to a vacation as we have actually had so far. Isn’t that sad? Hahaha.

The best part of the entire book is watching Tatiseigi entertaining a bunch of human children. Which is just a mindfuck after everything we have known about him to this point. AND HE VOLUNTEERED FOR IT! Hah! He is supposed to hate humans. He really doesn’t seem to know what to do with children in general, being an old man that doesn’t really have much of a chance to be around them. Yet he is basically acting like a happy old uncle-type, showing them what being an Atageini Lord is like. It is weeeeird and I love it.