98 points, 5 stars
It’s been a year of upheaval, since Bren Cameron’s return from space—a year when he and the aiji-dowager, one of his most powerful atevi allies, returned home from their two-year interstellar mission to find the government overthrown and their world in chaos.
Now, at last, things are calming down; the Assassins’ Guild is functioning again, working out its internal difficulties, and Bren is settling back into his routine: not as Lord of the Heavens; not—to his regret—as Lord of Najida peninsula, where his leisure estate is located; but as paidhi-aiji, an official in the atevi court.
His current ambition is to keep himself and his bodyguard out of harm’s way, and to shepherd the aiji-dowager’s daring new trade agreement through the appropriate legislative committees. Combined with Tabini-aiji’s recent appointment of his young son Cajeiri as his official heir, Bren’s workload is challenging, but at least things on the atevi world seem to be on the right track.
Something is coming, however, quietly, stealthily, just the first ominous twinkle of a new star in the heavens…
“You are an arrogant bastard, Mr. Cameron.”
“One entirely at your service, sir, and in that interest, let’s create an understanding—”
Oooooo! WE’RE BACK IN SPACE, BOIS!
Things have returned to normal. The human kids are on their way home to the space station. There is no more war. The background figures trying to change the aishidi’tat have been stopped once and for all. Everything is on its way towards peace.
Of course, in the middle of all this things going right business, Jace, one of the four spaceship leaders, has told Bren that there is trouble brewing on the space station. Big trouble. One of the Mospheirans has been stirring up trouble amongst the shipfolk, the Mospheirans on board the space station, and the refugees from the Reunion space outpost they brought home all the way in book eight. That’s enough trouble to keep Bren busy for a while, he just has to wrap up a few things on the mainland, first. Right?
Nope! The kyo have come! They promised they would, to observe how humans and atevi get along. And then it is gogogogo got to get everything ready, have to get up everyone back to the space station. Everyone being Bren, Ilisidi, and Cajeiri, so they can preserve the balance they met in before. Have to get everything in place so Bren can be in the right mindspace to both learn to communicate with the kyo and be the diplomat earth needs him to be. Because if the kyo are dissatisfied with anything he does, they could wipe out everyone. He has to make certain this doesn’t happen.
Only, even that isn’t enough. It turns out the kids that visited Cajeiri are in trouble due to the shit stirred up, and now they have to be extracted. They can be used as hostages if left in place. And the kids are under the protection of Tabini, and have to be kept safe. So that is an entire to-do that has to happen.
The only problem is that this doesn’t feel like a whole book. But that has been true for a while now. I love these books.