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Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh

Ongoing series with 20 novels.
Genres: science fiction, space opera, political intrigue

Bren Cameron is the paidhi to the Aiji, the leader of the Atevi. When humans came to this world, lost in space, they wanted to get along but biology had other ideas. Now the paidhi is the only human that works with the Atevi, even though they share the world. It is a dangerous, high-stakes job that goes beyond anything Bren ever could have believed could happen when he went to school to become the paidhi. Because the job has changed, and he may be the only one to handle the changes.

Reading Order:

1. Foreigner
2. Invader
3. Inheritor
4. Precursor
5. Defender
6. Explorer
7. Destroyer
8. Pretender
9. Deliverer
10. Conspirator
11. Deceiver
12. Betrayer
13. Intruder
14. Protector
15. Peacemaker
16. Tracker
17. Visitor
18. Convergence
19. Emergence
20. Resurgence

I absolutely demolished this entire series, all 20 books, one after the other. I only met to read the first three and before I knew it I couldn’t stop reading it. Cherryh writes such good politics and alien Aliens.

Foreigner is pure political intrigue. It is about trying to avoid war between two people who have to live together due to circumstance, but being incapable of fully understanding each other due to differences in biology. It is about very complex ideas that humans cannot understand, and aliens cannot understand – and there is always misunderstanding. It is about trying to stay alive when people want you dead. And it is about the main character, Bren, being completely and totally out of his depth.

Bren is a political attache to the Atevi from the humans. They call him the paidhi, and he is there to systematically release scientific information slowly to the Atevi, as a condition of a treaty to stop a war between the two races. He has to do it so he doesn’t disrupt the way of life of the Atevi race, so they don’t devolve into war and try to kill each other. Or humans. Yet his personal goal is to get the Atevi to the space age.

He’s also a complete and total weeb for the Atevi.

Bren has also managed to do something no other paidhi has managed to do: become friends with the leader of the Atevi. Of course, they don’t call it that, but that is what it is. And as such, Bren is given more responsibility than any other human has ever been given. He spends much of the story stressed out, trying to stay ahead of the enemy. While in enemy territory, or being shot at.

If the book doesn’t end with Bren and his bodyguards running off and taking a bus, plane, railroad cart, or even a goddamn spaceship and running off into danger to stop something politically dangerous or start something politically advantageous, it isn’t a Foreigner book.

This is a series of lots of enemies and lots of allies. There are many sides. The conservatives and liberals in the Atevi race. The humans, some of which hate the Atevi and some who don’t. The humans who didn’t even want to come down to the planet in the first place. The humans who went back out into space to look for Earth again. And many surprises along the way.

Foreigner rarely has any downtime. All of the books except two notable exceptions take place immediately after the last. It is emergency after emergency, fire after fire. And when they aren’t actively in a danger zone, and he doesn’t actively have to do politicking, Bren has paperwork to do and people to see. And something else always crops back up.

I loved this series so much.

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