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Protector: Foreigner #14    by C. J. Cherryh order for
by C. J. Cherryh
Order:  USA  Can
Daw, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Protector is the fourteenth (following Intruder) in C. J. Cherryh's thoroughly engaging Foreigner series. It features Bren Cameron, once a stranger amongst the alien atevi, but now much more comfortable in the company of his atevi associates than amongst his fellow humans.

A brilliant linguist and empathetic diplomat, Bren has long been responsible for the treaty transfer of human technology to the atevi aliens, and has always worked closely with their ruler, Tabini. But his closest associates are his bodyguards - his atevi lover Jago and her father Banichi, both professional Guild assassins. Over time he has also aligned closely with Tabini's ruthless grandmother Ilsidi, and has developed a protective affection for Tabini's precocious son Cajeiri. The latter has been strongly influenced by time spent in space and his regular contact with human youngsters during that period.

As Protector opens, all is not well in Tabini's household. His very pregnant wife Damiri has just lost all her household members, sent packing after her scheming father was exiled from the capital. But, though she and Ilsidi have never got along, they come to an accommodation. Cajeiri's birthday approaches and he's asked for his shipboard human friends to attend. It's decided that their reunion should be held under Ilsidi's eye at Tatiseigi's Tirnamardi country estate. Of course, we know there will be trouble when Cajeiri brings along his pet parid'ji Boji. And Bren is pleasantly surprised to find his old friend Jase accompanying the human children (Gene, Artur and Irene).

The subsequent complex political developments are lightened by the renewal of the teens' friendship and by Boji's antics, which reveal a developing plot before it comes to fruition. And, as usual in these episodes, Bren gets involved in the escalating action himself towards the end. C. J. Cherryh has developed this alien world, its associations, politics and conflicts, in such detail that it feels totally real. I always enjoy time spent amongst the atevi and look forward to Cajeiri's actual birthday celebration in the next episode.

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