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Deliverer    by C. J. Cherryh order for
by C. J. Cherryh
Order:  USA  Can
Daw, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the ninth episode (following Pretender) in Cherryh's long-running Foreigner series. Paidhi Bren Cameron was trained to live amongst aliens, and has done so for most of his adult life. Bren's people have long been marooned on this world in an uneasy peace with its inhabitants after early misunderstandings and violence. Though Cameron's role has been to oversee the gradual transfer of human technology to the less advanced atevi, he feels strongly about the aliens' right to control their own destiny and works to ensure it.

Through the series, new groups have been added to complicate the mix of atevi and Mospheiran colonists. The ship crew and secretive Pilot's Guild entered the fray when the starship Phoenix reappeared, two centuries after leaving a human colony isolated on the planet. Then, a human/atevi joint expedition into space in Explorer - including Cameron, the atevi ruler's acerbic grandmother Ilsidi and rambunctious young heir Cajeiri - made contact with a new group of aliens, the Kyo, themselves in conflict with yet another set. All these humanoids exhibit subtle cultural and linguistic differences, rife for misunderstanding and conflict when (inevitably) interests collide.

In Pretender, the space travelers returned to find atevi ruler Tabini's Western Association overthrown - their presence onworld and reuinion with Tabini became a catalyst for the ruler to take back control from the usurper Murini. Now they're readjusting to life in the capital, Shejidan. His elders have decided that the heir, Cajeiri - who spent the previous two years in space, comfortable with technology and humans, and relates to Bren as a father figure - must be weaned from these strong affiliations and allowed to develop more natural associations with his own race. Longing for the human friends he made on the starship, for pizza and old movies, Cajeiri rebels and gets into trouble.

At the same time, Bren worries about his brother Toby, in danger at sea, and finds himself making mistakes in a time 'when every unattended piece of his life seemed to have come loose and careened out of control.' Then comes betrayal and crisis. Cajeiri's kidnapped and this episode - like the last one - moves into nonstop action near the dowager's ancestral home, involving Cameron, the indomitable Ilsidi, and the gritty young heir himself, whose captors have seriously underestimated his capabilities - and what he's learned from the movies. In the last few episodes, Cajeiri has joined the paidhi as a significant catalyst for change, and I can't wait to see what trouble they stir up next.

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