Jun 3 2010 6:27pm

You are also an exile: C.J. Cherryh’s Conspirator

Conspirator is the first of the fourth trilogy of Cherryh’s Atevi series, and you really don’t want to start reading here.

As the series goes on, there’s less and less that I can say without spoilers for earlier volumes. Sorry about that.

All through his voyage in space and the eventful events of the restoration of Tabini, Bren has thought wistfully from time to time of his seaside estate and the time when he’ll get a minute to go there and relax. In Conspirator he does that, and of course his holiday by the sea gets complicated. First, Toby is there with a badly behaved Barb, then Cajeiri turns up uninvited, then Ilisidi arrives, and then everything goes to hell with a war with Geigi’s nephew and autonomy promised to the Edi people by Ilisidi.

So who is the conspirator? Geigi’s nephew Baiji, obviously, who has been ineptly conspiring with the South. But Bren also conspires, with Cajeiri, with Ilisidi and the Edi. And Cajeiri conspires with Antaro and Jegari to get his holiday.

I do not like the episode where Cajeiri gets swept out to sea in the tender and is rescued safely. It’s the only bit in the whole series where I feel the tension is being artificially ramped up. Also, while I’m complaining, I want to know more about what’s happening in space already! And if the shuttles are flying regularly again, why aren’t Bindanda and Nawari back down?

There’s some lovely Cajeiri, some nice peaceful moments, some great Jago, some nice complexity of Atevi culture with the displaced Mospheirans and their old religion which we saw in one of the prologues to Foreigner and haven’t seen since. I like it that the atevi have ethnicities, and different languages, and a lot of things like that you don’t normally see done well with aliens. It also gets very exciting at the end, and while it has some volume resolution it leaves it much more open than most of these books.

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published eight novels, most recently Half a Crown and Lifelode, and two poetry collections. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

This article is part of C. J. Cherryh Reread: ‹ previous | index | next ›
Eugenie Delaney
1. EmpressMaude

refresh my recollection - what about the old religion of the Mospheirans?
Jo Walton
2. bluejo
Empress Maude: Right at the beginning of the on-planet bit of Foreigner there's a bit of atevi point-of-view in which the ateva in question notes that the humans have overturned the grandmother stones. Then ages later (several books later) it's mentioned that the atevi displaced from the island to make way for the humans were heretics anyway. And then here, the Edi, all for grandmothers, for grandmother stones, also exiles from Mospheira -- and wanting their own lordship. So I meant the aboriginal atevi Mospheirans, not the human ones.
Rachel Howe
3. ellarien
The first time I read Conspirator I was completely blindsided by the suddenness with which I ran out of book -- it felt as though it stopped practically in mid-sentence. On rereading with the next volume in hand, it seemed a bit less abrupt.

I want more space station and Kyo, too.
4. goshawk
I think this long stretch of "no word" from the space station is effective. We know she's used long periods of silence (or miscommunication) on one end or the other to blindside us before, with the mutiny first and the coup d'etat later. I suspect everyone's going to be wishing more attention had been paid upstairs, particularly with Geigi having to come down to sort out his estate.

In a way, this reminds me of Tolkien, leaving us utterly in the dark about half the Fellowship while we follow the other half, making us feel their worry and ignorance about the rest.

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