A new Atevi book: C.J. Cherryh’s Conspirator

Normally a new book in a series I really like means I’d take the opportunity to re-read at least some of the previous volumes, but I re-read all nine of the earlier Atevi books last summer so they were still fairly fresh in my mind. (It’s probably also worth noting that I also re-read most of them if not exactly backwards then nevertheless in an odd kind of order when Deliverer came out.) So, yesterday I noticed (when going to the DAW page to link to something) that Conspirator was out, and not only out but there were supposedly four copies in Indigo, whereupon I abandoned everything and rushed out and bought it and spent the rest of the day reading it.

If you haven’t read any Atevi books, you should start with Foreigner, or possibly Invader and definitely not with this. This is book ten in a complex series, and unlike all of the others so far, it’s actually a piece of middle. If you already love the Atevi books, this will give you your fix, but don’t start here.

I’m slightly disappointed by it.

Maybe it just wasn’t what I was expecting. After the third trilogy dealing with the after-effects of the space mission and Tabini’s overthrow, I thought a fourth trilogy would get to grips with the unresolved human (and Kyo!) problems from the end of Explorer. This is really more of what the last three books have been full of—entirely on the planet, entirely Atevi problems, Cajeiri growing up a little more. There’s closer attention to some things we’ve heard mentioned but not actually seen, especially Bren’s country estate and boat. There are other nifty things. I’ve said before that I’d be quite happy to read “Bren has a good day for a change” and read about the atevi drinking tea and having meetings, and this is a lot closer to that than I ever thought I’d really get.

It seems to me that throughout the first six books the series was constantly opening out new vistas—with the appearance of the ship at the end of Foreigner, of Jase and the Mospheiran problems in Invader, with the tech and further Mospheiran problems in Inheritor, then with the ship/spacestation problems in Precursor and Defender opening out even wider to the other station and the aliens in Explorer. The third trilogy stands in the shadow of Explorer, and while I like those books a lot (and Deliverer is probably my favourite) I’m ready to keep going outwards. Also, what’s happening up in space? Are Sabin and Ogun and Jase and Geigi and Gin just sitting there? The shuttles are supposedly running again. I want to know!

My other problem with Conspirator was that I never had any doubt. I never feared that anyone or anything I cared about was really in any danger, so while the book is exciting in parts (it is, after all, a Cherryh novel) there’s a sense in which none of it mattered much.

All the same, the second I know there’s another new Atevi novel in the bookshop, wild mechieti won’t suffice to keep me from rushing out for it.


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