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.