Thursday, February 27, 2020

Review of Deliverer by C.J. Cherryh

Opening just after the chaotic run of Pretender (relatively speaking, of course, this is the Foreigner universe, after all), the opening of C.J. Cherryh’s Deliverer (2007). Ninth book in the Foreigner universe, sees Bren, Lord Taibini, Isildi, Cajeri, and the entire entourage return to power in the atevi capital. This group responsible for cleaning matters up in the wake of the attempted coup, they look to restore Taibini’s power base. But before the dust can settle, a new crisis emerges that puts the idea the insurrection has been quelled back up for question. Question is, from which side is the attack, and what are the long term effect?

In telling this story, Deliverer marks a major departure from the pattern, if it can be called as such, that has emerged over the first eight Foreigner books. Bren is no longer 100% the viewpoint character; Cajeri, Lord Tabini’s grandson, shares screentime. Deliverer thus offers two perspectives on atevi life. Given the plot directions that are revealed, it’s a fitting departure, which, for as surprising as it is, still feels natural. The second departure is that Cherryh abandons, or at least appears to abandon the trilogy structure. If events in Destroyer seemed to be wrapped up by Pretender, Deliverer only adds to the feeling. It cleans up the relative mess left over from Pretender, but given the majority of plot threads were also tied off by that book, there is little for Deliverer to capitalize on save introducing new elements, which in turn breaks the mold of the first two trilogies which featured strong, overarching plot lines.

Deliverer largely self-contained, it makes the reader wonder: where does Cherryh take the series next? Seeming to open the door on many possibilities with the development of Cajeri as a character, it seems logical that she continues to develop his story arc. Perhaps as foreshadowing of Bren’s removal from the storyline, or as simply a way to spice up a story arc that is now nine—nine—volumes long, and counting.

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