This is the final book of the third series of C. J. Cherryh’s "Foreigner" saga (see my entry on Pretender, the second book). I’ve already talked about Ms. Cherryh’s wonderful ability to create mindsets, as told through the human ambassador Bren Cameron, called the paidhi by the atevi.
Bren Cameron, the latest paidhi, has helped the atevi enter space and negotiate with aliens (other than humans). Bren also has an atevi lover, although he keeps that low profile because it’s rather scandalous to sleep with one’s security staff. In book after book, the reader sees Bren’s thought processes and internal dialog become more and more atevi. Then, in this novel, Ms. Cherryh does something she’s never done before. Gasp — she has an atevi character carry part of the story. Granted, she uses an atevi child who’s interacted with humans (perhaps too much for his own good), but now the reader gets closer to the atevi mindset and point of view (POV).
Not too close, however, because Cajeiri (the aiji’s son and heir) is a fish out of water regardless of whether he’s in human or atevi society. He’s atevi, but he’s been in space for several years, during which time he was reared by his great-grandmother (a dangerous political unity of one) and he had significant interaction with humans. As his POV is interspersed with Bren’s, we can see that Cajeiri is dealing with internal issues; he doesn’t feel comfortable with his parents and his atevi staff, yet he no longer has contact with his human friends from the ship. Cajeiri is lonely (in an atevi numerical sort of way) and even Bren has withdrawn from him, because Bren is fearful he’ll be seen as unwanted human influence upon the heir. Events lead to Cajeiri’s kidnapping and attempts by certain political factions to use his kidnapping against the aiji — but they get more than they bargained for and I’ll leave it at that.
I enjoyed this book and liked it better than Pretender. Perhaps, since we only see the results and clean-up of past conflict in Pretender, it doesn’t feel personal. More seems to happen in Deliverer, and there’s a satisfying balance of politics with action. In Deliverer, the reader easily identifies with Bren and Cajeiri as they both attempt, in different ways, to feel their paths through a violent political minefield.