Foreigner: 10th Anniversary Edition

Foreigner: 10th Anniversary Edition

by C. J. Cherryh

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The groundbreaking novel that launched Cherryh's eponymous space opera series of first contact and its consequences...

It had been nearly five centuries since the starship Phoenix, lost in space and desperately searching for the nearest G5 star, had encountered the planet of the atevi. On this alien world, law was kept by the use of registered assassination, alliances were defined by individual loyalties not geographical borders, and war became inevitable once humans and one faction of atevi established a working relationship. It was a war that humans had no chance of winning on this planet so many light-years from home.

Now, nearly two hundred years after that conflict, humanity has traded its advanced technology for peace and an island refuge that no atevi will ever visit. Then the sole human the treaty allows into atevi society is marked for an assassin's bullet. THe work of an isolated lunatic? The interests of a particular faction? Or the consequence of one human's fondness for a species which has fourteen words for betrayal and not a single word for love? 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101554746
Publisher: DAW
Publication date: 12/07/2004
Series: Foreigner Universe Series , #1
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 56,350
File size: 586 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

C. J. Cherryh planned to write since the age of ten. When she was older, she learned to use a typewriter while triple-majoring in Classics, Latin, and Greek. With more than seventy books to her credit, and the winner of three Hugo Awards, she is one of the most prolific and highly respected authors in the science fiction field. Cherryh was recently named a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America. She lives in Washington state. She can be found at

Read an Excerpt

It was the deep dark, unexplored except for robotic visitors. The mass that existed here was Earth’s second stepping-stone toward a strand of promising stars; and, for the first manned ship to drop into its influence, the mass point was a lonely place, void of the electromagnetic chaff that filled human space, the gossip and chatter of trade, the instructions of human control to ships and crews, the fast, sporadic communication of machine talking to machine. Here, only the radiation of the mass, the distant stars, and the background whisper of existence itself rubbed up against the sensors with force enough to attract attention.
Here, human beings had to remember that the universe was far wider than their little nest of stars—that, in the universe at large, silence was always more than the noisiest shout of life. Humans explored and intruded against it, and built their stations and lived their lives, a biological contamination of the infinite, a local and temporary condition.
And not the sole inhabitants of the universe: that was no longer possible for humans to doubt. So wherever the probes said life might exist, wherever stars looked friendly to living creatures, humans ventured with some caution, and unfolded their mechanical ears and listened into the dark—as Phoenix listened intently during her hundred hours traverse of realspace.
She heard nothing at any range—which pleased her captains and the staff aboard. Phoenix wanted to find no prior claims to what she wanted, which was a bridge to a new, resources-rich territory, most particularly and immediately a G5 star designated T-230 in the Defense codebooks, 89020 on the charts, and mission objective, in the plans Phoenix carried in her data banks.
Reach the star, unlimber the heavy equipment … create a station that would welcome traders and expand human presence into a new and profitable area of space.
So Phoenix carried the bootstrap components for that construction, the algaes and the cultures for a station’s life-sustaining tanks, the plans and the circuit maps, the diagrams and the processes and the programs, the data and the detail; she carried as well the miner-pilots and the mechanics and the builders and processors and the technical staff that would be, for their principal reward, earliest shareholders in the first-built trading station to develop down this chain of stars—Earth’s latest and most confident colonial commitment, with all the expertise of past successes.
Optics told Mother Earth where the rich stars were. Robots probed the way without any risk of human life...probed and returned with their navigational data and their first-hand observations: T-230 was a system so rich Phoenix ran mass-loaded to the limit, streaking along at a rate a ship dared carry when she expected no other traffic, and when she had no doubt of refuel capabilities at her destination. She shoved the gas and dust around her into a brief, bright disturbance, while her crew ran its hundred-hour routine of maintenance, recalibrations, and navigational checks. The captains shared coffee on the last watch before re-entry, took the general reports, and approved the schedule the way the navigator, McDonough, keyed it.
But what the pilot received of that discussion was a blinking green dot on the edge of his display and a vague sense that things were proceeding comfortably on schedule, aboard a ship in good order. Taylor was On, which meant Taylor had input coming at him at rates it took a computer interface to sort, and, insulated from the tendencies of an unassisted human mind to process laterally and distract itself from the rush of data, Taylor had his ears devoted to computer signals and his eyes and his perceptions chemically adjusted to the computer-filtered velocity of the ship’s passage.
The green dot had to be there before he hyped out. The dot had showed up, and what other human beings did about it was not in any sense Taylor’s business or realization. When that exit point came at him, and time folded up in his face, he reached confidently ahead and through space, toward T-230.
He was a master pilot. The drugs in his blood made him highly specific in his concentration, and highly abstract in his understandings of the data that flashed in front of his eyes and screamed into his ears. He would have targeted Phoenix into the heart of hell if those had been the coordinates the computer handed him. But it was to T-230 he was looking.
For that reason, he was the only one aboard aware when the ship kept going, and time stayed folded.
And stayed.
His heart began to pound in realtime, his eyes were fixed on screens flashing red, lines, and then dots, as those lines became hypothetical, and last of all a black screen, where POINT ERROR glowed in red letters like the irretrievable judgment of God.
Heartbeat kept accelerating. He reached for the ABORT and felt the cap under his fingers. He had no vision now. It was all POINT ERROR. He scarcely felt the latch: and time was still folding as he uncapped the ABORT, for a reason he no longer remembered. Unlike the computer, he had no object but that single, difficult necessity.
Program termination.
Blank screen.
God had no more data.
The ship dropped and the alarm sounded: This is not a drill. Computer failure. This is not a drill....
McDonough’s heart was thumping and the sweat was running from exertion as he pressed the button to query Taylor. Every screen was blank.
This is not a drill....
The hard-wired Abort was in action. Phoenix was saving herself. She blew off v with no consideration of fragile human bodies inside her.
Phoenix then attempted to re-boot her computers from inflowing information. She queried her captain, her navigator, and her pilot and co-pilot, with painful shocks to the Q-patch. Two more such jolts, before McDonough found data taking shape on his screens at the navigation station.
Video displayed the star.
No, two stars, one glaring blue-white, one faint red. McDonough sat frozen at his post, seeing in Phoenix’ future-line a coasting drift to white, nuclear hell.
“Where are we?” someone asked. “Where are we?”
It was a question the navigator took for accusation. McDonough felt it like a blow to his already abused gut, and looked toward the pilot for an answer. But Taylor was just staring at his screens, doing nothing, not moving.
“Inoki,” McDonough said. But the co-pilot was slumped unconscious or worse.
“Get Greene up here. Greene and Goldberg, to the bridge.” That was LaFarge on the staff channel, senior captain, hard-nosed and uncompromising, calling up the two backup pilots.
McDonough felt the shakes set in, wondered if LaFarge was going to call up all the backups, and oh, one part of him wanted that, wanted to go to his bunk and lie there inert and not have to deal with reality, but he had to learn what that binary star was and where they were and what mistake he might conceivably have committed to put them here. The nutrients the med-plug was shooting into him were making him sick. The sight in front of him was insane. Optics couldn’t be wrong. The robots couldn’t be wrong. Their instruments couldn’t be wrong.
“Sir?” Karly McEwan was sitting beside him, as stunned as he was—his own immediate number two: she was shaken, but she was punching buttons, trying, clamp-jawed as she was, to get sense out of chaos. “Sir? Go to default? Sir?”
“Default for now,” he muttered, or some higher brain function did, while his conscious intelligence was operating on some lower floor. The ‘for now’ that had bubbled up as a caution hit his faltering intelligence like a pronouncement of doom, because he didn’t see any quick way to get a baseline for this system. “Spectrum analysis, station two and three. Chart comparison, station four. Station five, rerun the initiation and target coordinates.” The forebrain was still giving orders. The rest was functioning like Taylor, which was not at all. “We need a medic up here. Is Kiyoshi on the bridge? Taylor and Inoki are in trouble.”
“Are we stable?” Kiyoshi Tanaka’s voice, asking if it was safe to unbelt and go after the pilots, but every question seemed to echo with double meanings, every question trailed off into unknowns and unknowables. “Stable as we can be,” LaFarge said, and meanwhile the spectral analysis program was turning up a flood of data and running comparisons on every star system on file, a steady crawl of non-matches on McDonough’s number one screen, while the bottom of it reported NOT A MATCH, 3298 ITEMS EXAMINED.
“We’re getting questions from channel B,” came from Communications. “Specials are requesting to leave quarters. Requesting screen output.”
Taylor’s routine. Taylor had always given the passengers a view, leaving Earth system, entering the mass points, and leaving them....
“No,” LaFarge said harshly. “No image.” A blind man could see it was trouble. “Say it’s a medical on the bridge. Say we’re busy.”
Tanaka had reached Taylor and Inoki, and was injecting something into Taylor, McDonough was aware of that. The passengers were feeling the variance in routine, and the NOT A MATCH hadn’t changed.
The computer had run out of local stars.
“Karly, you prioritized search from default one?”
“From default,” Navigation Two answered. The search for matching stars had started with Sol and the near neighborhood. “Our vector, plus and minus ten lights.”
The sick feeling in McDonough’s gut increased.
Nothing made sense. The backup pilots showed up, asking distracting questions nobody could answer, the same questions every navigator was asking the instruments and the records. The captain told the medic to get Taylor and Inoki off the bridge—the captain swore when he said it, and McDonough distractedly started running checks of his own while Tanaka got the two pilots on their feet—Taylor could walk, but Taylor looked blind to what was going on. Inoki was moving, but just scarcely: one of the com techs had to haul him up and carry him, once Tanaka unbuckled him and unplugged the tube from his implant. Neither of them looked at Greene or Goldberg as they passed. Taylor’s eyes were set on infinity. Inoki’s were shut.
SEARCH FURTHER? the computer asked, having searched all the stars within thirty lights of Earth.
“We stand at 5% on fuel,” the captain reported calmly—a potential death sentence. “Any com pickup at all?”
At this star? McDonough asked himself, and: “Dead silent,” Communications said. “The star’s noisy enough to mask God-knows-what.”
“Go long range, back up our vector. Assume we overshot the star.”
“Aye, sir.”
A moment later, hydraulics whined up on the hull. The big dish was unpacking and unfolding, preparing to listen. V was down to a crawl safe for its deployment—safe, if it was Earth’s own Sun, but it wasn’t. There was no data on this system. They were gathering it, drinking it in every sensor, but nothing gave them even minimal certainty there wasn’t a rock in their path. Nobody had ever come in at a close binary, or a mass as large. God only knew what had happened to the field.
McDonough’s hands were shaking as he punched up the scope of both search sequences, approaching a hundred lights distant in all directions, search negative, past their objective. They still didn’t know where they were, but with 5% fuel in reserve, they weren’t leaving soon, either. They had the miner-craft: thank God they had the miner-craft and the station components. They might gather system ice and refuel...
Except that was a radiation hell out there, except the solar wind that blue-white sun threw out was a killing wind. This was not a star where flesh and blood could live, and if the miners did go out to work in that, they had to limit their time outside.
Or if the ship was, as it might well be, infalling, on a massive star’s gravity slope … they’d meet that radiation close-up before they went down.
“We’ve rerun the initiation sequence,” Greene said, from Taylor’s seat. “We don’t find any flaw in the commands.”
Meaning Taylor had keyed in on what navigation had given him. A cold apprehension gnawed at McDonough’s stomach.
“Any answer, Mr. McDonough?”
“Not yet, sir.” He kept his voice calm. He didn’t feel that way. He hadn’t made a mistake. But he couldn’t prove it by anything they had from the instruments.
A ship couldn’t come out of hyperspace aimed differently than it had on entry. It didn’t. It couldn’t.
But if some hyperspace particle had screwed the redundant storage, if the computer had lost its destination point and POINT ERROR was the answer, they couldn’t run far enough on their fuel mass to be out of sight of stars they knew.
Two stars, in any degree near each other, both with spectra matching the charts, were all they needed. Any two-star match against their charts could start to locate them, and they couldn’t be more than five lights off their second mass point, if they’d run out all the fuel they were carrying—couldn’t be. Not farther than twenty lights from Earth total at most.
But there wasn’t a massive blue-white within twenty lights of the Sun, except Sirius, and this wasn’t Sirius. Spectra of those paired suns were a no-match. It wasn’t making sense. Nothing was.
He started looking for pulsars. When you were out of short yardsticks you looked for the long ones, the ones that wouldn’t lie, and you started thinking about half-baked theories, like cosmic macrostructures, folded interfaces, or any straw of reason that might give a mind something to work on or suggest a direction they’d gone or offer a hint which of a hundred improbables was the truth.

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Foreigner 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read Sci-Fi for years and have yet find a book that held my attention as this book did. I have also read 'Precursor'. This one also is very good. I look forward to reading the third book in the trilogy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I admit to being intrigued by C.J. Cherryh's work. When I first picked up this book, I could not set it down. The story line was strong enough to grip me from the very beginning and I can only hope that one day I will have the skills and talent that this woman has. A terrific book and series. A must read for any diehard Science Fiction fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is, by far, one of the most engrossing, intriguing, fascinating science fiction stories that I've discovered in my more than five decades of voracious reading. It's not for anyone seeking a light read. The Foreigner series begins with an inadvertent meeting of two civilizations when an earth space ship becomes lost and builds a satellite station orbiting a world with its own unique civilization; one so unlike that of humans that it requires total separation of the denizens of this world, the Atevi, and humans. This is determined after humans land on the Atevis' world, encroach on Atevi land and wreak havoc to the point that only one human is allowed to leave an island to which the "aliens" are relegated. That human, Bren Cameron, is the ambassador (paidhi) to the Atevi, and he must learn their language and their customs, all of which are fraught with linguistic and conventional "bombs," any of which could easily cause his immediate demise and further warfare. The Atevi have no words for like and love. Their civilization is based on formality, mathematics and strict codes of loyalty and honor. Cameron, is protected by two members of the Assassins Guild, which keeps the peace in Atevi society. He is the size of a child compared to the huge black and beautiful, if intimidating, inhabitants of the world on which he must tread very carefully in order to maintain a tentative peace. This is the first of a series that so far spans 13 books, and they are filled with intrigue, adventure, intelligence, humor and unforgettable characters. I highly recommend them all.
BuddhaJM More than 1 year ago
Atevi are not like the rest of us. Understatement. This story of first contact points out the huge potential for misunderstanding and conflict, or true communication leading to progress. Which path we take is going to be determined by how we communicate, and any assumptions we hold. With Atevi, one quickly learns to cast aside our assumptions and to learn to listen in a new way. Further more, understand that courtesy is not only desireable when addressing Atevi; it may be what stands between you and a quick and final end. Whatever you previously understood about loyalty needs to be re-thought. With Atevi, loyalty is not simply a choice, it is everything. Once your word is given to an Atevi it is expected that it will be kept, without exception. Once association is established with an Atevi, it remains in place for life. The Atevi really know what it means to pledge yourself to a cause or a person. Nothing is half-way with them, know that going in.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cherryh creates very real characters, incredible alien societies, and an excellent story line that will keep you readng. Not your usual action fantasy fare, but deep and thoughtful; mindful of the differences that make us unique, but carried to a new understanding of what makes a species unique.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Unbelievably great saga! I've read all four of the Foreigner Universe books out to date. Characters you come to truly care about, exotic aliens, space opera mixed with great political intrigue - Superb! The only bad part about them is waiting for the next book!! OCT 2001 - Defender!!! I just can't wait!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely excellent, but be prepared to pay close attention: plot frequently turns on seemingly minor details and people mentioned in passing come back later in important roles. If you get distracted or skim, you'll miss something key and find yourself wondering why something turned out thus and so. After I finished the series I had to go back and re-read books 1-3 to fill in what I'd obviously missed the first time around. Also, (mainly relevant to the first book) do not let impatience with the hypochondriacal, self-absorbed protagonist prevent you from getting to know the Atevi. He does grow up and become less annoying , though I wouldn't say he ever really becomes a truly likeable character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great plot and character development. The only reason I gave 4 instead of 5 stars isvthat the beginning was somewhat confusing, especially since Cherryh switches scenarios just a sshe draws the reader in.
bonsai9933 More than 1 year ago
The author creates a believable world where humans and the native atevi population still live apart 200 years  after first contact. Bren Cameron, the current paidhi, is liasson between the humans and atevi, and encounters the same difficulties and awkward moments that even the most seasoned diplomat . experiences. The plot is very engaging and the author beautifully paints vivid scenery and characters, such that I'm  anxious to go on to her next book. The plot is very engaging and the author beautifully paints vivid scenery and characters, such that I'm anxious to go on to her next book.
joleneb3 More than 1 year ago
I first read this when first published, and I've just re-read from #1 through #14. This series is worth every dime that allowed me to read it, not just the first and second times, but the third and probably the fourth time too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Engaging and believable. Cherryh's greatest strength lies in creating a complete alien culture. Humans are Human and Atevi are Atevi through and through. It gets better and better the further into the series you go.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bren is a fascinating character that grows and develops as the series continues. At first he is a young man who takes over an extremely dangerous postion as the human translator to the Atevi. Human colonists are stranded on the Atevi earth. I've been reading the Foreigner novels since this book came out over10 years ago; and after reading each one, I await the next with great expectation. The characters, locations, and human vs. Atevi relations and conflicts are intriguing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting to go back and reread the Foreigner intoduction. The characters have become much more complex. Atevi society reminds me of Imperial Japan in its rigidity and complexity. This is more about the clash of cultures than science fiction. That said, when are the rest of the series going to be released? I will buy them as soon as they are released. They are so information dense, i get more out of them every time i reread them. Please,please rerelease the Pride of Chanur series. Ah,heck,ALL of Ms. Cherryh's series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rich in storyline
Pferdina on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first two parts of the book set the stage, relating the history of how humans came to be on the Atevi world. In short, the colony ship Phoenix got lost during a subspace jump, no one knows how or why. At great cost, both in lives and resources, the humans managed to refuel the ship and find a suitable star system. They built an orbiting station around a planet that already had intelligent life, thinking that they would soon be able to leave again. But the rebuilding was long and strife broke out between the Pilots Guild and the common ship folk. At last, some humans were allowed to drop to the planet surface - a one-way trip as there were no vehicles to bring them back. Phoenix left them behind when it set off again. The cohabitation of the native Atevi and the human settlers was not peaceful for long, resulting in a war that left humans one small island for their own. The main storyline, however, concerns Bren Cameron, the paidhi (official interpreter and conduit between the species) who works directly with, Tabini-aiji, the leader of the Atevi civilization closest to the island of humans. Bren must not only translate the languages, but he must understand the different cultures in order to keep the peace. Humans slowly transmit their technology to the Atevi through him, but the Atevi are deeply suspicious and some factions resent humans enough to be very dangerous. After an attempt is made on his life, Bren is sent by Tabini to stay at an ancient fortress in the mountains, the residence of the aiji's grandmother, Ilisidi. Bren is given two of the aiji's own guards for protection (Banichi and Jago), but in reality, he doesn't know if he can trust any of the Atevi. During his stay, he learns about the traditional way of life for the rural Atevi and comes to appreciate it in a way he never could in the capitol city. Meanwhile, he tries to figure out who is on his side and who is against him before someone succeeds in killing him.Having read the subsequent volumes in this series, it was interesting to go back and re-read the beginning. Relationships that become important in later books have their roots here, although the parties barely understand each other at this point. While in the later books, Bren becomes more confident and strong, in this he is remarkably weak, confused, and passive. A fascinating alien culture is the background to Bren's growth in understanding.
Yfandes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first, and still favorite, Cherryh book. After much procrastinating, I picked this up to read when I worked in the local bookstore. I didn't expect to like it, but by the end of the first chapter I was well and truly sucked in. Cherryh writes alien societies VERY well, and I anxiously await each installment in the series.
JusNeuce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Though the series is starting to dumb down a little, Bren is a classic character. The first three books of the series are the best.
johncstark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book, unlike many science fiction novels, goes to extreme lengths to highlight the many differences people from entirely different cultures could and would have. It was refreshing and challanging to understand the dynamics brought forth in the characters.
zette on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I first read Foreigner, back in early 1994, I was immediately drawn into the exceptional world building, fascinating aliens and wonderful characters. It became one of my favorite Cherryh books and I hoped she would write more. I got my wish.It is now sixteen years later, the eleventh book in the Foreigner Sequence will be out in a few months. In celebration, I decided it was time to go back and read the earlier books. I knew I had forgotten some of the material and this gave me the perfect excuse to reacquaint myself with the full depth of story line again.What struck me as I started the first book is how much of the later trouble is present there in the first one. Not only is the world expertly created, but problems mentioned in passing will become trouble in the future. Places, people ... almost everything is there in the first book, ready to unfold through this epic science fiction journey.The book starts with an unfortunate group of humans who have lost their way in the wide, dangerous universe. They arrive at the world of the Atevi by chance. They are not at peace among themselves; there is a difference of opinion between those who want a world beneath their feet and a group who want to keep to space at all costs. Some make their way to the world below, despite opposition.All seems to be going well enough after the first encounter ... but when the story leaps ahead in time, we learn there was a war and now the humans and Atevi are separated and only one human, the paidhi, lives at the Atevi court. This person is responsible for helping to introduce new technology to the Atevi in a way that will not upset the balance of their civilization. The paidhi is also as fluent in the Atevi language and customs as any human can be, and his observances will help future relationships between the two species.Bren Cameron is the current paidhi. He's very popular with a powerful Atevi leader. He's likely the best paidhi that has ever served at the Atevi court. However, an assassination attempt against him and then a trip that puts him fully into the hands of Atevi, with no human to turn to, shows him just how little he truly knows.And the adventure has only just begun.
Karlstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In a far future time, humans have sent colony shps out looking for new planets to colonize. Unfortunately, one of them limps on its last legs to a planet that already has a civilization on it, though one not quite as advanced as the humans. The humans must bargain for landing rights, and technology exchange, while dealing with a race that has some fundamentally different principles, while appearing mostly humanoid. The interplay of the two cultures is excellent, really a good book.
ecolenca on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Cherryh's work in general. This is one of her better efforts, in my opinion, though the actual story doesn't start until 50 or 60 pages in. Then it gets really interesting, after she lays all the groundwork for how humans ended up as the uninvited foreigners on someone else's planet, and the poor guy stuck trying to mediate between two sides barely able to communicate with each other. As usual, Cherryh does aliens better than anybody, and the total submersion of the interpreter, Bren, into aspects of the atevi culture he's never seen before is a clever and excellent way to introduce the reader to this complex world as well. A really good read, and highly recommended.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cherryh remains one of my favorite science fiction authors for her fascinating portrayals of alien races. The Foreigner series is no exception with the introduction of the atevi¿a race of humanoids that is, nonetheless, so different in cultural mind set that the entire premise of the book is that the two races will inevitably come into conflict without the mediation of individuals trained for their entire life to do the job. It's a very long-running series, which is great if you're a Cherryh fan.
readafew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is the first in the Foreigner series. I really enjoyed this book and I am already planning on buying and reading the next one. It was a little slow at the beginning and I was quite confused a few times in the middle but by the end things were flying along and the story came together.Humans are slowly colonizing the Galaxy, one such ship is sent to colonize a new planetary system to extend human reach. On the way 'something' happened that no one has been able to figure out. This accident sent the ship and all it's passengers far enough away from it's destination that none of the stars in a hundred light year radius are recognizable. They are lost, in space. Eventually they find an solar system similar to earth's but it is already inhabited by sentient beings. The rest of the story is about how the 2 are getting along, which is usually within tolerable limits.
UTBear on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent series. Up to 3 trilogies now.
Roylin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't read a lot of Sci Fi, so I picked this up to give it a try and enjoyed it a lot. So much I read the other 3 in the first series. The alien race is facinating and the political schemes and plots were all I love. It even had a little romance thrown in. I might read more Scifi.