Nearly two centuries after the starship Phoenix disappeared into the heavens, leaving an isolated colony of humans on the world of the atevi, it unexpectedly returns to orbit overhead, threatening the stability of both atevi and human governments.
With the situation fast becoming critical, Bren Cameron, the brilliant, young paidhi to the court of the atevi is recalled from Mospheira where he has just undergone surgery. But his sudden and premature return to the mainland is cause for more than mere physical discomfort. For during his brief absence, his government has sent his paidhi-successor, Deana Hanks—representative of a dangerous archconservative faction on Mospheira who hate the atevi. And though she should depart when Bren is once again able to fill his post, no recall order comes.
Cut off from his government and haunted by the continuing threat of assassination, Bren realizes his only hope may be to communicate directly with the Phoenix as the spokesman of the atevi—an action which may cut him off for good from his own species. Yet if he doesn't take this desperate and illegal action, he may be forced to helplessly bear witness to the final destruction of the already precarious balance of world power.
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What People are Saying About This
"Three-time Hugo-winner Cherryh's gift for conjuring believable alien cultures is in full force here, and her characters, including the fascinatingly unpredictable atevi, are brought to life with a sure and convincing hand." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Veteran sf/fantasy author Cherryh plays her strongest suit in this exploration of human/alien contact, producing an incisive study-in-contrast of what it means to be human in a world where trust is nonexistent. A good purchase for most sf collections." —Library Journal
"A seriously probing, thoughtful, intelligent piece of work, with more insight in half a dozen pages than most authors manage in half a thousand." —Kirkus Reviews
"A large new novel from C.J. Cherryh is always welcome. When it marks her return to the anthropological SF in which she has made such a name, it is a double pleasure. The ensuing story is not short on action, but stronger (like much of Cherryh's work) on world-building, exotic aliens, and characterization. Well up to Cherryh's usual high standard." —The Chicago Sun-Times
"A typically close-grained and carefully constructed world, filled with arresting details of atevi life and history. The long and deliberate setup pays off more than satisfactorily, but without any sense of a pat or closed-off solution. A book that will stick in the mind a lot longer than the usual adventure romp." —Locus