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Destroyer (Foreigner) by C. J. Cherryh
Review by Edward Carmien
Daw Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0756402530
Date: 28 February, 2005 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Cameron, having spearheaded a peaceful dialogue with the kyo and thereby successfully begun repatriating stranded stationers from a location claimed by that alien race, begins the tale in threadbare and tightened-belt end-of-voyage circumstances as the Phoenix returns to the atevi homeworld. Spider-plants but little else is in abundance on the ship; the young atevi prince aboard has outgrown his clothing and grown familiar with a group of human children, one of many worries Cameron carries with him as the story progresses.

The fun begins as the ship nears home and arrives to find not everything is as it should be. There is as one might expect a political challenge to overcome, as well as assorted threads of previous plot elements to reintroduce and re-tangle and in some pleasurable cases apparently resolve.

Cherryh, one imagines, would hear nothing of the idea she?s mellowed over the years, but one suspects this is so. Her tightly compacted and intensely inner-turned plots have relaxed?a bit?and there is a much easier to read ratio of introspection to action here than in the earliest of the novels in this series. Cameron is still turned inward much of the time, still ponders elusive turns of phrase and inconclusive bits of evidence, still blames himself for much of what happens around him?in short, he?s the same lovable translator-hero he has always been.

His companions remain strong and true (ever a question when they are for the most part atevi) and other expected elements of a Foreigner series novel are present as well?at least one excellent clash of arms (so vivid one imagines Cherryh has spent some time wriggling through the bushes playing paintball, or perhaps she has dabbled in the art of the first-person shooter computer game) and political discussions aplenty await the reader of Destroyer.

The most compelling element here is the way Cherryh plays with one?s expectations, creating a sense of anxiety and tension despite the text being the seventh in a line of books rife with anxiety and tension. Cherryh readers won?t need this review to decide whether or not to pick this book up: true Cherryh fans are a hardy and focused breed who will own this book soon after it arrives in bookstores.

For those teetering on the fence about this prolific (60+ books over nearly 30 years of publishing) author: Cherryh is here both accessible and excellent as a writer. Destroyer works hard to make new readers feel welcome without an overwhelming dose of ?what?s come before? compacted into the early pages, and Cherryh succeeds in making this novel a good first-read for those new to her work and/or the Foreigner series.

For compelling reading about aliens in an alien place, there is no better author than Cherryh. There are no aliens drawn in greater detail and emotional depth than the atevi. Cherryh?s ability to plunge the reader mind and soul into a truly alien setting and story has always been unmatched?and in Destroyer the plunge is ready for the taking. Jump now! As the cover announces, Destroyer is ?the explosive launch of the third Foreigner sequence.?

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