Books for Grownups · Reading

“The Faded Sun: Kesrith” review

“’Wind-child, sun-child, what is Kath? Child-bearers, laugh-bringers, that is Kath.’

It was a game, shon’ai, the passing-game, Kel-style, in the dim round hall of the Kel, the middle tower of the House – black-robed men and a black-robed woman, a circle of ten.”

So begins C. J. Cherryh’s The Faded Sun: Kesrith, the first of the Faded Sun series. Cherryh has become one of my favorite authors, so much so that I actually went and purchased several of her books for the summer (usually, I can’t afford books and just get them from the library; if I do buy them, I only purchase “keepers”).

Cherryh is a master (perhaps one of the masters) at building a deep, complex world, so full of politics and culture and history that you can lose yourself in it. This book is no different: Set in a very distant future on an inhospitable planet where some of the last remnants of the mercenary, warlike Mri (an alien species) and their intelligent but physically dependent overlords the Regul (a separate alien species) are grappling with the conclusion of a 40 year war with humanity. 

Nuin, the youngest of the Mri, has missed out on the fighting and, consequentially, a primary purpose for his existence. With most of his species destroyed by the war and the Regul having turned his planet over to a coming human envoy, he finds the peaceful orders he’s being given strange and his prospects for the future bleak. 

Enter the primary human character, Duncan, who arrives on-planet to find that the Regul are not as gracious and forthcoming in transitioning power as they would like him to believe. 

Again, you don’t want to know all the nitty-gritty details and I don’t want to ruin the story. The bottom line, as for all of Cherryh’s works I’ve read, is this: If you enjoy being thrown head-first into a completely new world by an author who thinks you’re smart enough to figure things out as you go (rather than spoon-feeding you lots of information up front), and you don’t mind a plot that majors on development rather than action (though there is action, it’s just not the main thing), then this is a book you’re going to like. I love the mystery and the constant feeling of figuring things out, and that’s why I keep coming back to her books.

If you’re on the fence, here’s a further encouragement: unlike much science fiction, this one doesn’t outweigh Moby Dick. My copy came in at only 248 pages.

Profanity .5 I can’t remember a specific instance, but there may have been a word or two.
Violence 2 Nothing of a graphic nature.
Sex/Romantic Relationships .5 The Mri marriage/childbearing relationships are discussed culturally, but there are no sexual/romantic relationships in the plot.
Miscellaneous  NA

NOTE: As always, my content notes are for informational purposes, not judgmental ones. For a full explanation of my Content Notes and the scale, click here. 

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