Taking up exactly where Chanur's Venture left off, the third in the Chanur Saga finds The Pride of Chanur in hot pursuit of the kifish prince Sikkukkut, who has kidnapped her human crewmember Tully and Captain Pyanfar's niece Hilfy, leaving word that if their shipmates want to see them again they should lose no time in getting to Mkks, a station in an area of space disputed by the kif and the mahendo'sat. But not before Py has left word for mahe hunter-Captains Goldtooth and Jik, with whom she hopes to weight the scales in her favor. Sikkukkut turns out to be willing to negotiate and even seems to respect her ("Hunter Pyanfar, you should have been a kif"), but Py is too old in the ways of Compact space to trust him. Then he suddenly presents her with a gift--a kif who calls himself Skkukuk and claims that "Chanur's safety is mine." A kif on her ship is about the last thing Pyanfar wants, even after getting her niece back--but she still wants Tully, which means she has to go on dealing with Sikkukkut. What follows is a complex tangle of politics and alien culture, with the mahendo'sat and the kif both pursuing agendas of their own and Py and her crew simply trying to survive and rescue Tully. Before the reader quite knows how it happened, the hani are maneuvered into helping Sikkukkut capture Kefk, just over the frontier. But why do the kif need hani help for such a project? Exactly what is to be expected from Skkukuk? Is he a spy, their slave, a liaison? Can the mahendo'sat be trusted? What's to be done about the han deputy who's following The Pride hither and yon with a databank full of charges against her? Or about the hani exile/pirate Dur Tahar who's been working with the kif these last two years and has succeeded in getting on Sikkukkut's bad side? Will injured crewwoman Chur Anify survive the repeated jumps through hyperspace? And has Hilfy fallen in love with Tully? As always, Cherryh makes the complex backroom maneuverings of three species (four counting the stsho) interesting and the hani, particularly, very real and sympathetic. (Py's deposed husband Khym is still voyaging with The Pride, and much of the conflict comes from her awareness that this is against all custom, hani males being, well, hani males--though Khym is "too well-bred to swear like the rest of them, and doing a crewwoman's job with a woman's steady concentration...") Full of shifting alliances, sudden revelations (there are, it seems, *three* different human governments, each fighting the other two, and even Tully warns Pyanfar not to trust any of them), and a building tension that develops side by side with Py's own changing sympathies and insights, this book ably maintains the quality of its predecessors.