Most helpful positive review
Political and Social Commentary
on November 19, 2002
This politically-intricate series takes place on the world of the atevi, a very violent species who keep the peace via registered assassination. Atevi alliances are complex and based on personal loyalties rather than on geography. There are several factions among the atevi, and the infighting among them seriously affects the relationships between atevi and humans. Before the first book begins, there is a war between the two species. The outcome is that the humans are confined to a large island and limit contact with the atevi via one, and only one human, the paidhi.
This particular book, second in the series, is about the return of the human starship Phoenix, after nearly five centuries, and how the return affects the delicate balance of power between the humans on the planet and the native atevi. The humans on planet are also factionalized, and political infighting is rampant. The paidhi, Bren Cameron, must deal with the situation quickly to avert social collapse.
If you like Frank Herbert's Dune and The Dosadi Experiment or C. J. Cherryh's The Faded Sun series, you'll like this series. It paints three divergent social structures and the interfaces between them. The alien society is the focus, and is rich in detail -- somewhat reminiscent of feudal Japan breaking into the modern age.