Review & Commentary: Betrayer by C.J. Cherryh (Foreigner #12)

Review: “We are returned to the Foreigner Universe and the on-going story of human paidhi-aiji Bren Cameron, his crack-shot team of Guild protectors while he’s deep in “enemy” territory attempting negotiations with a very dangerous, yet crucial leader from the rival faction which formerly supported the coup against Tabini-aiji. Sent into action by Tabini’s influential yet problematic great-grandmother, and worried over by Cajeiri, Tabini’s son, his brother and household staff, Bren has potentially world-shaking decisions to make moment by moment, in a situation which can erupt in violence at any time.

Complex, action packed and solid in writing, plotting and pace as ever, Betrayer is a satisfying addition to this outstanding series, though I think it wouldn be difficult for a new reader to begin at this point without going back and reading the other books. My sole drawback which kept me from rating it 5 stars was I felt we’re receiving too much of a “transitional” novel these days instead of a complete work in itself. I understand the reasoning of leaving questions and plot lines still hanging, but in earlier volumes main plots were usually tied up, though we were given a generous hint of what was to come.

You have to read these interim books to be ready for the next volumes obviously, and though I enjoy the complications of atevi politics and intrigues, I am longing for more regarding incoming aliens, a fresh twist or deeper observations into the human-atevi interpersonal relationships. I am a long-time fan and will of course continue reading, but there is slightly more of a “have to read” quality now, instead of simply for pleasure. “

That’s my original review posted at Since then I’ve reread “Betrayer” four times, partly because I am in the process of moving and books I’m shipping are already packed up, and I left this one to cruise. The other thing is, I find many of Cherryh’s books to be so engaging, the characters and situations so believable and readable (meaning the writing, the wording, the progress) that I don’t get bored with them.

I’d asked myself reading the last two or three books, where a certain plot was heading. Reading the titles of the books, Conspirator, Deceiver, and then Betrayer, I asked myself which character represented that heading. I believe Cherryh is leading us towards a significant plot twist.

Although one might have pointed out obvious choices for the title, I believe Lord Geigi is ultimately going to be that betrayer, deceiver, conspirator. I might be wrong, and I will clap my hands and laugh in delight if I’m wrong, but Geigi’s behavior and his personal situation indicate to me that he might be the one. The isolation in the “heavens”, and the frequent times the narrative mentions how when an atevi is alone their man’chi may change.

In saying that, I mean alone in the sense Cherryh has detailed for us: alone without contact to authority (as Geigi was during the Troubles, when Murini temporarily overthrew Tabini-aiji), and that lone person experiences a change in the atevi “make-up.” Basically, I believe Geigi-ji has become an aiji in mentality….and that he’s currently covering it well, because his interests are being served by the moves Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager has been making utilizing Bren-ji, the paidhi-aiji.

We’ve always been told how affable Geigi was, different than the average atevi, and certainly isolated in the lordly level in his place on the space station. Particularly in “Betrayer,” when he returns from Targai and he intercepts and specifically touches Caijeri and engages his attention, and intimating a connection between them, that really stood out in my mind.

Considering what we’ve been presented by both Ilisidi’s and Tabini’s style of allowing conflict to a point so they can try to determine motivations or man’chi, in “Betrayer” when Cenedi-ji and his men, besides some of the household watching, armed and protecting Najida….how did outsiders get INSIDE into the basement area to free Baiji and very nearly assasinate the aiji-ma and Tabini’s heir? They knew where to come. Without a doubt. Cenedi wouldn’t have leaked where the aiji-ma was, nor Caijeri’s minor security. Even Veijico was defending, and if suspect before, was presumed to have no outside contacts she might have clued to their whereabouts, so she might be discounted as providing that specific information. Geigi again.

No, I don’t generally comment in upcoming novels from an author. No, I don’t generally discuss plots in detail with forum or fan groups. Except for Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series, I’ve never said my opinions on what happened/should have happened. No, I am not a fan of “fanning”, meaning I don’t “follow” things per se. As a side point, it’s funny to me that I place these disclaimers here because I HAVE read forums, etc. and there are always the people who immediately say, “oh they’re just a fan” etc. etc. and I thought to anticipate and discount that from the beginning. How funny. Well, I think it is.

This was just something that beens rolling around my mind regarding this series, especially in that it’s laid out that “aliens” on the other side at some time will be incoming. Whatever else is going on, on the homeworld, ultimately they are trying to make it stable so as not to present a troubled world if the aliens answer the invitation.

No, I don’t try to say further what may be behind Geigi’s motivation, but I feel his actions are suspect and though currently they are concurrent with Ilisidi’s and Bren’s ideas, and marginally with Tabini-aiji’s, they will diverge radically at a certain point and hard choices will have to be made.

After this many books and the style and über skills Cherryh has displayed for decades, we are going to be presented with, shocked and in the end delighted and satisfied by what Cherryh has in store for us. Whether Geigi is the true betrayer, or perhaps it is Caijeri, as he comes of age and forces his intentions on the world, I am along for the ride!

P.S. Just a thought also, we might be shown that Tabini-aiji’s hardship during the Troubles might have thrown him mentally “overboard” in the atevi way of thinking. His allowance of Bren-ji to go into a place he knew might be a hotspot because of Baiji’s culpability, which inexplicably on one hand yet perfectly logical in terms of man’chi, caused the dowager to divert to Najida when Caijeri went there…might be showing he is deserving to be taken down by legitimate and backable means. From a writer’s standpoint regarding voice…for the amount of time Cherryh has used Caijeiri’s perspective and thoughts as the secondardy behind Bren-ji’s, besides having a child’s view suddenly and often inserted into a series already dominated by the adult, I would think he will be a strong or possibly primary player in the future.

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Daw Books
ISBN: 0756406544 (ISBN13: 9780756406547)
Source: Self-purchase

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews, Science Fiction

One response to “Review & Commentary: Betrayer by C.J. Cherryh (Foreigner #12)

  1. Pingback: “Intruder” (Foreigner #13) by C.J. Cherryh | Flying With Red Haircrow

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