About the Foreigner series: Spoiler alerts

There is the general spoiler page for general questions.

I’m making this set of pages for more specific questions.

The rule is: do not ask or comment about a book until it has been at least a month in issue. I think that will make everybody happy re spoilers.


  1. CJ

    Which is potentially another blow to the authors: they won’t get paid for that, and they’re already getting their pay cut by the deep discounts. We approve of lending to family and those under one’s roof, but not to a very wide circle of friends. The fact that the lender can’t read for the interim is meaningless, if they’ve already read it, and the book just keep traveling from machine to machine every 16 days.

    • tulrose

      It appears you can only lend it once and the person receiving it can’t move it forward to other friends. If it’s like the Nook and Library lending it becomes unreadable after x days.

      • Sabina

        My library offers ebooks, I rather blinked when I read that when one gets an ebook nobody else can get it in the duration till it expires.
        So I have to say, I’m not particular keen to give Adobe all my data (name, address, etc) just to use that service, although it would be something to think about otherwise.

        • tulrose

          Well true. When you borrow a book from the library no-one else can read it until you return it so it’s not any different (except perhaps for the duration). My library uses NetLibrary where you read it through a web browser and have access to it for 3 days when it is automatically returned. Most of the books available appear to be technical and business oriented.

    • Sgt Saturn

      Of course, this is theoretically true for the ink-and-paper books as well. Except that few ink-and-paper books made in the last fifty years would survive the trip to more than a handful of friends.

      What is a win for the authors is that the reader cannot sell the used ebook to a dealer and thereby forestall a potential new book sale.

  2. sleo

    That’s true. You can lend the ebook only one time, never again.

    • sweetbo

      I have some ebooks I’d love to lend my sister, but I doubt she’d be able to finish them in 14 days since the books we read tend to be bricks and we have jobs and stuff getting in the way of reading. She’ll likely get pretty far into it and then feel compelled to buy it if she can’t finish it in time.

      I read that for Amazon it will only be available for the publishers who approve it so you won’t be able to lend every book you buy, and even then you can only lend the book once ever. In a round about way it might lead to more sales when people can’t finish in 14 days.

      • tulrose

        Also it’s a way to introduce your friends to your favourite novelist(s). Once having read a book they may then be prompted to buy for themselves, particularly if it’s a series. I’ve fallen into that trap myself. An author puts out a teaser for a ridiculously small amount and then I HAVE to buy the rest of the series.

  3. Silverglass

    Some libraries are suffering greatly in this economy. Where I live, the county executive has just cut library funding. That means fewer books can be purchased. But e-books are cheaper, and our library has begun to offer digital services. The majority of their stock is still print, but that is probably going to change as time passes; and perhaps, this will become the trend more and more, as libraries try to purchase published works with less money.

    I would be willing to pay a yearly fee (within reason) for the privilege of borrowing e-books. I can’t afford to buy everything I want to read & generally only buy books that I know I will want to re-read. My tastes have changed, though, and our library doesn’t have a lot of what I want to read. Again, the solution is e-books, which cost less to buy.

  4. CJ

    We’re losing just about everything but our main library in a city of 350,000. I fondly recall the library in my home town as a ‘safe’ place where my dad could leave me for a whole Saturday afternoon, from noon til supper. Stereopticons and wonderful Aztec-pattern stretched-hide and cedar furniture.

    • tulrose

      We’re very lucky. Although it is a City-County Library the funding is done separately and there is a well funded trust backing it up. Very old oil money from years past was probably the basis.

  5. Sapphire

    ‘Some libraries are suffering greatly in this economy.’

    Not only in the U.S. – in the U.K. as well. Book publishing is also in trouble. One used to be able to go into many good bookshops in London and browse for hours, but now there is mainly Waterstones, who have a buying policy of ordering only very limited stock. Specialist SF bookshops like Murder One – wonderful for new books as well as secondhand ones – have closed down.

    You can order books via Amazon, but it is not the same as having books in your hand and being able to assess them by browsing through them. It is not very good for new authors in particular. Part of the problem is that people are reading books much less than they used to, having too many distractions in the form of electronic media like iPods and mobile phones – distractions that incidentally irritate a lot of people who have to bear hearing phone conversations about nothing, or listen to the horrible noise of iPods, etc.

    Kindle and other electronic readers have not taken off in the U.K. (yet). In fact, I’ve only ever seen one person using one of those pads, and commuters are still reading books in a big way.

    I love the look and feel of books and it would take a lot to persuade me to use electronic media to read books. Working in publishing, one has to stare at a Mac computer screen most of the day – the last thing one wants to do in one’s spare time is to look at yet another screen!

    • tulrose

      Our library is now heavily advertising that they have epub books to lend and download. They’re on Facebook, have RSS feeds for books of the month in different categories, have a free monthly calendar available just about everywhere and are generally busting their collective buns to get the word out. They’ve also a large CD/DVD collection. They have been very busy this year with the sluggish economy. Some of the branches have special collections for the region of town they serve; Native American, Hispanic, Black Studies come to mind with bilingual staff at all branches.

      They also have (big grin) a branch dedicated to Genealogy specialising in anything to do with the 5 Civilised Tribes, the Dawes Rolls, and north eastern Oklahoma. They’re a Family History Centre which gets me microfilm from the Mormon Church w/o having to track down a local church that is actually open.

  6. CJ

    The producers of large reference works are not being too greatly hit, because few individuals buy these huge works. But it will have a chilling effect on the support for smaller works. And with fiction books, it’s really not a good thing.

  7. kabiuone

    I just finished re-reading the series, which I have done since I first read Foreigner when it was first published, adding the new book each time. OK, sometimes I just re-read while waiting. I have spent my life, since age 12 learning and translating Latin, and it was a pretty solitary vocation, since most of the kids in California took Spanish in school. Sometimes, I do relate to Bren’s isolation, but at least he has an entire race with whom he may converse. Dead languages do not afford that wonder.

    Two things I noticed this time:

    1. Kadagigi/Kadigidi – interchangeable? Lapsus linguae? Last year, I interpreted this anomaly to mean that, as they became more traitorous, the syntax of the Atevi language allowed change to their name as they became social pariah.

    2. Michael Whelan allowed for a much more alien-looking Atevi than the Donati artists, who seem to have decided that the Atevi are more like African-Americans in visage. I prefer to take the covers off, store them safely on a shelf and continuing reading, because Illisidi and most importantly, Bren’s Aishid have a visual presence that has not changed over time in CJ’s description, and I just don’t like to change my mind’s description.

    So, I await Betrayer and watch the Gant chart on Intruder. If it is too long (I might make it to March, but April???), I’ll re-read again because I love these characters, the play with language, the politics and the intrigue.

    • Sapphire

      With regard to the covers, I’ve just received the hardcover versions of Conspirator and Deceiver, and must say they really capture the spirit of the first Foreigner book. The atevi are well drawn, and the covers are as stylish as the cover of Foreigner (or perhaps nearly so).

      It’s a shame that the cover and endpapers aren’t quite up to the coloured examples of the earlier novels, but perhaps DAW will improve on that in the next trilogy – and there WILL be a next trilogy, won’t there?

      I can’t wait for Betrayer, though I hope Barb will not feature strongly in that book or any future books. Perhaps she can die a ‘noble death’ of some kind? Much prefer the alien side of things, though Toby is OK in small doses, and the humans up in the space-station were great in Explorer.

      Is Algini (or Tano?) the Guildmaster, or are we not supposed to know that? I like those two, not to mention Banichi and Jago.

  8. kabiuone

    I don’t think Algini is the Guildmaster; but he might have been. I love Bren’s aishi, too.

    I agree that the latest covers have gone back to the more angular look to the faces of the Atevi.

    Hee hee, I re-read the series thinking I had Betrayer coming in January! Ah, well, it is easy to re-read still again. And Barb might surprise us as she must acculturate or die, which would be terribly hard on Toby.

    • Sapphire

      That’s true about Algini – quite possibly he might have been the Guildmaster. In one of the books Banichi (I believe) tells Bren that Algini’s manchi is to Tano as well as to Bren. That’s why I thought we might unexpectedly find out that Tano, rather than Algini, is or was the Guildmaster. One of them may conceivably still be the Guildmaster – that position surely includes an on-going job protecting someone when not on the Guild’s own business? Perhaps we will find out eventually…

      I have just read Conspirator, and do think there is too much of Toby, and certainly of Barb, in the latest books. They don’t seem to belong in the story and appear to be there to distract Bren and his aishi at a(nother) critical period. Generally, I don’t find the Mospheirans as interesting as the atevi side of things, and the stuff that goes on in space.

      And I don’t like Barb. Both she and Bren’s mother have been major irritations (to me) in the books whenever they have appeared. Really, if I wanted to read about bad, manipulative human behaviour, I could find it any old non-SF novel, and also elsewhere.

  9. kjminniti

    I agree that Barb and Bren’s mother seemed to be excruciatingly irritating – but wasn’t that their purpose in the story? Portraying the “realities” of life as an exile brings a lot of depth to these characters, and by contrasting recognizable human behaviors with the Atevi behavior provides the necessary foil to bring home the depth of the schism Bren struggles with.

    Personally, I’m looking forward to some young folks giving the “old man,” as Bren is surely becoming, headaches with their stubborn determination to associate come hell or high water…. 😀

    • Sapphire

      I sort of don’t think Barb (or Toby, really) bring much of interest to the sequence, and I enjoy the stories much more when they are not in them. In the last couple of books, they seem to have been a device for ‘setting things off’. Toby just seems ‘nice’ – and as thick as a plank sometimes. I mean, Bren obviously didn’t want him around because he had so much on his plate, yet Toby remained even when he had a chance to leave. Terrible judgement to bring Barb with him as well, knowing how annoying to Bren and those around him she was. It also seems odd that a society such as that of the Atevi surrounding Bren tolerates their presence on the mainland so easily, given they are Mospheiran and could be potentially damaging to Atevi interests. Still, hopefully they won’t be around as much in future stories? (Not trying to be horribly critical, and apologies if this is at all offensive.)

      As for the ‘young folks’, personally I find them less interesting than the older, more mature characters and their development. There’s also a potential for too much sentimentality around them. Would be good to know more in depth about key characters such as Banichi and Jago, and Tano and Algini. The latter two in particular still seem sketchy and mysterious figures. Ilisidi is always interesting, and some of the characters on the station are likeable (e.g. the robotics lady and the captains).

      How old is Bren now, anyway, about 37?

      By the way, were two of Ilisidi’s young men killed during the course of the events in Conspirator, or one as stated in the next book?

      • kabiuone

        I think we must have interaction with the Mospheirans or else we don’t really have the conflict necessary to the baseline of the story. Bren comes from somewhere “other”, and he does represent a foreignness that the Atevi just tolerate in the beginning of the series. He is by now, the benchmark by which they want other humans to act. Having Toby and Barb and Bren’s mum in the mix gives us a rounded out character: where he came from, what he grew from, philosophy of live, etc. It isn’t only his great math that makes him a good translator; he is intuitive in his ability to understand the gist of the language he now dreams in.

        When we added in the shipfolk, we got the perfect trine for the Atevi, but we also get to see how different humans are one from another.

        I believe it was two of sidi-ji’s young men who were killed.

  10. CJ

    😆 you will see one of these days that even Cajeiri experiences moments of aging, when he has to deliver one of the admonishments he usually gets to someone who is annoying him— 😉

  11. brensgirlfriday

    Oh goodness, yes! That will be quite a defining moment for our young lordling! As for Bren-me-darlin’, oh my goodness you guys! I am so worried that he will somehow experience such a shock that he will become embittered like the previous Paidhi-Aiji! -huddles in corner-

  12. Isharell

    I have enjoyed seeing Toby – for heaven’s sake, Bren cannot exist in a vacuum – it’s good that he still has some ties to his human side. I was not surprised at all to find Barb up to her old tricks. Honestly, you’d think the woman would have grown a brain (to say nothing of some maturity) by now… but, no, she must act like she is the center of the universe, silly cow that she is. I must say, seeing Tano give her a right thwack made my mother and me cheer, tho, in my opinion, he might’ve hit her a bit harder- say, thru a wall!!LOL Anyway, she reminds me a bit of my brother’s ex, so I do enjoy hissing at her and calling her names.
    I, too, Adore Bren’s crew and am very interested to see what happens with the two new ones. Will they or won’t they get a clue and show some sense?

    • Sapphire

      I have a premonition: the boat will sink on Toby’s (imminent) departure, and Barb will be truly lost at sea during a storm, while Toby will survive by clinging to a piece of wreckage. (The sealed bullet holes in the hull will open up because it is such a titanic storm.) Failing that, perhaps Tano will complete the job he ‘botched’ by throwing her through a brick wall, or else Jago will do so.

      To me, despite the arguments put here, Bren’s human family are always an irritating distraction from the story. He obviously does not need them – the two people he loves most in the world are certainly not them…

      On another note, Machigi sounds as though he might develop into an interesting character. I somehow sense he could get on well with Caijeri, and it will be fascinating to see how Machigi does with the rather explosive and dangerous Tabini. And will Bren ever get his apartment back?

      Another quick note: I love the sense of place in these books. This is a characteristic of all CJ’s books, including those set on space stations and in spaceships – the landscapes, clothing, wonderful antiques, and so on. Fantastic attention to detail.

  13. brensgirlfriday

    Barb is Evil. What’s worse, she’s annoying. But she’s perfect for Toby. Some people just can’t help being annoying.

    I just wish Jago would whack her already and be done with it. heheh

    • Jcrow9

      As Isharell says, Bren can’t exist in a vacuum.
      It’s all well and good to root for a character to have a smooth and happy existence, but there’s no tension in that, and without tension there’s no story worth the time it takes to read it.
      I sometimes find Bren’s endless soul-searching tiring, but let’s face it–he’s sort of an emotional cripple. Humans need personal social interaction. Apes deprived of social interaction go insane. Bren needs things from Jago that she is biologically/ psychologically unable to provide. ‘Close’ only counts in hand grenades and nuclear weapons; in fact, ‘close’ can at times be worse than ‘not at all.’ The fate of the world hangs on Bren’s shoulders–talk about tension!–and he can’t get from his closest and most constant associates the emotional and psychological sustenance that will keep him human. So Bren needs Toby, and the baggage that comes with–and Barb is sure as hell a baggage!–is an essential evil. Likewise Mom. Mom was awful, but Mom was Mom. The person who could cut all ties with his mother would not be the person who is Bren.
      Bren’s predecessor could have done it, for sure. But not Bren.
      That’s how I see it, anyway.

      • Sabina

        To me the earlier books are more exciting, simply due to where the b-plot tension was coming from.

        In the beginning the ateva-human interface was something for us to explore, rough and new. Bren may have been whiny as hell, but he and his human-ness rubbed against things atevi. We got the salad joke from that, we got Bren spending some serious time over almost three books on Jago flirting and later doing more with him. Bren zigged when his aishid would have expected him to zag.

        Nowadays everything is settled and sedated between him and his aishid. Yeah, there are references to the salad joke. But Bren is getting his nookie from Jago without any further thought on the matter – which after all those years may be what one could expect, but in the end, it seems that the whole thing turned into a routine affair without any kind of trouble along the way.
        The people around him know him and appear to know what he is going to do rather well. Bren knows them and is completely settled in his atevi position. There’s no more squibbling about who gets to do his hair, no more discomfort with servants doing things for him.
        Bren zagges when his aishid expect him to zag.

        The tension-laden and diverse human-atevi-interface which got me hooked to the books is no longer presented immediately and urgently via Bren, we now get it via all the errors and utterly stupid mistakes Toby and Barb make. It’s also longer immediate, it’s all cushioned by Bren. There were no sleeves in the soup or snatches for salt across the table. And while we got re-iteration after re-iteration that Barb is behaving despicably by atevi standards nothing too bad happened, there’s even the almost complete turn-about Bren does at times, where she is suddenly great and everything before is forgiven. Her faux-pas at the village rated only a second hand account easily handled by a letter.

        In a way to me the current state of the B-plots is exactly what you decried: a happy and smooth existence, when previously there was excitement and new things to encounter in the human-atevi interface.

        • Jcrow9

          Sorry, I don’t see Bren’s existence as smooth and happy! 😀 I mean for example, he is the epitome of duty-driven, right?
          Jago leads a risky life. Let’s just say she catches a packet. A medium-sized packet, not a real estate deal yet but The Issue Is In Doubt. Now throw in a visit by some Kyo, or another attempt on the aiji’s life, or really anything which demands 100% attention from Our Hero. Smooth? Nah. Just some more added vulnerabilities and a just-getting-by emotional situation.
          And as for Humans Acting Badly, y’know, people just don’t change. At least, not very often, and not that much. It would be totally out of character for Barb to quit acting like a bitch.

  14. brensgirlfriday

    And yet, entropy might possibly exist for it’s own sake… muhahahahhahahaaaaaaaaa! Can’t WAIT to see what’s gonna happen next!

  15. brensgirlfriday


    Things that demand Attention from Our Hero…


    I think I’m drooling with anticipation just now. hee hee

  16. sleo

    Well, I, for one, can’t wait! Preordered Betrayer yesterday. When will Intruder be out? I’m greedy, greedy, greedy.

  17. brensgirlfriday

    Yes yes yes! ME as well!!! Haven’t the fundage to preorder much of anythin’ yet though. A true pity, as my mother and I are going insane waiting for these next two!

  18. Asad Sayeed

    Count me among the people who find that the atevi-human interface has become, um, too well-set. The atevi of the story now only have interactions with humans whom they’ve come to be able to predict…yes, even Toby and Barb. Atevi now know quite well that Bren once had a relationship with a human woman who refuses to learn. They know that Toby is devoted to his brother and wants to join in on the adventure.

    The other humans with whom atevi now regularly interact are the humans from the ship. But the humans from the ship are humans stuck for generations inside a giant sardine can with what appears to be a quasi-feudal structure that forms when humans are under extreme environmental pressure—a structure that is not all that unfamiliar to atevi.

    There is still a human way of being, a political and social world of humans as they are in a “normal”, environmentally relaxed state to which atevi still don’t seem to have any contact with. But now that they’ve reached technological parity, it’s not at all clear how Mospheirans can continue to subsist economically on the atevi planet without finally coming towards closer contact between atevi and human culture, unless Mospheira is a totally self-sufficient paradise which I find difficult to believe.

    I sort of agree with Sabina that some of the basic tension isn’t there in the latest books. I sort of do like the idea that the books are dealing with an unfinished issue, that of the descendants of the atevi-Mospheiran refugees. But without an “issue” involving Mospheira itself—and more importantly, Mospheira and its Place in atevi life—the only remaining source of cultural tension is whether atevi ultimately find the kyo (when they arrive as has been foreshadowed) more or less alien than they find humans.

    Are Mospheiran humans citizens of the atevi planet, or are they still just tenants? And if they’re just tenants, with what are they now paying the rent?

  19. Asad Sayeed

    Consider the goings on in the Middle East, the latest in Egypt. Hopefully without dredging one of the greatest flamewars of the interwebs over here, I can’t help but draw analogies between the Israel-Palestine issue and Mospheira. Right now Israel has only had to find an accommodation with Arab *states* and *rulers*, and for the most part that sufficed. As democratisation of some form proceeds in the Arab world, Israel is going to have to find that it needs to come to some form of accommodation with the Arab *peoples*, if any accommodation is possible at all.

    I trust the analogy, and where I see the now see the missing pieces in the Foreigner universe, is relatively obvious…

    • CJ

      monarchy always makes diplomacy both possible and easy, and absolutely impossible. Monarchy is a great system as long as kings step down before senility, and spend their entire youth preparing and educating themselves for the responsibility, and, still one more hurdle, gathering a wise and brave and equally selfless set of advisors who will contradict them where needed.

      Most of these qualities haven’t been evident in the situation. Thank goodness for pretty darned good and valiant behavior on the part of the people of Egypt, and I hope they get the government they would like to have.

      And I hope that demogogues take a back seat to real statesmen in the Israel-Egypt/rest of the middle east mess. If the Israelis aren’t doing a fast reassessment of their own position and figuring that democracies are going to have to talk to democracies and offer something to please a majority of the people, it’s going to be tense, and I hope the US will take a position of backing nascent democracy and accepting it with all its intial shagginess and disorganization. The Israelis are themselves not monolithic, and the people who get into power can point to success in dealings—but that success may change, and gradually pave the way for other opinions to rise to the top of that democracy. Ultimately I believe in the good will of people who need to live together and who ultimately realize they all love their kids, laugh at the same human foibles, and have a common interest in living peacefully, with opportunity fairly distributed. Democracies are the least tidy form of government, especially where you have large opinionated blocs of people uneducated in the realities of a situation—and I particularly include the United States in that basket; we don’t know enough, and while we’re learning, we have made some serious mistakes, precisely in choosing stability in the region over the needs of the people. That needs to change. Expectations need to change. And in our case, we’ve got a lot to learn.

Submit a Comment