Foreigner Series: Spoiler Alerts: Page 2

I’m giving the page a second section because page 1 was starting to behave oddly.

As always, wait at least 30 days from issue of the book before starting to discuss. And give our overseas friends some extra leeway: the distribution system doesn’t reach everywhere as fast!

1,390 Comments

  1. chondrite

    One regrets to note that it appears the audio-movie in progress has been abandoned. The link to the website is defunct, with no forwarding. A pity.

    • Raesean

      Darn! I was thinking of that proposed audio recording yesterday and hoping it was well under way. This past weekend I was at the Boston Arisia sci-fi convention and went to a panel on doing recordings (most informatively given by a voice actor) and later it made me wonder where things were at with the Foreigner recording project.

  2. Rigeldeneb

    Interesting indeed! I will be re-reading scenes with scenario_dave’s interpretation of the atevi view of how the position of paidhi works in mind. It certainly makes Bren’s role in the overthrow of the shadow Guild even more politically fraught and convoluted, meaning even more fascinating as story.

    • scenario_dave

      The shadow guild is what gave me the idea. Bren had the aji’s ring and legally was the aji for a short time because he was officially the paidhi speaking for the aji. Having the ring in his hand made it absolutely clear that the aji is appointing him to speak and give orders in his name if necessary.

      When he was a court functionary who was seen in the background once in a while but almost never heard, most atevi didn’t think about him very much, except when he vetoed something. I think the run of the mill atevi thought of him as an atevi paidhi once he started to speak directly to the people. When he was touring and giving speeches in the name of the aji, he was officially the aji during that speech. They cheered him like they would the aji because he triggered their sense of manchi to the aji. This was useful to the aji because he can’t be everywhere at once.

      He has always acted as an atevi paidhi when dealing with the ship. The first time he walked on the ship he said that he is there to make an agreement. He can negotiate and sign in the aji’s name. That is much more in line with how the atevi’s think about the position of paidhi then how the humans think of the position.

      He was the perfect choice for paidhi. He had no clan affiliation and he is fiercely loyal to the aji. He also understands how the aji thinks well enough to make decisions that the aji can work with while being acceptable to other involved parties. Being human, there was no risk of him using the position to overthrow the aji.

      When became an official landed lord it didn’t really change anything. Bren always made it a point when he was speaking for the aji and when he was speaking for himself. Giving him the land makes so much sense in other ways. If he is officially a kind of alternate aji under some circumstances, he should have his own land. It wouldn’t feel right for a atevi paidhi not to be a landed lord.

      The position of the land was perfect. Because of his location he can deal with the gan and the marid informally as a neighbor. He can open the door for the dowager to interact with people she would have difficulty interacting with otherwise. When he talked it was in a dual role, informally as a neighbor and as the official voice of the aji. He had both the advantage of both small and large.

      • nekokami

        I think you’ve really stated it well. Machigi is the one who officially invokes the older paidhi tradition, but Bren has been falling into that pattern with atevi all along, possibly sometimes without even realizing it, as he tries to figure out what atevi expect of him. And it really does start with Tabini sending Bren to Illisidi at Malguri in the first book. Bren is in Illisidi’s hands to represent the position Tabini has been taking– Tabini sends Bren as his best evidence for why he (Tabini) isn’t completely crazy to be working with the humans so closely, despite the surprise of the return of the human ship.

        This interpretation of the scene in Inheritor with Tatiseigi clarifies things, too. Bren, always the diplomat, consciously tries to offer Tatiseigi a way to turn the event around to his benefit, but I think Bren isn’t aware at that point of how much Tabini and Illisidi (and even Tatiseigi, who demanded the presence of the human paidhiin) were relying on him to do just that.

        I wonder if the Messengers were originally the Guild of the paidhiin? Bren only seems to know of paidhiin being appointed ad hoc, but the preface to Foreigner is partially from the point of view of a self-described “Speaker” for an aiji, who wonders if it would have been better to send an Assassin instead. I know the Assassin’s Guild does mediate disputes, in a way, by asking for evidence and delaying process in some cases, but it would seem that the role of paidhiin is just as core to Atevi social structure, but may have been somewhat neglected since the arrival of the humans.

        A summary of this discussion would be welcomed on the wiki….

    • Xheralt

      I am trying to imagine the machimi that will be written about this, and thinking about what the circumstances a decade or three down the line might be where said machimi would be performed….

      • Xheralt

        Assuming that any sort of accurate transcripts are ever released by the Guild. Still, “This ring does not wait in hallways!” ought to thrill an atevi audience as much as it did the humans….

        • nekokami

          One completely agrees!

        • scenario_dave

          I love the scene but I doubt the guild would ever release transcripts. It would have to be in a memoir written by Bren or someone else who was there. They’d have to delete anything that would give a detailed picture of the floor plan. But the guild official position would probably be no comment.

  3. Neco-ji

    How many planets are in the atevi solar system? I have noted reference to at least four planets (rocky, I assume, one including the atevi planet of course). Do they also have gas giants? Or just a big disc of debris that the four little planets pass through?

    Also: how many moons does the atevi planet have? I’ve seen references that suggest there is one (the early intro in Foreigner, where Manadgi is musing to himself about the moon people), but later on Bren uses a plural reference when describing his poisoning incident, about burning tides in his blood that had nothing to do with this world’s moons (or something like that).

  4. chesty

    Good question. I never thought to note the moons and planets in the Atevi system. I’ll have to look.

    My question is about the “white guns” used by Jase’s bodyguard. Are they reverse engineered from the Kyo hand weapon, or have humans had their own disintegrating ray all along? Mostly, I’m wondering if the humans have to share the technology with Atevi, and what the Assassins Guild will do with it.

    • scenario_dave

      I doubt they are reversed engineered. My guess is that the ship had them all along but the more advanced technology was carefully kept from the colonist to give the ship an edge.

      • chesty

        The Shippies are a bit secretive, aren’t they? Definitely wouldn’t put it past them.

    • joekc6nlx

      Since Phoenix has “jump capability”, I’m presuming this is far enough in the future that energy weapons would be quite well-developed. While not necessarily a “phaser” with “kill” and “stun” settings, it might be something that could be based on plasma energy.

      Humans seem to have a penchant for developing new ways of killing each other, I’d look at the development of the rifles that the security details carry as a product of that pathway.

      I’m wondering, given Einstein’s theory of relativity and time dilation, what century is it back on the Earth of the Humans?

      • chesty

        Since we don’t know what year they departed, or the distance they traveled, or the gravitational fields they passed through, I’m not sure how to even estimate the time differential. Sorry. 🙁

        • joekc6nlx

          they’re not even in the same universe. Whatever the anomaly that Taylor navigated through, it sent Phoenix to another universe – at least, that’s what I’ve gathered from previous replies, if not here, then in a different blog…..I recall someone asking if the “others” on the far side of kyo space were possibly Alliance, Union, or Earth. The reply CJ gave was that they weren’t in the same universe as Phoenix.

          I don’t believe you could even estimate, there are so many variables. How quickly does time pass in this universe compared to time in the atevi universe? We don’t know how far Phoenix had come before they came on the Earth of the atevi, either, after entering this universe.

          • Neco-ji

            Joe, I think what the separate universe comment meant was that Foreigner was not related in anyway to the Alliance/Union universe, as in, it’s a completely separate story line. The humans in Foreigner are from Earth, sure, but it isn’t the Alliance/Union Earth, it’s the “Foreigner” Earth.

            I always thought this was obvious because the technology Phoenix uses is different from the jump vane tech of Alliance/Union.

          • Jcrow9

            Hi, guys.
            CJ told me in private email a couple of years ago that Foreigner takes place in a completely separate universe from that of the Alliance stories. And it makes sense to me–compare the jump drive with the folded space drive, for example.
            As for the porch-destroying weapon, it sure seems to me that was a projectile weapon with explosive shells.

    • Neco-ji

      Where was the reference to the “disintegration ray”? I don’t remember reading about anything like that. I recall a reference to the weapons the ship folk used in Precursor, which seemed to be sort of like tasers, a small device that was shot out and which delivered an electrical shock.

      • chesty

        Remember the devastated porch and window at the Kadagidi estate?

        That wasn’t done with a pellet gun. It was an energy weapon of some kind. Maybe the Ship humans never used it before because it was too powerful, but I remember Gin saying “We can’t do this”, regarding the devastated station. (Maybe I should have called it a Devastator ray.) Whether the Mospheirans had the technology in the Archive, or the Shippies got it from the Kyo, will the treaty require that they share the “white gun” technology with the Atevi?

        • joekc6nlx

          you wouldn’t want to discharge an energy weapon onboard the ship anyway. Immediate, explosive decompression…..just because you have it doesn’t mean you’re going to use it, but it’s there just in case…..kind of like thermonuclear weapons…

          • chesty

            Do you think they brought some nukes? Why would they? Maybe just in case?

          • scenario_dave

            They were there to construct a station. They might have a few small clean nukes to use in excavating.

          • scenario_dave

            A projectile weapon could be just as bad. Computer controlled energy weapons could be programmed to reduce power to stop the assailant but not breach the hull.

        • weeble

          I was under the impression the damage was more grenade type small explosion damage… Guess I’ll have to pay more attention when I re-read!

          • Neco-ji

            Someone had thrown a grenade, and then jase’s guards took out the crew on the steps with their auto-targeting. With the rapid fire whatevers they were using, and no reason to miss, Haikuti and his group didn’t have a chance (well, noting that Haikuti fired first and Banichi nailed him second before all hell broke loose).

    • Xheralt

      Phoenix never obtained any substantial examples of kyo tech.

      “Vanished” would be a good description for masonry blown to powder by an explosive, and it was describes as an explosion. The window itself was gone, the material formerly comprising it, not so much. At least that was MY reading.

      My sense of human tech, even of Phoenix, is that they haven’t even figured out how to build directed energy weapons at the STARSHIP scale (only seeing it was possible via the kyo’s example)…having something microminiaturized, even at the “Iron Man” powered-armor scale, is IMO beyond humanity at this stage of the series.

  5. chesty

    Projectiles don’t make masonry vanish. Nor do grenades. Sorry, but from my military experience, I can tell you that the destruction described in that scene was done by an energy weapon of some kind. Guns and grenades are just not even credible, in terms of the damage described.

    • Neco-ji

      I’m only relaying what the book wrote. I can check tomorrow and quote the passage.

      • chesty

        Okay. I just read the passage again myself. Maybe I missed something.

        • Neco-ji

          From what I can recall (I don’t have the book handy at the moment) most of the carnage was mostly in the form of bodies. I remember the corner window being taken out though. I’ll need to reread that again.

  6. scenario_dave

    pg 348. “A shot hit the folded bus door. Kaplan and Polano fired, robot quick, before Bren could react and recoil. He had felt his hair move; he had felt a sting in his cheek; and then thunder blew past him. He blinked, and saw the window at the building corner-missing, along with the masonry around it. The window from which the servant had called to him was undamaged but empty.”

    It sounds like a clean hole with no debris.

    The initial shots that took out the people on the porch seemed to be bullets. The second shot at the windows was something else.

    • Neco-ji

      Hardcover, pg 345:

      “Banichi!” that man shouted, swinging his rifle upward.

      Banchi moved. In a time stretched instant, Haikuti went backward, Banichi spun and went down, bullets hit the bus, and a buffeting shock went through the ground. Grenade, Bren thought, finding himself falling. It had all gone wrong.”

      Okay, so Bren thought it was a grenade, which is why I thought it was a grenade.

      Page 346:

      “He,” Banichi said, looking toward the stone steps of the porch. Bren looked, past armor-cased legs. The stonework was shattered and black-uniformed bodies lay every which way.”

      Sounds like a regular old run of the mill grenade to me.

      • scenario_dave

        The guards fired twice. The first time on page 345 at the porch killing all the people. We see the results on page 346. We see the second time they fired at the window on page 348. Bren feels his hair move and a sting on his cheek. That is the bullet from the window. And then “thunder blew past him.” I don’t know that much about grenade launchers, do they make a sound like thunder when heard from close up?

        The result of the first attack is “The stonework was shattered and black-uniformed bodies lay every which way.”

        The result of the second attack is “the window at the building corner-missing, along with the masonry around it.”

        In the first attack the stonework was shattered, in the second attack the masonry was missing. They could be the same weapons but the results seemed different.

        • Tommie

          I’m voting sonic…

        • scenario_dave

          Old Atevi manor houses are built like fortresses. They were built with really thick walls up until the time of cannons. A grenade would have to be really powerful to blow up two foot thick stone walls. An explosion that powerful would probably break nearby windows. It could also damage the house to the point that it could collapse. Since the suit is designed to work on a spaceship, minimum damage to the infrastructure could be built into the software. A plasm weapon makes a nice clean hole.

          I think the suits may have more than one built in weapon.
          The first time a grenade was used to eliminate multiple people spread out and in the open.
          The second time some sort of energy weapon was used to kill a person hiding behind a thick wall. If you use a grenade you are risking a great deal of damage to the building if it has to go though the wall. You could put it through the window but that is risky since if you miss the enemy gets to fire another shot or two.

        • nekokami

          I’ve always assumed the window shot was a rocket launcher of some kind, with an explosive payload.

  7. Rigeldeneb

    Not the Alliance-Union universe? Well, there’s always the possibility of the Compact universe with the hani. . . The kif would be just the right kind of “bad neighbor.”

    I read that scene as the use of explosive ordnance capable of reducing that building corner into little little bits, mostly because of the thunderous noise made by the weapon. (Kaplan”s and Polano’s suits remind me of the ceramic armor of “Rimrunners,” and that ordnance seemed more explosive, too, and not “beam” or laser weaponry.) The ship folk in earlier books had some kind of body armor and carried rifles that shot pellets. The appearance of K and P’s full-body mechanized impenetrable scary-robot armor seems to indicate that the ship captains have a tight hold on the technology distribution. And if the ship had not been carrying the armor, the Archive probably had the instructions on how to make it; docked once more at the station and with the station’s resources, the captains could create what they thought was needed, just as stationers built the mobile communications devices landed on the world.

    I rather doubt the atevi would want the tech of armor: it would significantly change the way the “judicial” system of the Assassin’s Guild would operate, and that would have far-reaching distorting effects on the society. Bren would not approve of *that* transference of tech, Tabini is too savvy to push for it, and Illisidi would have a fit.

    • Neco-ji

      Isn’t Chanur vaguely tied with with Alliance-Union? Either way, I always took it to mean Foreigner wasn’t related to any of her other story universes.

      • Rigeldeneb

        You’re probably right about the Chanur/Compact universe. “Foreigner” is its own strand. There’s room in the storytelling universe for all these Cherryh universes. I briefly wondered if the iduve of “Hunter of Worlds” could be the “bad” neighbors–and the iduve would be very bad neighbors indeed.

        Actually, I am looking forward to meeting another species. The kyo have proved to be a quite interesting intelligence, and I am sure that CJ will give us another fascinating angle on sapient minds with the advent of the “bad neighbors.”

        But can you imagine Banichi’s reaction to the kif? Priceless.

        • scenario_dave

          In the first book, if I’m remembering correctly, they said that they could not see any known star when they arrived. The largest known star is R136a1 located in the Large Magellanic Cloud which is 158,000 light years way. If they couldn’t see that star, they must be a long way from earth. Even if the universes were not different Tully traveled from Earth to the Chanur in a fairly short period of time. He could not have been far enough away from Earth so that he couldn’t see any familiar stars.

          I’m guessing that Chanur is within a hundred light years or so of Earth. Foreigner must be thousands or even tens of thousands of light years away in order to not be able to see any known stars.

          In order to travel that far, they must have traveled much faster than normal. If the malfunction was caused by a natural phenomenon, could there be other human colonies in the area? If a tide washed them away maybe another ship ended in the same general area.

          • HRHSpence

            I always thought that the Foreigner stories were in a separate universe from the Earth of those stories as well as a separate universe from the A/U/Chanur stories.

          • scenario_dave

            I agree with HRHSpense. The foreigner stories are set in a different universe.

            But even if they were set in the same universe the Foreigner star must be very, very far away from the sun. So far away that the new aliens cannot be related to any of the A/U/Chanur aliens.

            Was it mentioned in any of the books if this was Earths first contact with another intelligent life?

          • paul

            There’s a technical but significant difference between “a different Universe” and “a different galaxy”.

            In a different galaxy every single law of Physics we know must be rigidly adhered to. In a different universe, well, there’s a little wiggle room.

            In the Universe we know there are from six to about two dozen “fundamental constants” (depending on how abstruse the particular physicist wants to be) that are not only underivable and must be observed, but if there were the least variation in any of them, the Universe would simply not exist–physicists have tried to fudge the numbers but everything falls apart when they do.

          • nekokami

            I’ve seen the star charts Cherryh used for A/U/Compact — I was corresponding with her brother (David Cherry) at one point about them. Essentially, the direction humans went in the A/U stories was the only direction they could have gone and NOT met up with aliens. (It was also the most natural direction, following shortest paths to nearby stars at sublight speeds.) As far as I know, all the SF books except the Foreigner series are nominally in the same universe, though some are very far down the timeline. Many of the A/U stars use actual stellar data. The details are in the Company Wars board game. See http://members.fcac.org/~sol/chview/ for a Java-based viewer that can be used to look at the stars in 3D.

            Not being able to see any familiar stars means more than just being in a different galaxy. Quasars are incredibly bright and incredibly far away (farther than the galaxies we can see), and have distinct spectral signatures. Those are probably the “signposts” the ship’s crew was unable to find. However, moving far enough in space effectively moves one in time, as well — the signals from the quasars and stars reaching the new location of the ship would be different ages than as viewed from Earth. Different stars would have been born or died, and spectral signatures can change over time as stars enter different phases of life. Past a certain distance, everything in the visible universe would be unrecognizable, because the universe itself has actually expanded faster than the speed of light, making some parts of it (most of it, probably) invisible to us.

  8. Rigeldeneb

    With me, it is just a touch of wishful thinking, a desire to once more encounter one of CJ’s species in a new setting just to see what happens. One of the appeals of CJ’s writing for me is the sense that after the book is done, the stories keep going on. I want to know how Daniel lives on the iduve ship, if he and Margaret marry or find mates among the kamethi, and what happens to Arle; I want to know what happens to Thorn, of “Cuckoo’s Egg,” when he, with all his hatani powers and strangenesses, finally meets his own species; I want to know what happens when humans finally meet the shonunin. I would very much like to revisit lively bustling Compact space. Wishful wondering.

    Fortunately the Universe is wide, both the Universe existent and the universes of our imaginations. I have already pre-ordered the next book in the Foreigner series.

  9. Sapphire

    I’ve just seen the cover for Visitor. Just to say that the Atevi look splendid in it, as usual, and the composition of the artwork is excellent and in style with the most recent books. I’m really glad that a consistent style has been established for the later books, using the same illustrator. Some of the covers for the earlier titles were a bit hit or miss…

    One thing: I can’t really see Bren very well in the illustration, but hope that’s not a beard I see on him! 🙂

    Very much looking forward to the next book!

  10. Sapphire

    Re. the above comment about the beard, Bren is exceptionally meticulous about being clean shaven throughout the series, so it would be extremely odd to see him with one. It’s likely that it just looks as though he has a beard… 🙂

    • Neco-ji

      Looks like a five o clock shadow. He’s been done with one before. It ain’t a good look.

      But I’d rather look at the atevi instead…

      • joekc6nlx

        I’m not sure if that’s an effect the artist wanted to achieve as a reflection of Bren’s shirt and coat and lace collar, or if that’s an effect of the lighting used to take the picture of the cover. It almost looks as though Bren has spilled milk down his chin…..just my opinion, though….

        I’d guess that the ateva on the right (Bren’s left) is Jago, but I was always under the impression that she was as tall as Banichi. On the other covers, she’s definitely much taller than Bren, and on the cover of “Foreigner”, it’s difficult to tell which is Jago and which is Banichi. As we progressed into the series, it became more evident as the covers began to show differences in body structure between male and female atevi….again, just my opinion.

        • Neco-ji

          In the cover photo I’m looking at, Bren has his head tilted forward slightly, so most of his jaw is shadowed, except for the point of his chin, which is highlighted by the overhead light.

          It’s pretty much pointless to debate the cover art though. We all know that is just the artist’s impression. I tend to go by the descriptions in the books, and right from Foreigner, Jago was described as “a lighter someone than the average atevi man”, so that’s what I’ve kept in my minds eye. In later books, Bren comes up to her shoulder (there are some small discrepancies, of course; they seem unavoidable over so many books). I suspect we probably shouldn’t use Banichi as an indicator of scale either, because CJ herself has said that he’s quite large even for his kind.

          As the books progressed, atevi features have grown in variation, presumably as Bren was exposed to more and more different atevi in a wider range of lifestyles and ethnicity over the years.

        • weeble

          Joe, I can’t remember which book its in, probably one of the early ones, but somewhere there is a description of Jago being a fair bit shorter than Banichi (I want to say a head shorter!), and Bren coming to her shoulder…

          • Sapphire

            I think that the height of the Atevi more or less works in the latest covers (all by the same cover artist, so from Conspirator onwards). I also like the way the Atevi are portrayed in them in general, which comes closest to my idea of what Atevi look like, and the movement of the individuals and elegant backgrounds. All four of Bren’s aishid appear to have a distinctive look, which I like. There’s only one of the latest batch that doesn’t work too well, in my view, and that is the one for Betrayer, which according to discussions at the time it was published, was rather unfinished.

            Before Conspirator, several jackets, particularly the one for Pretender (a brilliant book), didn’t work for me. I thought the early Michael Whelan covers, especially the one for Foreigner and Explorer, were superb and established the look of the Atevi, though they are quite stylised. It’s good to see a consistent style at last, though.

        • nekokami

          I’m hoping that lighting effect is partially an artifact of the reduced resolution cover, because it does look rather odd. The atevi all look fabulous, though, as usual. 🙂

  11. sleo

    Woot! I just preordered the audio version. It says narrator to be announced. I sure hope it’s the same one! He does a great job with the series. Daniel Thomas May. I just did a re-listen to refresh my memory and as usual picked up lots of nuances I missed before.

  12. cherryhfan

    I just finished reading an excerpt from Visitor, provided by Penguin Random House.com. Needless to say, it is marvelous. Can’t wait for April!

  13. Sapphire

    So after Visitor, another trilogy of Foreigner books will start? 🙂

    I do hope we see more of Machigi, who I find interesting and enigmatic – he is on a par with Tabini and Ilisidi for me, and I absolutely love the descriptions of his home, with those wonderful ceramic pillars. Visually, his abode seems quite Cretan (Minoan, as I imagine Minoan Crete, which is probably nothing like the reality!).

  14. CJ

    It is the sort of thing people might tuck in the family memory book, simple, and amazingly durable.

  15. scenario_dave

    From what I remember, Atevi lords are as likely to be women as men. But other than Illisidi, I can only think of one woman Lord. I don’t recall her name but she was a very young lord in the Marid. Are there any other woman lords mentioned?

    • Xheralt

      There’s an Easterner, one of Sidi-daja’s neighbors (and distant kin?), whom she visited (with Bren accompanying). I don’t remember her name off the top of my head, by I definitely remember getting a kind of Anne-Rice-esque antebellum feel from her.

    • weeble

      There was Illisidi’s cousin who argued with Illisidi for independence from Malguri, and the other female eastern lord who was involved in Cajeri’s kidnapping. The young lord in the Marid. The grandmothers of the Gan and Edi tribes. There is also discussion of Dameri becoming lord of the Ajuri, but she is not willing to break from supporting Tabini enough to take on that particular rats nest!

      I think the majority of the strong lords are male but there are no rules or prohibitions against female lords, they’re just more likely to run things differently.

  16. JLS

    Also Direiso, who was head of the Kadagidi back during the whole Deanna Hanks conspiracy (presumably an early casualty of the era of the recent Kadagidi rapid lordship turnover). And, from that same time, one of the potential successors to the troublemaking lord Banichi and Jago –ahem– removed was his daughter, Cosadi.

    (My memory’s not that scarily good; I just recalled that there were atevi women involved in the Deanna Hanks thing … Banichi and his “female conspiracy” remark 😉 … but had to look up their names)

  17. chesty

    Thank you, CJ! Visitor was very satisfying, yet left me wanting more. I’ll keep following this series for as long as I’m still alive and you keep adding to it.

    Thank you so much. You are the greatest. : )

  18. sanford

    I’ve finally figured out what’s been bothering me about Atevi numerology for at least a dozen books. Atevi pair-bond, an infelicity of two. Even if you consider it a combination of One, there’s still that infelicitous two. When Cajeiri was born, a stability of three was the family. But Semiro makes infelicitous four. Guild teams are pairs, infelicitous two again. And are assigned in teams of infelicitous four. When assigned as aishid, the leader makes felicitous five. But teams of four and two operate alone. Please forgive me if this has been raised before. It has been troubling me for some time.

    Lastly, having just finished Visitor, I wish to express my dismay that it takes the publishers over a year to get CJs latest work into our hands (and the royalties into her pocket). Having edited a scientific journal, I understand some delay. But 13 months plus seems excessive. Oh well, I am grateful CJ keeps on writing such wonderful novels. CJ, thank you for not only entertaining me and making me think about profound things, but for helping an old cynic retain his sense of wonder.

    • Hanneke

      1) From what I remember, their leader, the one they both owe manchi to, is counted as part of the Assassin pairs. Rather like the absent-but-present-in-mind can be represented at table through the flower arrangement to ameliorate the numbers. I’d guess that simply wearing the Assasin uniform implies the third, when the leader of the aishid is not present.

      2) They pair-bond to produce children; given this biology that is inevitable. But, before the first child arrives it is probably already implied in the relationship – I can’t remember any clear evidence of childless-and-intending-to-stay-that-way couples.
      Also, these are IIRC often not permanent pair-bonded marriages, but temporary marriage alliances for the specific goal of achieving a child for a specified clan.

      Maybe more permanent marriages are rare because of needing to pass through the unsettling period of being four (leading to a tendency to fly apart or kick one out) before regaining stability with 3 children?
      Maybe only couples who have a strong identical manchi and can use rhat to mentally add an outside fifth party (like the Assassin duos do) can make it through the idea of being a family of four-and-the-clanleader-for-whom-we-are-being-strong-and-productive?

      Hey, that just led to the thought that now Tabini and Damiri both trust Bren, he might become the necessary stabilizing 5th influence in their marriage. He certainly wants to keep that family stable and tries to be a good influence – maybe this family configuration will make T&D more receptive to that influence. Or maybe they are so used to each of them being a Stability of One (especially Tabini, but Damiri has strong aiji tendencies too) that they don’t think of their family as one number. Cajeiri does, we’ve seen that, and we’ve seen him mentally finessing some of this when his sister was born.

      • nekokami

        The infelicity of two, as far as I can tell, is because psychologically with atevi (and mecheiti), there must be a single, clear leader for stability. Even numbers allow for the possibility of two aijin with equal power (including followers), which is very unstable. An aishid of four is stable because they are in man’chi to a single Principal. They will never disagree amongst themselves in any serious way. For most couples having a child, the two have man’chi to a single lord (Bren intervenes in one occasion where this was not so, by taking both of the lovers into his household). Many couples don’t stay together, and their children are decided in advance to be the custody of one parent or the other.

        Tabini and Damiri are a very dangerous couple precisely because Damiri is also an aiji by nature, and while Tabini is more powerful politically, and may be more dominant in aiji-mojo, I think Damiri doesn’t, emotionally, completely accept that, and there is no one further up the man’chi chain to help them out. As Cajeiri becomes old enough to become an aiji in temperament himself, he and Tabini are likely to come into conflict, just as Tabini and Illisidi have done in the past, even though they have many of the same goals and might even decide many things the same way.

        Bren is helpful to Tabini and Damiri because of his dual man’chi nature– he fills the role of paidhi between them, as he has with so many other atevi (including Tabini and Illisidi).

  19. nekokami

    I finished Visitor last night. My favorite books of the series are always the ones in which Bren acts primarily as paidhi, as a negotiator, and especially when he is also acting as a linguist. 🙂 Needless to say, I liked this book a lot. I’ll hold my other comments until more fans have had a chance to finish the book.

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