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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

The Pride of Chanur

The Pride of Chanur - C.J. Cherryh C.J. Cherryh is one of the most respected SF authors in the genre, she has written hundreds of books over several decades and won several awards. Yet – until now – I have never read any of her books, I attempted her highly esteemed [b: Cyteen|834518|Cyteen (Cyteen #1-3)|C.J. Cherryh|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1316469389s/834518.jpg|820134] but had to give it up after struggling mightily with it for 50 or so pages. So, The Pride of Chanur is my second attempt at a Cherryh book. I did finish it but it was still a mighty struggle. I thought I had a false start with [b: Cyteen|834518|Cyteen (Cyteen #1-3)|C.J. Cherryh|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1316469389s/834518.jpg|820134] but this Chanur book may just be the deal breaker for me. I appreciate her talent but I just can not seem to tune into her wavelength.

The Pride of Chanur starts off well with an intriguing premise and clever narrative from an alien point of view. At the beginning of the book a man named Tully stowaways on board the eponymous "Pride of Chanur" spaceship owned by Captain Pyanfar Chanur, an alien of the “hani” species. Tully does not speak the alien language and has to rely on the ship’s not terribly effective translation machine to communicate with the hanis. Tully is on the run from evil aliens of the “kif” species who captured and killed his crewmates when they came across and captured a human ship. The kifs want him back for commercial gains but he finds the hani species to be more sympathetic and begs for their protection.

Great plot, I was initially intrigued by the possibility of this plotline and the potential for a tremendous adventure of a lone human aboard an alien ship, gradually assimilating into their crew and society, each species learning something from each other. To my chagrin Ms. Cherryh did not go there, perhaps the idea seems too predictable for her given the setup. Instead the narrative concentrates on the kifs pursuing the hanis across space (and hyperspace) in their spaceship with their superior firepower. This is not even as exciting as it sound as there is no sense of momentum in the narrative, the attack on the “The Pride of Chanur” spaceship is described in a rather detached manner and I just could not feel involved in it.

Around the half way point I became more and more disengaged from the narrative and by the time I was reading the last 50 pages of the book I decided to just speed read through them without worrying about missing nuances or some plot details, the alternative is to give up on it. To be fair to the author the problem is my personal expectation of what I thought the story is going to be about vs. the actual story C.J. Cherryh wanted to tell. It’s like I was happily riding on a horse and suddenly the damned thing shook me off and dumped me unceremoniously on the ground.

The protagonist Pyanfar Chanur (not the human character) is quite well developed and I like her well enough (the ladies are in charge in the hani culture), the other supporting characters did not come alive for me, perhaps because the narrative is strictly from Pyanfar’s point of view and there is not much dialogue from the supporting characters to get a feel of their personality. The scenes featuring the lone human Tully are of the most interest to me (as a fellow human!) but he is not featured all that much, besides he is depicted as cautious, fearful and miserable for most of the book so he is not as dynamic and interesting as I hoped he would be. The ending of the book is actually quite good and I wish I had liked the book more so I can read the sequels, but for me to read any more from this series would be ridiculous.

While I definitely do not like The Pride of Chanur I do appreciate Cherryh’s talent, imagination and the attention to details that went into its creation (there is an impressive appendix at the back of the book). Her execution of this book alienates me completely but I guess that cannot be helped, this is an intelligent book and a lot of people like it even though I don’t. I still want to give her [b:Foreigner|57043|Foreigner (Foreigner, #1)|C.J. Cherryh|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386924617s/57043.jpg|1592031] series a try as I have read a lot of good things about it. One more attempt won’t hurt.

(2.5 stars)