Foreigner series by C.J. Cherryh

My number one favourite of favourite series. Start reading book number 1 (click on the image).

These books detail the life and tribulations of a puny human Bren Cameron on a planet where humans are in the minority and not in power. The larger and stronger atevi are dangerous, don’t like humans on their planet but begrudgingly acknowledge their existence. Bren does not live with the other humans on their island, but is originally employed as a translator. He lives in the household, and by the mercy, of the atevi leader.

In book 1, the reader is pretty much in the dark about this society and learns through osmosis. Bren doesn’t know much about what is going on either, just that there are attacks and fighting and he’s being jostled about the countryside. We learn with him, through the events as they unfold. This is very skillful deep-POV writing. The very best I know, if fact.

Book 1 also pulls off one of the best-ever didn’t-see-that-coming twists I have encountered in fiction.

Over the course of the series, we learn much, much more about the society, about Bren and the history of human settlement. I love the familiar-but-yet-alien feel of the atevi characters. You think you know them, and then you find out you don’t.

I love the drawn-out affairs of Bren’s dysfunctional relationship with his human family.

I love the books of the series that are set in space. There are some priceless gems in those books.

I’ve seen these books described as “First Contact” stories, but they are about what happens after first contact.

These books are not overly fast-paced. There is a fair bit of politics. If you like reading about alien societies that feel truly alien, I’d highly recommend these books.

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