Series: The Faded Sun Trilogy
Author: C. J. Cherryh
My rating: 4 of 5
They were the mri — tall, secretive, bound by honor and the rigid dictates of their society. For aeons this golden-skinned, golden-eyed race had provided the universe mercenary soldiers of almost unimaginable ability. But now the mri have faced an enemy unlike any other — an enemy whose only way of war is widespread destruction. These “humans” are mass fighters, creatures of the herd, and the mri have been slaughtered like animals.
Now, in the aftermath of war, the mri face extinction. It will be up to three individuals to save whatever remains of this devastated race: a warrior — one of the last survivors of his kind; a priestess of this honorable people; and a lone human — a man sworn to aid the enemy of his own kind. Can they retrace the galaxy-wide path of this nomadic race back through millennia to reclaim the ancient world which first gave them life?
“This is a powerful story…inspiring in its determination and feeling of strange loyalties and stranger courage. It sticks in the mind long after the last page is finished.”– Analog
To begin with, I have to confess my significant lack of experience in the genre of science fiction, having never had as much of an affinity to outer space and flying ships and aliens as to swords and dragons and elves, but this intrigued me. People always tell you not to judge a book my its cover, but the truth of the matter is: we do. More often than not it’s the first thing a reader sees, and I love the artwork on the cover for this omnibus version. The synopsis begged me to give it a try, and the fact that it was an omnibus ─ with all three volumes in one package ─ sealed the deal.
I really enjoyed it. The Faded Sun Trilogy is not one of fast paced, sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat action, which, unfortunately, may turn some people off. This is a shame. The story delves deeper into the characters and their motives for their decisions and actions, and Cherryh is truly detailed in her settings and plot. This is not something to read when you’re half asleep, because the depth and intricacy demands your full attention. It’s no bore, though, and I’ve stayed up too late on many a night entrenched in this world.
The variety and intricacy of the various species within this trilogy is amazing, exploring the culture, language, history, and physiology of the four involved, creating an unique and interesting environment with severely conflicting cultures and priorities that drives much of the convoluting relations between species.
And then there’s Duncan. His tactical mind, willing heart, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time make him the perfect vessel for the task he must undertake in this grand adventure through space and across worlds, becoming a lynch pin for the growing post-war conflict. The poor guy gets put through a lot of crap from the people who confess to loving him, whether as a son or brother, but his devotion and unwillingness to give in proves his character to those who would hate and reject him.
I think this is a great story worth every page; it has encouraged me to expand my genre horizons, and is that not, in the scheme of things, a sign of a worthy tale?