The heir to the Atevi leader of the Western Association Tabiniaiji, eight years old Cajerji celebrates his birthday with his people and select human friends he made. Meanwhile the Assassins' Guild, responsible for security, is divided with many opposed to Tabini's rule, preferring traditionalists like Ilisidi and others.
Not knowing who to trust, Tabini asks his friend human diplomat Bren Cameron to work with his aiji-dowager grandmother Ilisidi to protect his child and other guests. Tabini and Bren believe the enemies of the Atevi leader will use the gala to make a deadly statement with both of them, the heir and specific guests as the targets.
The latest Foreigner Universe thriller (see Intruder, Betrayer and Deceiver) is an entertaining tale with somewhat limited action, as once again C.J. Cherryh deeply develops political and ethnic themes with young Cajerji as the focus of opposing forces with diverse motives. Few besides his father and Ben care about his well-being as most see the lad as a pawn to further personal agendas. Fans will enjoy Cajerji’s happy birthday bash with unwanted fireworks part of the gala.
The Forever Knight
Lukien once was the beloved Bronze Knight until he betrayed his king. Despondent he lost his love Cassandra and several friends, he sought death as the way out of his lonely existence after bringing peace; no one needs a hero after the victory. However, he learns that is not quite true as he became the immortal champion of the magical using Inhuman desert dwellers who live in impoverished isolation deep in the desert at Grimhold.
Lukien remains the defender of Grimhold, but no longer possesses both Eyes of Gods amulet. Instead he now yields the Sword of Angels that possesses the Akari spirit of an earlier age hero Malator. Needing a purpose, Lukien leaves Grimhold with encouragement from Malator. On the road from apathy he meets youthful Cricket a seeker of her lost memories.
The profound premise in this first follow-up to the Bronze Knight fantasy trilogy (see Sword of Angels) focuses on what happens to a hero after the mission is accomplished and accolades received, As MacArthur said: "old soldiers never die; they just fade away"; but fails to mention what to do with the rest of their (immortal in this case) life. There is plenty of action as expected in a John Marco thriller, but it is the psychologically scarred Lukien and his counterpoint Malator who make the story fascinating. Cricket adds depth but her young and innocent immaturity seems out of place in a realm where teens mature fast or die. The Forever Knight is a deep opening gamut as the larger than life hero needs a purpose.