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Cuckoo's Egg (Age of Exploration, #3) (Age of Exploration #3)

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  1,423 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
They named him Thorn. They told him he was of their people, although he was so different. He was ugly in their eyes, strange, sleek-skinned instead of furred, clawless, different. Yet he was of their power class: judge-warriors, the elite, the fighters, the defenders.

Thorn knew that his difference was somehow very important - but not important enough to prevent murderous c

Hardcover, 186 pages
Published March 28th 1985 by Phantasia Press (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

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Stevie Kincade
One of these days CJ Cherryh and I are going to really connect on a story. I believe it. I have a dozen Cherryh books on my “to read” table. “Cuckoo’s egg” is not that story though.

One of the daunting things about Cherryh is that her books are loooong and they make up parts of larger series. I can’t stand reading things out of order even though it seems Cherryh’s books work fine as “Stand alones”. I really want to read “Foreigner” but if I like it as much as I think I will, I have 15+ more book
Aug 09, 2015 fromcouchtomoon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Notable for its alien pov & "human as other" effect, but also of note is that it shares the same year and concept as Ender's Game. Must have been an '80s trend to write simple stories about kids trained to become war criminals.
Dec 31, 2007 Yune rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A human infant raised by another species in its strictest discipline. This is not, despite moments of tenderness, a particularly warm tale; it's an introduction to an alien society and a foreign standard of honor, or, from the bleakest angle, a story of the lengths one must go to in order to survive. As seems typical with Cherryh, the build-up is masterful and the pacing near the end hurried, but the entire arc is beautifully rendered.
Oct 01, 2011 Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review Title: How do you communicate with a race that you never met or never seen before?


The world had faced a threat that it had never seen before and had never expected to come to pass. This threat was averted, but at a terrible cost to those who faced it. There was only one man that survived the encounter and the world said that it would give him whatever he asked of it. This man’s name was Dunn and he did not ask for fame or for riches.

Instead he asked for something that came from the
Laura (Kyahgirl)
I wasn't sure whether to give this a four or a five so I went with five.
Its funny, when you read the words of a really, solidly talented writer you just sense that you are on solid ground. There are no plot devices trying to herd you in a particular direction, no manufactured tensions. It feels real.
This book was unusual in that the story was told in the world of an alien intelligence but the reader, as a human, is the only other human along with the young man being raised in this alien world.
Mar 27, 2010 Jacqueline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, sci-fi, favorites
One of my favorite books. I've begged Ms. Cherryh for a sequel. I love the way that the human boy is the alien. I loved the warrior culture. I would love to see the hero deal with the incomming humans.
May 26, 2011 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, scifi
Cherryh does write the most amazing books. About an alien boy raised by an elite warrior/judge alone on a planet far from earth, the story is intense, emotional, sad, and fascinating. No one does alien cultures like Cherryh.
Feb 01, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A simple story that stays with you - even years later
Oct 31, 2013 Trice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy, audio, 2015
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gates Watson
Mar 13, 2015 Gates Watson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my absolute favorite's of C J Cherryh! I love the story of a human baby being created by and raised as another species. Thorn only knows he doesn't look like his guardian or any others on the planet. He doesn't know why others are afraid of him or shun him. He only knows he will do anything to be accepted. When he finally learns not only how he came into being buy why he has to decide if he will accept his destiny.

This was the first book I read from this author and because of it
Jan 01, 2015 Katharine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favourite books of all time! I bought a copy in hardcover to survive the number of times I have re-read this book. It stands up with Ursula Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness (another one of the best). I have read and enjoyed so many of the author's books and her wonderful imaginative ideas and places but none grabbed me the way this one did.
Oct 17, 2009 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction, 2010
Imagine growing up amongst people that you look nothing like, with no knowledge of where you come from. This is a great story about a human child raised in an alien civilization, under a strict code of conduct. Really great read.
Jul 22, 2014 Michaela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure why...but I loved this book. It was weird and new and the way they spoke was so different and it made me think and the author had me figuring out what was going on on my own, he wasn't just telling me. I wish more authors could write like that, but it seems to be a lost art.
Jun 20, 2015 Janey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Tightly plotted, finely written, and surprisingly tender. Also notable: it's extremely slow to reveal just what the heck is going on (I'm SO GLAD I didn't read any summaries before just diving right in), but is no less fascinating for it.
Jan 27, 2015 Warren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Got really interesting at page 170. Unfortunately, it was only 185 pages long.
Mar 17, 2017 Cheryl rated it liked it
Too much about the tough training, like Duun is kinda like Yoda or a martial-arts monk or something. A little bit Ender's Game, too. Beautiful writing... almost too beautiful, draws too much attention to itself. And the ending; well, I read to the end to confirm my prediction and get more information, but I didn't, really. And I suppose Cherryh's challenging the reader to figure it out herself, just as Thorn has to figure out most of his lessons on his own. Well humbug, not my style or preferenc ...more
This book is old - published in 1985. This story unravels the mystery of how a human baby (Thorn) came to be raised by aliens on an alien planet, mostly from the boy's perspective. The culture he's raised in reminded me vaguely of Asian martial warriors with highly moral leanings - maybe Taoist, or something similar. The aliens look like humanoid cats, and the world he grows up in seems very similar to ours. Generally, I really liked the story, but there were two times where I felt the author di ...more
Feb 18, 2017 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not my favorite of Cherry's works. However, it is still way better than the run-of-the-mill science fiction novel. It has strong characters, thoughtful world building, and plot that makes sense and is unified. You don't see that everywhere.
May 07, 2016 Bobp0303 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading and rereading this book since sometime in the 80s, I think. My first reading notation says that I'd read it at least twelve times before 2007. The author uses elements of Zen that remind me of Alan W. Watts' "The Way of Zen". I've used Cuckoo's Egg to instruct, soothe, minister -- in fact, it reminds me of my mother's quote from John Denham — 'Books should to one of these four ends conduce, For wisdom, piety, delight, or use.' Cuckoo's Egg does all four.
The only part of the b
Chloe Stam
Apr 02, 2016 Chloe Stam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I picked this book up from a box of free giveaways. I expected I would be bored, but I was instantly captivated. The author has a glorious, rich way with language (despite the lack of grammatical commas I think it needed). The characterisation is also very well done. You are shown all the way, through the way they talk and the thoughts they think. The book uses thoughts very heavily but in a very different way. Thoughts also came on the form of memory - phrases said to us repeated in our minds a ...more
Sep 02, 2014 Martina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With the bits of information I gleaned from publishing and writer presentations, this book would not be published today because it starts well before the action begins and ends just as the action begins. I was hooked from the beginning though by the character Thorn's struggles and the immense obstacle he faces. He must figure out the world around him while he is isolated from it. As he understands more about himself, his commitment to the world around him, even though he is an alien increases, e ...more
Jan 19, 2014 Miki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Great idea, but I was tired of the often feeling, that everybody knows what is going on, except me. Sometimes I even can not figure out meaning of sentences or dialogs.

So I was very surprised, when end of the story was just revealing of the "big secreat". The secreat, which was the only clear thing to me, because it was basically told in the prologue of the book! I was still waiting for some awesome final pages, when Thor met his human counterparts, but nothing like that happened.

If there was
Apr 11, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Perhaps, 5 stars is a bit high. Much of the story involves what the reader deduces is an alien on his home planet raising a human child. There is the alien "foster parent", but otherwise there isn't a lot of "science fiction" in the majority of the book. But it's engaging. The alien raises the boy in the tradition of a sort of monk-troubleshooter-referee-fighter guild. For the first 16 years of the boy's life this is done in isolation in the countryside in very low-tech conditions. It's a bit of ...more
I should not have named this shelf "On Hold." More truthfully, I should have named it "I Am Never Going to Finish This Book." In this case, it's because Cuckoo's Egg has this vague, inscrutable plot. Everything is fraught with significance, but you never really know what the hell is going on, because (at least up to page 78, which is almost half the book) NOTHING IS HAPPENING. Maybe this would be less dissatisfying if I had read the other two books in the trilogy that precede it? I doubt that, a ...more
Ben Aaronovitch
Jun 30, 2012 Ben Aaronovitch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-f
Just reread this. I picked it up while I was shifting books around my living room, read the first couple of pages and then nothing would satisfy except to polish it off that afternoon.
The Paladin by C.J. Cherryh It's almost a copmpanion piece to The Palladin in that they both concentrate on the student/master relationship but in this one the the student is the involountary subject whereas in The Paladin it is the master. The slow build up and, this being CJ Cherryh book, acceleration to breath taking speed still dragged
Ree Linker
Oct 30, 2013 Ree Linker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book four (and a half!) stars despite the fact that we spend the majority of the book inside the head of a conflicted teenager, which should have made the book an automatic 2 stars (at best) - but Cherryh is just so irresistible. And I love the premise. I wonder what it says about Cherryh's psychology that she's so darn good with books where the human is the alien. I think this book is more accessible than the Foreigner series, and though I didn't enjoy it as much, I'm more likely to ...more
Mar 04, 2013 Kenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Interesting characters and a plot that slowly but steadily ramps up the tension right to the end. A solid SF alien race with a lone human growing up in their society provides the basic tension; aliens show their difference in living environment, physical and emotional reactions, and in their social structure. If you are looking for a well thought-out SF scenario and a novel driven by character more than plot mechanics, you will be pleased and satisfied. This is a stand-alone novel; no sequels to ...more
Oct 11, 2013 Anna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those authors (André Norton is another) who has fabulous brilliant ideas that make you think, but is not really… all that great a writer. She doesn’t really capture the excitement of her story, and a lot of the dialogue is annoyingly oblique, like “He knows what I’ve done to him, and why…” without explaining the what or the why to the reader. I read the whole thing, but it was aggravating, because I never did figure out what was going on.
Elle Sebastian
I started out really loving this book. It had me totally hooked for about the first 1/3. Then it got more and more heavily into politics and got convoluted, slow, and dull. I finished it, but my overall feeling was of being unsatisfied by it. It had such a fantastic, unique premise. The society it portrayed was interesting and well-developed. The characters were relateable and also well-developed. I just wish it had gone in a different direction that it did.
This book had a great start. A human baby is going to be raised by an alien in an alien culture. Dunn is a pretty important person when he assumes responsibility for raising Thorn. He does a good job too -- Thorn is smart. But, Thorn is very diferent from Dunn and everyone else he meets. Eventually he finds out why. The story drags towards the end as politics invades, but still a worthwhile read.
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Currently resident in Spokane, Washington, C.J. Cherryh has won four Hugos and is one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed authors in the science fiction and fantasy field. She is the author of more than forty novels. Her hobbies include travel, photography, reef culture, Mariners baseball, and, a late passion, figure skating: she intends to compete in the adult USFSA track. She began ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Age of Exploration (3 books)
  • Port Eternity (Age of Exploration, #1)
  • Voyager in Night (Age of Exploration, #2)

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