Jessie's Reviews > The Pride of Chanur

The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh
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Nov 21, 2015

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction, science-fiction, owned, paperback-trade
Read from November 15 to 21, 2015 — I own a copy , read count: 5+

My comments apply to the entire series as well as this first book in the series.

It's been said a lot about C.J. Cherryh and it's not different with this series. She's not an easy read. It's fast paced and the author throws us unprepared into a new universe of clashing species, cultures, and languages. The reader can feel bewildered, lost, and confused.

Just. Like. Tully.

The stranded alien, be it Jonah, Gulliver or E.T., is a pretty hackneyed plot device. Cherryh stands it on its ears by stranding the reader as well, to learn the cultures and languages, to survive. It leaves us breathless.

But that's not even the main story. We're not the main story.

Compact Space is home to seven space-faring cultures. They've learned to co-exist if not completely understand each other. No living culture is static and two, and perhaps a third, of those cultures are poised on the brink of change that will affect all of Compact Space. This is where we, the reader and the stranded Human, enter the story as both participants and observers.

Cherryh has given us seven richly drawn and highly different cultures, political systems, and languages. and actually, the amalgam of these cultures gives us the eighth - Compact Space itself. It took me several readings to fully understand the politics played out behind and driving the action. Even now I'm not sure I know what the methane-breathers are saying.

What holds this book, this series together - what permeates Cherryh's writing - is not our differences but our commonalities. Sentient beings share commonalities and because of that can co-exist despite not even breathing the same air. This gives me hope.

This is a rollicking read just as an adventure story. It is an engaging and imaginative socio-political study. It is an interesting exploration of evolutionary what-ifs.

Cherryh does us the ultimate compliment of assuming her reader is not dumb and will spend at least a tenth of the time reading as she did plotting.


First read about 1984. Last read about 2013. Read many times in betwixt.
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