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

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,520 Ratings  ·  73 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

Paperback, 319 pages
Published November 1989 by Mandarin (first published 1985)
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Stevie Kincade
Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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)
Jun 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
A simple story that stays with you - even years later
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mer by: Book Nook pickup
This is one of the few books I've reread at least 4 times. It's not very long and can be finished in a day with some carving out of time, it moves along, gives some mystery and I always seem to forget the ending so it's always a nice surprise when I get there.

I didn't realize this is part of a series, I'll have to check out the rest.
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, scifi-fantasy, 2015
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Ben Aaronovitch
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Gates Watson
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 17, 2009 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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015, fiction
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 rated it liked it
Got really interesting at page 170. Unfortunately, it was only 185 pages long.
Kyson McArthur
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookreport
This is the book that really got me started reading science fiction novels. I had read sci-fi novels every now and then, but before now there has never been a book to compare to the creativity and story of this one. This book being published in a very explorative based century really makes the reader question almost all that they have come to know in there so far existence on this earth. In the beginning as in every good book there is the set up of the crucial characters, now the set up of Duun, ...more
Einar Nielsen
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This was the first novel I read by C.J. Cherryh. I had been meaning to read something by her for a long time so I grabbed the chance when this was on sale on Audible. This was a very nice and short story. It was a simple plot and I think that it is a good thing for this novel.

The story is about a human that is raised by an alien. On Wikipedia it says: "The book's title is therefore a reference the practice of brood parasitism among certain species of cuckoo birds." SHORT SPOILER: But as we lear
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is among the more accessible of Cherryh's novels I've attempted. For the first two thirds or so I am reminded incongruously of the late 60s / early 70s TV show The Courtship of Eddie's Father (if the father were a semi-warrior caste alien on another world, but a world not entirely dissimilar to 20th century Earth) and at other times of Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy. That is not to say the work is in any way derivative. It is merely easier to discuss when comparing to other works with sim ...more
Ted Cooper
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
J'oublie toujours à quel point cette histoire est dure... Je me laisse emporter par l'exotisme, la philosophie hatanie (pas assez présente je veux une suite) et fasciner par une politique à la fois familière et profondément étrangère. Encore de succès de Cherryh dont je suis jalouse: qui peut écrire tant d'univers si différents les uns des autres ? Je recommande.

Warnig : this is hard. really really hard. But politics are fascinating, alien world is weird and hatani... please, please give me more
Charles Harrison
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Orphan raised by enigmatic martial arts expert for mysterious purpose, where have I heard of that before? Ok so the overall plot is fairly standard but well executed. There is a good level of insight into the protagonists mind with clever use of brackets to indicated rapid thought processes. The climax was solid enough but I was expecting a bit more.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Re-read. Excellent premise, though I misremembered the reason why Thorn was raised (thought it was supposed to test whether humans could be moral creatures and so become allies rather than enemies) and was a bit let down by the rather contrived denouement.
Trošku zmiešané pocity. Nápad je zaujímavý, len prevedenie miestami trochu kríva. Dosť redundantné a pristihol som sa, ako preskakujem vety, len aby som to už dočítal. A páčil sa mi ešte doslov Ondreja Herca.
Stephen Antczak
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Interesting concept here, and a solid portrayal of a human-like alien civilization. Much like the Han in her Chanur books, there are human traits overlaying alien attributes. Typical of a lot of Cherryh's books, almost the entire novel is a build-up to a climax that happens largely "off-screen."
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
took a long time to get going ...same story genre produced by other authors in better paced novels
Honza Prchal
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This early work shows Cherryh at perhaps her best at showing a sense of isolation and desperate dependence upon an ambiguous father-figure.
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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
More about C.J. Cherryh

Other books in the series

Age of Exploration (3 books)
  • Port Eternity (Age of Exploration, #1)
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