Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Precursor (Foreigner, #4)” as Want to Read:
Precursor (Foreigner, #4)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Foreigner #4)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  3,226 ratings  ·  92 reviews
National best-selling author and winner of three Hugo Awards, C.J. Cherryh returns to the universe of her acclaimed Foreigner trilogy-with an epic tale of the survivors of a lost spacecraft stranded on a planet inhabited by a hostile, sentient race.

The beginning of a second trilogy, Precursor follows a single human delegate living among aliens, who are just gaining access
Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 10th 2000 by Daw Books (first published November 1st 1999)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,226 ratings  ·  92 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Precursor (Foreigner, #4)
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Back to one of my favorite SF series!

It's amazing how hopping into space after having such a thorough grounding in Atevi society can feel like coming home.

Really. Like a holiday where all the in-laws are fighting and sending coded messages across the small and cramped house, where both tradition and the cold vacuum of space keeps everyone cramped and anxious as the great uncles square off against each other...

And in the meantime, Assassin's Guilds and being steeped in truly alien emotions feel
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites, r2016, scifi
4.5 - fourth book in Foreigner series - 1st of second trilogy

The narrative picks up three years after the events of the previous book, with the building of the shuttle nearing completion. Test flights have been executed and the first proper flight to the space station is about to take place. The explosive political situation between atevi and Mospheirans has calmed down, even to the point to allow Brens family to visit him on the mainland. All looks exceedingly positive. Too much so for Cherryh!
Ree Linker
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction

I have nothing to say about this book that I haven't said about the other books in this series. I can certainly see why many don't like these books, but they're right up my alley. I recently reread the first trilogy, and I like Bren's character arc. In the earlier books, he has flashes of brilliance while mostly stumbling around out of control. In this book he is brilliant all the time (though often still not at all in control of his circumstances). I also like the
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Review to come!
Phil Kozel
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This 'new' trilogy picks up about 3 years after the last. The atavi have finally completed the space shuttle and this raises several issues about rehabing the decrepit space station and dealing with the humans up there. While Cherryh does seem to be a bit formulaic again-- lots of political intrigue, etc., followed by a big action scene at the end, this installment really moved along.

Cherryh does aliens very well! There are more than a few allusions to asian culture in the atevi, even in
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I made a terrible mistake. I bought this book with my last Audible credit. I should have known that it is impossible to read just one of these books. Luckily, for my sake, it is possible to do them in three-book chunks.

The Foreigner universe books are divided into trilogies. I loved the first three: Foreigner, Invader, and Inheritor and found that it was totally impossible to stop until I had finished the entire trilogy. Then I did stop, because I had to pace myself.

Cherryh's science fiction is
Krista D.
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
WOOHOO Atevi in space!

Damn, this was a crazy book. Bren and the gang end up on the space station in the midst of a xenophobic crisis (after all, humans are involved; of course they're racist towards the only sensible people on the planet).

When Bren (view spoiler), I cheered. Bren, who'd been so scared for the previous three books, who tried so hard for peace, who nearly wet himself so many
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Precursor' is amazing good, but it won't mean a thing to any reader who accidentally begins reading the Foreigner series with this novel, the fourth in the series. Instead, one must begin here: Foreigner.

I recommend this series, but with warnings. One must absolutely enjoy reading political novels generally as a prerequisite before beginning the science fiction Foreigner stories. They each have grand finale flashbang endings, but before the action starts, there are a couple hundred pages of
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, scifi, space_opera
That was the best one yet. And finally they make it to space. This one starts about three years after the last one ended.

Ilicidi (is that how you spell it?) is a great character.
J L's Bibliomania
Precursor is the first book of the 2nd trilogy in the Foreigner series and starts a few years after the end of Inheritor. The shuttle to carry people and supplies between the planet and the space station is recently operational and the ship captains recall Jason with little warning.

The early part of the book is a lot of milling around and jockeying for position that drags a bit. But eventually the pace picks up and the book finishes in a rush like mechetti following the leader in a satisfying
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love the way Cherryh writes. Always. Also, I never, ever, ever want to go into space. That was true before, but principle of life after reading this book. The space station feels so sickeningly claustrophobic, with so many horrible ways to die. Very suspenseful.
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, fiction, signed
Precursor (Foreigner 4) by C. J. Cherryh (ISBN 0886778360)[return][return]Three years have passed since we left Bren Cameron in the dangerous work of translator between the Atevi and the humans who are trapped on their world. Or maybe not as trapped as they had been, since the human ship has returned to the abandoned space station hanging over their heads. The fact that the humans have a deep seeded, cultural distrust of the Phoenix ship crew only complicates the problem since they don't trust ...more
keikii Eats Books
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To read more reviews, check out my blog keikii eats books!

He ventured into the security station to fill in his staff on what hed learned, and Banichi was there, looking like death.
You, nadi, he said to Banichi, ought to be asleep.
A superfluous habit, Banichi said. Conducive to ignorance.


This is the start of the second Foreigner trilogy and goddamn I love this series. I loved the game that Bren played between the atevi and the stupid humans on Mospheira in
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Depending on how you look at it, Precursor is either book 4 in the Foreigner series or book 1 of the second trilogy. Personally, I think its book 4. But, as usual, Im quibbling.

The premise of this book, picking up three years after the conclusion of Inheritor, Paidhi Bren Cameron, recalled early from a visit home, finds the politics of the Atevi mainland all topsy-turvey with the imminent departure of his co-paidhi Jason Grahm along with a very unexpected contingent of humans on the next
Ken Richards
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
The fourth installment of the Foreigner series returns to the location common to CJ Cheryh's most effective and memorable fictions. Back to the docks and corridors of the giant space stations which are the trading centres of stellar empires, and back to immersion in the politics and economics of those installations.

In a giddy beginning, Bren Cameron, the paidhi, translator and mediator between the native atevi. human colonists of Mospheira and now the returned crew of the lost starship Phoenix
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Precursor by C J Cherryh: This is the fourth book in CJ Cherryhs Foreigner series. These books are not like a lot of science fiction its not all non-stop action. Instead, its a rhythm of slow buildup to usually a fast-paced end. It's a world where you go and live for a while. Having read the first three books and left the universe for a while, it was great to come back and immerse myself in the milieu again, to again live in the world of the paidhi, Bren Cameron. In fact, just as Bren finds ...more
Noel Roach
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
With the political and cultural upheavals among the alien atevi and Mospheiran humans caused by the 200-year return of the spaceship Phoenix being the subject of the first trilogy, it is not too surprising a similar murderous convulsion now afflicts the human culture on board Phoenix itself in this the first book of the second Foreigner trilogy.

First published in 1999 and likely written at least the year before, this novel does not stand up to the test of time when it comes to the internet,
Sheryl Hill
In the fourth book of the Foreigner Series, Bren Cameron, the diplomat and interpreter, is faced with a crisis which requires him to understand the loyalties, priorities, and fears driving three cultures towards what might be extinction.

Unravelling these interrelationships requires him to re-evaluate his relationship to his family-of-origin, find routes past specie-ism, and (as usual) convincing otherwise rational beings to take insane risks to save all humanity has left.

People who complain
Rob Hermanowski
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, audio-book
I'm really enjoying C.J. Cherryh's "Foreigner" series more with each volume - the fourth installment takes place mostly in space, which is new territory for the series to this point. Cherryh's unique brand of space opera is relatively light on action with a lot of exploration of diplomatic machinations between different species and between different factions of the same species. Since Cherryh's up to volume 19 with no sign of letting up, I'm happy to have much more of the Foreigner universe to ...more
Jul 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
Absolutely delightful, exciting, thrilling. Bren Cameron has increased in importance and stature as translator and negotiator for Tabini of the atevi to the humans and a new complication of the crew of a star ship run by arrogant totalitarian captains who need atevi help to repair their ship, build shuttles, and revive the defunct space station into a living thriving place once more. Bren even has his atevi lover/security guard, Jago. Just an addictive, delightful series.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this one four stars just for (view spoiler) but the whole thing is gold. The building of tension over the course of Bren's time on the station is brilliantly done, and it was refreshing to get out of atevi-dominant space. Bren is starting to lose his humanity and to get more and more atevi in his dealings with the station, and I'm looking forward to wherever Cherryh goes with that next.
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi
THERE we go, my favorite of favorites. After watching Bren get lined up and knocked down by atevi power plays for the past three books, it's rewarding (and hysterical) to watch him take what he's learned and absolutely sandbag Phoenix's captains.

I rather like the culture clash best in threes, rather than in dualities. The atevi transforming the sterile ship environment to something that suits them is one of my favorite passages ever.
Cameron Galloway
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, foreigner
C.J. Cherryh is the kind of author who takes her time to meticulously world build her stories, the backstories, the cultural elements, and the characters, so that when it all comes together, it makes a beautiful tapestry of complex and nuanced relationships and ideas.
It just takes a little patience to see how the bigger picture unfolds.

Also: Bren x Jase is now my OTP
Oct 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mine, sci-fi
Much more active a book than books 2 and 3 of the first Foreigner series. Faster pacing, more engaging interactions. You definitely don't need to have read the first series to read this, but it does make the characters have more meaning and depth.
Mark Edlund
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Science Fiction series - Cherryh continues her one word title series with this fourth book on Bren and his atevi friends and companions. They go into space to set up negotiations with the returned Phoenix and all heck breaks lose. Well done.
No pharmacy or Canadian references.
C. Mills
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf-and-fantasy
I'm used to the introduction of lots of strange names early in SF novels, but this one throws so many foreign names and concepts that it was too much of a struggle to read. Perhaps part of the issue is that my mind requires a name that it can pronounce.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, 2017
More the same, but fun! Only now realized it goes on for 19 books. The opening pissed me off, as it was almost copy and paste / Foreigner drinking game from the first arc, but I think that was Cherryh having a little fun by setting the reader up for the surprise of Bren going into space.
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
After a sluggish start in Foreigner, I'm glad I stuck with the series. Ms Cherryh has consistently engaged me more with each passing book in the series. From the usual slow build up to a regularly frantic and breakneck finish. Up there with the faded sun trilogy, but for a different reason.
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished another in this addictive series! It's so much fun watching Bren grow into his job as he wrestles with the ongoing problems of communicating with a non-human people.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1)
  • Accepting the Lance (Liaden Universe, #22)
  • Imaginary Numbers (InCryptid, #9)
  • Fire Season (Honorverse: Stephanie Harrington, #2)
  • Kushiel's Scion (Imriel's Trilogy, #1)
  • The Raven Tower
  • Siege of Earth (Empire Rising, #6)
  • ソードアート・オンライン オルタナティブ ガンゲイル・オンライン V ─サード・スクワッド・ジャム ビトレイヤーズ・チョイス〈下〉─
  • Knaves Over Queens (Wild Cards, #26)
  • Mississippi Roll (Wild Cards, #24)
  • Kushiel’s Legacy: (Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen, Kushiel's Avatar)
  • Texas Hold'em (Wild Cards, #27)
  • The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown
  • Low Chicago (Wild Cards, #25)
  • The Gordian Protocol
  • Upright Women Wanted
  • Legacy (The Sharing Knife, #2)
  • Kushiel's Justice (Imriel's Trilogy, #2)
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Foreigner (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • Foreigner (Foreigner, #1)
  • Invader (Foreigner, #2)
  • Inheritor (Foreigner, #3)
  • Defender (Foreigner, #5)
  • Explorer (Foreigner, #6)
  • Destroyer (Foreigner, #7)
  • Pretender (Foreigner, #8)
  • Deliverer (Foreigner, #9)
  • Conspirator (Foreigner, #10)
  • Deceiver (Foreigner, #11)

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our lis...
39 likes · 9 comments
“He ventured into the security station to fill in his staff on what he’d learned, and Banichi was there, looking like death.
“You, nadi,” he said to Banichi, “ought to be asleep.”
“A superfluous habit,” Banichi said. “Conducive to ignorance.”
More quotes…