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It took me so long to read this book I should be booted from Goodreads for being a disgrace to readers everywhere I went through 2 girlfriends, 2 Presidents and 3 holidays before I finished this book.This was elegantly written and contained truly original nothing like human alien races, 3 dimensional characters and fully developed relationships It was neverboring , I was always happy to read it but i never sucked me in for any length of time either It is not what I would call a page turner It took me so long to read this book I should be booted from Goodreads for being a disgrace to readers everywhere I went through 2 girlfriends, 2 Presidents and 3 holidays before I finished this book.This was elegantly written and contained truly original nothing like human alien races, 3 dimensional characters and fully developed relationships It was neverboring , I was always happy to read it but i never sucked me in for any length of time either It is not what I would call a page turner Like the other Cherryh books I have read there was very little sunlight Our characters got chewed up and spat out again and again and again At times it felt like an SF account of a holocaust Important, brutal, well written but not very enjoyable This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here The Faded Sun trilogy is one of the most unique books I have ever read My first thoughts after finishing this marvel of a novel unbelievably dense culture building multiplied three times for three cultures , all the while using space opera to churn out complex moral questions Cherryh manages to turn humans into the great Others, the exotic foreigners whom you struggle to understand Once you reach the end of the story, you begin to think like the mri, the nomadic mercenaries who send their d The Faded Sun trilogy is one of the most unique books I have ever read My first thoughts after finishing this marvel of a novel unbelievably dense culture building multiplied three times for three cultures , all the while using space opera to churn out complex moral questions Cherryh manages to turn humans into the great Others, the exotic foreigners whom you struggle to understand Once you reach the end of the story, you begin to think like the mri, the nomadic mercenaries who send their dead into the fires of suns I can barely contain my excitement about the mri this culture is brilliant You see it in their philosophy on death and rebirth life is as long as the cosmos, the great voyage from one planet to the next Forgetting the previous world to be reborn on another, dying for the mri is both literal and metaphorical Welcoming death, they play a game where knives are thrown to each other To play the game is to cast one s fate from the hand, to let go, to make the leap forward freely, without fear I loved the way that humans struggle to understand why the mri would want to harm their own comrades in such a game The mri s explanations for their behavior are never without reference points to human culture even their strict caste system creates hierarchies that mirror our own society Yet still, the great tragedy of the novel is how cultures misunderstand one another in fact, the whole novel is a riveting diplomatic nightmare.Granted, Cherryh s story contains a classic trope going native She breaks it, however, by disallowing the white hero to function as a savior to the natives, seducing one of their women in the process Dances with Wolves Avatar Pocahontas this is not Cherryh instead opts for a male on male bromance which was a highlight for me I loved the warmth that grew between Duncan and Niun during the 3rd book The Faded Sun is a mash up of all things SF ancient mysticism and futuristic machines, swords and lasers, spaceships and psychic grizzly bears, imperialism and violence I loved it and I m so sad it s over Three points 1 NOBODY does aliens as well as C.J Cherryh at least in my experience.2 This is not a page turning barnburner This is a slow, deep immersion that stays with you for a long time.3 No book that has inspired a Michael Whelan cover has ever disappointed me.But back on that first point Cherryh s mri and regul are two awesomely different species, the former mercenary fighters for the latter, who don t fight themselves, but really can t be trusted They re both battling humans, who Three points 1 NOBODY does aliens as well as C.J Cherryh at least in my experience.2 This is not a page turning barnburner This is a slow, deep immersion that stays with you for a long time.3 No book that has inspired a Michael Whelan cover has ever disappointed me.But back on that first point Cherryh s mri and regul are two awesomely different species, the former mercenary fighters for the latter, who don t fight themselves, but really can t be trusted They re both battling humans, who, frankly, win The story begins in the first aftermath of the treaty Regul don t need mri any, but are terrified of them As long as they were under mercenary contract, it was cool, but now Not so much.The mri are supreme individual fighters, but have been decimated by the war with humans They also have a code and culture so rigid that it makes evolution and adaptation nearly impossible This is the true strength of the story as Cherryh tells it from the perspective of the mri How can they survive as a species without sacrificing who they are Insert one human soldier who learns to bridge the gap between humans and mri much like Cherryh s on going Foreigner saga.The result is a three book saga that tells the deep, personal story of a species in decline, a species betrayed, and a species true to themselves As I said, not a barnburner, but deeply, deeply satisfying Every now and then I take a break from the new releases stacked atop my desk to treat myself to a classic This time I chose Kesrith, which begins The Faded Sun Trilogy by C.J Cherryh I meant to read just one volume, then set the trilogy aside and get on with reading those new releases Then I meant to read just the second, Shon Jir before getting on with business Then I had to read the last, Kutath The Faded Sun Trilogy has long been available in one volume and should, in my opinion, be rea Every now and then I take a break from the new releases stacked atop my desk to treat myself to a classic This time I chose Kesrith, which begins The Faded Sun Trilogy by C.J Cherryh I meant to read just one volume, then set the trilogy aside and get on with reading those new releases Then I meant to read just the second, Shon Jir before getting on with business Then I had to read the last, Kutath The Faded Sun Trilogy has long been available in one volume and should, in my opinion, be read that way together, all at once In essence, it is a book with three parts The separate novels, Kesrith, Shon Jir and Kutath follow on, one from the other You could jump into the story at the beginning of each Cherryh does spare a little thought for the casual reader But each part or novel builds on the threads of the other When taken together, the characters and story becomecomplex and small moments that might otherwise have little meaning become deeply insightful.So, the story After forty three years of galactic war, the regul have ceded the planet Kesrith to humanity and plan to withdraw peaceably The planet seems barely habitable Vast deserts, a thin atmosphere, acid rain and an unstable crust Even the alien regul are forced to live in partially subterranean habitats and the only city is situated on the edge of an alkaline sea The planet occupies a portion of space that will allow humanity access to unexplored territory, however It is a gateway.The regul did not fight their own war They employed mercenaries known as the mri to battle the humans The handful of mri still inhabiting Kesrith are thought to be amongst the last The mri are feared they are ruthless killers, single minded in their purpose Their presence on Kesrith disturbs their employers and the humans Despite peace with the regul, humanity does not trust the mri to recognise the fact the war is over The regul share a similar fear Their shared concern is not unfounded the mri have lost almost their entire population to a war not their own for a purpose no one quite understands.Two men, the first humans to arrive on Kesrith, attempt to unravel the shifting lines of mood and politics Stavros is intent on keeping peace with the regul His assistant, Duncan, is curious about the mri Their interests separate them and they are both pulled into a new conflict, one between the regul and the mri, one to each side.The unravelling of the history of the mri, which they hope will help them forge a future, and the revelation of true face of the regul makes for compelling reading The story is shared between mri, human and regul points of view and the three species regard unfolding events with startlingly different opinion and purpose Tall and bipedal, the mri appear less alien than the squat and utterly foreign regul But their culture is unfathomable As a reader, I had a hard time grasping it The regul, while completely alien, seem to understand the culture of exchange politics, ambition and greed They almost felt human until they demonstrated quite clearly they were not.Cherryh does a remarkable job of keeping the three species separate Her aliens are just so alien Overlap between sensibilities is slight enough they can communicate and bargain, forge alliances, but not so much they will ever truly understand one another This, alone, keeps the tension taut throughout the trilogy The question of when one character will relent is never answered They are all strong players and they all have goal they consider important, particularly when the action moves to a far flung star system years from any known civilisation, and decisions they make affect their chances of ever returning home.It s hard to talk about the story as a whole without giving away the stunning shift of priorities toward the end of the first book Suffice to say, the trilogy covers a journey for all involved physical and metaphorical All are seeking something and not all will find it I came away extremely satisfied by the conclusion To my mind, just desserts were served, even though I had to overlook the ruin of the dinner table What kept me flipping pages until that end, however, was the fear things might turn out very, very differently.Written for and originally posted at SFCrowsnest The contemplative plot of this book seemed to meander at times, but I was swept away by the characterization and atmosphere As I write this review, months after finishing the book, it still resonates withthan almost all the other books that I ve ever read.C J Cherryh s Faded Sun Trilogy is comprised of three books Kesrith, Shon jir, and Kutath As with so many of Cherryh s works, this book revolves around deep, psychological characterization of alien cultures In this case, the two mai The contemplative plot of this book seemed to meander at times, but I was swept away by the characterization and atmosphere As I write this review, months after finishing the book, it still resonates withthan almost all the other books that I ve ever read.C J Cherryh s Faded Sun Trilogy is comprised of three books Kesrith, Shon jir, and Kutath As with so many of Cherryh s works, this book revolves around deep, psychological characterization of alien cultures In this case, the two main alien races are the war like Mri and the unforgetting Regul I agree with the Wikipedia entry don t read the whole thing if you don t want spoilers that Both the mri and the regul fulfill John W Campbell s dictum of show me a creature that thinks as well as a man, or better, but not like a man Despite how much I liked the book, I m reluctant to give a strong recommendation because I m not confident that others will see in it what I did It s got a lot of plot similarities to epic science fiction a long lost heritage, an ancient mystery, convoluted political machinations, and a chase across wide swathes of space And, of course, lots of spaceships and battles But all of these conventional tools of sci fi storytelling are subverted to tell an essentially introspective, interpersonal story, so if you go into this looking for space opera as I initially did you stand a good risk of being disappointed.On the other hand, if a meditative work on interpersonal relationships, introspection, and clashing cultures sounds intriguing to you, you might not be the kind of person who easily deals with complex plotting involving a decades long war between humans and an alien race that turns on the finer points of xenomorphic physiology And I use the term xenomorphic as the kind of sci fi jargon that might turn you off What I m saying is that as much as I loved this book it s not the most accessible work I ve ever read If you sound intrigued by this plotless review please give it a read It s a treasure But if you re looking for a fun read, I have other books I can recommend with far fewer qualifications Here s the short review This book gets five stars because it made me agree with genocide, against a sentient alien species that I found beautiful and wanted to live.But that alone is not very satisfying, so here s the long review One of the most wonderful aspects of science fiction particularly space opera is that humanity itself is characterized Whereas in other genres, there might be foils to the protagonist, in space opera, an alien species serves as a foil to all of humanity.So it is wit Here s the short review This book gets five stars because it made me agree with genocide, against a sentient alien species that I found beautiful and wanted to live.But that alone is not very satisfying, so here s the long review One of the most wonderful aspects of science fiction particularly space opera is that humanity itself is characterized Whereas in other genres, there might be foils to the protagonist, in space opera, an alien species serves as a foil to all of humanity.So it is with The Faded Sun Trilogy, which tells the tale of three species The Regul giant slug like creatures basically, Jaba the Hutt , with eidetic memories and centuries long lifespans, who hold almost no regard for the life of their genderless younglings They are hardly mobile and not at all when they get their gender and become adults Instead they ride sleds which I pictured as slightly larger Segways Because of their memories, the Regul write nothing down Thus each elder is, in fact, an invaluable source of knowledge and history The death of an Elder is, to them, like the burning of a library They are smart and logical They re merchants and bureaucrats They are not fighters The story begins at the end of a long war between the Regul and Humanity, which humanity won Naturally Because we re awesome.The Mir The Regul did not actually fight in the war between them and humanity Rather, they hired the Mri The best way to describe the Mri would be to take Japanese samurai code Bushido, the cold beauty and pride of LOTR style elves, and the stoicism and ritual of Dune s Fremen and mix it all together The Mir are stubborn and arrogant and inflexible, which is why humanity won the war.The Humans Well you know them Or do you In fact, that s the intellectual heart of this story I labelled this trilogy a space opera but it s not really There s a minimum of fighting There are, let us say, about 5 explosions throughout the whole trilogy, and they are not described in greater detail than a paragraph or two Sometimes they re so minimally described that I had to go back and be like, Wait did that really just happen There are maybe two blaster battles and just as few sword battles the Mri favor close, ritualistic combat.Rather, the meta conflict is one of diplomacy Don t think this means it s boring The maneuvering and verbal sparring depict a tense exploration of how one species views the other species For example, the Regul don t lie because their perfect memories render outright falsehood easily detectable The Mri don t lie because it goes against their code of honor Thus neither trust humans, who do lie The Regul s perfect memory and lack of physical movement cause them to consider the other two species to be lesser on an intellectual level They forget and how sad is that But of course the Mri and Humanity find the Regul s immobile forms grotesque The Mri and Humanity hate each other because they just fought a war against the other But of course the Mri only fought against Humanity because the Regul ordered them to do so, but then the Mri begin to hate the Regul for other reasons Meanwhile, the Regul wantonly slaughter their own younglings and don t understand that Humanity does not And the Mri, who will often kill each other while playing a game of spinning, whirling, throwing daggers, will never, under any circumstances, kill one of their children And so on and so forth.If it sounds complex, it is But it s satisfying The Regul and Mri are one of the best depictions of aliens I ve ever read They re never described in a way that s inferior or superior to humanity in a general sense Just different With a different biology, psychology, and culture You certainly avoid any of that awful clich where humanity often in the form of a white European man comes into an exotic culture and goes native and then saves them all.Yet all my talk of species and diplomacy and culture is deceptive The novel is large, but it s focus is small That is, the Faded Sun may have a galactic backdrop, but it s otherwise a personal, intimate novel In particular, it focuses on Niun, a Mri warrior, and Sten Duncan, a Human soldier We see, too, other specific characters, Regul and Mri and Human, whose thought processes are explored in finely crafted, detached but not cold detail Because of this, it s hard to ever feel outright antagonism for any of the characters.In a lot of ways, in fact, this book reminded me of a Miyazaki film What s absolutely superb about Miyazaki is that he depicts everyone in a sympathetic light Anti heroes are fairly common, but Miyazaki creates what I call anti villains Consider the characters of Princess Mononoke you ve seen it right If not, um, stop reading and go do so right away Lady Eboshi of Iron town burned down the forest, turned a noble boar into an evil demon, attempts to kill Princess Mononoke, and takes pride in hunting down the spirit of the forest Villain, right Wrong Her female workforce are women she rescued out of sexual servitude she willingly goes among lepers and treats them kindly and she shows immense personal courage Okay so what about Jigo the monk He wants to kill the spirit of the forest in order to receive a mountain of the gold from the emperor, and he blackmails Eboshi into helping him do it Surely such a greedy, underhanded fellow is a villain Nope The first time we meet him, he shares food with Ashitaka, the protagonist He s clearly wise, and maintains a good sense of humor, even in the face of obstacle.So it is with The Faded Sun Trilogy Even the Regul who are clearly the bad guys aren t depicted in a manner that presupposes their villainy The reasoning for their actions they want to wipe out the Mri makes sense In fact, I even agreed with them I began to see, in the Mri, some parallels with the likes of ISIS A refusal to adapt to modern times A clinging to past traditions ISIS, to be frank, are evil Any sympathy I might have had for them was wiped out when I read how they had institutionalized rape If a genie appeared to me now and offered me a magical button that would completely wipe out ISIS every man, woman, and child I would press that button That isn t bravado or jingoism Such massacre is not a good act It s an evil act BUT I WOULD STILL PRESS IT Maybe you ll say to me, horrified, how can you do that Hurting children is always evil What if I said this pressing that button would kill 1000 children But it would ultimately save 2000 other children Would you still ask me how can I press it Or would I be asking you how you can afford not to Thinking thusly, I began to understand the Regul mindset I began to believe despite my great sympathy and respect and appreciation of the Mri culture that their existence in the fictional universe of this book was a blight That, sure, maybe for a time, they ll be peaceful, but their ways, their culture, will only lead to bloodshed and instability.And that s just fabulous That s the type of power this book contains On one hand, it depicted a fictional people and culture with such authenticity and detail that I could feel them in my thoughts, as tactile as a blanket against my skin I knew their history, their glories, their beauty, their hopes And on the other hand, I grasped and even sympathized with the mindset that would see those people made extinct I held these two opposing ideas in my mind simultaneously and because of it, my mind expanded It became greater That is the mark of a great book I currently re read this book, and it keeps its place as my favorite science fiction novel of all time A few of the things I particularly like about it First, the characters Cherryh taks a good deal of time developing her characters to the point that you actually CARE about them Many authors sci fi and otherwise are too concerned with the plot to let the reader get to know the characters, and so when it comes down to plot crunch time, nobody really cares what happens Cherryh is very much I currently re read this book, and it keeps its place as my favorite science fiction novel of all time A few of the things I particularly like about it First, the characters Cherryh taks a good deal of time developing her characters to the point that you actually CARE about them Many authors sci fi and otherwise are too concerned with the plot to let the reader get to know the characters, and so when it comes down to plot crunch time, nobody really cares what happens Cherryh is very much the opposite You care what happens to Niun and Duncan, you feel their emotions, you fear, cry, love, and laugh with them because Cherryh takes the time to let you into their hearts and minds The friendship between Niun and Duncan feels so very real, because we see from the point of view of both, and understand how their minds slowly move together towards that point Second, the emphasis on the alien cultures Unlike in Star Trek, where all the alien cultures are just humans with a little body paint, the mri and the regul both are completely alien While the mri at least are vaguely humanoid, both are very alien in their thought processes, thinking in ways that humans find difficult or impossible to follow Cherryh does a brilliant job in this book of describing and letting the reader into the cultures of both the mri and the regul Fascinating Three The fact that the book is not resolved by Niun discovering he would be better off human, and assimilating I ve read so many books where the alien character is assimilated by the human character, with the feeling that human culture is better anyway, so of course it will win out This book is the opposite, and runs in the face of that xenophobic cultural bigotry Duncan becomes mri Stavros is well on his way to becoming regul I love the idea from this book that cultural identity is not just skin deep, but comes with a certain thought process and behavioral patterns the fact that Duncan is mri is recognized both by the mri themselves, and by the regul it is only the humans, set in their shallow ways, who refuse to see this change In all, this is my favorite book in the science fiction genre While I have read some fantasy by C.J Cherryh, this trilogy Kesrith, Shon jir, and Kutath was the first science fiction I ve read Wow I was completely engaged while reading and thoroughly satisfied when I finished Whatcan you ask The three species that dominate the story mri, regul, and human are each carefully drawn and distinct The non humans are not human like in different bodies they are definitely alien And yet we are drawn into their stories as completely as we are into th While I have read some fantasy by C.J Cherryh, this trilogy Kesrith, Shon jir, and Kutath was the first science fiction I ve read Wow I was completely engaged while reading and thoroughly satisfied when I finished Whatcan you ask The three species that dominate the story mri, regul, and human are each carefully drawn and distinct The non humans are not human like in different bodies they are definitely alien And yet we are drawn into their stories as completely as we are into the humans And the dusei so important and yet, so mysterious The mri learnof their long time companions even as we do Only the elee were not as fully realized and yet, for the purposes of the story, we knew enough.There was no time in this story when I felt I knew what was going to happen next, and yet, as the plot unfolded, it made perfect sense.A solid 10 S.T.O.P right there Now pay attention If you like character driven and immersive Science Fiction you need to read this It s a slow burner, but beautifully crafted and deeply poignant It s frankly criminal that this isn t better known, overshadowed as it is by Cherryh s other high profile works Other authors can learn so much here, especially how not to lose focus of the story being told Yes, there are frustrations, but they are purposefully introduced to underscore story elements, and in th S.T.O.P right there Now pay attention If you like character driven and immersive Science Fiction you need to read this It s a slow burner, but beautifully crafted and deeply poignant It s frankly criminal that this isn t better known, overshadowed as it is by Cherryh s other high profile works Other authors can learn so much here, especially how not to lose focus of the story being told Yes, there are frustrations, but they are purposefully introduced to underscore story elements, and in the end the pay off is so rewarding that you ll be quick to forgive these The same applies to the slower portions Any story that deals with clashing cultures can be challenging how to draw readers in without alienating no pun intended their own belief systems, but while forcing them to do introspection and ask some difficult questions The perspective shifts between novels, but it isn t disruptive to the story flow I would recommend reading the trilogy as a whole to get the full emotional experience, which is why an omnibus edition makes sense That, and the fact that the individual books are long out of print they are KesrithShon jirKutathAll in all a magnificent achievement that deals with the mysterious origin, and identity, of an entire race And some very nice imagery So, if you generally enjoy atmospheric and evocative tales of wonder, please, please give this a try.From the Synopsis Now, in the aftermath of war, the mri face extinction It will be up to three individuals to save whatever remains of this devastated race a warrior one of the last survivors of his kind a priestess of this honorable people and a lone human a man sworn to aid the enemy of his own kind Can they retrace the galaxy wide path of this nomadic race back through millennia to reclaim the ancient world which first gave them life Interesting fact I was actually drawn to this by the Michael Whelan cover art, and now it features among my all time favourites, which just goes to show ^FREE BOOK ↽ The Faded Sun Trilogy ↞ They were the mri tall, secretive, bound by honor and the rigid dictates of their society For aeons this golden skinned, golden eyed race had provided the universe mercenary soldiers of almost unimaginable abilityBut now the mri have faced an enemy unlike any other an enemy whose only way of war is widespread destruction These humans are mass fighters, creatures of the herb, and the mri have been slaughtered like animalsNow, in the aftermath of war, the mri face extinction It will be up to three individuals to save whatever remains of this devastated race a warrior one of the last survivors of his kind a priestess of this honorable people and a lone human a man sworn to aid the enemy of his own kind Can they retrace the galaxy wide path of this nomadic race back through millennia to reclaim the ancient world that first gave them life