THE HUMAN TARGET
Exhausted from a two-year rescue mission in space, the crew of the starship Phoenix return home to find disaster: civil war has broken out, the powerful Western Association has been overthrown, and Tabini-aiji, its forceful leader, is missing and may be dead.
In a desperate move, Bren Cameron – brilliant human paidhi to Tabini-aiji – and Tabini's grandmother Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager, along with Cajeiri, Tabini's eight-year-old heir, make planetfall and succeed in reaching the mainland.
Ancient, but still brilliant and forceful, Illisidi seeks refuge at the estate of an old ally. As Ilisidi's and Bren's bodyguards struggle to update the manor's antiquated defense systems, Tabini-aiji arrives at the door.
As word of Tabini's whereabouts circulates, clans allied with Tabini descend upon the estate, providing a huge civilian presence that everyone involved hopes will deter impending attack by the usurpers.
But as more and more supporting clans arrive, Bren finds himself increasingly isolated, and it becomes clear that both his extremely important report of alien contact in space, and even his life, rest on the shoulders of only two allies: Ilisidi and Cajeiri.
Can one elderly ateva and an eight-year-old boy – himself a prime target for assassination – protect Bren, a lone human involved in a civil war that most atevi believe he caused?
C. J. Cherryh (born 1942) is the pen name of Carolyn Janice Cherry, a multiple-award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer. She currently resides in Spokane County, Washington.
Cherryh is pronounced ”Cherry”. The author appended a silent ”h” to her real name because her first editor felt that ”Cherry” sounded too much like a romance writer.
The asteroid 77185 Cherryh has been named in her honour.