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Shon'jir [Reading] ➿ Shon'jir By C.J. Cherryh – Sten Duncan had saved the lives of the last two of humanity's deadliest enemies during the takeover of their planet Kesrith Sten therefore felt responsible for them and for their future if any For tho Sten Duncan had saved the lives of the last two of humanity's deadliest enemies during the takeover of their planet Kesrith Sten therefore felt responsible for them and for their future if any For though the two mri were brother and sister they represented different power castes of their ancient warrior race Niun was the last of the bred samurai Melein though young was perforce the last priestess ueen But struggle and mutual danger had sealed Sten Duncan to their loyalty As their blood brother he would have to help them flee mankind and take the long long evasion route across the cosmos to a legendary lost planet which might afford the mri one chance.

10 thoughts on “Shon'jir

  1. Stephen Stephen says:

    SF legend John Campbell once challenged his colleagues to show him an alien that thinks as well or better than a man but not LIKE a man Well CJ Cherryh said “you got it big boy” and has made a living doing just that The Faded Sun Trilogy is another strong example of Cherryh’s talent for creating well drawn three dimensional alien races that are highly intelligent but differ from humans in both their motivations and their outlook Overall I liked this story and enjoy Cherryh’s detailed description of alien cultures BUT prepare yourself caveats and ualifications dead ahead Nonetheless I must WARN you that the pace of this book is slooooooooooooooooooooooow to the point of being glacial and is almost completely devoid of action Instead Cherryh gives us a layered psychological study of the interaction between our human and alien main characters as they struggle to overcome the biases of their societal world views in order to connect and reach a place of understanding Most of the conflict and drama of the story stems from the internal battles of the characters as these cultural barriers are broken down Now I enjoy this kind of story as a pleasant change of pace from the action orientated SF stories I often read However if the above sounds eerily similar to watching paint drying than you may want to just move along as this may not be for you However if you do decide to pass on this then you will miss out on book 3 which I understand is much action orientated and a great conclusion to the series Your choicedecisions decisions BRIEF RECAP OF BACK STORYThis series takes place within the Alliance Union universe where most of Cherryh’s stories are set This trilogy focuses on the human war with the alien Regul The Reguls are obese sedentary “Jabba the Hutt” type merchants who don’t personally engage in combat but fight through mercenaries specifically a group of bad ass desert dwelling monk like ninjas who can really bring the pain However despite the Mri’s elite killing ability the humans through sheer numbers have gained the upper hand and the Mri are on the brink of extinction This military setback has damaged the influence of the “hawkish” Regul political factions and allowed the “dovish” Regul faction to gain the upper hand and sue for peace with the humans Thus the first book Kesrith dealt with the aftermath of the human regul peace treaty and the ceding of disputed territories including the home planet of the Mri known to the humans In preparation for a human takeover ambassador George Stavros and his assistant former special forces soldier Sten Duncan were transported by the Regul to Kesrith in order to begin the orderly transition of administration of the planet under the terms of the new treaty PLOT SUMMARY For those of you that have not read the first book in the trilogy the plot summary below will contain some spoilers regarding the events of Kesrith so you may want to blur your vision and skip over the Plot Summary and jump to “Thoughts” belowShon’Jir begins in the aftermath of the mostly successful attempt by the alien Regul to exterminate the Mri living on Kesrith The only surviving Mri Niun and Melein have been badly injured and are help captive by the human forces where they are given medical attention for their owwies Sten Duncan who has grown to admire and respect the Mri is outraged by the Regul’s attempted genocide but the powers that be ie Ambassador Stavros is unwilling to take action due to the fragile political situation Instead Duncan and the two Mri once recovered are provided coordinates transcribed from a Mri artifact that may lead to the legendary homeworld of the Mri The three set offbut they are not the only ones interested in finding the Mri homeworld and intrigue tension and much maneuvering ensues THOUGHTSCherryh is terrific at fostering in the reader a sense of understanding and connection with an alien culture and she succeeds again in this book By the end of this installment the Mri remain both alien and yet very relatable This is where I find other writers often fall down in their treatment of alien cultures Too often the alien culture becomes relatable by becoming “human” which really defeats the purpose of an alien culture Cherryh as usual avoids that Despite the positives this installment gets dropped down a star from book 1 for two main reasons The first is the pacing which as I mentioned above is sometimes geological in its slowness In addition the writing is at times a bit dry We’re not talking stale unbuttered toast here but just a casual dryness that will leave your peepers a little parched for moisture I don't need ray guns and space battles but was hoping for a bit oomph from the story and ended up a little disappointed even though I enjoyed it You may be thinking that slow pacing and dry prose don’t often get rewarded with even 3 stars but that is a reflection of the uality of the story and Cherryh’s excellent writing skills which make this book worth the effort in my opinion Plus the ending of this installment was superb and leaves book 3 poised to be a very satisfying ending to the trilogy Book 1 being as good as it was and book 3 looking as promising as it does you just have to kind of work your way through book 2 Heck it's still good and is not what I would call a chore to get throughjust keep some eye drops handy 30 stars

  2. Algernon (Darth Anyan) Algernon (Darth Anyan) says:

    Before I start this second volume picks up on the action immediately after the events at the end of Kesrith so the book is not a stand alone and readers should not start the epic in the middle There also may be slight spoilers in my review regarding the same events at the end of Kes'rith that directly led to the plight of the last survivors of the mri culture exiled from their homeworld in the aftermath of the human regul galactic war in which they served as mercenariesShon'jir is an important concept in the mri culture It translates into a sort of song of passage a remembrance of past holocausts and a departure from the known world into the Dark It is a song usually sung at funerals but in a larger interpretation it is the philosophy of abandoning everything that defines your life and your civilization and starting again from scratch breaking all ties to the outside world and relying exclusively on the ancestral and secret traditions that only the priestly sen caste are privy to The issue here may be whether the mri martial prowess and their strict adherence to a rigid social code is the cause of their downfall or their only chance of survival in the face of human and regul determination to eliminate them once and for all from the galactic chess board They are probably the most efficient killers in all creation; but we didn't bring them to extinction nor did the regul nor did you They are dying because they have no interest in comprehending any other way of life No uarter no prisoners no negotiation or compromise everything is black and white in their eyes nothing gray I don't blame them for it; but their way of life was destruction and they're dying now by the same standard they applied to others nature's bias if you like not mine I have compared the opening novel in the series with Dune by Frank Herbert The second book is very much a middle of the series installment focused on character development and on setting up the conditions for the final blow out in the third and final book Most of the plot is about three people locked inside an automated starship jumping from one solar system to another on a pre programmed path leaving behind a wasteland and heading for an improbable haven The last ke'len warrior samurai Niun is accompanying the last priestess ueen Melein who caries away from Kes'rith the holiest relic of the mri people an artefact containing the history of past shon'jir exiles going back hundred of thousand of years and almost one hundred of planetary systems all left sterile and uninhabited in the aftermath of the previous mri visit My analogy now would be to the classic SF from Barry Longyear Enemy Mine Sten Duncan must learn to live and think like a mri if he wants to survive the journey Once bitter adversaries in a no uarter war he and Niun must now each discover that the archenemy is a person with a rich heritage and as strong sense of honor and duty as his own side and that they need each other in order to survive A second analogy could be made with the movie The Last Samurai where a human white man Westerner civilized hero is destined to save the barbarians uncouth radicals from the destruction brought about by their refusal to accept civilization's march forward I am not happy about this second comparison not because of the concept but on behalf of the execution in the hands of Tom Cruise et CoC J Cherryh demonstrates here how good she is at creating tension and writing great characters in a confined space turning what was probably a dreary and boring years long slog from one FTL jump to another into another page turner and into a strong debate on military versus scientific worldviews one that responds to unknown factors by blasting them out of existence the other that asks uncomfortable uestions and struggles with the moral implications of the decisions taken Beside the three major protagonists there are two other lines of development the regul continual pursuit of total genocide against their former mercenaries and the attempts of a human scientific team to influence policies decided by the military commander of the Kesrith expedition Shon'jir suffers slightly by a middle of the series syndrome with major revelations delayed for the final installment but it was another page turner and provided enough material and enough unanswered uestions to make Kutath an immediate pick Will the mri find shelter and peace at the end of their journey into the Dark? or are they carrying with them the seeds of destruction that left behind almost one hundred planets empty husks devoid of any sign of life? Peace was four words in the hal'ari There was afa that was self peace being right with one's place; and an'edi that was house peace that rested on the she'pan; and there was kuta'i that was the tranuility of nature; and there was sa'ahan that was the tranuility of strengthTreaty peace was a mu'ara word and the mu'ara lay in the past with the regul that had broken it

  3. Scott Scott says:

    Shon’jir is a masterclassA masterclass in Character A masterclass in the creation and animation of a plausible alien cultureMost of all though it’s a masterclass in how to tell a story where great sections of the narrative contain almost no action no big plot devices no stars going nova or railgun rounds bisecting hullsCJ Cherryh’s novel is not what I would call action packed It is however one of the best slow burning SF stories I’ve readLike Kesrith before it Shon’jir follows the fate of the rigid warrior like race known as the Mri And boy these guys do rigidity big time – they make samurai religious fundamentalists and the Republican Party look like flexible anything goes types They would literally rather die than break their honour code step outside their designated caste or even accept foreign medical care After the events of Kesrith there remain only two individuals from this dying race – the soldier Niun and his priestessleader sister Melein With them is human soldier Sten Duncan their once prisoner turned saviour who foiled the genocide attempted upon their race by their former employers the RegulWhile it continues from Kesrith Shon’jir differs from its predecessor in that it does not carry the aroma of a particularly sand wormy Great Book Of SF This novel is very much its own beast and Cherryh’s series really feels like it comes into its own here Shon’jir also differs from its predecessor in its focus This is really Sten Duncan’s novel and as the book begins he has saved his Mri frenemies from death and sets about finding a way for them to get offworld to follow the navigational trail set by an ancient Mri artefact When Duncan Niun and Melein flee to the stars with humanity and the Regul in pursuit their tiny vessel becomes the setting for a fascinating clash between Mri and Human culture The two societies’ wildly different values threaten to spark violence between Duncan and his former captors at any time and the ways that the protagonists are forced to flex and change in their values to survive is the primary focus of the novelI don’t usually enjoy stories as slow moving as this one I loves me an action seuence a big reveal a gasp inducing plot development Shon’jir however completely sucked me inDuncan is a fascinating and sympathetic character a rootless soldier who has spent his life landing on distant and exotic worlds adapting fighting and then moving on This drifting man now without even a war to give him purpose finds himself both drawn to and repelled by the severe culture of the Mri with their warrior ways and strict discipline their inexorable sense of purpose and their almost zen like mindset In lesser hands Duncan’s emotional and cultural journey into the ways of the Mri could have felt contrived and lacking heft Not so in Shon’jir Cherryh builds Duncan’s character exceptionally skilfully at the same time illuminating ever of the culture of the Mri a culture that in Kesrith sometimes seemed comically rigid warlike to the point of absurdity In Shon’jir this culture is shown deeply its rigidity revealed as a strength it’s discipline as a survival mechanism rather than the self indulgent foibles of a dying raceIt is common for SF to take readers to faraway places and introduce them to strange alien cultures Shon’jir does this but it goes far beyond the surface level ‘alien weirdness’ presented in many other novels While reading this book you will feel the confusion and anger that can occur when very different values clash and you will tense with worry when each side teeters on the verge of violence Finally you will experience genuine joy when despite these clashes genuine friendships are formed and a man adrift finds his place in the universeFive unintentionally offended aliens out of five

  4. Dirk Grobbelaar Dirk Grobbelaar says:

    There is a marked change in perspective in this second Faded Sun novel First of all there is the shift of emphasis from Niun to Duncan That’s not to say the Mri do not get their time but it is Duncan's sacrifice and character development that drives the narrative Much has been said about the novel’s pacing but consider the meaning of the title Shon’jir It is the passing song of the Mri and this is a novel of “passing” if nothing else It details the passing of the last known Mri from Kesrith to Kutath or the passing between the Darks if you will There are other parallels as well such as the changes in Sten Duncan who learns the passing song both literally and figuratively as the novel progressesIt is a poignant and powerful story I’m reading the omnibus edition The Faded Sun Trilogy so I’m not reading the novels as “separate” books which might be why I didn’t experience any difficulties with the slower portions It’s often easy to be frustrated by the Mri though their naiveté and stubbornness; their tradition based value system; the way they perceive outsiders This goes a long way in putting the reader inside Duncan’s mind and making the experience realThe novel deals with a cultural mystery what are the Mri? It’s just a really great story Add to that the fact that Cherryh really writes beautifully here

  5. Charles Charles says:

    Stuff I Read – The Faded Sun Shon’jir by C J Cherryh ReviewWell at long and last and after a number of interruptions by GoodReads books that I have been obliged to read I have gotten through the second book of the Faded Sun trilogy and the story and characters continue to impress It amazes me to what extent this story is so focused on what is happening inside these characters heads and between these characters that if you look at the actual action of the book there isn’t a whole lot you can point to as big things That is in no ways a criticism though as the novel zips along giving ideas and actions time and room enough to have significance and weight This is still technically part of my attempt to read female writers of science fiction and fantasy but this is something where I probably wouldn’t have easily realized that the writer was a woman had I not known it going in The writing is accessible and engaging and just good showing that regardless of gender good writing is good writingAnd as I said the argument could be made that not a lot happens in this book The main action is the slow transformation of Duncan from a human from the soldier that first arrived in Kesrith to a Mri or at least to something between human and Mri It is an interesting thing because it is obvious that he does not truly make the transition that he cannot truly become Mri and yet his struggle with that his attempt to do what he feels is right is what keeps the story going forward Less emphasized here are the stories of Melein and Nuin who both recover from their injuries and try to make Duncan into one of them both because they feel they owe him something and perhaps for Melein because she sees some use in him But most of the novel takes place with only the three of them along with two Dus aboard a small ship as it retraces the Mri’s journey through the galaxy And there is definitely a weight to the journey to the Mri’s return to their true homeworld while Duncan struggles to change while he learns what it is to be Mri He is stripped of the trappings of humanity is changed in many ways that make him seem Mri to the point that he is accepted but through it all he is still human is still defined by his human ability to adapt to bend without breaking It is a theme in the story so far that the Mri are strong but brittle that humanity is weaker but adaptable and that Duncan’s transformation is taking away some of that is forcing him to be harder less flexible At the same time it can be argued that what Duncan is becoming is something in between trying to take in the best ualities of both humans and Mri while retaining some of himself How well he will ultimately succeed in that is something the last book will tell but so far he has managed to stay true to himself and that is somethingThis is uite a cerebral book the solitude palpable in the writing the yearning to forge connections that binds Mri and humanity in a common need And then at the end with the landing on the Mri homeworld and the discovery of living Mri the situation is changed yet again because now Duncan has to face a situation where he is suddenly extra where he is not really needed I am uite interest to see how that will play out as the story moves towards its conclusion The conflict between the humans and the Mri and the regul is also reaching toward its conclusion as they all start to see that Mri homeworld after homeworld have been destroyed It is a lingering mystery one that I’m hoping will be answered in the last book It is not entirely clear what happened except that the Mri have left a path of death behind them Whether they were the ones to deal it or whether they were merely fleeing it remains to be seenAnd so at the end of the day the book succeeds in about every way that I could have hoped it to The character work is solid the emotions real The only real complain I would have is that the plot is a little lacking that it would be nice to have something a little than what is going on but things start to pick up at the end and I’m hoping that the last book in the trilogy marks the high point for the story Still this novel was fun and meaningful an excellent look at the realities of space and culture specifically alien culture It is interesting that here humans greatest strength seems to be a lack of conviction a lack of strict codes of law and morals It is an interesting point to me and one I think comes off well throughout But before I go on about this for another few pages I shall end and simply give it an 87510

  6. Roxane Roxane says:

    35 StarsI want half stars GR Come onI didn't like it as much as the first one but it was still a damn good read Really happy to have found this series

  7. Michael Michael says:

    The second novel in the Faded Sun series has Sten Duncan a human that we meet in the first novel continuing to develop his relationship with two of the Mri Melien and Niun a brother and sister who now lead the remainder of their race as they and Duncan head back to the planet that is their ancestral home as they are being pursued by humans and Regul alike In the process Duncan slowly accepts and understands their culture and mythology and begins to become Mri in his thoughts and actions

  8. Gena Kukartsev Gena Kukartsev says:

    See also notes to the #1 in the trilogy Kesrith This book develops the same topics in my mind it is really a continuationfinal of the same book that started in #1 This one by the way could be the end it has a reasonable finale unlike the first one which ended almost nowhereAgain the main topic for me in this book is the idea of reaching some common ground understanding and peace or at least cohabitation in some sense for vastly different and rather uncompromising cultures and persons This book too drove me up the wall often enough when a character just refuses to act rationally or in their own self interest Of course that's rationality and self interest as I understand it not as they understand it It teaches value of patience beyond patience What do you do if you are humiliated and even your life is threatened by someone who you are trying to save? And they do it with full understanding? Well the conclusion I draw from this story is that you bear it as long as you can You keep the goal in sight You allow yourself to be humiliated you risk your life for the goal When you put it like that it sounds almost cliche but when you have to endure injustice from someone you are helping it is infuriating

  9. Travis Travis says:

    A great mix of space opera and politics and as always Cherryh is a master of world buildingOnly downside is this is very much the 'Empire Strikes back' part of the trilogy so the ending is a bit dissatisfying and while I understand the idea behind it so much of the plot relies on nobody listening to the couple people who actually want to help that it becomes very frustrating and leaves you with the impression that some characters you are supposed to root for are knuckleheads and you aren't sure if you care if the succeed or surviveSo politics basicallyLove the alien bear things and are convinced they are the true heroes of the saga

  10. Daniel Daniel says:

    Absolutely my favorite kind of story Much of it is set during a long voyage in which the main character has to undergo a deep personal transformation Acculturation is a fascinating thing to me in the context of sci fifantasy where the culture is significantly different from our own Great character work great worldbuilding I had a blast with this one

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