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The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh
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The Pride of Chanur (original 1982; edition 1981)

by C.J. Cherryh

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1,093227,605 (3.94)137
Member:fuzzi
Title:The Pride of Chanur
Authors:C.J. Cherryh
Info:Daw Books (1981), Edition: Book Club Edition, Hardcover
Collections:Read but unowned, SciFi Fantasy
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Pride of Chanur by C. J. Cherryh (1982)

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English (21)  Italian (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
rec'd for world-building and alien aliens
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
This is my first real Space Opera type book. It is a novel about an alien cat-like race, Hani, and specifically the Chanur family. In this section of the universe there are several alien species that have formed a compact for reasons of trade, the Hani, the Stsho, Kif, Mahendo'sat, and Knnn (methane breathers). The outright bad guys are the Kif. However as in any soap opera, there are good and bad in all species.

While docked at a space station, the Pride of Chanur under Pyanfar Chanur with a female crew are conducting their normal business when a mysterious outlander bursts up their ramp and runs into the ship. The Kif want this outlander back. Pyanfar has no idea what she has in this being (a human) but refuses to return the pitiful outlander back to the Kif, rejecting a reward and subsequent threats to her and her race.

There starts the race as Pyanfar bolts for her home planet with the Kif in pursuit.

I liked the story though for many there will be spots where the plot seems to drag a bit. You see Pyanfar Chanur wrestle with the nature of the outlander, who is he? Is he a threat? why do the Kif want him? She also has the additional responsibility of looking after her niece, Hilfy, who starts as a ditzy child and ends a woman. This seems to be a female dominated society and the males seem to stay home but there is trouble for her family back on her planet.... all this and she must outwit the Kif as they try to hunt her down.

A well written book in my opinion. The author paints a good picture of life on an alien vessel and alien culture. There are 2 more books to this space opera and I will hunt them down to read. ( )
  Lynxear | Mar 26, 2016 |
C.J. Cherryh is one of the most respected SF authors in the genre, she has written hundreds of books over several decades and won several awards. Yet – until now – I have never read any of her books, I attempted her highly esteemed [b: Cyteen|834518|Cyteen (Cyteen #1-3)|C.J. Cherryh|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1316469389s/834518.jpg|820134] but had to give it up after struggling mightily with it for 50 or so pages. So, The Pride of Chanur is my second attempt at a Cherryh book. I did finish it but it was still a mighty struggle. I thought I had a false start with [b: Cyteen|834518|Cyteen (Cyteen #1-3)|C.J. Cherryh|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1316469389s/834518.jpg|820134] but this Chanur book may just be the deal breaker for me. I appreciate her talent but I just can not seem to tune into her wavelength.

The Pride of Chanur starts off well with an intriguing premise and clever narrative from an alien point of view. At the beginning of the book a man named Tully stowaways on board the eponymous "Pride of Chanur" spaceship owned by Captain Pyanfar Chanur, an alien of the “hani” species. Tully does not speak the alien language and has to rely on the ship’s not terribly effective translation machine to communicate with the hanis. Tully is on the run from evil aliens of the “kif” species who captured and killed his crewmates when they came across and captured a human ship. The kifs want him back for commercial gains but he finds the hani species to be more sympathetic and begs for their protection.

Great plot, I was initially intrigued by the possibility of this plotline and the potential for a tremendous adventure of a lone human aboard an alien ship, gradually assimilating into their crew and society, each species learning something from each other. To my chagrin Ms. Cherryh did not go there, perhaps the idea seems too predictable for her given the setup. Instead the narrative concentrates on the kifs pursuing the hanis across space (and hyperspace) in their spaceship with their superior firepower. This is not even as exciting as it sound as there is no sense of momentum in the narrative, the attack on the “The Pride of Chanur” spaceship is described in a rather detached manner and I just could not feel involved in it.

Around the half way point I became more and more disengaged from the narrative and by the time I was reading the last 50 pages of the book I decided to just speed read through them without worrying about missing nuances or some plot details, the alternative is to give up on it. To be fair to the author the problem is my personal expectation of what I thought the story is going to be about vs. the actual story C.J. Cherryh wanted to tell. It’s like I was happily riding on a horse and suddenly the damned thing shook me off and dumped me unceremoniously on the ground.

The protagonist Pyanfar Chanur (not the human character) is quite well developed and I like her well enough (the ladies are in charge in the hani culture), the other supporting characters did not come alive for me, perhaps because the narrative is strictly from Pyanfar’s point of view and there is not much dialogue from the supporting characters to get a feel of their personality. The scenes featuring the lone human Tully are of the most interest to me (as a fellow human!) but he is not featured all that much, besides he is depicted as cautious, fearful and miserable for most of the book so he is not as dynamic and interesting as I hoped he would be. The ending of the book is actually quite good and I wish I had liked the book more so I can read the sequels, but for me to read any more from this series would be ridiculous.

While I definitely do not like The Pride of Chanur I do appreciate Cherryh’s talent, imagination and the attention to details that went into its creation (there is an impressive appendix at the back of the book). Her execution of this book alienates me completely but I guess that cannot be helped, this is an intelligent book and a lot of people like it even though I don’t. I still want to give her [b:Foreigner|57043|Foreigner (Foreigner, #1)|C.J. Cherryh|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386924617s/57043.jpg|1592031] series a try as I have read a lot of good things about it. One more attempt won’t hurt.

(2.5 stars) ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
I wanted to like The Pride of Chanur, I really did. Science fiction with a heavy emphasis on alien cultures and/or alien linguistics is like catnip to me, and, for that reason, I've wanted to try Cherryh's works for a long time. Unfortunately, her writing style didn't work for me. This is not a long book – the print edition is only a little over 200 pages – and yet I spent more than a month alternately slogging through it or avoiding it.

The story is fairly simple. Pyanfar Chanur is the captain of the hani spaceship The Pride of Chanur. She discovers a stowaway, an odd-looking being she quickly realizes is sentient. He's a human, and none of the aliens in the book have ever seen anything like him before. Pyanfar has him put together a translation tape and eventually learns that his name is Tully and he's an escapee from a kif ship. The kif tortured Tully and his friends, and he was the only one who survived. Pyanfar doesn't like the kif, who are widely known as pirates and slave-traders, so she decides to help Tully. This decision ends up putting The Pride of Chanur, other hani ships, and even the hani homeworld in grave danger.

Okay, so let me get back to Cherryh's writing style, which is so distinctive it got its own section in Cherryh's Wikipedia article. Although the book was written in the third person, it was so tightly focused on Pyanfar's viewpoint that it sometimes felt like it was first person POV. Descriptions of hani characters were limited because, as a hani herself, there were things that Pyanfar simply wouldn't note. The descriptions of Tully made him feel very alien, because to Pyanfar he was – she had to interpret his appearance and behavior through what she knew of her own people and other alien species. For example, his hair and beard looked to her like a short, bedraggled hani mane.

This made for fascinating reading, at first. I don't think I've ever read anything that was written in quite this way, and I loved learning a little about the various aliens and the hani through what was pretty much Pyanfar's eyes (although I later learned I was wrong about some things – for example, I thought the Mahendo'stat looked wolf-like, but they're actually supposed to be more primate-like).

Then Cherryh ramped up the action and adrenaline a bit, and her style suddenly became a lot harder for me to deal with. There was tons of jargon and not much in the way of explanations, since Pyanfar was an experienced captain fighting for her and her crew's life - no time to think about the specifics of whatever maneuver she was executing while trying to escape the kif. I had trouble understanding the specifics of what was going on, although I could at least still follow the general situation. I found myself skimming the book's action scenes, which was a bigger problem once I got closer to the end of the book. I'm still not sure whythe kif left, since I had thought they were winning.

That said, I still want to read more of Cherryh's works in general and this series in particular, because there were aspects and ideas I loved, even if the execution didn't work for me. Hani clans (family groups) were fascinating. They were similar to lion prides, with a central male and lots of females. The hani viewed males as being too high-strung and incapable of controlling their emotions to be suitable for long periods of time on a spaceship, so all hani crews were entirely female. Tully being a male made Pyanfar very nervous, and Tully had difficulty wrapping his brain around the idea that all the hani around him were female. Besides the hani, another alien species I'd love to learn more about is the stsho, which have three genders and fragile, changeable personalities.

I also liked, for once, reading science fiction in which the human is not the bestest, cleverest, most secretly wonderful being ever. In fact, I think nearly every species got to display its strengths and weaknesses except humans. Tully was the guy who got the whole story started, but he didn't actually do much besides try really hard not to get killed or turned into a slave. That meant doing exactly what Pyanfar asked him to do, which, for a good chunk of the book, was limited to helping put together a translation tape so that everyone could understand him. By the way, I also liked the way the language stuff was handled – the translation technology wasn't 100% perfect, leading to occasional garbled bits. It felt pretty realistic, even if the “tape” part was somewhat dated.

Like I said, I do want to try another one of Cherryh's books at a later date. I've got Foreigner on my TBR pile, and I'd like to read the next Chanur novel. However, I'm a little worried that, while Cherryh's worlds will be a pleasure, her writing style will make learning about them a chore. Here's hoping her style eventually grows on me.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Dec 2, 2014 |
A sci fi tale told from the viewpoint of aliens, managing to make the humans look and feel alien! ( )
  KirkLowery | Mar 4, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
C. J. Cherryhprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cherry, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cherry, David A.Mapsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan,MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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There had been something loose about the station dock all morning, skulking in amongst the gantries and the ines and the canisters which were waiting to be moved, lurking wherever shadows fell among the rampway accesses of the many ships at dock at Meetpoint.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0886772923, Mass Market Paperback)

No one at Meetpoint Station had ever seen a creature like the Outsider. Naked-hided, blunt toothed and blunt-fingered, Tully was the sole surviving member of his company -- a communicative, spacefaring species hitherto unknown -- and he was a prisoner of his discoverer/ captors the sadistic, treacherous kif, until his escape onto the hani ship The Pride of Chanur.

Little did he know when he threw himself upon the mercy of The Pride and her crew that he put the entire hani species in jeopardy and imperiled the peace of the Compact itself. For the information this fugitive held could be the ruin or glory of any of the species at Meetpoint Station.

Cover art by Michael Whelan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:21 -0400)

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A human finds refuge on a spaceship operated by catlike beings. A sequel is Chanur's Venture.

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