Addition to Cherryh’s superior alien-contact series (Inheritor, 1996, etc.) about the humanoid-alien “atevi” and the colony of castaway humans they’ve graciously permitted not only to survive but flourish on their planet. Atevi society, composed of jostling clans and factions and prone to violence, is bound together by instinctive loyalty but little else. A pro-human atevi faction, led by the powerful Tabini, sponsors Bren Cameron as human translator/technical liaison and has appointed two loyal atevi, Banichi and Jago, as Bren’s bodyguards. But the starship that originally brought the colonists has returned from deep space with news of hostile aliens in the offing. So the ship’s representative, Jase Graham, is working with Bren in releasing technology to the atevi and helping them build spaceships in order to enlist them as allies. Certain atevi factions, however, oppose all this. Another intriguing human/alien struggle: the tiny, intricate plot wheels hum, even if the big picture changes hardly at all.