Read Shon'jir by C.J. Cherryh Online


Long out of print, these three acclaimed, stand-alone novels by the brilliant C.J. Cherryh are among her personal favorites. She calls them the "magic cookie books" -- treats she wrote for herself -- three daringly original works that explore the more "fantastic" themes of science fiction.......

Title : Shon'jir
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780879974534
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 253 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Shon'jir Reviews

  • Stephen
    2019-02-25 10:32

    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 C.J. 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 qualifications 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 more action-orientated and a great conclusion to the series. Your choice….decisions, decisions. BRIEF RECAP OF BACK STORY:This 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 more “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” below.**Shon’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 (i.e., 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 off...but they are not the only ones interested in finding the Mri homeworld and intrigue, tension and much maneuvering ensues. THOUGHTS:Cherryh 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 more relatable by becoming more “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 more 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 quality 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 through.…just keep some eye drops handy. 3.0 stars.

  • Algernon
    2019-02-22 11:17

    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 mercenaries.Shon'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 quarter, 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, more 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 / queen (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 quarter 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 movieThe 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 Co.C 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 questions 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 questions 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 tranquility of nature; and there was sa'ahan, that was the tranquility of strength.Treaty peace was a mu'ara word, and the mu'ara lay in the past, with the regul, that had broken it.

  • Dirk Grobbelaar
    2019-03-22 06:33

    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 progresses.It 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 real.The 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…

  • Charles
    2019-03-12 10:24

    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 more 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 writing.And 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 more 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 qualities 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 something.This is quite 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 quite 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 seen.And 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 more 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 8.75/10.

  • Roxane
    2019-03-01 14:29

    3.5 StarsI want half-stars, GR. Come on.I 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.

  • Michael
    2019-03-09 09:16

    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.

  • Terry
    2019-03-09 14:44

    See my " The Faded Sun: Kesrith" comments regarding the impressive Ms. Cherryh and my admiration for her wonderful body of work.

  • prcardi
    2019-02-24 09:28

    Storyline: 4/5Characters: 3/5Writing Style: 2/5World: 4/5If I had seen an outline and notes for this book as Cherryh's editor, I would have been really excited about the book to come. The decisions she made as to direction and revelations were good ones, full of potential and satisfaction. This promised to be a sequel that surpassed its predecessor. The imagined me-as-editor would have been - just as the me-as-reader - mildly disappointed with the result. Shon'jir is a fine book and a worthy addition to the series. Yet it did not deliver in the key areas in which it was so ripe with promise. New to this series was the addition of wonder, yet Cherryh seems to be unaware of the power of wonder and how to maximize and enjoy it. This could have been astounding rather than intriguing, but Cherry hurried through those sections eager to move forward with the plot. That plot was at least more interesting and fulfilling than that of Kesrith. She set out to do more with the story this time, satisfactorily accomplished it, and brought the tale to adequate closure. Unlike the first book, this felt like an ending, and I wouldn't have been disappointed to learn that Cherryh was closing the series here. In an area already familiar to the series - perspectives - Cherryh slides down the slope instead of hiking further upward. The shifts in viewpoint don't give the service they did in Kesrith. Cherryh uses the shifts to follow parallel accounts, but she doesn't make the contrasts of culture and assumptions that made the first such a rich account. The biggest annoyance, however, was in character development. I didn't like what she did with either Duncan and Melein (view spoiler)[ Duncan's going native was unconvincing and Melein's assumption of power was infuriating(hide spoiler)]. With Duncan, at least, Cherry was aiming for something which I could appreciate and approve of. Duncan's experience and changes though read like something imagined rather than an insightful account of what it is like to truly live among foreigners. Cherryh simply wasn't capable of pulling this off, and it would have been better had the attempt not been made. I have no sympathy with Melein's direction because it seems pointed toward that young adult style of which I loathe - you know the one, where the young adult full of inexperience rages at being told they're immature, rejects the wisdom of elders, and the reader is supposed to cheer and sympathize with their independence. I was ready for Cherryh to kill off most of the main characters and the civilization about which the book is centered. I don't think that is what Cherryh was hoping to instill in the reader.The review sounds decidedly negative, but really it was an okay - if not good - book. I'm aggrieved at present because it did not live up to its potential. Even though I consider this book inferior to the first (though much easier to read because you've already worked through the disorienting world-building), the series is better because of it. This definitely would have worked better had it been paired with the first and presented as a single volume. Though I still would have had some disappointments, I would have considered it to be worthy of a top-100 place of science fiction's bests.

  • Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
    2019-03-10 14:30

    *This was a re-read after some decades. *I will WARN people again that the Kindle version is fraught with errors. Not only are there typos in book-2 but there is at least one place where the wrong name is evoked. In any case, Shon'jir continues the Fade Sun trilogy with the action taking place on the Mri homeworld. There is more physical adventure in this book but it is still a story with much plotline introspection. I certainly found it interesting to see how the minds of Mri who went out into space differ from the home world peoples.The Regal are very much a threat to the continued existence of the Mri and consequently Duncan and the Dusai. ~If I were to point out a flaw it would be that this book has segments where the action is unclear. I've found this to frequently be a problem with CJ's books and these little sections don't seem to become clearer when read years apart, or minutes apart. They just are. On the other hand, I don't care. They aren't sufficient a problem to dent my enthusiasm for the stories and this is true of Shon'jir.I've given this book 4.5 STARS --which of course we can't properly show-- because there is one point where the logic and reasoning behind the motivations that seems to be missing.There is so much to like about this book though. We get to learn more about the Regal, having chapters from their perspective. The same with some of the Mri characters; with Boaz and some of the other humans. This serves to flesh out the universe in a way that is rather unique to Cherryh. So I remain a now elder fangirl.

  • Chip Hunter
    2019-03-04 09:26

    The second book in Cherryh’s The Faded Sun trilogy (1978-1979), SHON’JIR takes us away from Kesrith on a voyage across space to the mri’s ancestral home world. Sten Duncan is still the narrator, and this book in particular contains a torturous journey for him. Provided with a ship and a mri artifact containing navigational records, Sten is let loose with the two surviving mri and their ubiquitous dusei to do as he sees fit (apparently). Most of the book is focused on Duncan’s struggles in accommodating the mri (and the dusei), where despite his selflessness and sacrifice for the sake of the mri, he is ruthlessly maltreated and only allowed to remain alive by becoming completely subservient to them and by adopting their way of life. A bitter history of the mri is uncovered during this journey across the galaxy and hard truths will have to be faced in the final book of the trilogy, Kutath. The Faded Sun trilogy largely focuses on the relations between physically and socially very different intelligent species where fear and misunderstanding can have disastrous outcomes. It is an interesting ride with some of the heavy social commentary that Cherryh is famous for. I look forward to seeing where the final book of the trilogy takes us. The entirety is collected together as a single volume in The Faded Sun Trilogy.

  • Data
    2019-03-10 12:30

    It's not so common for my estimation of the second book in a series to be higher than the first, but here you go. This book gets my highest praise for setting out a series of worlds and species that are clearly understood by the creator, and in the end clearly understood by the reader. There are lots of sf-fantasy worlds with warrior castes who are not so dissimilar to the space-faring mri, but so many belabor the process of initiation into the caste, to the point of saying "look how amazing this group/species is" and " don't you wish you could be so (amazing)". It seems to me that unless initiation into the caste is the story, then less is more. Cherryh nails it right on the head. And then Cherryh goes on to add more species, with entirely different characteristics, and makes us understand why humans choose one set of characteristics (the ascetic, honorable mri) to like above the other (the practical, unimaginative regul, who can only lie by ommission), even though humans are often more like the regul.

  • Canavan
    2019-03-11 09:24


  • Curtismchale
    2019-03-06 06:30

    This book follows our Mri captives out of captivity on a ship with the only human they trust in any fashion. The human turns over the ship to the Mri (because Mri die as captives as a matter of choice) and then works on becoming Mri.We pass over 120 dead worlds on our journey to the original Mri homeworld which is something of a concern to the Humans and Regul that are following the same star charts to see where the Mri are going.The most intriguing part of this is watching Mri beind just a bit to accommodate a human and a human bend to breaking to become Mri. The struggel is full of food for thought.

  • Doris Cheung
    2019-03-07 07:41

    I'll reserve my full review when I'm done with the whole trilogy, since it reads as one continuous story. However, I will say that this middle section was tough to get through, if only because I felt so much sympathy of the human character. He goes through a very "going native by force and forget the humanity of it all" which had me wincing (although, I'm pretty sure the author meant it to show his ability to adapt to almost anything). After the slower set up of part 1, part 2 reads is still building up to what I hope is an action packed ending.

  • Jessie
    2019-03-25 13:41

    Amazing book ... took several readings to realize that Shon'jir is the passing, the literary bridge represented in this book ... wish she'd explore the discipline that allows humans to go through jump without drugs more fully in some of her other books ... read the covers off and pages fell out .. bought the omnibus edition ... sorrowfully saying farewell to this edition

  • John
    2019-03-18 14:43

    I enjoyed this book-- I read it in two days, and I plan to finish the trilogy soon-- but it seemed a little rushed. Some characters' motivations seemed to change too quickly and conveniently. The first one was definitely better, but I'd recommend this one, too, to people who like science fiction with horrible 1970s cover art.

  • Celeste
    2019-03-03 10:30

    I struggled with this series from the beginning--even though it was well written I had a hard time getting into the characters. So when Cherryh introduced a whole new bunch of POV characters in the third book I confess I just threw my hands in the air.

  • Sandra
    2019-03-19 08:26

    Haunting. A story of the last two surviving members of a race going home. And they are still hunted. On to Kutath.

  • Aaron
    2019-03-20 08:39

    The character of Duncan is more prominent in the second book and this propels it from a mediocre book to a good book. Still not amazing. Cherryh is much too comfortable with boredom.

  • Jake
    2019-03-15 09:38

    Better than Kesrith...esp. considering its vintage.

  • Heather
    2019-03-06 07:44

    I really hoped the series would get better; not only did it fail, it got worse. The first book is getting donated to charity, and the second and third are going to the resell shop. I'm done.

  • Michael Barnette
    2019-02-23 11:35

    The second book in an amazing series, a must read for anyone who loves scifi with well drawn characters and some of the coolest aliens ever invented, the mri.

  • Benn
    2019-03-14 11:27

    CJ Cherryh is the best.