Chanur’s Venture by C J Cherryh

173 p, in The Chanur Saga, Daw Books, 2000. Originally published 1985.

After her banning due to her actions in the first book of the Chanur Saga, Pyanfar Chanur and her ship The Pride of Chanur are once again at Meetpoint Station. As she steps off the ship an old acquaintance, the mahendo’sat, Goldtooth, offers her a present. This turns out to be Tully, the human Pyanfar rescued from the kif in the earlier book and he carries with him a valuable contract for trade with humans, a contract the kif would have for themselves thus necessitating a quick exit from the station. Before this can happen, though, Pyanfar’s crew has to extricate her husband, Khym, from a bar fight which turns out to have been set up by kif. That Hani males like Khym are widely known to be unstable off-planet provided the perfect excuse for the brawl.

Internal factions among the Hani force Pyanfar to allow Tully and his escort, Pyanfar’s niece Hilfy, to be taken to a supposedly safe holding space at the station’s administrative centre but on the way they are abducted by kif.

The ship also needs repair and new drive vanes of mahendo’sat design and manufacture are fitted as part of the deal with Goldtooth.

Cherryh knows how to spin a story, her plotting and intrigue are intricate and the characters, albeit with their alien habits, recognisable psychological types. She does however have a tendency to overdo Pyanfar’s Hani imprecations. “By the gods “ is very much overused.

Unfortunately, this instalment doesn’t so much finish as just stop mid-plot. At its end Hilfy and Tully are still in kif hands and the Pride is about to launch into space using the new, and to Pyanfar’s mind untested, drive vanes.

Since I bought this as part of a trilogy I wasn’t too miffed at this lack of resolution but had I thought it was a stand-alone I would have been seriously dischuffed.

Pedant’s corner:- Pynafar (Pyanfar,) “before the door closed between” (between them,) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech, “as well as well as kif” (only one ‘as well’ needed.) “There was long, frozen silence” (there was a long, frozen silence,) a missing end quote mark after a piece of direct speech. “She went there the guard motioned” (She went where the guard motioned,) “it clambered up the t’ca wrinkled side” (the t’ca’s wrinkled side,) “to their unladed mass” (unladen mass.)

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