A science fiction novel in an unusual subgenre: the main characters aren't human, and don't have human bodies. There are only a handful of these, mostly written by C. J. Cherryh, but I almost always enjoy them. It's surprising how rare it is to write solely or primarily from the POV of an alien.

I'm clarifying "don't have human bodies" because there's a lot of books that are technically from alien POVs but the aliens are physically identical to humans except for maybe having green blood or pointy ears. The effect of those books is quite different from those in which all the characters are giant cats.

In a world full of many non-human races, Moon is a lonely orphan shapeshifter, hiding his true nature amongst various non-shapeshifting people lest he be mistaken for the only shapeshifting race he's heard of, the predatory Fell. After he's unveiled and nearly killed, he meets one of his own kind for the first time since childhood, and learns that he is a Raksura, a member of the generally non-evil shapeshifting race.

"Won't you come back to your people? They'll all be delighted to meet you!" Needless to say, things don't go quite that smoothly.

I enjoyed the alien world of the Raksura, with their communal social organization, and I am a sucker for stories of lonely people finding a home, especially if they have no social skills and are basically feral. So I liked those aspects of the book. Minuses were flat prose that produced an unintended emotional distance, and that I dislike inherently evil races. The latter was, unfortunately, a major feature of the book.

The Cloud Roads (The Books of the Raksura)
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

From: [personal profile] kate_nepveu


The pluses and minuses stay similar across the next two, with the third being a little more repetitious of the angst.
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)

From: [personal profile] sholio


I read this a couple of years ago and wanted to like it so much, because of all the pluses you mentioned. I love the truly-alien-aliens thing, too, and the finding-home trope. But it ended up failing to engage me for reasons I had a lot of trouble figuring out at the time. It intrigued me intellectually but never made me feel, I guess. I think I would've loved it a lot when I was younger and was more easily swept away by nifty worldbuilding, but it's not what I'm looking for now. (Which is not to say the book was juvenile, just ... I seem to read more for character these days, and it didn't engage me on that front.)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)

From: [personal profile] laurashapiro


I read this last year after a bunch of friends recced it. I found Moon impossible to like, and so much of the plot seemed to turn on misunderstandings that could have been prevented if only he'd said a few words to anyone. IDK, the world building was interesting, but not enough to make me happy.
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves (Default)

From: [personal profile] genarti


I agree with Kate that the series is pretty consistent as far as all that goes. I don't normally like inherently evil races either, but I was willing to go with the Fell for the sake of the culturebuilding and characters. (The prose worked fine for me, but what's flat prose versus prose that doesn't get in its own way is such a YMMV thing. At any rate, I don't remember noticing any change in it from one book to the next.)

One thing I did really love about this series is how finding a home and learning some of the social skills doesn't mean Moon actually has the nuances internalized or that all his copious issues are fixed, and that holds true. The friend who recced me the series made a comment along the lines of being very impressed with Martha Wells for building a character who had plausible reasons for having both a rock solid moral compass and the emotional self-awareness and social skills of a concussed fruitbat. I wouldn't enjoy Moon half so much without the combination, I think.
musesfool: M'gann and Superboy (1 foot on the sidewalk 1 foot in the sky)

From: [personal profile] musesfool


I found the trilogy interesting but ultimately not for me - I never connected emotionally with any of the characters (and often had a hard time remembering who was who [and what their role was] once there were more than three or four in any scene).
nenya_kanadka: woman with wings and talons flying (Raksura Jade)

From: [personal profile] nenya_kanadka


Glad you gave it a shot! I ended up loving the books, but completely agree that the Fell were the most boring part. The Jade, Moon, and Stone parts, and later some of the politicking amongst various Raksura (inside and between communities) was pretty great.

Anyway, glad you tried it out even if not totally for you. There's a collection of short stories which has a lot more about non-fell things...Moon vs social skills, Chime vs the change to winged warrior from mentor, mysteries with weird time-distortion fields, and The Tale of Indigo And Cloud (founders of, er, Indigo Cloud) or the time when Indigo "stole" Cloud (sort of) from his first queen.

Anyhow, glad you tried it and liked at least some of it. :)
sovay: (Rotwang)

From: [personal profile] sovay


The effect of those books is quite different from those in which all the characters are giant cats.

I recomend Phyllis Gotlieb if that's what you're looking for.
sovay: (Rotwang)

From: [personal profile] sovay


Oh? Tell me more!

The protagonists of A Judgment of Dragons (1980), Emperor, Swords, Pentacles (1982), and The Kingdom of the Cats (1985) are three different generations of a family of telepathic alien big cats whose species may be descended from Earth leopards with a little genetic engineering thrown in or that may just be what the troublemaking energy being told them that one time they got marooned in a shtetl in the late nineteenth century. The first novel is my favorite, mostly because of how much I love the novella "Son of the Morning"—the one with the shtetl and the troublemaking energy being; Khreng and Prandra know they have been caught in a time vortex by an unscrupulous Qumedni, Reb' Elya thinks he's losing his mind and the demon-king Ashmedai has taken over his town—but there are very good things about all of them, like the plot of the second novel being based around a Tarot configuration and the third being a classic trickster myth. Gotlieb was one of my earliest formative science fiction writers and seems criminally unknown in this country. The Canadian Sunburst Award is named after her first novel. Her second novel, Why Should I Have All the Grief? (1969), is one of the earliest North American novels I've read about Holocaust survivors. (Recommended! It is not a cement truck novel!) Her poetry is also terrific. I'm always looking for it in used book stores.
chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

From: [personal profile] chomiji


I enjoyed these a lot, myself. I find the prose serviceable, if not elegant, and for me, the flashes of mordant humor (reminds me a bit of P.C. Hodgell) help make up for it.


From: [identity profile] hamsterwoman.livejournal.com


I've only read this first one so far (thanks to [personal profile] egelantier's very enticing rec), but really enjoyed the characters and themes. The prose didn't bother me -- whatever detachment was there felt like a part of Moon's POV to me, and actually kind of worked -- but I'm very much with you on being annoyed by the Always Chaotic Evil nature of the Fell. Given how interesting and nuanced and not-just-humans-with-accessories the Raksura society is, it was really disappointing to encounter a race whose sole schtick seems to be pillaging, killing, and cannibalism...

From: [identity profile] elsmi.livejournal.com


The later books do complexify the Fell a bit, but they remain pretty Evil-with-a-capital-E.

Though I do wonder what the herbivores think of the Raksura.

From: [identity profile] rurounitriv.livejournal.com


Ever tried Alan Dean Foster's Nor Crystal Tears? Totally from the POV of a Thranx, a member of an insectoid race encountering humans for the first time. (Spoiler: they think we look hideous, lol.) It's been a few years since I read it, but I remember liking it.


From: [identity profile] lorataprose.livejournal.com


Did you ever read Animorphs? I only ask because the Ellimist book has some of the least-human xenobiology worldbuilding stuff I've seen in YA sci-fi.
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