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Literature / The Faded Sun

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The Faded Sun is a science fiction trilogy by C. J. Cherryh, set in the Alliance/Union 'verse.

It is devoted to mri, a golden-skinned, golden-eyed species who were considered the galaxy's finest warriors...up until they encountered humans, and found themselves unable to counter their scorched-earth strategy. By the time the series starts, the species is facing extinction, and their only hope of salvation lies in rediscovering their ancient homeworld - a task undertaken by a warrior, a priestess, and a human who swore to aid them.

Entries in the series are:

  • The Faded Sun: Kesrith (1978)
  • The Faded Sun: Shon'jir (1978)
  • The Faded Sun: Kutath (1979)

This series contains examples of:

  • Abusive Alien Parents: The regul treat all children as expendable slaves; the survival rate to adulthood is less than one in a hundred, and most pre-adult regul are killed, often quite casually, by adults of their own kind.
  • Burial in Space: This is the preferred burial of warrior-caste mri.
  • Eternal English: The high tongue (formal language) of the Mri is shown to have been completely stable between two isolated groups of Mri for approximately a million years.
  • Going Native: In The Faded Sun: Shon'jir, Niun and Melein give Sten Duncan a choice: Go Native or die.
  • Humans Are Warriors: The "Humans Are Soldiers" variant. The mri are in every sense superior to humanity as warriors. It is simply biologically impossible for any human to best a mri in lethally-armed combat, because their response times are entire tenths of seconds faster than ours. Culturally, too, the mri warrior tradition is incredibly fierce. Their alien psychology, however, just does not do organized mass combat, so humans (acting as unwilling pawns to another alien species) have nearly wiped them out.
  • Intelligent Gerbil:
    • The Regul seemed to bear a lot of resemblance to terrestrial hippopotamuses.
    • The dusei (singular "dus"), the companion animals of the Mri, were Ursine Aliens.
  • Last of His Kind: The hero/heroine protagonists are (apparently) the last of the Mri.
  • Of the People: Mri means "people". What do these catlike aliens call humans and regul? Tsi-mri, "not-people". This makes the entry of Duncan into their society all the more noteworthy, and the inclusion of three humans in their holy records unheard of for any other species.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The humans of the Alliance initially thought that the mri were this. Actually only one caste is like that; the other two thirds of the mri are non-combatant.
  • Quest for the Rest: Most of the mri are massacred with the collusion of humanity. The two survivors search for others of their kind with the help of a sympathetic human. Eventually they find them, and their race's hidden planet of origin.
  • Ursine Aliens: The companion animals of the Mri were the dusei (singular "dus"), bearlike creatures who were similar to one-owner dogs and somewhat empathic to their masters through touch.