This is the fourth book in the Chanur SF series. It’s part of the Chanur’s Endgame omnibus.

Pyanfar Chanur is trying her best to keep her crew alive and the interspecies Compact intact. She has to navigate very carefully in the political waters around large scale politicking by the alien Kif and Mahendo’sat. One of her crewwomen, Chur, is badly wounded.

Even though there’s a lot of politicking and double-crossing in the story, the plot moves at a brisk pace. Often so briskly that I felt sorry for the crew and hoped they could have a moment to recuperate. No such luck, though. The Pride of Chanur’s crew is in bad shape after the earlier events and they have to keep on pushing forward. They have to do a series of jumps which wear out the body and the ship. They are all tired, hungry, and hurt, especially Chur.

Most of the book is told from Pyanfar’s point-of-view. However, there are short glimpses from the wounded Chur who is trying her best keep alive and also from the young Hilfy. She used to be the youngest crewwoman until Khym and Tully came aboard. To her surprise, she’s starting to develop feelings for the human Tully. However, this a minor subplot.

It’s revealed in the book that Pyanfar has been a spacer for forty years. After the jumps she’s feeling really old and tired. She even has hallucinations during jumps.

We get to know more about the Kif in this book and yet they seem as alien, if not more so, as ever. Their whole culture seems to be based on backstabbing and jockeying for a better position. They also don’t seem to have the capability to feel friendship or trust the way that hani, and humans, do. I really liked that because all too often “the aliens” turn out to be just like humans under the skin.

One notable thing is that even though characters become allies, they don’t become friends or even trust each other much. I mostly read fantasy and over there it’s a cliché that the traveling/adventuring group has people from races or nations who despise each other and yet, pretty soon, probably after a fight where the elf and the dwarf fight side-by-side, back-to-back, everything is sunshine and puppies. Not so here. Even though the crew of Pride has a Kif living among them, they don’t trust the Kif in general nor this particular Kif either. Instead, they treat that Kif with disdain and constantly expect the worst from him. Of course, the Kif is constantly shown to be different from the hani, from the way he thinks down to his eating habits (live creatures who even escape and try to chew up the ship).

The book ties up the plot thread in a satisfying manner. There’s one book to go, but I understand that Chanur’s Legacy is set some years later and doesn’t really seem to be necessary for the major plot arch. However, it’s part of the omnibus.

The only thing I missed was even a brief glimpse from Tully’s POV. I would have loved to see what the humans were really up to.