September 5, 2016

Serpent's Reach by C. J. Cherryh

Title:  Serpent's Reach
Author:  C. J. Cherryh
Pages:  287
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  DAW, 1980
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  The constellation of Hydri, known as the Serpent, is compact and obscure from Earth and remained so in the era of interstellar colonization. For it was under strict quarantine--harboring an intelligent race, powerful and alien. Yet there were human colonies within the Serpent's Reach, cut off from the galaxy beyond, with their own inbred culture and their special relationships to the inhuman majat.

 This is the novel of Raen, the last of the massacred Sul Family, and of her lifetime pledge to find vengeance. It was to take her across the worlds of the Reach into the very center of the alien webwork that knit the forbidden constellation into a complex of interbred cultures that no outsider could hope to unravel.

Review:  The majat are awesome, intelligent, and very large ant-like creatures.  Their hive-mind cannot fathom our individuality.  Our lack of continuance disturbs them profoundly.  The life in the hive is drawn from what I can only assume is in-depth research into the life of these types of creatures.  This author has, in her Humanx Commonweath series, explored another ant-like creature, the Thranx.  The majat seemed more realistic to me, not quite anywhere near as 'human' as the Thranx.

There are three classes of humans in the Reach:  the Kontrin, who are descendants of the first travelers to Hydri; the Betas who are descendants of the eggs that were brought along on the voyage; and the Azi, who are clones, created by the Betas to do the majority of the work.

The Kontrin are immortal.  The Betas live what we would consider normal lifespans.  The Azi are genetically altered to automatically die at the age of 40.  The majat have a hive memory that spans millions of years.

Between the obvious societal problems with the human faction in Hydri and the complete inability for the humans and majat to truly understand each other, it makes for an interesting and exciting story.  Toss in Raen's master plan to change the entire Reach and I was hooked.  I've so been needing a really great science fiction tale.  I found it.  This was superb.

Rating:  10 / 10


  1. Hi! I'm looking for some feedback on my Monthly Motif reading challenge. Last year was a bit lack luster as far as participation and I only have myself to blame. I basically did nothing to promote and did almost zero outreach. That is all going to change big time next year. I hope you'll plan on participating again. But I was hoping you'd let me know what worked for you and what didn't. Was it confusing to have a new post to link to each month? I'd gladly take any ideas, criticism, thoughts, etc. Also- if you have any thoughts on what motifs you'd like to see for next year, let me know. Any motifs you struggled with or didn't like? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kimberly, I don't know if you'll see this or not, but I've really enjoyed your challenge. It forced me out of my comfort zone a couple of times but that's a good thing! I do like the challenges where they post a page with all of the links for the months in one place to be honest. It makes it easier to find, rather than having to search through the posts to find the current month's linky. I'll post on your website if I can find a good place to put it.


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