Starborn and Godsons by Larry Niven
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is easily the best of the series. It's true by almost every metric you might want to make.
Alien colony world with vicious aliens that may or may not be intelligent, with a major focus on survival. Give them a few generations to adapt and defend themselves from the locals, even doing their part to develop an uneasy, unspoken truce with the monsters. Live, even as their ability to reach the stars gives out.
Then add ANOTHER factor, more humans from Earth on their own grander-than-themselves mission, involving themselves in the original colony's business, devolving to a bunch of grievances and misunderstandings and cultural misfirings.
It's pretty great. I'm immediately reminded of Cherryh's Foreigner series, but with one major alteration: the aliens aren't to be reasoned with by normal standards. There is no official, modern civilization, even if there ARE signs of an older one. And there's more violence, here, too. It's a great counterpoint.
It's definitely great fun, too.
Those problem areas I had with the other books (social/sexual stuff) were pretty much missing from this one, thankfully, and it was replaced with great a plot.
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