One of Cherryh's perseverant themes, the necessity of intercultural cooperation in the face of life-threatening crisis, unifies The Faded Sun. In Kesrith, Niun, the last mri warrior, must save and protect the human Sten Duncan, although Duncan is his potential enemy. In Shon'jir, Niun and his priestess-queen Melein undertake an archetypal voyage to the mri home planet with Duncan, who must become mri or die. Once there in Kutath, mri and men painfully reach a fragile understanding of one another's needs.
That such an accommodation can come to pass is Cherryh's message; how it does so is her art.
The Faded Sun also contains a parallel theme, the exercise of absolute power among the mri by the she'pan Melein.
Mri society consists of three castes, the nurturing Kath of women and children, the warrior Kel, and the scholar-priests, the Sen. Because Melein, one of Cherryh's most intriguing...