I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
This is slow, with lots of pauses for historical/linguistic/cultural details, but I seem to be in a slow book kind of mood right now, so that's fine. I do wonder how this series has managed to go on for as long as it has, considering that humans seem very close to no longer being useful to the atevi.
The setup: a human starship accidentally ends up far off-course, unable to get back to any recognizable areas of space. Some time later (150 years?), they find the atevi homeworld and, lacking better options, try to start a colony there. After a good beginning, things suddenly go very badly. A deal is struck in which humans are permitted to live on a single island, Mospheira, in exchange for sharing information about their more advanced technology via a paidhi, a human interpreter living among the atevi. In the book's present (200 years later?), it's a delicate balance between humans secretly trying to nudge the atevi towards technology that will allow humans to escape the planet and trying not to give the atevi so many technological secrets that humans are no longer worth keeping around.
One related quote I enjoyed:
"That was the dream he had. The nightmare was less specific, only the apprehension which, long before the assassin tried his bedroom, he had been trying to communicate to Hanks and the rest of the office, that you couldn't go on giving atevi bits and pieces of tech without accelerating the randomness in the process, meaning that atevi minds didn't work the same as human minds, and that atevi cultural bias was going to view certain technological advances differently than humans did, and atevi inventiveness was going to put more and more items together into their own inventions, about which they didn't consult the Mospheira Technology Commission." (135)