I wasn't sure what to expect when I went into this, but I was really impressed.
The world-building here was phenomenal. The aliens were so wonderfully alien -- not just humans with a few tiny differences. They were anatomically different to the point of incompatibility, but they were also culturally
different. Different rules, different nuances, and a language that didn't always translate into the scope of human ideas.
Liam is a human linguist and a trader on behalf of his military superiors, on Ondry's planet. Trade is not just about buying and selling to Ondry's species. It's about social status and pride and standing and a whole lot of other things that Liam still struggles with, even after doing this for years.
Liam likes Ondry, but, when he winds up as Ondry's palteia
(waking up chained to a bed) he has no idea what to expect since the word doesn't translate and when Ondry tries to explain they hit a wall of cultural misunderstandings. And Liam's got some of his own issues to deal with before he can understand what Ondry is trying to tell him.
While this book relied a little on the "Humans are evil and aliens are wise and noble savages" (yeah, I'm looking at you, Avatar) it more than made up for this with all the intricate word building. Both MCs struggle to understand and to be understood. You wake up chained to someone's bed and it's not
sexual? Well, that's Liam's issue to get over, or is it? Because Ondry might not be compatible when it comes to sexual organs and the places they will go, but he's willing to experiment to make Liam happy. And he has a tail... :)
This was a great book. You should read it.