The Chanur novels is a series of five science fiction novels (forming three separate stories) written by science fiction and fantasy author C. J. Cherryh and published by DAW Books between 1981 and 1992. The first novel in the series is The Pride of Chanur (1981), which was nominated for both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1983. This was followed by the Chanur's Venture trilogy, Chanur's Venture (1984), which was shortlisted for a Locus Award in 1985; The Kif Strike Back (1985); Chanur's Homecoming (1986), and a later sequel, Chanur's Legacy (1992). The five novels were also published in two omnibus editions: the first three in The Chanur Saga in 2000 and the next two in Chanur's Endgame in 2007.
An abridged version of The Pride of Chanur was published in the Science Fiction Digest in 1983.
The series is set in the same Alliance-Union universe of Downbelow Station, but in a region of space in the opposite direction from Earth as the Alliance and Union. It is occupied by a number of spacefaring civilizations bound by a set of trade treaties into a so-called Compact. The Compact is not a political organization, and has no government; it regulates only the open trade and accessibility of space stations to all civilizations, leaving them to resolve their conflicts and politics between themselves.
Human space borders kif and knnn territory, the most aggressive and enigmatic species of the Compact respectively. First contact ensues when an ambitious kif hakkikt (prince) captures a human exploration ship. The last surviving crew member, Tully, escapes while the kif ship is docked at a station and winds up on The Pride of Chanur, a hani merchant vessel commanded by Pyanfar Chanur. This triggers the events of the first novel in the series and its three-part sequel.
The books are written as unusually realistic space opera, with much less ship-to-ship shooting than coercion, manipulation, politics, pride contests, and clashing economic interests interspersed with species-to-species miscommunication and misunderstanding.
The realistic handling of linguistic and psychological barriers is one of the stronger aspects of the books (especially compared to the genre as a whole). The character development is another, which is also closely connected to the inter-species relations. As the (usually involuntary) exposure of the characters to different cultures goes on, they are pushed to probe other ways of thinking—and together with constant pressure of both economical and immediate hazard that drives them to opening new levels of themselves. Even the "enemy" side is quickly brought from the level of incomprehensible faceless danger into viewing them as a formidable yet admirable opponent. The books are a metaphor of breaking mental barriers, finding oneself in adversity, and growing above petty interests towards global strategies and greatness.