He's, she's, and They's!

I remember reading a book in middle or high school (early 2000's) and I think it was called a matter of price but I could be wrong. the book starts with the oldest son returning from a trip and being sent to some kind of customs. there he meets an Ant-like alien and uses a universal translator to communicate and finish his business. Over the course of the book he and this creature become almost friends. he has a friend who was not a good person and is now in a position of power and uses that do force the protagonists parents into marrying this friend to his younger sister. there are arguments but eventually the arranged marriage takes place, though the main character and his sister are both against it happening. During the wedding and reception things go well enough but his sister tries to murder her new husband when he comes to "Fulfill his duties". she tries to escape out the window and down the side of the building but is caught. In front of all the guests her right hand is cut off as punishment and she is sentenced to die. her brother decides he has to help her and goes to the ant creature/Alien to ask for money and help when he arrives he finds his friend has been murdered by his former friend. the ant has already started the process to help and the main character smuggles his heavily drugged sister out pretending to be a cargo freighter. I think maybe I have the name wrong but does anyone have any idea what this book could be?

  • 1
    While you're more than welcome to rollback my edits (I won't touch your question further) - it makes it a lot easier to read a question when it's broken into a couple of paragraphs, and sentences usually start with a capital letter.
    – fez
    Jul 27, 2023 at 20:12
  • @fez i didn't realize that undoing one of my edits would remove yours.
    – KFortknee
    Jul 27, 2023 at 20:25

1 Answer 1


A Matter of Profit by Hilari Bell.

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Strangers in a bizarre land -- that's what Ahvren's people, the Vivitare, are. They are the conquerors, the rulers now, of the T'Chin confederacy. Ahvren has spent the last two year fighting a brutal war on another planet. Here on T’Chin – where the planet surrendered before a single shot was fired -- victory doesn't seem so victorious.

Ahvren welcomes the peace, but he doesn't trust it. How could all these people surrender so easily? Are they all cowards? Not likely. And his mistrust is justified -- rumors arise of a plot to assassinate the Vivitare emperor.

But Ahvren's disillusion with war is greater than his mistrust of peace. The last thing he wants is to rejoin the emperor's fleet and conquer the next planet. So he strikes a bargain with his father: if he can uncover the plot to assassinate the emperor, Ahvren can choose his own path. It's a challenge that will take more wits than strength, and Ahvren's not sure he's up for it. But it's the most important test he's ever faced and his success is vital. Not only does the emperor's life depend on it, so does Ahvren's.

The description doesn't look much like your question, but all the plot elements are there. The sister is Sabri and she has her hand cut off with a sword:

The room was utterly silent as the sword lifted, hovered, and swept down, embedding itself with a thunk in the wood of the table. If Sabri cried out, the sound was lost in the sudden, shattering reverberation of his mother’s screams.

Ahvren had forgotten she was there. Several women held her, stroking her, quiet- ing her screams to frantic sobbing. Sabri sagged in her captors’ grip, barely conscious, as they clamped their hands around the spurting stump and wrapped cords around it, tighter and tighter. They didn’t want her to bleed to death before her execution.

The ant like alien is a T'Chin:

“You’re a T’chin, aren’t you?” Ahvren asked the creature behind the desk. “Your people founded the Empire.”

Ahvren had read about them on his voyage to the planet. These people had endoskeletons as well as exo- and eight legs instead of six, and their antennae were set behind their eyes instead of in front, but Ahvren always thought of them as ants. Eight-foot-tall ants. They were the reason the ceilings and doors were all so high.

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