A space-faring human is paid/contracted to integrate with a desert people who are VERY in-touch with the desert - a la Avatar?

I remember the desert people were taller and thinner than humans, used Saracen-style Scimitar swords, had their own alien language, and over the course of the book (books?) integrated this man into their society.

He ultimately went native -- I remember this because he would wear their robes, bathe with sand, and shave all of his body hair.

It's a book I read in the early 90's, and I would like to read it again, but my Google-Fu has failed me. :(

EDIT: The desert people are used as bodyguard/mercenaries due to their excellent swordsmanship/fighting prowess and their very strict honor/belief system similar to Bushido. They eschew technology, but are exposed to it enough that space travel is a non-issue. The protagonist is also a space/war hero type person and generally considered an adept fighter until he meets the desert people.

I appreciate any pointers!

  • 2
    I'm reminded of Dune, but the Fremen of Arrakis were humans, not aliens. And I don't think Paul Atreides shaved all of his body hair. Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 21:02
  • 1
    Right, it's not DUNE, but similar enough that that series is all Google is returning.
    – Jonathan
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 21:35
  • I like how your edit makes it sound even more like Dune.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 16:31
  • 1
    duplicate of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/36486/…
    – Otis
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 1:38
  • If it wasn't for the description of the protagonist being human (and the fact the answer was accepted) I'd have thought this to be "Black on Black" and its sequel "Stars Over Stars" by KD Wentworth. The sand bath plus desert dwelling aliens is not a common combination, in my experience.
    – Megha
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 7:36

1 Answer 1


That would be "The Faded Sun" trilogy by C. J. Cherryh.!

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composed of "Kesrith", "Shon'jir" and "Kutath".

  • That's exactly it! THANKS! EDIT: It's amazing that I can ask the internet about "A book where some dude bathes with sand" and people know what I'm talking about. THANKS!
    – Jonathan
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 2:28
  • 1
    The desert aliens are called the Mri
    – Trish Ling
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 2:44

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