From the writing style I could have sworn that C. S. Friedman was male. It's possibly a tribute to a writer to be unable to discern their gender.
This Alien Shore had some really good ideas, that were followed up by solid writing. I particularly liked the extracts from writings of that world that interspersed the chapters. The one called Natsiq was particularly good.
One thing bothers me about a lot of sci-fi, and this book is no exception: the structure of society is invariably medieval. In the case of individual books this is fine. What gets me is that nearly all sci-fi is like it. Can't we have a vision of the future set in a stable, liberal democracy? I think that's the book I'm going to write. Nobody will read it of course, but that's never stopped me from writing anything!