Drowning World - Alan Dean Foster
This was a wonderfully fun read, and as soothing as a warm drink. It fits into an old-fashioned optimistic mode of thinking about human expansion among alien species, that surely we are enlightened enough to solve everyone else's problems for them. This was a book that continually brought TV Tropes to mind -- so very genre-typical. Set in a Hungry Jungle on what appears to be a Single-Biome Planet (at least, whatever is beyond the jungle area is never mentioned); it is inhabited by a warlike native species and an enterprising immigrant species (both are vaguely humanoid), naturally in conflict, under the benevolently paternal administration of the Commonwealth, but coveted by the Empire which is led by the reptilian Aan. Just don't think about the Unfortunate Implications of this situation given that most alien species are stated to have fairly uniform personalities whereas humans, explicitly, have a wider range -- no wonder we are fated to rule!

The very best thing about this book is its human hero, Lauren Matthias, a fully-developed female character for a wonder, a mature married woman at that. She is the chief Commonwealth administrator of the planet, dragged into a far more complicated situation than she ever bargained for, to which she responds with guile (including a few actions that ought to be frankly illegal), political and diplomatic savvy, and even a few acts of physical courage, though nothing unrealistic for a plump middle-aged civilian. The author even has a realistic view of some of the problems facing women in authority -- though Matthias relies on emotional support from her husband (a scientist), she can't consult him too much because this would undermine her position. It's an unusual set of gender roles in a marriage, pretty well portrayed.