Explorer [Foreigner 6] by C. J. Cherryh
This book is part of a "Foreigner" group of books by the author. It's a sequel to Defender.
The Foreigner series of books involves a human starship, Phoenix, which has lost its way - not knowing where in the galaxy it's ended up. They reach an Earth-like planet. A portion of the people end up descending to the ground, the starship goes to explore other stars. The planet already has a native race that's more-or-less humanoid in physical terms, if not thought. Communication is difficult. The natives and the humans work under different assumptions and conflict results. The humans end up relegated to a single island. The humans interact with the natives through a single diplomat. Initially, the natives had limited technology, but are gaining it from humans via trade for resources. After 200 years, Phoenix returns concerned about hostile aliens from another star system. The books feature an extensive look at an alien society and issues of successful communication with aliens. Much of the story deals with political intrigue and maneuvering.
The starship Phoenix journeys to the damaged space station Reunion in another star system. In addition to the original starship crew, it also includes delegations from the atevi and the human colony.
Questions over the truth about what happened to the space station continue to influence emotions and alliances on the ship.
When they get there they find a hardened human faction in control of the space station and another alien species in a spaceship. The Pilot's Guild running the station refuses to refuel the starship and even attempts to seize control of it. This leads to parts of the book having more action than the series' general emphasis on what goes on inside the head.
Here, we may not have all of the planet-side factions, but we've added the space station and the new aliens as less-familiar new competitors. So, there are plenty of forces to be reckoned with.
As with the other books in the series (to one degree or another), a major part of the book is Bren's mind trying to work out what is happening, interpreting words and actions, and strategizing through all the politics. His analysis shows us psychology, customs, scheming and power.