Conflict of Honors – Chapter 2

Shipyear 32
Tripday 148
Second Shift
10.30 hours

In which we meet Priscilla Mendoza again.

Priscilla, who we last saw lighting out for the spaceport on Sintia, has worked her way up over the subsequent decade to cargo master on a trade ship. She hopes to qualify as a pilot some day (and demonstrates reflexes suggesting she has the aptitude). There aren’t many opportunities for professional advancement, however, on Daxflan, where the crew are treated badly, the mates are crooks, the captain is under the Trader’s thumb, and the Trader is a self-important jerk.

Something I’ve been noticing on this re-read but not been paying systematic attention to is the use of hand ornamentation as an insight into a Liaden’s character. There are the obvious cases of the narration mentioning the light glinting off a delm’s ring in a scene where the delm is exerting authority or asserting status, but there are other examples, and even instances (Fen Ris, yesterday, being one) where the narration makes a point of mentioning that a person is wearing no rings at all. On the other hand, a Liaden who wears many rings is usually a person with pretensions above his circumstances, like Ran Eld in Scout’s Progress and Trader Olanek here.

The detail in this chapter that caught my eye on this re-read that hadn’t before is the mention that Daxflan has dispensed with the services of a Healer. It might just have been penny-pinching — or the Healer might, like Priscilla’s friend Shelly, have chosen not to stick around — but I find myself wondering whether the Healer was got rid of to protect Daxflan‘s secrets, since among those which will be revealed in chapters to come there is one that a competent Healer would be sure to spot. (I also find myself reflecting that the holder of that particular secret might, in the long run, have been better off letting the Healer find out and taking the consequences.)

5 thoughts on “Conflict of Honors – Chapter 2

  1. Ed8r

    Speaking of rings, since you mention them, I will add a comment here regarding what I’ve been wondering about Liaden jewelry:

    A Master Trader’s ID is a “carved” amethyst apparently, and I find that curious for two reasons:
    1) Why amethyst? In our Universe, on our Earth, amethyst is an almost common form of quartz, not a precious stone but merely semiprecious. Were the authors just stuck with something they had used as casual background, such as it matching someone’s eye color? Or did they have something even more specific in mind?
    2) The fact that is is carved rather than faceted: in what way is it carved? Is it a sigil? Is it a seal?

    Color me: curious.

  2. Ed8r

    I’m coming back to add that twice, in later chapters, the stone is described as having facets.

    the master’s ring flashing its facets

    “[Shan] toying with the lights among its facets.

    Is it carved? Or is it faceted? Or is it somehow both, such as facets around the edges and intaglio on the face (which strictly should be called “engraved” rather than “carved.”)?

  3. Ed8r

    Nothing we’ve read since has cast any further light on the image of “carved” versus “faceted.” I’m really curious about what the authors picture this to be.

  4. Paul A. Post author

    There’s a description in chapter 28 of Local Custom: “a single large amethyst, carved with the symbol of the Trader’s Guild”.

  5. Ed8r

    I know, that’s why I referred to these terms.

    The only thing I can imagine is that it is faceted around the crown (“sides” of the top, visible part) leaving the table (the flat to be “carved” (i.e., engraved) with the symbol.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *