Quiet Knives

In which Captain Rolanni goes to Shaltren sooner than expected.

This is an important story for the Juntavas, laying the groundwork for them to be something a bit more nuanced than The Space Mafia.

The pacing of this story didn’t quite work for me the first time I read it, with all the build-up to Kore’s escape attempt/Rolanni’s rescue attempt, and then it suddenly didn’t matter because Chairman Trogar meets his fate in an unrelated Act of Turtle. (And I got the feeling that the role of the Turtles isn’t sufficiently set up for someone who hasn’t read Carpe Diem first — though I’m in no position to say for sure, since I did read Carpe Diem first.) On this re-read, I got a better feeling of how the two things aren’t entirely unrelated; for one thing, if Sambra Reallen hadn’t called the department heads to a meeting as a distraction from Rolanni’s rescue attempt, they wouldn’t have been on hand to witness the Chairman’s downfall, and Reallen wouldn’t have been there to take hold of the situation before it got out of hand.

(Incidentally, from the mentions of them in this story, the department heads seem to be functionally just such a council of elders as Chairman Trogar boasted to Edger did not exist and had no power over him.)

Also, I’m thinking now, Rolanni’s attempt to rescue Kore is a bit like like Marguerite’s attempt to rescue her husband in The Scarlet Pimpernel, in that whether she will succeed in rescuing him is not the big question of the story; the big question was already answered when she decided she had to make the attempt.

It struck me on this re-read that “Kore” is also the name of a figure in Greek mythology, but I think that’s probably just a coincidence, notwithstanding that this Kore also has what might be understood as a descent into the underworld.

Another more useful thing that struck me on this re-read is that Rolanni’s personal and professional history places her as part of whatever the modern equivalent is of the trading family network that Jethri’s family was part of back in Balance of Trade.

Something I noticed the first time and again on this re-read is that we get very little detail about Kore’s employer, the High Judge, not even a name; I suspect the authors were leaving room to fill in details if he showed up in another story later. The first time I read this story, I wondered if he might be Clarence O’Berin, but that was mainly because I wanted more stories about Clarence; what little we get about the High Judge’s personality doesn’t really fit. It’s definitely not Clarence, anyhow; “Shadow Partner” has him still holding down the position on Liad many years after the High Judge started on the career path that led to him being the High Judge.

Tomorrow: Plan B

2 thoughts on “Quiet Knives

  1. Ed8r

    I was a bit confused, actually, because they were calling the High Judge by the pronoun “he” and yet in the mix of Sambra’s questions there was also one asking about “Natesa the Assassin,” who also had been named as a judge. It occurred to me that she might have held both positions. But I see, there are just too many “he”s for that to be likely.

  2. Ed8r

    Even my third time through it was a bit of a letdown! The story is like a little outtake to Carpe Diem; just a glimpse of something that was going on behind the scenes, and showing us that Sambra had already been looking for the right circumstances to take down Chairman Trogar.

    Paul: This is an important story for the Juntavas, laying the groundwork for them to be something a bit more nuanced than The Space Mafia.. It does so—for the story and possible future plots—but also for us to see that the idea of a “makeover” for the Juntavas has been in the works for 20 standards already, allowing the reader to be a bit more curious and a bit less suspicious of Natesa the Assassin when we meet her. I know that for me, my first time through the books, before I read any of the short stories, I had continued to distrust her extremely, expecting a double-cross any moment . . . especially after she developed a relationship with a major character.

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