Monthly Archives: January 2015

I Dare – Chapter 18

Day 307
Standard Year 1392

Blair Road

In which the new boss is not the same as the old boss.

One hazard of reading a series like this in chronological order like this is that one occasionally encounters two stories that are set within a few days of each other but written years apart, and then it can be difficult to avoid noticing discrepancies.

The difference between the implication here about the carpet’s creator and the explicit description in “Persistence” is, I think, clearly a deliberate creative decision by the authors, and can be easily explained in-universe as a deliberate creative decision by Pat Rin, who would not misinform a potential buyer as to the value of a carpet but also knows the value of tuning the details to fit the audience. I can’t see any such clear-cut explanation for the fairly large difference between the price Pat Rin paid for the carpet in “Persistence” and the price he remembers paying here.

On the other hand, there are good juxtapositions, too. Snyder taking Cheever at face value is extra amusing coming so soon after Beba seeing right through him.


In which there is a victory for persistence.

Pat Rin’s new name, Conrad, doesn’t ring any particular bells for me; I can’t tell whether the joke about it being “the same as the carpets” is a reference to something in-universe that I don’t recall or something out-universe that I don’t know. (There’s a classic SF novel called And Call Me Conrad, but it’s one of the lamentable gaps in my knowledge of Roger Zelazny’s works, so I don’t know if this is one of the authors’ references to classic SF.)

Speaking of names, Charleschow doesn’t particularly sound to me like a place that would have high prices and private seating, but maybe different cultures have different naming standards. Or maybe it’s come up in the world, but keeps the original name because of tradition.

And speaking of names that might have reason to sound familiar, Caratunk, which appears in this story as a surname, comes up a couple of times in the Jethri books as the name of a planet that’s home to some significant trading families. And Vashtara, the cruise ship Beba and Joshu leave on at the end, is the same cruise ship Theo and Kamele travelled on in Fledgling. (Which is surely not a coincidence, since the two were written around the same time, and I can see themes and ideas they have in common.)

I noticed on this re-read, which I didn’t the first time I read it, that the place Beba and Joshu light out for at the end is the same as the origin of the other carpet Conrad took a particular interest in. There’s probably a significance there I’m not getting; maybe next time.

I Dare – Chapter 17

Mercenary Encampment

In which two Explorers discuss their situation.

We learn the outline of Hazenthull’s recent history here, enough to understand the decision she has made, although there are details that she chooses not, or finds herself yet unready, to speak.

I’m not sure what significance to attach to the fact that the name of her senior is one of those details. It could just be that protocol calls for him to introduce himself, but other explanations suggest themselves.

Tomorrow: Another short diversion, via “Persistence”.

I Dare – Chapter 16

Things That Go Bump in the Night

In which several people pass a restless night.

Anthora and Ren Zel together always fill me with fond amusement, or amused fondness, which I think I might now be sufficiently old enough to carry off successfully, though it’s been there even since the first time I read I Dare, when I was about the same age as Anthora. I think there’s something about the way Anthora presents herself that encourages one to think of her as a precocious youngster whatever her actual age. Sober Ren Zel, on the other hand, sometimes seems older than his years, but I’ve always had a few years on him because he’s actually younger than Anthora.

The interesting thing about Anthora’s encounter with Ren Zel is that it’s not just a case of her bumping into him when she goes to follow up her vision of the Passage under attack: her nightmare of battle is almost certainly an echo of his nightmare memory. (When Anthora talks in her sleep, what she says is Ren Zel’s dialogue from a particularly harrowing moment in the battle.) Which suggests that there was already some kind of connection between them, a suggestion reinforced by the fact that Ren Zel finds her presence somehow familiar.

I Dare – Chapter 15

Mercenary Encampment

In which Daav sits vigil.

In publication order, the conversation with Aelliana is a pretty big first occurrence, but it loses some of its impact when read in chronological order.

The other thing in this chapter is the death of the Explorer, but it’s too soon to be sure how big a thing that is.

I Dare – Chapter 14

Department of Interior Command Headquarters

In which Commander of Agents thinks inside the box.

I worry about the test subject, and his cha’leket. As far as I recall, we never hear of them again, and while it is not long until Korval will be taking the fight to the Department, I am not confident of their surviving even that long. The key question is perhaps whether the technicians anticipate a use for the test subject after the present project is completed to their Commander’s satisfaction. If they decide to hold on to him, there might be some chance of him living to see that rescue after all. If, on the other hand, they don’t see any need for him once they consider that they’re ready for Anthora, obviously they’re not going to just let him go.

I Dare – Chapter 13

Day 50
Standard Year 1393

Dutiful Passage
Lytaxin Orbit

In which Nova greets her sister.

Ren Zel’s impressions of Nova as she entered the ship reminded me of Liz’s first impressions of Nova when she entered her house, not because they are similar but because they aren’t: a reminder that the same person can be quite different things in the eyes of different people. Shifting between tall and short without any physical change is perhaps only the most obvious. A more subtle one is Ren Zel noticing that she speaks with “the accent of fabled Solcintra”; apart from the obvious point that Liz’s familiarity with spoken Liaden doesn’t extend to recognising such details, it’s a reminder that Ren Zel himself, though Liaden, is not from Liad.

This chapter has another case of one person being quite different things, this time depending on which hat she wears. Shan’s sister Nova yos’Galan is glad that he and Priscilla have declared lifemates, even though Shan’s First Speaker Nova yos’Galan has her doubts about the timing and is not impressed about not being consulted first.

For a moment, both of the novel’s plot strands revolve around the concern of Korval being left without a pilot to be Delm, which does go some way to weaving them together despite their large separation in space and time.

Daughter of Dragons

The Grand Lake Townhouses

In which Lady Kareen is offered an attractive prize at a price she is not willing to pay.

It’s striking, in view of their many differences, that Kareen’s reply to the Department’s offer is so much the same as her son’s.

This is the single largest, if not the only, part of the series to be told from Kareen’s point of view, and offers several clues to how she ended up the way she did. We get her perspective on being abruptly (though not, I think, with anything like deliberate cruelty, for what difference that might have made) downgraded from highly-favored only child to second-place to a kid brother who doesn’t want the preferment she can’t have. It’s also mentioned that she’s been married multiple times; since Korval is not among those clans who find such things a financial necessity, the implication is that it took her several attempts to get Pat Rin, a circumstance which casts light on her relationship with him.

At that, she’s mellowed somewhat since she last appeared, way back in “A Day at the Races”. She’s got more respect for Val Con’s quality as a delm (which probably started then, come to think of it). And she seems better disposed toward Daav than used to be the case; perhaps a quarter-century of his absence has given her room to admit his good points without being constantly reminded of their points of difference. Part of it might be that the unusual nature of recent events have caused her to see things in new lights, the way she’s recently come to find value in Luken bel’Tarda and in Jeeves.

Perhaps, although this seems very unlikely, she’s softening in her age: she’s nearly eighty Standards now, and although that’s not as old for a Liaden as it would be for a Terran, it’s not young.

(It also means that she and Her Nin yo’Vestra have been close for something like fifty or sixty years.)

I don’t think yo’Vestra’s postulated situation actually applies to Korval, which departed its holdings in accordance with a plan agreed to in advance and did in fact notify all its members appropriately; even the one they weren’t sure was still alive got the message, let alone the one yo’Vestra is trying to position as having been abandoned. To be fair, of course, yo’Vestra doesn’t know that Pat Rin was notified, since none of his colleagues have yet had a chance to discuss the matter with Pat Rin — and anyway, that whole question falls to the wayside if no other clan member lives long enough to contradict his proposed account.

Timing: Anthora and Jeeves have already shifted to Jelaza Kazone. yo’Vestra’s remark about having found and then lost Pat Rin suggests that this is after Pat Rin’s encounter on Teriste. That puts it at least three days, and probably a day or two more, after Nova gave the scatter order. Which is not too unreasonable, on consideration, since most of that is probably down to the amount of maneuvring it would take to get five children, including two infants, out of their usual routines and off the planet without anybody noticing where they went.

It’s an interesting detail that one of the things saving Kareen, in the end, is that whatever the lofty personages of Liad might think of Korval, those who are employed by them know them to be dependable and fair in their dealings.

Tomorrow: back to I Dare.

I Dare – Chapter 12

Day 287
Standard Year 1392

Departing Teriste

In which Pat Rin meditates upon his requirements.

I like the interplay around Pat Rin’s earring; no doubt what Natesa says is true, but I think there is also an unsaid recognition that Pat Rin is reluctant to part with the earring for reasons unrelated to its monetary value.

Presumably it is Korval’s Luck once more at work that points Pat Rin in the direction of Surebleak, where a person “can get lost and never looked for”, the same Surebleak where a person who had been lost and never looked for was recently rediscovered by another of Korval.

Tomorrow: A one-day diversion, for “Daughter of Dragons”.

I Dare – Chapter 11

Teriste Casino District
The Practical Statistician

In which Pat Rin is offered a piece of jewelry at a price he is not willing to pay.

In a way, the Department is doing Pat Rin a favor, by forcing on him the melant’i of Korval. It is a considerable burden, to be as far as he knows the last person left to uphold the Clan, but it also allows him options he would not otherwise have had. Before, when he was literally the last person in the Clan’s line of succession, he had no choice but to decline Natesa’s offer of assistance in accordance with the Clan’s policy; now that he speaks for the Clan, he has not only the right but the responsibility to make a choice for the best good of the Clan.

I’m not sure how long the situation would have held together if Pat Rin had agreed to the Department’s offer; for one thing, the rest of the clan might be scattered and hidden but Anthora is plainly still alive. Perhaps at this point they were still confident they could fix that problem by the time Pat Rin got home.

The scene in the casino is the first time we’ve seen Pat Rin handle dice since that day when he was a child and he found he could make dice come up with any number he chose. That might be happenstance; another interpretation is that Pat Rin still has that facility with dice but has chosen, as an honorable man, not to use it except in cases of dire need, a distinction for which this situation might reasonably be held to qualify.