Monthly Archives: March 2015

Ghost Ship – Chapter 9

Runcible System
Daglyte Seam

In which the Department of the Interior prepares to attack Korval and her allies.

I like the structure of this chapter. Three scenes that have no obvious connection, but implicitly the latter two scenes concern people who are going to be affected by the events of the first.

It occurs to me to wonder what would have happened if Commander of Agents had chosen to leave Korval alone for the time being. Her concern is obviously that Korval will continue to be a threat, but Korval has accepted Liad’s decision that guarding Liad is no longer its business, which means that the Department is no longer its business – but the Department will quickly become its business again if the Department attacks it directly. I suppose if the Department did leave Korval alone and concentrate on subverting Liad, Korval would eventually become involved because it does still have allies on Liad who would sooner or later be affected by the Department’s actions – but think how much the Department could get done in the mean time!

Ghost Ship – Chapter 8

The Grand Progress

In which Delm Korval is given more welcomes, in a variety of styles.

I’m not sure what to make of this: we’ve had at least two people remark on how much Val Con resembles Pat Rin, and at least one say she doesn’t think the resemblance is all that marked. Different people looking for different things? Or perhaps it’s a question of expectation; with so few data points it’s difficult to be sure, but the degree of perceived resemblance might vary depending on whether a person has been told beforehand to expect it.

I like the idea that the Tree’s response to being moved is to be pleasurably reminded of its younger days when it travelled regularly. I wonder if it ever got bored just standing around for years on end. Perhaps it helped that it had people around it who went and travelled, to some degree, on its behalf.

There’s a fair amount of leeway in the question of just how young the young Mr pel’Kana actually is, since the last we heard of the old Mr pel’Kana was nearly twenty years ago.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 7

Emerald Casino
Surebleak Port

In which a misunderstanding is put right.

It doesn’t surprise me that Penn takes longer to recognise Miri than it takes her to recognise him; she’d have reason to expect that returning to Surebleak would mean meeting old friends, but he’d have no particular reason to expect that he’d encounter, while going about his daily business, someone who left the planet years ago with no intention of ever coming back. And it has been a lot of years: in fact, Miri recently passed the point where she’s spent more time not living on Surebleak than she had living on Surebleak.

It does surprise me that the ‘hand says Val Con’s not carrying any weapons. I know the amount of weaponry he had on him in the last few books was a carryover from his agent days and a concession to present necessity, and it was said clearly that left to himself he’s not the weapon-toting type, but I’d have expected him to at least have his brother’s knife on him.

Re-reading this chapter, which turns on the distinction between Pat Rin’s ring and Val Con’s, it occurs to me that Pat Rin might have named his casino after his ring, and the emeralds which show it for what it is; when he opened the casino, after all, he was engaged in an enormous gamble which was begun when he received the ring.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 6

Surebleak Spaceport

In which cold Surebleak offers Delm Korval a warm welcome.

Jen Sar Kiladi has “been lost”, which might add to the awkwardness if Kamele ever takes it into her head to demand his safe return. One might say that it offers instead the opportunity to tell Kamele, with some degree of accuracy, that Kiladi has died, but I don’t think that would work for long and in any case I’m confident Daav knows as well as Theo does that he owes Kamele the whole truth. His reluctance to tell her so far has been about trying to spare her the further trouble of being dragged into Korval’s orbit at a dangerous time, not about shirking his duty.

It does raise the question of why Kiladi has slipped away. Perhaps he felt, or whatever part of Daav keeps him working, that he’d served his purpose: Daav has said more than once that he’s completed the Balance in which Kiladi was such a useful tool, and he’s also fulfilled his original purpose in the sense that he was only supposed to stick around until he was discovered, which he now has been. And letting go of Kiladi presumably means there’s more room in Daav’s head for Aelliana. But I find myself remembering that Aelliana’s most striking recent increase in ability was associated with Daav eating one of the Tree’s seed pods, and wondering: Did Kiladi-Daav make the decision that Kiladi’s time was done, or was the decision made for him?

That’s an intriguing background detail, the hint at friction between the Pilots’ Guild and the Federated Trade Commission. I don’t think we’ve heard of the Federated Trade Commission before, at least by that name; perhaps it’s descended from the trade commission that was around in Jethri’s time. I’m tempted to speculate, on the basis of no evidence whatever, that it’s a Terran organisation that takes issue with the Pilots’ Guild because, as we know, the latter is a case of harmonious collaboration between Terrans and Liadens. But then again, we know from various bits with Shan that he was certified as a Master Trader by a Trade Commission that is likewise a collaboration. (I’m sufficiently attached to my hypothesis to wonder if there’s more than one Trade Commission. Perhaps the Federated Trade Commission is a smaller federation of traders who don’t want to be involved in anything that requires collaboration with Liadens. But now I’m really speculating.)

Moon on the Hills


In which Korval acquires a new neighbour.

It’s an evocative name, “World’s End”. There’s the obvious sense in which the place is named, referring to a physical boundary, a place where the world comes to an end, but there are other things it could mean, such as a temporal boundary, a time when a world comes to an end. Sometimes a person’s world can come to an end even though the planet continues untouched. Yulie’s world might have ended when he lost the last of his kin. It might have ended today, if Boss Conrad had been someone other than the person he is.

(And isn’t it interesting how, when he’s talking to Yulie, he’s mostly Pat Rin but sometimes he’s Boss Conrad for a moment or two?)

It’s also interesting to speculate how things might have gone differently if Yulie’s brother hadn’t got himself killed before Boss Conrad showed up, and had been the one handling the negotiation for road access.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 5

Arin’s Toss
Solcintra Port

In which Theo’s father tells her the truth.

Theo’s conversation with her father is one of those things that’s obviously significant but I don’t know how to talk about. (I do wonder if it helps Theo to learn that Val Con’s mother was a respected scholar. It seems like it might make the whole preposterous situation feel slightly more familiar.)

Either Theo’s taxi ride from the Port or her nap, or both, must have consumed a considerable amount of time, since it is now the day set for Korval’s departure and Theo left the Port at dawn the previous day. (Local calendar, explicitly stated, so it’s not one of those things where the Standard Day changes halfway through the local day.) No, excuse me: Theo went to call a taxi at dawn; maybe the city’s in such a commotion at the moment that it took most of the day to turn up.

The detail about Trealla Fantrol is interesting; they couldn’t take it with them, but they weren’t going to let it fall into anyone else’s hands. In which light, I wonder what it says that they didn’t mind letting Liad keep the formal gardens.

Tomorrow: “Moon on the Hills”, then back to Chapter 6.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 4

Runcible System
Daglyte Seam

In which the Department of the Interior has a new Commander.

Just in case it seemed like things were going too smoothly, we learn that the Department of the Interior still exists, still has a working command structure, and still has some nasty toys at its disposal.

In some ways the most upsetting thing about how badly the Department treats its people is the way they’ve all been trained not to notice.

This being a re-read, I’m reminded of something that happens some considerable while later in the series; I should probably to wait until then to talk about why, if I haven’t, as I did the first time through, forgotten about this by then.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 3

Jelaza Kazone

In which Delm Korval considers Theo’s problem.

Not sure what to make of Theo thinking that Val Con looks familiar for some reason other than resembling their father. She hasn’t met any of the other relatives yet, and I’m pretty sure she’s never seen his mother — or has she? They talked about the Caylon at the Academy, but I don’t remember if it was ever mentioned them having pictures of her. (And of course if that’s it Theo wouldn’t be able to place the resemblance, because nobody’s mentioned to her who Val Con’s mother is.)

As for her assessment of Val Con as biddable and lacking in spark, it’s a choice between politely suppressed laughter and a wide-eyed Bugs Bunny “She don’t know him very well, do she?”

Until Val Con mentioned it, I don’t think I’d thought about the fact that Korval doesn’t just have its house and Tree to get off-planet, but all of the many ships it’s collected over the years (those that aren’t elsewhere already). I suppose it will have to allow its several shipyards to be seized – unless they’ve already been sold off or otherwise passed into other hands – but Korval never leaves a ship behind.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 2

Jelaza Kazone

In which Theo is introduced to her father’s family, and vice versa.

It is a tricky situation that Daav’s got himself in, regarding explaining himself to Kamele. The basic principle that he had kin in need of assistance is straightforward enough, but necessarily leads to questions like “Who are these kin?” and “Why have you never mentioned them before?” and, sooner or later, “But if your name is actually Daav yos’Phelium…”

Also, while I think Kamele would take the news that her onagrata had been married before at least as clear-headedly as Theo, things might get very awkward if she asked how the marriage had ended and where Aelliana is now and Daav felt obliged to answer honestly.

It’s interesting to compare Theo’s situation to Shan’s when the clan first became aware of him. Shan was rapidly enfolded in the clan, but that was because his mother had already declared him to be part of the clan by naming him yos’Galan; everything that followed was just sorting out the details. Theo is a Waitley, born under an arrangement that’s comparable in the relevant areas to a Liaden contract marriage with the offspring going to the mother’s clan, and her father has been making a point of not claiming any connection to Korval for himself let alone for her. It’s possible she could join Clan Korval at some future point, if it seemed like a good idea for all concerned (a collection of people including not only herself, her father and Delm Korval, but also her mother – which would entail the aftorementioned tricky explanations), but it’s not going to happen automatically just because her father has returned to his clan.

I like the detail that Merlin, who is usually referred to with male pronouns by those who know him best, gets female pronouns in the scene told from Theo’s viewpoint, because Theo’s from Delgado where female is the default gender.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 1


In which Bechimo has hope.

But before the new adventure begins, we have a Bechimo‘s eye view of the events of Saltation, which is largely recap for the benefit of new readers and those who didn’t just finish reading Saltation yesterday, but slips in a few new details about Bechimo‘s capabilities and world view.

If Win Ton was the first person to step inside Bechimo in over five hundred Standard Years, that would appear to rule out the idea that Bechimo‘s a product of the shipyard mentioned in Trade Secret, however well the incidental details seem to fit; it’s been less than three hundred years since the events of Trade Secret.