I Dare – Chapter 55


In which the Captain acts for the safety of the passengers.

The mode of Ultimate Authority, which is referred to twice in this chapter, has, perhaps unsurprisingly, not come up much before: three times in the series up to this point. Priscilla adopts it briefly when putting Sav Rid Olanek in his place at the end of Conflict of Honors; Commander of Agents is said in Carpe Diem to use it when dealing with his underlings; and Val Con, greeting the Tree in Plan B, places the Tree in the position of ultimate authority.

The fact that it’s used twice in this chapter, and by whom, is the central conflict in a nutshell: the first is Commander of Agents again, and the second is Miri when she takes on the melant’i of Liad’s Captain. And I think it says something that, whereas Miri adopts the mode temporarily and in a situation where she is in fact the duly-appointed ultimate authority until the emergency is resolved, the Commander is not only self-appointed but apparently expects to be regarded as the ultimate authority all the time.

There’s a leap near the end of the chapter that I’ve never been able to follow. After the doomsday weapons are activated, ter’Fendil says he can deactivate them if Val Con gives him the control device, and Val Con does. Then it cuts to another scene, and when it cuts back everybody’s running for their lives and talking about the urgent need to do something before the weapons break out and start killing everybody. Is there something missing, or is it just me missing something?

6 thoughts on “I Dare – Chapter 55

  1. Skipper

    I never understood that part about ter’Fendil deactivating the machine, either. There does seem to be a plot hole. When Val Con leads his team out of the tunnels, he is accompanied by his “wounded warrior” (cat Merlin), Nelirikk, Sheather the Turtle, and a man who has blood on his face. I assume this person is agent ter’Fendil. Maybe ter’Fendil could not fully shut it down, but only “give it a target” so it wouldn’t target the whole planet.

  2. Ed8r

    PA: the ultimate authority all the time

    It’s the end of the day for me. I misread this as “the ultimate authority of all time,” which also works I suppose.

  3. Ed8r

    The second time though I was even more aware of this gap. I know the authors sometimes leave gaps for the readers to fill in, yet this seems like an important point that is ignored.

  4. Sami Sillanpaa

    Also, ter’Fendil is never mentioned again, which is quite strange, given how much attention the captured Agents are afforded by Korval in later books. Maybe it’s to be assumed that he slipped away in the chaos and has rejoined the Department? It definitely does seem that several important details were missed in this portion of the book, to a degree that it doesn’t seem reasonable to assume that readers will be able to infer what happened.

  5. Paul A. Post author

    I’m more inclined to assume that ter’Fendil’s attempt to halt the doomsday weapons went wrong in some way that resulted in ter’Fendil being no longer among the living.

  6. Sami Sillanpaa

    I’m not sure, since I assumed that the “man with blood on his face” as mentioned by Skipper above is ter’Fendil. It’s not him, then who is it? It’s not dea’Gauss, since he left earlier with Anthora. Commander of Agents is dead. I don’t think there’s anyone else mentioned, and since the exit is a secret one from the Department’s headquarters, it seems very likely that it’s ter’Fendil.

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