Monthly Archives: April 2015

Ghost Ship – Chapter 36

Emerald Casino
Surebleak Port

In which Theo lifts.

One wonders what the Uncle knows about Clarence O’Berin, and whether his approval is a good or a bad sign.

The Uncle’s appearance has changed a bit since Theo saw him last. One change that’s pointed out is that his beard has grown (when she first met him, he had only “a sketch of a beard”); in addition to that, the earring he’s now wearing is interesting because last time it was mentioned that he didn’t have an earring but had a tendency to fiddle with the side of his head as if he was used to have one and was missing it. Given the rumours about the Uncle, one might wonder if Theo had caught him when he’d recently had to shift to a new body — and if so, what he’d been up to that cost him the old one.

He’s also packing away the wine in a hurry, but who can say if that’s significant?

Ghost Ship – Chapter 35

Runcible System
Daglyte Seam

In which preparations are made for departure.

This is the first time in a while we’ve had a viewpoint looking at Theo with a fresh eye, and possibly the clearest description we’ve had of the appearance that had people warning her about her “attitude” back at the Academy. It’s interesting how some things are far more apparent to an outside viewpoint than from behind her eyes. (Like when her viewpoint says she “felt a flicker of irritation” and his says she “looked black death”.)

It’s also intriguing to have Clarence imply that her father has a similar attitude, since we’ve pretty much always seen him through his own eyes or the eyes of others who are familiar with him or at least with his family. Now I think of it, though, I can think of a few moments which support the point.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 34

Jelaza Kazone

In which the party becomes unexpectedly exciting.

More unnamed party guests. I’m particularly interested in the “buxom, jolly lady whose face was older than her hair”, because that amount of description implies that we’re expected to recognise her, but it’s not ringing any bells.

The idea that Theo’s ability to see pilots is her touch of Korval strangeness has been sneaking up gradually since it started in Fledgling. The early examples were often of her identifying pilots in motion, where it was plausible it was just a case of recognising something about how they moved. It’s developed gradually from there, to the point where in this novel she’s capable of not only identifying a pilot on sight but instantly assessing what grade they have attained or could attain, and now the definitely non-straightforward example of identifying a pilot who hasn’t even been born yet. Another thing that camouflaged the nature of the gift, which Theo alludes to, is that it came on her when she was seeing pilots for the first time after living her entire life on a planet with no pilots that she knew of, so it would make sense that she’d be alert to the differences. But another way of looking at that, which I think Daav alludes to, is that it was the period of her life when her half-formed instincts were shaking out and getting into adult shape, the period where one might expect a psychic gift to manifest. (Though without the trip to Melchiza she’d perhaps have been restricted to noticing that certain people were different in some way without being able to name the difference, just as I suspect she wouldn’t have been able to distinguish grades of pilot now without her education at Anlingdin.)

Ghost Ship – Chapter 33

History of Education Department
Oriel College of Humanities
University of Delgado

In which Kamele explains her reasoning.

…and, just to keep the tension going, the progress of the party is interrupted with a chapter set somewhere completely different.

There’s a thing the authors of this series do that I’ve been noticing and appreciating on this re-read, where the reappearance of a character is preceded, a chapter or two earlier, by somebody mentioning that character, to remind the reader of the character’s existence. In this case, we have the return of Ella ben Suzan, whom Theo happened to mention last chapter.

(That mention might have been confusing for a first time reader, since Theo referred to her as “Aunt Ella”, after having told Kareen in a yet earlier chapter that she had no aunts on Delgado… except that she also, in that same chapter, remarked on the fact that sometimes people get called things like “Aunt” or “Grandfather” by people they’re not technically any such relation to. That’s craftsmanship, that is.)

Ghost Ship – Chapter 32

Jelaza Kazone

In which the housewarming party begins.

I recognise from their descriptions some of the party guests whose names Theo doesn’t know – the man with the eyeglasses is certainly Penn Kalhoon, and I’m reasonably confident that the lady in the crimson jacket is Ms Audrey – but I’m not sure about the man in the lab coat talking to Shan. Of course, it may well be someone we haven’t been introduced to yet ourselves.

More foreshadowing is coming together: We’ve had several interludes remarking on the campaign to sabotage the road repairs and school building, with one last chapter establishing that the policy of sabotaging machinery but leaving people unharmed – in spite, as we were reminded, of Surebleak’s usual more direct response to disliked persons – was deliberate and insisted on by the campaign’s mastermind (who was not named, but in context and given the reported attitude is very likely an agent of the Department). And now we see that Val Con and Miri are perhaps letting their guard down a bit on the assumption that people who have made a policy of not hurting anybody will continue to do so – which is, I suspect, the intended effect of the policy. It is not only Korval who does things in layers.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 31

Jelaza Kazone

In which Theo has breakfast with Val Con’s mother.

Theo is perfectly right to ask whether Kamele knew about Aelliana, and Aelliana blatantly dodges the question. (It’s probably true that her available time is limited, but that doesn’t mean she’s not also using it as an excuse.) Particularly given the fact that Theo recognises Aelliana as an aspect of the Jen Sar Kiladi she thought she knew – the Jen Sar Kiladi her mother fell in love with – this is going to be an additional complication in the complicated explanation Daav owes Kamele.

And it looks like Kamele’s going to be wanting that explanation sooner rather than later…

Ghost Ship – Chapter 30

Boss Vine’s Turf

In which Theo is offered a trade route and a seed pod.

One advantage of re-reading is that when you know where the story’s going, it can be easier to make out what the foreshadowing is trying to tell you. For instance: Here is Clarence, who’s made himself unpopular enough that somebody came to shoot at him, and probably hasn’t helped his case much by being so unobliging as to shoot the person who came to shoot him. Might be he’ll soon be in a situation where a job that takes him offworld for a longish while will be just the thing he needs.

And Clarence’s visitor is interesting: Seems to have known him from when he was working on Liad, and got on the wrong side of him then. An independent operator, not a fellow Juntava, is my impression. It’s not just Korval’s friends who are making the trip to try their luck in the new land of opportunity.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 29

Jelaza Kazone

In which Theo meets more relatives.

It occurs to me that, as out-of-place as Kareen might have seemed as an expert on the Code in a family widely seen as a Code unto themselves, it pales next to being an expert on the Liaden Code of Proper Conduct in a family that’s never going to set foot on Liad again. That’s going to be something she’s going to need to work out for herself – is she a Liaden in exile, upholding the standards of Proper Conduct among rag-mannered barbarians, or would she be truer to herself if she set herself with equal diligence to learning what’s proper to her new situation?

(The rest of the family, I think, has less of an adjustment, because they’re pilots and familiar, at least in principle, with the variation of local custom. And there’s always been that level on which Korval always considered itself not really Liaden, just temporarily resident on Liad.)

There’s a lot of foreshadowing going on: mysterious people about on mysterious jobs, dubious ships in orbit, and so on. Some of it will doubtless come out at the “housewarming party”; that, dramatically speaking, is what important diplomatic events are for.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 28

Jelaza Kazone

In which there are conversations on the way to dinner.

Luken’s reassurance to Theo – “You are among kin, now, and the House will be vigilant for you” – has, I think a double meaning. On one level, it’s the same thing people have been saying ever since she was invited to guest, that the house has good security and she’ll be protected from physical danger; on another level, I think it’s a reminder that as her kin it’s within their melant’i to protect her from the less obvious dangers attendant on making a social error.

It belatedly occurs to me that Jeeves has lately been referred to only as the head of house security, and not as a butler; of course this makes sense, since Trealla Fantrol no longer has need of a butler and at Jelaza Kazone the job is already ably filled by Mr pel’Kana.

It’s said of Luken that he is “grandfather to no one in this room”, which is less definite than I thought I remembered, leaving open the possibility that he has grandchildren elsewhere. One thing we can say about them, if they exist, is that they’re not counted as children of Korval, or they’d have appeared on a roster by now or been mentioned somewhere in all the arrangements resulting from the declaration of Plan B; perhaps their parent, Luken’s child, married out of the clan.

The scene with Pat Rin and Penn at the end seems like a bit of abrupt shift after the rest of the chapter, but I notice a thing which ties the scenes together (apart from them presumably happening on the same evening): the one scene has Theo remembering to be polite among Liadens by not shaking hands, and the other scene has Pat Rin remembering to be polite among Terrans by shaking hands.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 27

Jelaza Kazone

In which preparations are made for dinner.

The scene where Val Con drives Theo to Jelaza Kazone echoes scenes from earlier books, among them Er Thom driving Anne and Daav driving Aelliana. The similarities, of course, highlight the differences – such as the considerably less accommodating road.

(I’m not entirely sure about the idea of building a bridge over the worst stretch of road to save the Bosses risking their cars on it: how if someone were to destroy the bridge and trap everyone at the wrong end of the Road? But then Miri does say someone will be keeping an eye on the bridge; I suppose somebody would be keeping an eye on that stretch of road in any case.)

I’m not sure Val Con isn’t sending Theo into battle insufficiently armed, by telling her the dress code is “informal” and not telling her what that really means. On the other hand, given that there’s not enough space left in the schedule to dig stuff out of house stores, and that therefore Theo is going to have to go in what she’s got anyhow, maybe telling her would only give her an extra half hour of worrying about not measuring up, with nothing useful to be done about it.