Monthly Archives: August 2015

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 5

Jelaza Kazone

In which Rys Lin pen’Chala dines with his brother’s family.

Rys has two hands. The fact is included subtly enough to not be distracting to someone unfamiliar with his story, and in fact subtly enough that it went straight past me the first time I read the chapter and I would have missed it if I hadn’t gone through again with an eye for details as part of writing this blog post. Two hands, one with gleaming fingers. Apparently his brothers have again been busy on his behalf.

Being reminded of how Rys came to be orphaned, on top of the events of the last few chapters, prompts the thought that I hope Val Con is suitably thoughtful about introducing him to Nelirikk, Hazenthull, and Diglon.

I wonder if it signifies anything that Kareen describes Rys as “the delm’s brother”, as opposed to, say, “my nephew’s brother”. (I also wonder, since she then turns to talking with Kamele, if Kamele knows who Rys is, and if not how Kareen chooses to explain him.)

I remain uncertain whether Luken’s encounter on the walkway was as harmless as it appears; part of me is still suspicious. And that, I think, says something about the atmosphere on Surebleak at this point.

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 4

Jelaza Kazone

In which situations develop.

I am impressed and horrified by Agent bar’Abit’s plan and by the circumstances that led to her attempting it. I’ve said before that the Department does not treat its people well; I’m increasingly feeling the depth by which that’s an understatement.

I’m on Val Con and Miri’s side about not wanting to give up on the prisoners, but at the same time I’m aware that that’s very easy for me to say when it’s just a hypothetical situation for me.

I don’t think I believe in the existence of the man who supposedly asked Mr Kipler to play a joke on Hazenthull; the explanation doesn’t fit the things he actually said. I particularly keep coming back to the bit where he went off on a tangent about the Road Boss, which doesn’t fit his narrative. (It also makes me wonder about whether he’s telling the truth about having nothing to do with Liadens; would someone who didn’t care about Liadens care about Korval attacking Solcintra?)

Boss Conrad’s plan for dealing with Baker Quill’s problem seems straightforward and well thought out, but the fact that the novel’s cover depicts a shoot-out near a bakery inclines me to suspect it won’t go off entirely without a hitch.

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 3

Surebleak Port

In which Hazenthull and Tolly do their rounds.

It is perhaps a testament to how vividly Tolly is written that I was convinced until I checked my notes that he’d appeared at least once before. Apparently not, though.

One character who probably has appeared before is Port Security Chief Lizardi, who is most likely the same Liz Lizardi whom Miri’s Lizzie is named for. And if so, that’s interesting, because the last time we saw her she was solidly retired. No, I tell a lie: the last time we saw her she was with Hazenthull, and Diglon, helping Korval get themselves kicked off the homeworld. Perhaps, between that and helping organise the Lytaxin cavalry, she discovered she wasn’t as retired as she thought.

One of the advantages of reading a new book is I get to try and predict things. (And then, if my record on Trade Secret is any guide, you-all who have read it already get to laugh at how wrong I am.) So, for what it’s worth, I predict that the loudmouth’s “slip o’ the tongue” is connected in some way to the fellow Tolly wasn’t interested in meeting at the Emerald.

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 2

Audrey’s House of Joy
Blair Road

In which Audrey and Luken discuss carpets.

What with Luken’s speech here, and Val Con’s reflections last chapter, we’re getting what might be the beginning of a theme: things change, and having changed can’t be made back into what they were before.

This is the first time we’ve heard the name of Luken’s daughter Danise. It doesn’t escape my attention that we don’t get her full name, and I suspect it may be relevant that just a chapter ago we were reminded that a Liaden daughter might not be in the same clan as her father. What with all the scattered parts of Korval wondering about what each other were up to while Plan B was in effect, not to mention the scene in Ghost Ship in which all the members of the clan were at last reunited again under one roof, it’s been pretty firmly established that the members of the clan don’t currently include anybody named Danise.

It might be that she went to her mother’s family instead of her father’s at the outset, like Theo did. Or it might be that she started out in Korval – there’s a mention of Luken having a child in Local Custom, and Liaden custom would have required him to have at least one child for Korval – and ended up in another clan later, like Aelliana did only in the other direction. I expect, given that this is a point being introduced in the early chapters of a novel, that we’ll be getting more details later.

(Another detail that doesn’t escape my attention is that Danise’s younger sister is not said at any point to also be Luken’s daughter. “Sister” encompasses many possibilities in Liaden custom, many of which don’t require that Danise’s sister be kin to Danise’s father, and some of which don’t even require that Danise’s sister be kin to Danise.)

We’ve been told before that Luken, for all that he’s a friendly fellow, is somebody you don’t want to be on the wrong side of when there’s a Balance to be arranged; I think this is the first time we’ve gotten to see it for ourselves.

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 1

Jelaza Kazone

In which Val Con yos’Phelium receives two messages.

I confess to some surprise at the idea of Kareen being a mild and unruffled tutor. Perhaps there is something in Kamele’s manner that she finds pleasing. (Perhaps it’s the harmonica-playing dog principle: while a Liaden student would have high expectations to rise to, a Terran’s fumbles are rendered insignificant against the fact that a Terran is essaying Liaden at all.)

Necessity’s Child also had an early incident in which an attempt to reach out to one of the captured agents ended badly; the way the Department of the Interior operates, such attempts are unlikely to end otherwise. That novel did subsequently feature Rys’s breakthrough, and perhaps another breakthrough will occur in this one, but they will always be too late for the people lost along the way.

If Melsilee bar’Abit did manage to break her conditioning – and even if her behaviour portends something else – it’s striking for having apparently occurred without an external trigger. Val Con and Rys both started getting loose of their conditioning after major changes in their life circumstances, but Agent bar’Abit has been sitting for the last while in a prison where little changes from week to week, so the question is: what caused this to happen now?

Dragon in Exile – Prologue

In which Val Con speaks to his heir.

It’s a prologue. Not much to say about it, really. It reintroduces the key points for new readers, and for returning readers who don’t happen to have just finished reading the preceding novels.

One thing about doing it in a scene like this, instead of just doing a Story So Far narration straight to the audience, is that it also introduces a few characters, not just in the sense of telling the reader that they exist and what their names are, but also by showing what they’re like as people and how they interact with each other.


In which things are changing on Surebleak.

Even granting that a public gathering of all the Bosses seems like a good opportunity to make a statement, it strikes me as particularly lacking in foresight for the disgruntled pack to try and start something at, of all things, a shooting competition. That’s right up there with the legendary criminal who tried to knock over the local precinct’s favourite coffee shop during the cops’ lunch break.

The old argument about the new consolidated school suggests this is set shortly after Necessity’s Child, though how much after would depend on the balance between the newness of the school and the oldness of the argument. Actually, it might even be during the late stages of Necessity’s Child, if the argument is “what to do when the new school opens” rather than “what to do now the new school has opened”.

(It might turn out that I’d have had more to say about this story if I’d read it after Dragon in Exile, the way Trade Secret turned out to contain details that clarified the situation in “Out of True”, but I had important pragmatic reasons for putting Dragon in Exile last in the schedule, namely that that meant I could schedule everything without needing to know exactly how many chapters there are in Dragon in Exile.)

Dragon Ship – Epilogue

Jelaza Kazone

In which Kamele has a matter for the Delm of Korval.

The first meeting between Kamele and the Delm of Korval went rather better than I was expecting, the first time I read this; I particularly admire Val Con’s feat in navigating around the issue of Theo’s father’s name. However, it’s only a temporary measure; I can’t see them getting away with leaving him unnamed all the way until he returns to explain himself. (And likewise, the several complications involved in the situation of “Father’s first alliance”.)

To be fair to him, I don’t think he intends to hide the truth from Kamele; it is only that he’s being selective and giving her first the bits she needs to hear, while leaving the more confusing and worrying details for a moment when they might be explained clearly and received calmly.

And here, in a sense, the Liaden re-read comes to an end, since there’s nothing left to re-read. There are, however, several new things to read that have come out since I began this, and those will carry me through into October. Specifically, it’s the short story “Chimera” tomorrow, and the very-much-not-short Dragon in Exile after that.

Dragon Ship – Chapter 41


In which Theo encounters an old friend of the family.

A nice moment of cross-purpose: on hearing the message saying that Spiral Dance is out from Solcintra, Kara and Win Ton both think immediately of Solcintra City on Liad. After all, what other Solcintra is there?

I am not entirely sure what to make of Spiral Dance‘s reappearance. It could be considered as the end of something, with ship and passenger returning to yos’Phelium. But it could also be the forerunner of something: if they can make it through, what else might follow?

(The answer to that might depend on how, exactly, Spiral Dance found its way through. If it was only possible because of having a ssussdriad assisting the navigation, that’s probably an end of it, as there are no sussdriads left in the old universe. On the other hand, if the key event was Bechimo‘s haunted Struven Unit calling out in a way audible to old tech, that means the way is potentially still open – although even then, I suppose it’s unlikely that there’s going to be another ship with a haunted Struven Unit sitting in the wyrd space any time soon.)

It’s not clear how much time has passed for Spiral Dance since the Rising of Solcintra: that its passenger is now a tree and not just a seedling suggests it’s been a while, but the fact that it still fits in its planter shows that it’s been considerably less than the centuries it’s been for everyone else.