The Gathering Edge – Chapter 12

Seebrit Station
The Sweet Rest Hostel

In which Ambassador Vepal pursues his necessities.

It doesn’t surprise me that Vepal has an Explorer’s training. Imagine an ordinary Yxtrang officer trying to do this job!

The depiction of Vepal going about his mission in this chapter actually reminds me quite a bit of Jela going about his mission in the Crystal prequels: on a possible fool’s errand looking for something that might prevent the imminent downfall of his people, that nobody can help him with, and some would rather he didn’t live to find.

An amusing aside: On first reading the chapter, I failed to notice that the comment about “unreal Yxtrang” was a response to the trader’s desire to see a “real Yxtrang”, and gained the misapprehension that “unreal Yxtrang” were the object of Vepal’s search. I had already drafted an extensive paragraph speculating about whether “unreal Yxtrang” might be an attempt at describing people like Chernak and Stost, and indeed whether Vepal might be looking for Chernak and Stost specifically, before I realised my error.

I believe this is the first time we’ve had this information about Yxtrang being biologically wired to pursue immediate action. This could explain a lot about how their society has ended up. (So could, specifically, the detail about Vepal finding it hard to think clearly in the aftermath.)

The description of the face Vepal imagines as his target is just specific enough that I suspect we’ll be hearing more about its owner at some point.

The recurring thing in the Liaden novels where a character introduces themselves to a cat by holding out a finger to be sniffed always bemuses me, because I have never known that to work in real life. Maybe the cats around here have a different local custom. Or perhaps I’m just not a person cats wish to be introduced to, which is always a possibility.

3 thoughts on “The Gathering Edge – Chapter 12

  1. Jami Ellison

    Yes, Vepal reminded me of Jela, too. And of Nelirikk. The story of the misguided Trang is quite interesting to me. And if the Trang who served as rear guard during the migration tried to make a home on Liad and were treated like outsider pariahs by the likes of Olanak and Hebrede, I cannot blame them for warring with Liadens.
    It would be funny if Vepal’s punching bag image were to match Nelirikk’s.

  2. Ed8r

    PA: a character introduces themselves to a cat by holding out a finger to be sniffed always bemuses me, because I have never known that to work in real life.

    I wonder if the authors’ many cats have been “trained” to this gesture, because none of the cats in my family (I can think of 9 offhand) have responded to this mode of introduction either.

  3. Paul A. Post author

    I’ve had some more success at it recently, since I read somewhere else that it’s important not to make direct eye contact with a cat while trying to make friends with it, because that’s an unfriendly statement in cat body language. I’m still dubious about the way the authors make it seem like something every cat knows.

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