Neogenesis – Chapter 20 part VII

In which there is some excitement at dinner.

I notice that when Val Con and Miri are rendering Korval’s judgement, the placement of the quotation marks indicates that they are speaking alternate sentences, but there’s a lack of dialogue tags indicating who is speaking which sentence. In a way, of course, that’s only appropriate because it doesn’t matter — either way, it’s Delm Korval speaking — but I’d be interested to know whether the judgement itself is spoken by the half of the delm whose idea it was or the half who had to be convinced that it would work.

(I was never in doubt what the judgement would be, by the way, only uncertain how that conclusion would be reached in the face of the obstacles.)

Val Con has expressed willingness to let Theo find out what has become of her father, but it remains to be seen what they plan to tell Kamele.

Miri’s hideaway gun gets the use for which the authors have been reminding us of its existence.

I might have guessed it would be in this context, too, if I’d thought. Only, to be honest, I haven’t been thinking much at all about Ren Zel’s subplot, which has been completely failing to engage me. Well, the bits involving the human emotion of Ren Zel and Anthora knowing that Ren Zel faces a task that may cost him his life, okay, yes. But the task itself feels completely divorced from the rest of the story. A mystical danger to the entire universe is a whole different level from what anybody else in the story is dealing with, and it doesn’t appear to connect at all to anything that anybody else in the story is dealing with. (It doesn’t help that we don’t get a lot of concrete detail about this Shadow that’s apparently threatening the universe. What is it? Where does it come from? We’re not told. Is it affecting the universe in any way visible to anyone who isn’t Ren Zel? Not so as you’d notice.) It ends up feeling like the whole thing is an irrelevant make-work task and the plot wouldn’t be noticeably altered if Ren Zel and Anthora had just spent the book sitting quietly in their room — which is a pretty serious failure of dramatic weight for a threat to the entire universe.

I had thought at one point that it might be connected to the Tinsori Light situation, that the damage to the universe threatened by the Light’s breakdown might be causing or enabling the Shadow that Ren Zel perceived. If there is a connection, though, it has not made itself apparent, and if there were a connection I would expect Ren Zel’s battle against the Shadow to tie in somehow with the mentors’ success at their own task.

(But perhaps there is a tie-in and we just haven’t got to it yet. After all, the last word from Tolly at Tinsori Light was “And the universe went away”, which might not be entirely metaphorical.)

7 thoughts on “Neogenesis – Chapter 20 part VII

  1. Ed8r

    I found that things happened too fast for me in this chapter. I had to go back and read this part several times. It seemed so completely unconnected to Tinsori Light, and when we changed POV to the Light, we had to pick up after the action there.

    I found myself frustrated and unsatisfied to have to make my own connections, which always feels to me as if I’ve been left guessing, instead of being given the whole story by the authors (not only these authors).

  2. Skip

    As you say, I also found myself skimming all the sections about Ren Zel’s addiction to the golden lines, in this book and previous books. I like Ren Zel very much, but those “interludes” — which started in Dragon in Exile — felt like a distraction from what was going on in the real world.

    This scene is also mystical, but at least there is action.

    You will learn more about all this in coming chapters.

  3. James Lynn

    I too struggled with the Ren Zel and the universe subplot: I can’t get emotionally attached to plots that involve one man using incomprehensible means to save the universe. Though I think it’s necessary to acknowledge the authorial chutzpah in having the protagonists save the universe in the fourth book of a five book sequence. I had no problem with the addiction subplot though, which was as comprehensible and personal as any other addiction storyline is to a non-addict.

    There’s a surprising bit of inter-cultural cluelessness from (I think) Val Con earlier in the part, where he says that it is concern for the danger it would attract to her that is why they haven’t brought Theo under tree (which from the context clearly means made her a member of the clan). It is perfectly clear that Theo has no intention of joining Korval, whatever they do.

  4. Ed8r

    James: surprising bit of inter-cultural cluelessness from (I think) Val Con earlier

    Coming back to this: Why do you find it to be clueless? Certainly, as a reader, we know Theo’s mindset, but we also know she has eaten of the pods from her seedling Tree, which we would expect to give her a certain affinity for Korval, even as Bechimo pulls her the opposite direction. But all Val Con really knows is that she is his sister, so why wouldn’t he expect to bring her “Under Tree”?

  5. James Lynn


    I think that Val con is operating in a liaden mindspace, in which (I think) anyone the Delm says is a member of the clan is. Even if I have misunderstood Liaden practice on this point, he clearly thinks that being a clan member is so enormously better than not being that if offered the choice, Theo would obviously accept.

    But to a Terran, such as Theo, being a clan member means subordinating your will to the Delm’s, and no one would agree to it without an overwhelming reason. Theo is perfectly happy to have relatives, but even without the access to her point of view that we have, she has given no indication that she’s willing to be a clan member (ie subordinate to Val Con). And without such an indication there should be a strong assumption that a Terran doesn’t want to join any clan.

  6. Ed8r

    Thanks for explaining. I don’t think Val Con is clueless necessarily…what experience does he have that would speak to a relative being unwilling to be counted with their clan? But, OTOH, I agree with you that he’s not thinking in terms of a Terran, but only as a Liaden.

  7. Ed8r

    After my third time through, I find myself enjoying Ren Zel’s metaphysical part of the plot just as much as the more practical aspects of rescuing the universe from the Enemy. (I confess, I keep expecting the authors to reveal somewhere that “Ren Zel” means “lion,” but we’ll ignore that for the nonce.)

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