The Gate That Locks the Tree – Act 9, Scene 1

In the Hall of the Mountain King

In which Vertu Dysan greets the new day.

With Toragin’s solution, the authors are doing a thing they’ve done a few times before: establishing the outline of the solution, but leaving the details to be filled in later in case a later story should suggest a particular detail.

The Tree seems to be making a fairly immediate start on trying new ways to talk to its family and friends. I have questions. In the past, it’s seemed like the Tree could only verbalise by replaying the memory of words spoken by others — is that what it’s doing here, and if so, whose voice is it using? Or is this a new trick it’s picked up over the years, and just hasn’t felt a need to show off as long as the old methods still did the job? (Does it, perhaps, rely to some degree on whatever small talent Vertu has that allows her sense of the Tree’s location?)

Somewhere in the last few chapters, the cats in this story have crossed a line that my suspension of disbelief is reluctant to follow them over. I don’t know what it is, or why I should be even having trouble with sapient and communicative cats when I haven’t balked at a sapient and communicative tree, which ought surely to be much less credible. Maybe because the Tree is explicitly not like any tree I’ve encountered in real life, while the cats are accompanied by a host of familiar details that make them seem like ordinary cats. I was okay when there were vague hints about the cats being sapient but it stayed vague and any messages from the cats were indirect and approximate, but something about Toragin being able to deliver specific messages from the cats is making it solider and harder to swallow.

6 thoughts on “The Gate That Locks the Tree – Act 9, Scene 1

  1. Ed8r

    Paul: vague hints about the cats being sapient

    Much as I love cats, and always enjoy when the authors include them, I must allow agreement with you about crossing the line. For me, I think it has to do with previous examples being few and mysterious, whereas this book transforms them into something more concrete and commonplace. In fact, this observation applies also to the idea of Jeeves “translating” for the Tree. I don’t want concrete and commonplace communications between the Tree and its dragons!

  2. Brenda

    I’ve had experience with cats sensing that an ill person needs extra attention, but these communicating cats are more than I like. I also don’t like the tree making a mistake and needing to be contrite – prefer mysterious and wise.
    That being said, I loved this story – one of my favorites. Thanks for your explanations and speculations.

  3. Skip

    You’ve all three expressed my discomfort with this story. I liked the story, but I felt like it almost distorted some characters, as we’ve long known cats and Tree, Korval and Jeeves. An apologetic Tree, who — after all — was expelled from Liad and hunted by DOI, didn’t fit with the humble contrition. And Tree is Tree. Not human. Nor should we expect such things of Tree.

    And to me, Jeeves was so extensively an interpreter for Tree that he diminished the close relationship Korval has with Tree. Likewise for cats. Sudden characterization change!

    And frankly, what is the logic of an AI complex logic having this ability above humans?

    So I liked the story for the chance to visit the gang but…

    Also, I never quite got what was so different about Toragin?? Is she dramlisa ? Cat whispere? Surely that’s not new to Liad / Liadens?

    Glad to see Virtu and Cheever together

  4. Ed8r

    The more I ponder the changes in character we all recognized here, the more I wish the story had been claimed to be merely a lo-o-ng splinter.

    fyi, SL has announced that the existing splinters are being gathered into a chapbook (finally) and that one long (NEW!) splinter will be taking their place on the website.

  5. Engywuck

    In various earlier works we were told that at least some melant’i plays are unreliable and show a distorted view. Also such a play could be – as it’s focused on the melant’i – unreliable in matters non-melant’i which it distorts to make the menant’i more obious.
    So there’s hope… 😉

  6. Skip

    Cats are from mundane earth and known to us . Tree is from a different planet. So I accepted Tree as alien, sentient, mysterious and wizardly, far more so than cats.

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