In which the Haosa welcome new arrivals.
We learn a bunch about life Off-Grid in this chapter.
Peck’s Market, where the supply caravan stops, is where Nersing carnYllum was trying to get a railway built to in the prologue when somebody may or may not have attempted to psychically murder him. Knowing that it’s a point of transition on the border between Civilization and the Off-Grid sheds some light on why that was a controversial proposal. Presumably if the railway does get built it will be able to more efficiently carry whatever supplies the supply caravan currently deals with; but it would also allow the more efficient carriage of people, which I can see being unappealing, for different reasons, to people at both ends.
I would like to hear more, and I expect we will, about this “rarifaction of the atmosphere”, and why it’s not an issue within the Grid.
We still don’t know precisely what kind of creature Dosent is, although now we know she’s large enough for an eight-year-old to ride on, and potentially alarming enough for an eight-year-old not to want to.
The family name of the new arrivals, “xinRood”, is about half of “Nomi-Oxin-Rood”, the name of the planet involved in Shan’s past discussion with Janifer Carresens-Denobli. I can’t see an obvious way for them to be connected, though. Another possibility that comes to mind is that maybe part of the name comes from them having distant Ixin ancestors.
There are norbears living in the Off-Grid, which doesn’t surprise me. It explains how Tekelia knew what one was, and they have a history of showing up on planets where weird stuff is part of the territory.
Of the two unknown people Eet offers for consideration, the first is pretty obviously a relative of the twins, I would guess their mother. Of the second, I can think of a couple of different possibilities. One is that the collective memories of the Redlands’ norbears include somebody from Clan Korval who was involved in relocating the ancestors of the Haosa. The other is that this story has already presented us with a person living now in Civilization who has been noted for having effective shields and a remarkable ring: Trader Isfelm, who was at the meeting with Bentamin last time we saw him. If that’s who Eet has in mind, does that mean Isfelm has a connection with Korval, or is it more that Eet and Tekelia are seeing a similarity because Isfelm and Padi are both traders?
By the end of the chapter, it’s been established that Vaiza (who — like Padi’s father at her age — sees sparkles) is a Wild Talent, but not that her brother is. I wonder if it’s possible that they will turn out to be one of each.
It’s clarified that being a Child of Chaos, like Tekelia, is a different and rarer thing than being a Wild Talent or one of the Haosa. It’s apparently got something to do with the way Tekelia’s eyes are a different colour every time they’re mentioned, and presumably also to do with Tekelia’s lack of pronouns. (Every other one of the Haosa we’ve met so far, including the ones who appear for the first time in this chapter, have established pronouns by now.)
The warning about why it’s a bad idea to touch Tekelia strikes me as the kind of warning where we’re probably going to get a practical demonstration before the story is over. I’m currently betting on it happening some time around the climactic confrontation, either by a villain who doesn’t understand the consequences or by a hero on the principle that things are going so badly it couldn’t make matters any worse.