In which Sinit safeguards the clan’s treasures.
I’m always pleased to have another opportunity to spend time with Sinit, who’s one of my favourite characters in the series.
It’s also (speaking now as the presumptuous author of a suggested chronological reading order) something of a relief after the last few stories to have one that says up-front exactly where it fits chronologically.
The state of Mizel’s domestic finances seems to have gone downwards since Aelliana left; there were few enough domestic staff in evidence in Scout’s Progress, but they did at least have a cook, even if not a very good one. Although perhaps that’s less about the money and more about the fact that, with Ran Eld dead and Voni working away and Aelliana married and Sinit fostered, Birin Caylon is home alone most of the time and perhaps not of a mind to care much about what the meals are like. (The fact that Voni is employed, and not as a contract spouse, seems like a change in Mizel’s fortunes too, but I’m not sure exactly what it portends.)
The youngsters of the clan have been mentioned before, but this is the first time they’ve been numbered and named. Ver Non is Voni’s heir, and Tiatha is Aelliana’s (and is a bit older than Ver Non, a reminder of how early Aelliana was pushed into marriage). That leaves two, Jes and Zilli, whose parentage is not specified. It seems likely that one of them is Ran Eld’s, leaving one unaccounted for. Sinit is too young to be the mother of even the youngest of them, and we know Aelliana had no other children for Mizel, so it appears either Ran Eld or Voni managed two.
When Peers dea’Gauss was first addressed as Ms dea’Gauss, I wondered if she were the same Ms dea’Gauss who takes over from her father on his retirement in I Dare. But it’s subsequently established that she’s Mr dea’Gauss’s granddaughter, not his daughter — and then by the end of the story she’s more firmly attached to Mizel than to the family business. And then her Aunt Etha was introduced, and I wondered the same thing about her; but I don’t think it’s her, either, unless she’s being playful when she describes herself to young Sinit as an old woman, a description that doesn’t apply to Korval’s Ms dea’Gauss when we meet her many years later.
I had a feeling from quite early in the story that Peers was going to stick with Sinit even after her mandated term of service is up. I suspect that Voni pel’Dina’s story about the sister of her heart is intended by the authors, apart from its obvious literal purpose, to suggest the future course of Peers and Sinit’s partnership.