Tag Archives: Avontai

Dragon in Exile – Interlude 1

On Luminier Plain

In which Daav and Aelliana go through a different door.

This scene possibly suffers from extra-textual factors: it’s a big emotional moment for Daav, but for the reader (at least, if the reader is me) it’s an exercise in ticking off things we already knew from the last few books. Daav is dying, the door that speaks to him of home is the door to what the Bedel call the World Beyond, the force preventing him from entering it is the Uncle’s attempts to revive him, and the two glowing tunnels represent —

— something that, it occurs to me, I didn’t comment on at the time, because I thought it was obvious, but which should be said at some point. The Tree gave Daav two seed pods, one addressed to Aelliana, and that inspired the Uncle to prepare two rebirthing units. Two doors, as Aelliana says here, for two pilots. The implication is that the end of the process is not only the revivification of Daav, but also the revivification, in her own body, of Aelliana.

(Or will it be her own body? Daav’s a straightforward case, since he’s physically present, but unless there’s something to be got from the puzzle-ring after all these years the rebirthing unit has no physical template for Aelliana. Can it construct a body entirely from memories?)

I’m being somewhat unfair, I realise, and not every reader is going to have the same reaction as me. Not everybody who reads this novel will have just recently finished reading the previous books. For some readers, this is re-establishing details they haven’t thought about since Dragon Ship came out, three years ago. There are even likely to be readers, sooner or later, who picked this book up first, and for whom all of this needs to be explained for the first time.

I think it’s worth noting something that’s brought to mind by mentioning the Bedel’s idea of the World Beyond where a person is free from the injuries and troubles of life, and which the story itself has gestured to both in this chapter and in one of the chapters of the Uncle overseeing Daav’s resurrection: hauling Daav back to the land of the living serves necessity, but it may not be doing Daav a kindness.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 33

In which Daav decides to go into a possibly-hostile port without accepting backup.

Had this book been other than it is, the previous chapter might easily have been the last, perhaps with an epilogue in which Daav finally gets to hold his son in his arms. It is, after all, what the main plot line was building up to for the last two volumes.

But this is a prequel, which knows if any form of literature does that Peter Beagle was right about endings, and getting married isn’t the end of the story; it just means that Daav and Aelliana now have attention to spare for what else is going on in their lives.

I see a parallel between Daav’s decision to go to the Low Port alone, declining backup, and Aelliana’s decision last novel to go to the house of Mizel alone, declining backup, though in this case I’m not sure the decision is wrong; Daav does have a point about the advantages of working alone and under the radar. Still, one can wish he could have gone better protected. (Perhaps another Scout might have worked, if there were another Scout he could trust with this business. It’s a pity that Clonak is not available to be suggested as a possibility.)

Daav’s deliberately exaggerated worst-case hypothesis of “ghosts who lure the unsuspecting into the mists and steal their self-will” is not, after all, so far from the truth as one might prefer.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 31

In which some people have a better time than others at Lady Kareen’s gather.

Kareen’s attempt to show Aelliana up in polite company falls completely flat, partly due to Lady yo’Lanna having taken her under her wing, but also in large part to Aelliana’s own actions preceding her; even people she’s never met know and respect her. And when Kareen abandons that course of action and hurries on to the sequel of introducing her to Daav’s former wife-to-be, that if anything falls even flatter. (And it strikes me that Kareen might have been able to foresee much of this outcome if she’d made an honest attempt to get to know Aelliana, or even just to learn about Aelliana, instead of writing her off as an obstacle. But then, of course, she wouldn’t have wanted to try to show Aelliana up in the first place.)

If I recall correctly, we will eventually see Scholar yo’Vestra again in “Daughter of Dragons”, the short story that gives Lady Kareen her day in the limelight. My memory is not entirely certain on this point, but I do recall that the story includes a scholar who is Lady Kareen’s colleague and close friend, and at the risk of doing her a disservice I have to observe that the number of Lady Kareen’s close friends doesn’t seem to be large.

I like Delm Guayar, both as a person and as an example of the authors’ craft; even on a short acquaintance, the family resemblance to Clonak is unmistakeable.

The narrator says of Samiv tel’Izak that she is “young enough to perhaps be Bindan’s daughter”, which reminds me that I don’t think we’ve ever been told what their actual relationship is. In contrast to Daav, who relates to his clan members as their kinsman first and their delm only when necessary, we’ve never seen Gath tel’Izak be anybody else to Samiv except her delm.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 26

In which Aelliana attends her first gather, and sweeps all before her.

The guest list at yo’Lanna’s gather has a nice sense of history, being a mix of new people, people who were at Korval’s gather in chapter 26 of Scout’s Progress, and people who were at Etgora’s gather in “Choice of Weapons”. In the last category is Etgora Himself, the father of the young man whose enthusiasm Daav was obliged to dampen. (There’s also a reference to that event when Daav and the hostess are exchanging greetings.)

Less charmingly, there are also echoes of the other story set around that time: “The Beggar King”, in which pilots were mysteriously going missing, and Daav was not able to find those responsible, only oblige them to suspend their activities for a time. That time, it appears, has now passed, and pilots are going missing again.

The bond between Daav and Aelliana is developing, however slowly; Daav now possesses the ability to know without looking when Aelliana enters the room, the inverse of which Aelliana has had since the beginning of the novel.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 21

In which Hevelin is employed and Jen Sar Kiladi is recognised.

The fame of the Revisor of the ven’Tura Tables is spread far and wide; not even by travelling into Terran-held space has Aelliana avoided being greeted as that Caylon by the pilots she meets. (That implies that there are underlying principles shared by both the Terran and the Liaden methods of space travel, if the ven’Tura Tables are of use to both.)

The norbear with the rusty streaks in his fur is named Hevelin, in tribute to the authors’ friend Rusty Hevelin, who by all accounts was that happy person mentioned in the chapter quote who found a friend at every port.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 20

In which there is a price to be paid by those who don’t know better than to interfere in an alleyway brawl.

This chapter is the one in which Daav says that it is the fate of the courier to catch glimpses of other lives and never know how they turned out, which I mentioned in an earlier entry is how I feel about some of the Liaden short stories.

Aelliana’s knack for intercepting projectiles is going to come up again.

Food watch: it is not said what was in the stew, but the fact of it being sold at a greens market suggests it was probably vegetables again.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 19

In which courier pilot Aelliana Caylon makes her first interstellar delivery.

The other thing I wonder, speaking of the incident with Delm Hedrede in Scout’s Progress, is whether Dath jo’Bern is the same person as Delm Hedrede. We never got Hedrede’s personal name, nor any other personal details beyond “female” and “not young”; Dath jo’Bern is female, and if she’s a grandmother’s cha’leket she’s probably not young. If she is delm, one might have expected the fact to be mentioned, but I think that’s thinking like a Terran, and a Liaden might say that it’s an irrelevant detail when she’s acting in a personal capacity. (We’ve seen that several times with Daav and Delm Korval, as recently as when Aelliana told Mr dea’Gauss Daav yos’Phelium was going to be her co-pilot.) On the other hand, would Delm Hedrede choose to give business to one so closely associated with Korval, after that incident in Council?

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 18

In which Kiladi gets the third degree, Ride the Luck gets a job offer, and Clarence O’Berin gets a mixed reception.

This appears to be a chapter for Daav to encounter old acquaintances (“friends” is too strong a word for some of them, if not all). There is Clarence O’Berin, the Juntavas Boss who Daav met in “The Beggar King” (which is already 15 years ago, although one imagines they’ve met again a time or two since then). There is the merchant Gus Tav bel’Urik, who was one of the guests at the gather Daav held for his betrothed in Local Custom. And there is Scholar Expert Jen Sar Kiladi, who is clearly someone Daav knows well, though for now we are getting only hints as to how.

Clan Hedrede has gone up in the world. Aelliana notes here that they are High House; when last we heard of them, in Scout’s Progress, they were in the Mid rank. It was noted that they were in the top 5% of the Mid rank, but it was also noted that they’d been there, apparently content, for many years. And now, apparently, something has changed. One can’t help wondering if it had anything to do with that incident that occurred when last we heard of them.

The nature of Tey Dor’s establishment, at which Aelliana and Daav have an appointment following lunch, is not elaborated on here, but it’s established elsewhere that it revolves around guns and the shooting thereof. It would appear that firearm proficiency is one aspect of the preparations they’re making for the courier life.

As this is apparently a thing I notice now, Aelliana and Daav’s lunch is once again meatless; the soup is noted as being a vegetable chowder.