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.