Tag Archives: face taboo

Degrees of Separation – Chapter 3

Liad

In which Don Eyr fails to persuade Serana to leave him.

I was actually kind of surprised by how useful Don Eyr and Serana found the melant’i plays as a guide to Liaden behaviour; people who have tried that in other stories have had mixed success due to their source texts being unrealistic, melodramtic, or outright fraudulent.
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Due Diligence – Chapter 7

In which Fer Gun thinks before he signs.

I think this is the most detailed explanation we’ve had of how there came to be so few people in Korval.
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Due Diligence – Chapter 4

In which Fer Gun pen’Uldra gets married.

And so here is the context for the things that had puzzled me about Chi’s behaviour.
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I Dare – Chapter 30

Day 355
Standard Year 1392

Hamilton Street
Surebleak

In which Pat Rin and Natesa come to an understanding.

The bit about the “familiar flames of loss” is telling: events have taught Pat Rin to expect that everything he loves will be taken from him, one way or another.

So the fact that he expects incorrectly this time will be good for him in more ways than one.

I Dare – Chapter 26

Day 345
Standard Year 1392

Jolie’s House of Joy
Surebleak

In which Pat Rin and Natesa pass the eve of an enterprise of surpassing danger.

I am convinced that the ambiguous moment in which Natesa shows up naked in Pat Rin’s bedroom is the primary reason for which the detail of “naked” being Surebleak slang for “unarmed” exists.

Not that it’s without layers of its own; the implications of the analogy say a lot about the conditions of life on Surebleak.

Plan B – Chapter 15

Erob’s Hold
Freeze-Dry Prison

In which the Lytaxin Combined Forces gain a new recruit.

Val Con reporting Nelirikk as an example of a “potentially sapient race” is one of my favourite moments in a chapter with many excellent moments.

Incidentally, Val Con’s account of their first meeting confirms that he held the rank of captain before being promoted to commander, though that still seems to me backward from the way I’m used to seeing ranks work. Come to think of it, the same thing is visible this chapter with the mercs — Commander Carmody outranks Captain Robertson — but I don’t think I ever paid that much attention before because I figured a merc unit might use whatever ranks it likes, and it makes sense for Suzuki and Jase to be the Commanders when they’re the ones in command of the unit. For that matter, it’s been mentioned in the past that the individual in command of the Scouts is the Scout Commander, which is presumably different from being a scout with the rank of Commander. At this point, I’m about ready to just throw up my hands and go on to a less confusing subject.

The name of Nelirikk’s “toy”, the Shibjela, calls back (or forward, if one is reading in publication order) to a weapon called a “shib” that Jela carries in Crystal Soldier. The two weapons don’t actually seem very similar beyond being worn, contrary to their names, concealed in the belt; Jela’s shib is described as more like a whip, with a flexible ceramic cutting edge that can slice through bone. Perhaps it was the product of old technology since lost, or perhaps what was lost was a detailed description of what it actually was, and either way the Shibjela is somebody’s best attempt to recontruct it with the knowledge and technology available.

I did wonder briefly if the medic named Chen, who comes to attend to Nelirikk at the end of this chapter, was the same person as “Doc Tien”, who saw to him when he was first brought in, give or take someone’s attempt to pronounce a name from an unfamiliar culture. But Chen is male and Tien was female, so that’s unlikely.

I wonder what it says about the Yxtrang worldview that they have one God of Quartermasters but multiple Gods of Irony.

Plan B – Chapter 4

Lytaxin
Approaching Erob

In which Miri Tayzin Robertson meets her family.

I suspect Val Con of conscious irony when he says that Korval has never ruled the world, considering how many people over the centuries have glossed Delm Korval as King of Liad. There’s definitely irony, though unconscious on Miri’s part (but conscious on the part of the authors) in Miri’s reassurance to herself that she’s never going back to Surebleak.

Val Con’s address to the child of Jela’s hope is an example of a literary convention that makes linguists and historians wail and gnash their teeth: the use of “thee” and “thy” to indicate archaic formality. The problem is that “thee” and “thy” are actually archaic informality; to the extent that English has ever had something resembling Liad’s distinction between High Tongue and Low Tongue, “thee” and “thy” were Low Tongue, used when speaking with close friends and family — or, depending on context, to address social inferiors. Not the most appropriate of modes for the most junior servant to use in addressing the utmost authority!

I’m willing to buy that the guest apartment Val Con and Miri are staying in is bigger than Zhena Trelu’s house, but I think the bit about the bathroom the size of Lytaxin spaceport is probably an exaggeration.

Val Con’s recitation of his relatives has two or three notable omissions. Two are easily explained: Shan’s lifemating and Anthora’s children post-date Val Con being taken by the Department, so of course he doesn’t know about them. That explanation doesn’t cover the complete lack of any mention of Line bel’Tarda, but that may be covered by the disclaimer that he’s only touching on the minimum necessary to survive the evening’s social event; perhaps Val Con figured that the odds of anyone of Erob mentioning bel’Tarda at the dinner were low enough that they could safely be left, along with the attendant explanations, for another time.

I wonder what it portends that Emrith Tiazan is Delm Erob but Bendara Tiazan is Thodelm Tiazan. Perhaps just that Erob and Tiazan, unlike Korval and yos’Phelium in their present state, are large enough that one person cannot do both jobs well.

Carpe Diem – Chapter 53

Dutiful Passage

In which the captain has a task for the first mate, as one member of Korval to another.

There’s something funny going on with the timing between last chapter and this. Since receiving Nova’s declaration, Dutiful Passage has visited three planets, shedding cargo and crew, a process that must have taken days if not weeks. (From Ardred to Raggtown alone was twenty days in Conflict of Honors, although that was on a trading schedule and they’re presumably travelling more quickly and more directly now.) And so, days or weeks after receiving Nova’s declaration, comes a pinbeam from Anthora, reporting an attack on Trealla Fantrol — which attack took place less than an hour after Nova declared Plan B to be in effect. Pinbeams, we’ve been told, are considerably more expensive than more common methods of long-distance communication, and part of the reason for that is because they don’t take weeks to get to their destination.

On the other hand, the name implies that a pinbeam message is sent directly to its destination, which might mean that it relies on the recipient being in a known location. Perhaps Anthora directed the message to where the Dutiful Passage was scheduled to be, but the Passage wasn’t there because it had already shifted to moving more quickly and more directly, and the message has been playing catch-up since.

Speaking of shedding cargo, there’s an interesting mention of the ship’s very outline having changed, become “lean and sleek”, which suggests that in the normal course of things the ship carries some significant amount of cargo attached to the outside of it instead of carried within internal cargo bays.

What Shan says in this chapter indicates how far off the mark the Department’s view of Korval is. The Department sees that Korval is powerful, and suspects Korval of being a rival for control of Liad’s interests, because that’s what it would be in Korval’s place. But Korval’s interests and priorities are not the same as the Department’s, arising from origins so different that the Department probably wouldn’t be able to understand them even if it was aware of them.

The way Shan tells Priscilla about his decision ties back to the conversation they had earlier about the necessity of seeking for Val Con, in which he said that since they were not yet lifemates Korval’s necessities were not yet hers.

Carpe Diem – Chapter 8

Orbit
Interdicted World I-2796-893-44

In which Miri and Val Con plan an invasion.

Ooh, foreshadowing.

Val Con’s concern that Miri might find his scar repellant is another of those moments that has extra resonance if you know things that haven’t been said in this novel. Injuries that mark the face are particularly distressing to Liadens, as we’ve seen in “Phoenix” (and as we’ll see in future when Val Con is among Liadens again).

Agent of Change – Chapter 20

In which Agent of Change Val Con yos’Phelium meets his death.

Hmm. The glossary in the back of Pilot’s Choice is quite explicit that “Entranzia volecta” is High Liaden, with the Low equivalent being “Tra’sia volecta”. Then again, Miri says she understood that bit, so maybe her complaint about Val Con springing Low Liaden on her applies only to the “cha’trez”, which is definitely Low Liaden. That just leaves the question of whether it’s likely that Val Con would mix High and Low Liaden in a single three-word sentence.

On a less confusing note of drawing-information-from-other-stories: Given what we know from the prequels about Liaden customs, the non-verbal components of Val Con’s leave-taking say a lot about his regard for Miri and his hopes for the future, though Miri herself is no more able to translate than she is able to translate the murmured comment that precedes them. (I wonder whether Val Con would have done the same if Miri did possess the knowledge to interpret, or if he only allows himself to make the declaration because it won’t be understood.)