Tag Archives: Guild of Traders

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 32

The Garden of Gems

In which there are attacks from multiple sides.

It’s still not clear whether this is one set of co-ordinated attacks, or separate attacks in space and on land that happen to coincide. Once Tarona Rusk declared herself an agent of the Department, and the people seeking Padi likewise, I was prepared to conclude that the attack on the Passage was also the work of the Department; after all, as we’ve been reminded, attacks under cover of rightful customs activity are a thing they’ve done before. But then there’s Priscilla’s Seeing that one or more of the attacks is motivated by “some local chief’s bid for celebrity” – presumably Plishet. Perhaps Plishet is working with the Department because they’ve persuaded him they can give him something he wants?

I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve heard of a dramliz working for the Department voluntarily. It’s a fairly horrifying prospect.

The implication that Shan could have been a full dramliz if he had wanted to be is interesting, both in connection with the unfolding pattern of Lute’s lives and in light of his statement to Padi that it’s not possible to choose not to be dramliz.

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 20

Admiral Bunter
Jemiatha’s Jumble Stop

In which Admiral Bunter returns.

I like the byplay about Padi using glancing-at-the-notepad as a way of providing appropriate pauses in the conversation, and the way it offers an explanation for her father’s ubiquitous glass of wine. (The glass of wine has a potential strategic advantage over glancing-at-the-notepad, in that the latter might make it look like one doesn’t really know what one is doing.)

It’s also another example of how two plot lines parallel each other within a chapter, because over in the other plot line we have Tolly thinking about how Admiral Bunter needs to learn about providing appropriate pauses in his conversation.

Thematic parallels aside, I still have no idea how, or if, the three plot strands are going to meet up. What has the progress of Dutiful Passage to do with Admiral Bunter, or either to do with the Uncle and Daav and Aelliana? Maybe Padi will accidentally stumble upon the ancient AI that the Uncle and Tocohl are each so interested in finding?

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 11

Dutiful Passage

In which you wait ages for one, then two show up at once.

It’s still not clear what manner of person Stew’s expert is; a courier ship registered out of Waymart could be just about anybody. It may imply something that Stew doesn’t recognise the name straight off; that suggests he asked for an expert from someone he knew could provide one, but that he didn’t contact the expert directly.

The name of the expert’s ship, for what it may be worth, seems to have a Biblical derivation: Ahab was a famously wicked king, and Esaias is an alternate transliteration of the prophet who is usually rendered in English as Isaiah. (Which makes an interesting juxtaposition, if that’s what the referents are.) These days the name Ahab is more familiar as the name of the obsessive hunter in Moby-Dick, which strikes me as a bit ominous.

It’ll be interesting to see how the metaphor of Padi as the bowl develops. It occurs to me that the idea of weapons and art coming together in harmony is also applicable to her father, who’s been struggling with that himself at least since his visit to Weapons Hall. (It also occurs to me, on a more mundane note, to wonder if Shan ever did find out how the potter planned to deal with bulk orders.)

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 38

Boss Conrad’s House
Blair Road

In which Penn Kalhoon has something to say.

I was wrong about the meeting Pat Rin sent Quin to, which I might have known if I’d thought; on further consideration, if it had been something other than an ordinary sort of meeting Pat Rin would have said so. This is not the first time I’ve been wrong in this novel about an upcoming meeting going to be the occasion for excitement; my persistent mistake has been to misunderstand what kind of story this is. I kept assuming that if a meeting got mentioned it was probably going to be important to the plot, and that if trouble was brewing it would come to a head quickly, but this is a more slow-burn story than that, and meetings of the Council of Bosses are important to the plot even if nothing dramatic happens at them simply because it matters to the characters that there is a Council of Bosses and that it’s holding regular meetings.

And that brings us around to what Pat Rin tells Penn, which is another thread of the ongoing thing about how the new ways are going to survive: if Pat Rin and Val Con and Miri get killed, that isn’t the end of the new Surebleak. Korval might have shown the way, but they couldn’t have made it happen without Surebleakeans, and now the way has been shown the Surebleakeans can make it happen without Korval if they have to.

I suspect it speaks to how much Surebleak has improved already that Pat Rin is able to compare its port to Solcintra’s Mid Port instead of its Low Port. For that matter, the state Surebleak Port was in when Pat Rin arrived was so run-down and uninhabited it might not even have stood a comparison to the Low Port, which whatever it may not be at least has an active population.

It hadn’t occurred to me how useful a scholar of the history of education might be in a city trying to develop a proper education system. I wonder how long the authors have been planning that one.

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 12

Tantara Floor Coverings
Surebleak port

In which Quin has a date.

The shop’s name, “Tantara”, is a variety of rare and valuable carpet – specifically, the variety of which the bel’Tarda heirloom carpet, bestowed on Pat Rin by Luken in “Heirloom”, is an example.

I still consider Beslin vin’Tenzing’s idea of Balance unreasonable, but on reflection I think I see where a Liaden would say I went wrong. Proper behaviour for a Liaden is to look out for oneself, one’s kin and dependents, to lend a hand to an ally if asked, and otherwise to pay every other person in the universe the compliment of assuming them capable of taking care of themselves. The desire to find a solution that serves everybody harmed in the attack on Solcintra would not be admirable to a Liaden, but instead an unconscionable failure to mind one’s own business. vin’Tenzing’s duty is to do no more than find a solution that serves vin’Tenzing, and if in the process somebody else’s solution gets stepped on it’s up the other person to take it up with vin’Tenzing as a fresh matter requiring Balance.

Dragon Ship – Chapter 35


In which Kamele receives news of her daughter.

I like that the news of Theo’s activities comes from news sources that show a range of degrees of reliability and accuracy, where a writer less committed to worldbuilding might have just had one. (I particularly appreciate the detail of the biased summary on the Eylot situation saying “Eylot threatened with interdiction; vessel destroyed”, which makes it sound like somebody threatened Eylot for no reason and then destroyed a ship, instead of Eylot destroying a ship and being threatened with consequences.)

Joyita has acquired a fourth ring since last time they were mentioned, which was at Velaskiz Rotundo, just before Kara signed on as crew – and putting that way makes me wonder if that’s the key. Perhaps the fourth ring represents Kara, and the original two represent Theo and Clarence… or Theo and Win Ton, the holders of the first two ship keys, and the third was added at the point when Bechimo accepted Clarence as a crew member and not just a temporary nuisance. (It appears, I think, at about the same point that Bechimo stops objecting to being addressed as “Chimmy”.)

Dragon Ship – Chapter 27

Codrescu Station

In which more help arrives.

It’s not clear yet how many of the new arrivals are here following Bechimo‘s example. It might be that some of them were coming anyway, but didn’t have Bechimo‘s head start of already being outward bound when the call came; maybe they had business to settle before they could leave, or thought of useful things to round up and bring with them. (I’m thinking of Varthaven, for instance: do they always have doctors and a clinic on board, or was that something they had to arrange before they came?) Or it could be that every one of them is here because Asu was not only inspired but decided to share the inspiration around. Certainly the way they all arrive at once suggests some level of organization.

As of this chapter, Dragon Ship agrees with Ghost Ship (as one might expect) in declaring that it is currently summer on Surebleak.

I Dare – Chapter 55


In which the Captain acts for the safety of the passengers.

The mode of Ultimate Authority, which is referred to twice in this chapter, has, perhaps unsurprisingly, not come up much before: three times in the series up to this point. Priscilla adopts it briefly when putting Sav Rid Olanek in his place at the end of Conflict of Honors; Commander of Agents is said in Carpe Diem to use it when dealing with his underlings; and Val Con, greeting the Tree in Plan B, places the Tree in the position of ultimate authority.

The fact that it’s used twice in this chapter, and by whom, is the central conflict in a nutshell: the first is Commander of Agents again, and the second is Miri when she takes on the melant’i of Liad’s Captain. And I think it says something that, whereas Miri adopts the mode temporarily and in a situation where she is in fact the duly-appointed ultimate authority until the emergency is resolved, the Commander is not only self-appointed but apparently expects to be regarded as the ultimate authority all the time.

There’s a leap near the end of the chapter that I’ve never been able to follow. After the doomsday weapons are activated, ter’Fendil says he can deactivate them if Val Con gives him the control device, and Val Con does. Then it cuts to another scene, and when it cuts back everybody’s running for their lives and talking about the urgent need to do something before the weapons break out and start killing everybody. Is there something missing, or is it just me missing something?

Conflict of Honors – Chapter 49

Master’s Tower, Theopholis
Witch’s Hour

In which Balance is achieved.

Not the usual sort of settling of accounts one might expect at the end of an adventure story, but one which suits Priscilla’s character, and also helps demonstrate that “Balance” is not necessarily the same thing as “revenge”.

On which note, Delm Plemia clearly expects Korval and Priscilla to demand more in balance of Sav Rid’s follies than they actually do. It speaks to his melant’i that he doesn’t try to argue his way out of anything; he’s seen the evidence and he knows it’s a fair cop.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 15

In which Aelliana and Daav go to inspect their ship and make discoveries of several kinds.

Several important developments occur in this chapter, but they’re the kind of things I’m not good at stringing words together about.

I’m much better at the trivial observations, like noting that there are a few details in this chapter that have extra resonance for readers familiar with other books in the series, like Clonak’s choice of occupation, or the way Trilla apologises before wiping her face.