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Dark Secrets

In which the crack team of Kilsymthe and yo’Dira deal with some unfinished business.

Being that this story involves an entirely new cast of characters at an entirely new location, it’s a bit short of indications about where it fits in relative to the main series. It’s more recent than the Jethri books, since the team-up of a Terran spacer and Liaden is unpopular in some quarters but not considered a remarkable innovation. The bit about “the asterisked end-notes in the ven’Tura Tables” might indicate that it’s before the Tables were properly revised. Caerli uses the technique called the Smuggler’s Ace; the earliest mention we have of that is in Scout’s Progress, but I don’t think we know how old it already was then, so that doesn’t help much.

The list of customers at the drinkery includes two women in “librarian’s robes”, which I’m not sure what to make of.

Neogenesis – Chapter 8


In which Korval goes visiting.

Kamele has a come a long way in her understanding of risk and safety since we first met her.
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Dragon in Exile – Chapter 32

Jelaza Kazone

In which Surebleak is invaded.

Some of the annoying tourists doubtless are just annoying tourists, and some, as Quin suspects, come to test Korval’s melant’i, but there’s also the possibility that somebody might be planning to use the horde of tourists as a diversion while they attempt to do some real damage. I think Jeeves’s emergency declaration indicates that he has also considered this latter possibility.

Quin’s particular annoying tourist has a Solcintran accent, which indicates that even though the tour is being offered by a somewhat disreputable outworld, some of those who have taken it up are from Liad itself. One does not need to be from an outworld to be somewhat disreputable.

I wonder if this is going to turn out to be connected in some way to the still-unresolved question of whether the Council of Clans has been encouraging people to act against Korval.

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 27

Office of the Road Boss
Surebleak Port

In which it’s time to be gone.

I expect we’ll get Tolly’s story in a chapter or two, but what’s the fun of reading a book for the first time if one can’t speculate? I had wondered, when it was established that Tolly’s former employer was a Liaden, if this was another aspect of the Department of the Interior, and the mental-control business with the whistles also points in that direction. (If so, I notice that Liaden servants of the Department get names, but Terrans, even if they’re valuable specialists, are tools with serial numbers.) On the other hand, indications so far have been that the Department doesn’t think enough of Terrans to use them even as anonymous tools. Maybe this is some kind of splinter operation; maybe it’s a completely unrelated bunch of unscrupulous Liadens. It might not even be a Liaden group entirely; the woman with the other whistle isn’t said to be Liaden, and although she is said to be small in stature, it’s Hazenthull’s viewpoint saying so, and there are maybe three people on Surebleak who don’t look small to Hazenthull.

I was worried that, with Hazenthull having to take off with Tolly, there’d be nobody left to explain matters to Commander Liz, but Tocohl will be in contact with the port tower during lift, and maybe she’ll get a chance to pass a message then. Or she probably has some way of communicating directly with Jeeves, and can dump the whole thing in his metaphorical lap. (There’s another thing to look forward to: Hazenthull’s reaction to Tocohl.)

Dragon Ship – Chapter 10

Landing Pad Number Nine
Regent’s Airfield Number One

In which Bechimo takes on cargo at an airport.

Twenty-three Standard years is a long time for the pods to have been in storage. That means they’ve been in storage longer than Shan’s been a Jump pilot, let alone a Master Trader – and longer than Theo’s been alive.

And another drib of what’s happened to Daav. I suspect the authors of stringing out the scenes that don’t involve Theo so that no two of them appear without a bit of Theo in between. There are probably good and sufficient reasons for this; after all, it is officially a book about Theo.

Dragon Ship – Chapter 5

Frenzel Port

In which Bechimo receives the valcomvoggen.

Well, that confirms that the Uncle was among the Builders and took part in the building of Bechimo. Which brings us back to the question of why, by the time Bechimo headed out into the wide universe, the Uncle had ended up on the Disallowed List.

An interesting reaction from the Sector Arrival Director to the news that Theo’s here to deal with Chaliceworks Aggregations. Perhaps a sign that someone who deals with that organisation is considered somehow unlikely to be a good target for whatever he was going to try to persuade her to?

Dragon Ship – Chapter 4

Arriving Frenzel

In which Bechimo acquires an Executive Officer.

The bit about the Compressed Info Package containing all the ship information that port needs to facilitate docking makes me think back to Pat Rin and Cheever arriving at McGee, and Cheever reminding Pat Rin to tell the port that the ship used an old-style protocol. I can’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t be sending a CIP themselves, since it’s implied here to be standard procedure, and I’d think that kind of information would be in the CIP. On the other hand, Cheever says it’s worth mentioning because otherwise the port personnel might make an incorrect assumption, and I can believe he was figuring that, having made the assumption, they might skim over the relevant bit of the CIP and see what they expected to see unless it was backed up by a verbal reminder.

It occurred to me to wonder, while Bechimo‘s crew were dealing with Frenzel traffic control, whether they’re making much use of Bechimo‘s special method of space travel. Then I remembered that the last two chapters have been headed some variation on “Between Jumps”, which suggests not. Several reasons for that come to mind; one is that Theo probably still doesn’t know enough about the method to trust it, and another is that they’ve been specifically hired to test out a route that will presumably be followed in future by ships that don’t have Bechimo‘s advantages, so they need to follow it in appropriate fashion to get good data. And, of course, arriving by mysterious means would run the risk of annoying and puzzling traffic control.

Roving Gambler

In which Quin yos’Phelium finds occupation.

Oh, so that’s what a nerligig does.

It strikes me that “Roving Gambler” is very much about what the Code calls “proper conduct”. It’s full of people facing the question of what would be the correct thing to do in the circumstance, and as like as not finding that it’s not an easy question on a world like Surebleak, which is continually being challenged on what answers it did have. The kinds range from small domestic questions involving a father and his son to big policy issues involving the Boss of Bosses (and in classic melant’i fashion, the extreme ends of the spectrum involve the same people wearing different hats).

Korval has it particularly bad, as Pat Rin points out at the end, because they’re used to living on Liad and having the Code to consult on questions like this, but now they’re on Surebleak and the answers are different. (Something that’s foreshadowed all the way through the story, as Quin keeps finding moments where proper Liaden behaviour doesn’t quite fit the circumstance.) I’m not surprised that it was Kareen who’s been given the job of figuring out their situation; if anybody knows about proper conduct, it’s her. It’s interesting, though, that she’s specifically stated to have been ordered by the Delms to study the question: Is that just them putting an official stamp on the enterprise, or did they find that she was unwilling to get started?

I suppose if there’s any course of study that might help prepare one for running a planet, Generalist might be it. It’s been a while since we’ve encountered a professional Generalist; I’m pretty sure the last one was Quin’s many-times-grandfather Jela.

On the question of Surebleak’s seasons, I find this story inconclusive; all we hear about the weather is that it’s recently turned good after a long bad stretch, which doesn’t say much on a planet with weather like Surebleak’s, and anyway it’s not clear precisely how long after Ghost Ship it takes place, so there’d be no way of comparing.

Tomorrow: “The Rifle’s First Wife”

Ghost Ship – Chapter 30

Boss Vine’s Turf

In which Theo is offered a trade route and a seed pod.

One advantage of re-reading is that when you know where the story’s going, it can be easier to make out what the foreshadowing is trying to tell you. For instance: Here is Clarence, who’s made himself unpopular enough that somebody came to shoot at him, and probably hasn’t helped his case much by being so unobliging as to shoot the person who came to shoot him. Might be he’ll soon be in a situation where a job that takes him offworld for a longish while will be just the thing he needs.

And Clarence’s visitor is interesting: Seems to have known him from when he was working on Liad, and got on the wrong side of him then. An independent operator, not a fellow Juntava, is my impression. It’s not just Korval’s friends who are making the trip to try their luck in the new land of opportunity.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 15

Arin’s Toss

In which Tokeoport is not safe.

Theo says a lot of things about how she expects to get away from Tokeo soon and without trouble, which might be a sign that she’s not really confident and needs the self-reassurance. (Or that the authors are cranking up the foreshadowing. Or there’s no reason it couldn’t be both.)

I’m not entirely sure why Daav’s reaction is so violent to the seed pod addressed to Aelliana: it’s not the first time he’s received one since Aelliana died, and he took the one in I Dare much more calmly.