In which Tocohl and Inki meet the light keepers.
They’re not dead yet. That’s a good start.
In which Tocohl and Inki meet the light keepers.
They’re not dead yet. That’s a good start.
In which Kareen and Kamele have an informative conversation.
I was a bit glib and a lot unfair when I suggested that Kareen might view Kamele as a performing dog. A better way to characterise the situation might be that Kamele has a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for learning the intricacies of the Liaden language, which makes it easier for one to forgive any stumbles since she’s clearly doing her best and it’s not her fault she’s not fully fluent yet. One might be less forgiving of a Terran who seemed to have made only the effort required to get by, for instance.
Also, they seem to actually like each other, a fact of which I took some convincing if only because Kareen has generally not made friends easily and it seemed unlikely that she would find it any easier with a non-Liaden.
(It’s interesting that, after Kamele was worried she might miss nuances if the conversation about the portrait was in Liaden, Kareen makes what must have been a deliberate choice to step out of Liaden into Terran to tell her about it, perhaps specifically to spare her that worry.)
Kareen’s description of the circumstances of Er Thom’s birth didn’t quite make sense to me at first: I wasn’t sure why it would be necessary for yos’Galan to produce a back-up delm of certain piloting ability when there was already Sae Zar. I think, though, that the problem with Sae Zar as a back-up delm is that he didn’t have the training for it; we know that training for a delm’s heir begins when he or she is very young, as happened for Daav (and Er Thom, as the designated back-up heir, got the same training). Also, Sae Zar was already designated as the heir to yos’Galan’s Master Trader, and to add Delm’s Heir to his pile would have been a disservice to yos’Galan, to be avoided unless no other solution was available.
Of the delms Kareen mentions in passing, we have heard of Jeni yos’Phelium, who helped establish the Scout Academy, and Theonna yos’Phelium, who was responsible for the Tactical Defense Pods. Edil yos’Phelium and Var Ond ter’Asten are new names. (ter’Asten is itself also a new name, unless it’s an alternate transliteration of “ter’Astin” – Jethri’s friend the scout was named Jan Rek ter’Astin.)
The implication of Kamele’s remark about Aelliana also being delm is, as I understand it, that her death wasn’t as simple as Daav failing his duty as delm to protect the vulnerable and husband the clan’s resources; Aelliana was also acting as delm, with a different assessment of who was most vulnerable and which resources the clan could least afford to lose, and no time for the two halves of the delm to reach a consensus.
In which Laughing Cat confers with Carresens.
There are a lot of names in this chapter familiar from the Jethri books, although a large part of that is retroactive, since the Carresens family (and the Denobli family, who were a separate group back then) only appear in Trade Secret, which was written after this.
One name that isn’t retroactively familiar – though I didn’t recognise it myself the first time I read this novel, because I’m terrible with names when I’m not taking careful notes – is that of the thinker Arin, mentioned by Pilot Denobli, who was Jethri’s father Arin Gobelyn. And as such it’s probably not entirely a coincidence that the ship Theo flew for the Uncle bears his name, since the Uncle was Arin’s … let’s say “brother”, with the understanding that the Uncle’s family tree is kind of complicated.
(And the bit about Bechimo being well-suited to enact Arin’s ideas brings us back around to the idea of Bechimo having been created in Jethri’s time, only to founder once again on the fact that the numbers simply don’t add up.)
Pilot Denobli’s hair reminds me of two things. The hair itself brings to mind the elaborate spacer hairstyles mentioned in Trade Secret, which makes sense considering that Pilot Denobli is descended from the same spacer culture. The way he’s always fiddling with it makes me wonder about Theo’s first meeting with the Uncle, when he kept fiddling with his hair.
While we’re elaborating tenuous links between the Carresens and the Uncle, I’ve noticed something about their ship named OchoBalrog. The “Balrog” half has an obvious connection to the ship of that name owned by the Denobli family in Trade Secret, but we’ve seen the name Ocho once before in an entirely different context: it was the name of one of Dulsey’s siblings, way back in Crystal Soldier.
In which Daav plans his Balance against the enemy which took Aelliana.
I’m interested by the implication that the thoughtfulness of Daav’s Balance here owes something to his previous experience of loss and Balance, which taught him the limitations of the method of direct reprisal.
Using that Diary entry as the chapter heading also provides another more subtle bookend: the last time it was used was on the chapter in which Daav and Aelliana first met.
It’s a bit difficult to know how much to talk about what else happens in this chapter when it hasn’t been explicitly called out yet, even though as a re-reader I know — and, since this is a prequel, even on the first read I knew — what’s going on. I think I’ll save that for next time.
In which Daav grieves.
Daav’s grief is very effectively conveyed in this chapter, to the point where I feel obliged to remain respectfully quiet and not intrude with my chatter.
In which the lives, the hearts, and the souls of Daav yos’Phelium and Aelliana Caylon are joined.
Did I say Kareen’s schemes had gone flat? I think “flat” is not sufficient; they have not only gone flat, they’ve sunk so deep into the ground as to be a convenient height to be used as stepping stones. The end result of all Kareen’s scheming has been to smooth Aelliana’s path.
Apart from that, I have (as apparently is becoming traditional for this point in each Liaden novel) not much else to say except “Yes!”.
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.
In which Daav keeps himself busy with a day of consultations.
I’m not sure Daav’s explanation isn’t partly backward; he says that Mizel wouldn’t want to make an alliance with someone she blames for her son’s death, but I suspect on some level she’s chosen to forego an alliance with Korval so that she can blame Daav. There are other people who might be more fairly considered responsible for Ran Eld’s death, starting with Ran Eld himself, but they all have the disadvantage that Birin Caylon has to live with them every day; much more comforting to be able to blame someone who will shortly return to a distant orbit and remain out of sight and out of mind.
(“He was not the disrupter of the dance, but he was the only one of those new and uneasy things that they could dispose of without tearing still further the already riven fabric of their lives.”)
Incidentally, if Daav’s estimate of Mr dea’Gauss’s age is accurate, Mr dea’Gauss is about the same age as Lady Kareen and Luken bel’Tarda.
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.
In which Aelliana deals with some outstanding business.
If I have the timeframe figured out correctly, Aelliana began teaching the advanced seminar for Scouts about the time Daav was obliged to leave the Scouts and take up the Delm’s Ring. One wonders whether, had Daav been able to remain a Scout, he and Aelliana might have crossed paths much sooner.
Mr dea’Gauss continues in the mode of servant to lord, addressing Aelliana as “my lady”, until she asks that he address her as Pilot or Scholar and not offer her more honor than she has earned; then he follows her into a more equal mode and switches to addressing her as “Pilot”. I notice, though, that by the end of the conversation he’s back to addressing her as “my lady”, apparently having formed his own conclusions about how much honor she has earned from him.