Tag Archives: Langlast

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 35

Admiral Bunter

In which Padi accepts her nature.

And so Aunt Anthora’s gift does come back into relevance – and now, considering also how interested she was to learn Padi had opened it, and what the occasion of that was, I’m wondering if Anthora somehow intended it to assist in Padi’s transition.

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 34

Healspace

In which yos’Galan does what needs to be done.

Noting that this chapter is all about Langlast, with nothing about Tolly and Admiral Bunter, I wonder if next chapter is going to be the inverse, and leave us waiting to find out what became of Padi.

I don’t quite understand what Padi’s disappearance signifies, but I don’t for a moment believe that she’s dead.

(I wonder where Lute has got to…)

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 33

Admiral Bunter

In which things are concealed.

Padi has finally had an opportunity to do the thing she was too-ready to do at the beginning of the novel, and found that she doesn’t like it.

As I follow Tolly’s reasoning, the problem is that there’s no certainty about what Admiral Bunter will do once the core mandate is removed. The Admiral says, now, that he trusts Tolly, and he might even mean it, now – but once Tolly has restored his freedom, he’ll be faced with the immediate situation of another person in a position to do him over the way Inki did, or worse, which is a definite problem. And, as Tolly says, the Admiral’s toolset for dealing with definite problems has historically tended toward immediate lethality as the best and only solution.

I’m a bit bemused that Tarona Rusk fell for Shan’s false compliance so easily. Partly, I suppose, it’s that she sees what she wants and expects to see; and also that what she sees of Shan is only what he wants her to see. I get the feeling that, for all she mocked him for being only a Healer, it’s his Healer training that’s giving him the advantage here.

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 32

The Garden of Gems
Langlastport

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 31

Admiral Bunter

In which the bombshell is dropped.

I’ve been going back and forth on the cover illustration: at first I assumed it depicted Dutiful Passage, more or less because that was the only ship I knew would be in the novel, then later I thought perhaps it was Admiral Bunter. Now it looks like I was right the first time.

When Shan and Higgs went out, leaving Padi behind at the hotel, my first thought was that they’d been lured away so that someone could attack Padi. Then the attack on the Passage happened, and now I think it’s that Padi’s going to get wind of that and have to deal with it without Shan around to offer guidance.

It could still be that Shan was deliberately lured away. (In-story, I mean. It’s pretty obvious that it was deliberate on the part of the authors.) Perhaps it’s a two pronged attack. Perhaps it’s coincidentally an attack from Plishet with no connection to the attack on Priscilla. On the other hand, perhaps it’s just that Shan found conversation with Master Rusk congenial and lost track of time.

(Perhaps it’s good news that keeps him – it suddenly struck me as I was writing this that maybe she has news to impart of Lomar Fasholt. Although I don’t really have anything to back that up with beyond the flimsy observations that she’s female and it would be nice to have news of Lomar by the end of the book.)

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 30

Langlastport

In which the results of recent efforts are considered.

Well, I was right about the Terran expert. I like the little bits with Admiral Bunter applying his lessons in how to express his feelings through how he speaks. I’m not surprised Inki set a core mandate — in the circumstances, it’s a reasonable precaution for her to take — but it’s going to make Tolly’s task harder (which is of course why it’s a reasonable precaution for her to take).

I am still finding the repeated reassurances regarding Padi’s situation to be the opposite of reassuring. We’re about due for a dramatic climax, and a big bust-out would provide that nicely. I assume something’s going to come up that pushes things over the edge; my money’s currently on Broker Plishet upgrading himself from ‘nuisance’ to ‘threat’ (though I still don’t know what his deal is), with a side bet on the customs inspection turning out to have some sinister connection after all.

I notice we haven’t heard much from Daav and Aelliana lately. Are they actually going to get involved in either of the main plots at any point? Well, the best way to find out is to read on, so I’ll do that.

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 29

Langlastport

In which Broker Plishet is not as clever as he thinks he is.

Here, one of the threads tying the two plot lines together is the consideration of melant’i.

On Padi’s side, there’s her awareness of the fact that her current melant’i is that of a peaceful trader, not of a pilot in a dangerous situation with several youngsters depending on her. (Which itself shows her development beginning from the beginning of the novel, when she was inclined to fall back into that familiar melant’i whenever uncertain.)

I’m not sure how much furtherer Admiral Bunter is going to get in his studies by turning to melant’i plays; I get the impression, from earlier mentions, that they tend toward extreme situations of the kind where a person is so hedged about by necessity that the only way forward is the death of their dearest friend or whatever. (Recall that Anne in Local Custom was guided somewhat in her understanding of Er Thom by the Liaden literature she’d read, and didn’t always find it a useful guide.) I’m also a bit dubious about his choice of illustrious expert, who by his name is Terran rather than Liaden; on top which is the characterisation of melant’i plays as “exotic”. Then again, the Admiral is himself an outsider to Liaden culture, so perhaps an outsider’s description is what he would find useful.

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 27

Admiral Bunter

In which steps are taken to deal with the situation.

Tolly’s made a good start on talking Admiral Bunter around. He’s given the Admiral a reason to think about what he’s doing, and also managed to slip in some details about himself to counteract the narrative that he’s the Institute’s rightful property. On top of which, as he says, it’s plain truth that the roles of jailor and student don’t really mix.

It’s interesting that he also points out that one of the strategies available to him in this situation is to try and gain an advantage by reminding his captor of their previous, more pleasant, relationship; he’s fighting, but he’s fighting fair, and even though he’s making a point of declining to teach the Admiral, on another more subtle level he’s never stopped.

Another question Admiral Bunter might like to consider is why he wants to learn from someone he’s been told is a pirate; surely such a person would not be a reliable teacher. I quite understand why Tolly would refrain from pointing that one out, though.

Over in Padi’s plot line, there’s a lot of talk about being prepared and how unlikely it is that something will go disastrously wrong — which, as with Val Con’s dreaming last novel (was it only last novel?), just makes me more certain something is going to disastrously wrong.

Sudden thought: Has Anthora also been preparing for this? Is there going to turn out to be more to her unseasonal gift to Padi?

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 26

Langlastport
The Torridon Hotel

In which there is conversation after dinner.

I don’t know if it’s significant that Shan describes the Liaden tongue as “the language of home” when speaking to the jeweller, after all the reminders there have been that the children of Korval need to stop thinking of Liad as home. Probably it’s just that that’s a conventional phrase and the situation is not appropriate for a more precise description.

I also don’t know if it’s significant that we’re getting a reminder now of Master Moonel, who appeared in Local Custom. That was back when Shan was a small boy, and Moonel was already the most respected jeweller on Liad, so it is not a surprise to learn now that he has since died. (Shan mentions that his shop stands empty; I wonder if that’s a sign that it happened recently, or perhaps that he was so respected nobody wishes to try taking his place.)

Possibly it is the death that matters — it makes two scenes in a row where the subject of death has come up in proximity with Padi, which helps things remain ominous even as her conversation with her father seems to be going well.

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 25

The Happy Occasion
Langlastport

In which some things are coming to a close, and some things are just beginning.

Tolly’s arrow completely fails to find its mark. It’ll be interesting to see the conversation where Haz explains to him where his judgment failed him. Part of it, no doubt, is that she’s at least as determined not to let him get killed or worse as he is to protect her. And it occurs to me that Tolly’s never really seen Hazenthull when she’s on mission; even when she was on duty as a Port Security officer, that was a dialled-down version of her. Full-throttle Hazenthull is the Hazenthull who ignored orders, misappropriated supplies and personnel, crossed hostile territory and behaved in an unprecedented fashion in the face of the enemy in an attempt to save the life of her senior partner — which, come to think of it, is not so unlike what she’s attempting now, so her motivation would also include a measure of this time I will not fail.

Meanwhile, it’s going to be a rough journey for Tolly, because he’s convinced that he’s on his own, and that he’s dealt an injury to his best friend to keep her from following. That’s something that’s going to weigh on him, even with his attention bent on talking the Admiral around.

I had wondered why Inki had mentioned her shared background with Tolly to Haz; it seemed like an obvious slip at the time. But the explanation that it was a hint meant to be recognised only in hindsight makes sense. Likewise the mention of the directors in her final message; though it’s not quoted here, that was accompanied by a reminder of the shared background.

Padi’s uncertainty about Ms Hartensis’ reaction is presumably a consequence of the block Shan placed last chapter. I did wonder, a block on what? but it makes sense that it would be a block on her ability to pick up the emotions of the people around her, which would otherwise be a distraction and a source of stress and which she hasn’t yet learned to block out herself.

(A minor continuity thing: Last chapter, the assistant caterer was wearing a long red apron over white clothes. This chapter, the long apron is white. Perhaps on Langlast there’s a custom of wearing different aprons for tidying up than for serving?)

And just when it seemed everything was smoothing out with Padi and that things might be resolved without too much further trouble, we get that very worrying final scene…