Tag Archives: Meicha Maarilex

Saltation – Chapter 7

Mail Room
Anlingdin Piloting Academy

In which Theo passes the time in a queue by discussing literature.

I made a series of extremely undignified noises when Theo said who the author of Sam Tim’s Ugly Day was. I’ve mentioned that one of the joys of this re-read is discovering connections that went past me before, but I have no idea how I missed that one the first time through.

The story of Sam Tim and the family joke is interesting as an example of what Lois McMaster Bujold calls the author’s right to have a better idea later. The first time Theo appeared in a Liaden novel (which, in chronological order, is still some distance in her future), she said her father had taught her that if she were ever in really serious trouble she might take the matter to Korval, with the wording strongly suggesting that he’d said so outright. When the authors came to expand on Theo’s story, it seems, they came up against the problem that if Jen Sar Kiladi had said such a thing directly he would have consequently faced the awkward question of who he was that the troubles of him and his family might be of interest to Korval, and so instead there is this series of events which conveys the lesson to Theo indirectly. (The question is not entirely unanswerable, since Jen Sar is a pilot and we know from earlier books that Korval doesn’t mind taking a hand when a pilot is in serious trouble, but we saw at the end of Fledgling that even the fact of being a pilot is more about his past than Jen Sar would like to give out.)

Trade Secret – Chapter 6

Clan Ixin’s Tradeship Elthoria, Boltston Arrival

In which Jethri’s life once again takes a major turn.

It appears that Scout Captain ter’Astin did not after all manage to return Jethri’s logbook to him before he left Irikwae (come to think of it, there was something to that effect in chapter two, though I didn’t pay it much mind at the time) and now it has been appropriated by “an internal agency allied with the Scouts”.

And doesn’t that sound familiar, to someone who’s read the whole series?

Jethri challenges the Scout: Are you going to let them get away with that? And the Scout responds: No, we are not going to let them get away with that.

And so, it seems, it is after all Jethri who is to leave the ship in pursuit of Balance. Looking back, I think it’s not that Master ven’Deelin wasn’t aware of that possibility, only that the other loomed larger in the narrative because it required more time and effort to prepare against. (And, at that, who can say that the events of the last few chapters haven’t been part of preparing against the possibility of Jethri having to leave the ship?)

A small prediction: I reckon this chapter includes another instance of the authors’ trick of reminding the audience of something that will become important in a chapter or two; in this case, I suspect we are at last approaching a pay-off for “There are secrets in all families”.

Trade Secret – Chapter 5

Clan Ixin’s Tradeship Elthoria, in Jump

In which Jethri’s education proceeds in new directions.

Well. I’m not sure what to say after that.

(Except that I suspect any young person in Jethri’s position might be just as nervous and uncertain of knowing the right thing to do as Jethri was in the moment before Gaenor joined him, even if they had been Liaden all their lives and not only for a year.)

Trade Secret – Chapter 4

Clan Ixin’s Tradeship Elthoria, in Jump

In which Jethri’s mother wishes to discuss the future.

I like the story about how Jethri obtained his shirt. I wonder whether returning the defective cookpot was a straightforward transaction, or required a bit of trading skill. I’m also amused, given what we’re told later about some of the crew admiring the figure he cuts while he exercises, that he’s doing so wearing a shirt that promises “Satisfaction Guaranteed” (luckily for him, it’s not likely any of his admirers read Terran script).

Also, since his old calendar is mentioned and this is the kind of thing I notice, I notice that both the shirt and the calendar hail from Trundee’s Tool and Tow, and I wonder if that means they were obtained on the same port, or perhaps that Trundee’s has branches on more than one planet.

The Scout has informed Master ven’Deelin that his business concerns clan and kin, and will require not only personal attention but personal attendance. She has taken him to mean her own attention and attendance, and surely she must be right, for I don’t think the Scout would be unclear; but I did wonder for a moment if it was going to be Jethri’s attendance that was called for. We still don’t know why the Scout sent his message to Jethri addressed to “Jethri Gobelyn”. (And I wonder if the Master Trader is aware that he did.)

I notice that when she mentions Tan Sim, Master ven’Deelin always refers to him descriptively, as Jethri’s partner, never by name. It may be nothing, but I wonder if perhaps, considering the state of things between her family and his, there’s a point of melant’i that requires her to avoid acknowledging who he is (at least for the time being).

Trade Secret – Chapter 1

Clan Ixin’s Tradeship Elthoria, in Jump

In which Jethri reflects on birthrights.

The prologue having hopefully hooked the reader with the promise of mayhem to come, this is a quieter chapter, largely given over to recapping the state of play for anybody who doesn’t happen to have just this week finished reading Balance of Trade.

Things have progressed somewhat since the end of the previous novel: Norn ven’Deelin has agreed to support Jethri in getting Tan Sim out of his difficulty, but there are still details to be worked out. If it were easy, anybody could do it.

We also get another new detail added to what we already knew: apparently Jethri’s space hair, before he became a Liaden fosterling and had to grow it out, wasn’t just trimmed short as a utilitarian thing, but sculpted in a distinctive pattern.

Balance of Trade – Chapter 38

Day 180
Standard Year 1118


In which the cargo pod is opened, and many things are revealed.

This is the chapter in which Jethri gets his family background – and someone does indeed mention him and the word “clone” in conjunction, though the details are skipped over for the present moment.

I like how casually the matter of Grig’s true age is dropped in, near the beginning of the chapter.

It is also established that “duplicating unit” is what Grig’s family call the type of device Cantra called a “first aid kit” – which raises a few questions about what they used them for before they figured out the first aid kit function.

Well, all right, one thing they apparently used them for was duplicating people, what Raisy calls “reproducing the pure stock”. Pure what, she doesn’t say. Anyhow, that brings us back around to Jethri being a clone.

Balance of Trade – Chapter 36

Day 177
Standard Year 1118

Irikwae Port

In which there are several reunions and a parting.

The “toy” Jethri encounters is recognizably similar to the learning toys Cantra had her own encounter with, though considerably older and understandably more decrepit. After a thousand years and more, it’s not remarkable that it malfunctions; more remarkable that it functions at all. (Though I wonder how much of the malfunction is age and decrepitude, and whether any of it comes from trying to get into the mind of someone who no longer speaks the language.)

Characters using depilatory cream instead of shaving their faces is one of those science-fiction markers that I’ve seen on and off since I was a beardless youth myself (and probably goes back much further than that). I gather, though, that it’s one of those science fiction ideas that will always remain a marker of science fiction because it seems simple in concept but is actually tricky in practice. The trouble, as I understand it, is that a man’s facial hair is generally some of the toughest hair around, and a cream strong enough to dissolve it is also strong enough to do some harm to the parts of a man’s face he was planning on keeping.

The Ruby Club is obviously pretty sleazy, even if you don’t know about the Liaden taboo that’s been alluded to but not so far stated outright. If you do, it’s really sleazy.

From there, it becomes a day for being reunited with friends, including Tan Sim and Miandra, each of whom has been having a rough time since he saw them last, and Captain ter’Astin, who is not giving anything away about what kind of time he’s been having.

It’s good to see Tan Sim again. I like Tan Sim.

I like Scout Captain ter’Astin, too. On this occasion, we get confirmation that he has some facility at sensing the thoughts of others, which had been hinted at on the previous occasion when he and Jethri met.

Speaking of things hinted at on previous occasions, we get another of those remarks about family resemblance, this time applied to Jethri and Arin.

The parting is Jethri from the weather device, which for all that it’s caused a deal of trouble might also be considered an old friend in respect of how much it represents to Jethri of his links with his father.

Balance of Trade – Chapter 35

Day 168
Standard Year 1118

Irikwae Port

In which there are several beginnings for Jethri and his family.

This is another chapter where I’d probably have a lot to say if I were reading it for the first time, but this time round it’s more the minor details catching my attention.

One really trivial detail is that when Jethri’s thinking about all the people at the Tarnia clanhouse he misses already, one of those listed is a “Mrs tel’Bonti” who is not mentioned anywhere else in the book. Presumably the person being referred to is the cook, Mrs tor’Beli, who does not otherwise appear in the list.

Seeli’s news settles it: there’s definitely something going on between her and Grig. I wonder for how long? “A couple of Standard Months” is since they began their stay on Kinaveral, but of course there’s nothing to say they haven’t been carrying on longer than that.

It’s an interesting touch that the Spacers would prefer their baby to be born in space. Seems to me that would mean they’re a long way from help if anything goes wrong, but then again a Spacer’s life consists almost entirely, one way or another, of being a long way from help if anything goes wrong.

Balance of Trade – Chapter 34

Day 166
Standard Year 1118


In which Jethri is called up for testing and certification.

Therin yos’Arimyst, the Hall Master who is to be responsible for testing Jethri for certification as a member of the Liaden Guild of Traders, is reputed to be very conservative. This mixes good and bad: on the one hand, it means Jethri isn’t going to have an easy time of it, but on the other if the conservative accepts him then he’s properly accepted, whereas if the judgement were made by a more easygoing person there might have been other more conservative Guild members still inclined to question it.

Another noteworthy bit of physical affection: Miandra places her hand on Jethri’s face, which for a Liaden is a particularly intimate gesture, reserved for close kin and other loved ones. Little wonder Meicha hisses at her.

Balance of Trade – Chapter 32

Day 165
Standard Year 1118


In which Jethri and, for a change, Miandra and Grig each have a long and incident-packed day.

Boy, and I thought last chapter was long.

This chapter opens with the first scene in which we’ve seen one of the twins without the other, and it apparently presages that their paths are going to be more distinct from here on in.

As part of that, we get an elaboration of the subtext about Healers and dramliz from Jethri’s first day here. Meicha is a Healer, and a good one, with the rare gift of being able to heal the body as well as the mind. Miandra is a dramliza, which puts her in an uncomfortable position since the people of Irikwae are prepared to accept Healers but abominate the dramliz; Miandra’s grandmother wants her to be safe but thinks the problem can be solved by Miandra restricting herself to being a Healer, a course of action which Miandra is finding increasingly untenable.

(I don’t remember now which comment thread it was, or in what context, that someone mentioned the anecdote about Korval Herself arguing for the survival of the dramliz on Liad, but anyhow this is the chapter where that appears.)

I find myself wondering whether the Healer who gave it as her professional opinion that Miandra couldn’t have held back the storm really believes that, or if she deliberately steered away from officially marking Miandra as a dramliza. (And if so, for whose comfort she did so.)

I like the bit comparing how Jethri expresses himself in Liaden and Terran, now that he’s fluent in both.

Over in Grig’s half of the chapter, he’s having a philosophical disagreement with his family. I wonder whether it’s Grig, or anyhow people who thought like him, whom Val Con and his contemporaries have to thank for their autodocs and suchlike.

Also, there is an unusual and interesting application of the word “brother”. If the byplay about “Arin’s youngest brother”, added to Iza’s insistence on Jethri being Arin’s son alone, means what I think it means, I’m not at all surprised that Iza’s still hacked off about it eighteen years after the event. (It also raises the question of what other ‘brothers’ Arin might have.) Grig’s thought about family resemblances in the elevator seems to suggest that the non-standard definition of “brother” might extend to him and Raisy as well.

(Reading that back, I realise I’ve done that thing again where I leave something out because it seems obvious to me. So, to be clear, the word I’m hearing in this conversation even though nobody says it is “clone”. The implication, as I read it, is that Jethri Gobelyn is a clone of Arin Gobelyn, and that Arin used Iza as a surrogate without her knowledge or consent. I also get the feeling, partly from the word “youngest”, that Arin Gobelyn was himself a clone, and that when his family talk about Arin in this chapter it’s not always Arin Gobelyn they’re referring to.)

I remember wondering, the first time I read this chapter, whether Grig’s Uncle was the same person as Dulsey’s Uncle, seeing as they had certain similarities in personality and interest, and then getting to the bit where Grig’s Uncle has a name, and thinking maybe they weren’t, at least until Dragon Ship came out. (By the time I got here, I’d forgotten that one of Dulsey’s associates was named Arin, or I’d have wondered about that, too.)

Right now, I’m not sure whether Uncle Yuri is the same man as The Uncle, though it seems he’s pursuing the same line of work. Perhaps he is The Uncle’s younger brother…

(I’ve compared the physical descriptions of the two Uncles, which was unhelpful to a point that seems almost suspicious. They have very little overlap in which details they focus on: only one mentions an eye color, only one says anything useful about hair color, and so on. The only details that coincide are that both are tall and lean, and many men are both of those. Grig, for one, as we were reminded a few pages earlier – and that makes me wonder, for the first time, whose younger brother he might be.)