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.)