Tag Archives: Merlin

The Gate That Locks the Tree – Act 3, Scene 1

In the Hall of the Mountain King
Enter Talizea, Miri, Jeeves, Val Con, the Tree, clowders of cats and kindles of kittens

In which the house is unsettled.

“In the Hall of the Mountain King” is the title of a famous piece of music by Edvard Grieg, originally written as incidental music for Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt. The relevant bit of the play tells how Peer Gynt visited the court of the Mountain King and formed a connection with one of the King’s daughters, not entirely to the satisfaction of anybody involved. The supernatural and inhuman Mountain King’s most famous moment has him proclaiming a philosophy of supreme selfishness that regards everyone and everything else as inconsequential.

…and I’ve said all this before on the blog, because Crystal Dragon used “In the Hall of the Mountain Kings” as a chapter title when it had a sequence set in the domain of the Great Enemy. To have the same metaphor now applied to Jelaza Kazone is, to say the least, disconcerting.
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Neogenesis – Chapter 1 part II

In which there are many meetings.

Many meetings, and more reintroductions, and an innocent request concerning grapes that may or may not turn into something larger.
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Dragon Ship – Chapter 27

Codrescu Station

In which more help arrives.

It’s not clear yet how many of the new arrivals are here following Bechimo‘s example. It might be that some of them were coming anyway, but didn’t have Bechimo‘s head start of already being outward bound when the call came; maybe they had business to settle before they could leave, or thought of useful things to round up and bring with them. (I’m thinking of Varthaven, for instance: do they always have doctors and a clinic on board, or was that something they had to arrange before they came?) Or it could be that every one of them is here because Asu was not only inspired but decided to share the inspiration around. Certainly the way they all arrive at once suggests some level of organization.

As of this chapter, Dragon Ship agrees with Ghost Ship (as one might expect) in declaring that it is currently summer on Surebleak.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 3

Jelaza Kazone

In which Delm Korval considers Theo’s problem.

Not sure what to make of Theo thinking that Val Con looks familiar for some reason other than resembling their father. She hasn’t met any of the other relatives yet, and I’m pretty sure she’s never seen his mother — or has she? They talked about the Caylon at the Academy, but I don’t remember if it was ever mentioned them having pictures of her. (And of course if that’s it Theo wouldn’t be able to place the resemblance, because nobody’s mentioned to her who Val Con’s mother is.)

As for her assessment of Val Con as biddable and lacking in spark, it’s a choice between politely suppressed laughter and a wide-eyed Bugs Bunny “She don’t know him very well, do she?”

Until Val Con mentioned it, I don’t think I’d thought about the fact that Korval doesn’t just have its house and Tree to get off-planet, but all of the many ships it’s collected over the years (those that aren’t elsewhere already). I suppose it will have to allow its several shipyards to be seized – unless they’ve already been sold off or otherwise passed into other hands – but Korval never leaves a ship behind.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 2

Jelaza Kazone

In which Theo is introduced to her father’s family, and vice versa.

It is a tricky situation that Daav’s got himself in, regarding explaining himself to Kamele. The basic principle that he had kin in need of assistance is straightforward enough, but necessarily leads to questions like “Who are these kin?” and “Why have you never mentioned them before?” and, sooner or later, “But if your name is actually Daav yos’Phelium…”

Also, while I think Kamele would take the news that her onagrata had been married before at least as clear-headedly as Theo, things might get very awkward if she asked how the marriage had ended and where Aelliana is now and Daav felt obliged to answer honestly.

It’s interesting to compare Theo’s situation to Shan’s when the clan first became aware of him. Shan was rapidly enfolded in the clan, but that was because his mother had already declared him to be part of the clan by naming him yos’Galan; everything that followed was just sorting out the details. Theo is a Waitley, born under an arrangement that’s comparable in the relevant areas to a Liaden contract marriage with the offspring going to the mother’s clan, and her father has been making a point of not claiming any connection to Korval for himself let alone for her. It’s possible she could join Clan Korval at some future point, if it seemed like a good idea for all concerned (a collection of people including not only herself, her father and Delm Korval, but also her mother – which would entail the aftorementioned tricky explanations), but it’s not going to happen automatically just because her father has returned to his clan.

I like the detail that Merlin, who is usually referred to with male pronouns by those who know him best, gets female pronouns in the scene told from Theo’s viewpoint, because Theo’s from Delgado where female is the default gender.

I Dare – Chapter 57

Day 59
Standard Year 1393


In which the Council of Clans throws Korval into the briar patch.

The Delm Hedrede who delivers the Council’s judgment here is not the same Delm Hedrede who clashed with Korval thirty years ago in Scout’s Progress – different pronouns – but it does make me wonder if Hedrede has a personal investment in Korval getting booted off the planet.

There’s a neat bit of narrative sleight of hand with the problem of what to do with the dies: the problem is carefully laid out, then just as Val Con is about to suggest a solution, the conversation is interrupted. The reader is left to assume that a solution is found without the authors having to actually come up with one.

Tomorrow and tomorrow: Revisiting old friends and seeing how they’re affected by recent events, in “Misfits” and then the remainder of Saltation.

I Dare – Chapter 55


In which the Captain acts for the safety of the passengers.

The mode of Ultimate Authority, which is referred to twice in this chapter, has, perhaps unsurprisingly, not come up much before: three times in the series up to this point. Priscilla adopts it briefly when putting Sav Rid Olanek in his place at the end of Conflict of Honors; Commander of Agents is said in Carpe Diem to use it when dealing with his underlings; and Val Con, greeting the Tree in Plan B, places the Tree in the position of ultimate authority.

The fact that it’s used twice in this chapter, and by whom, is the central conflict in a nutshell: the first is Commander of Agents again, and the second is Miri when she takes on the melant’i of Liad’s Captain. And I think it says something that, whereas Miri adopts the mode temporarily and in a situation where she is in fact the duly-appointed ultimate authority until the emergency is resolved, the Commander is not only self-appointed but apparently expects to be regarded as the ultimate authority all the time.

There’s a leap near the end of the chapter that I’ve never been able to follow. After the doomsday weapons are activated, ter’Fendil says he can deactivate them if Val Con gives him the control device, and Val Con does. Then it cuts to another scene, and when it cuts back everybody’s running for their lives and talking about the urgent need to do something before the weapons break out and start killing everybody. Is there something missing, or is it just me missing something?

I Dare – Chapter 51

Day 54
Standard Year 1393

Dutiful Passage

In which various people spend time in transit.

I haven’t been noting it every time a relevant detail has come up, but I think by now we have to acknowledge that in the Liaden universe cats are sapient and capable of dramliz-type abilities. Some cats, anyway. Merlin, at least. (Come to that, I wonder if Val Con knew how appropriate the name was when he chose it…)

I feel like I should say something about the scene with Hazenthull and Nelirikk, but nothing particular is coming to me.

It’s good to see Trilla again.

I Dare – Chapter 49

Day 54
Standard Year 1393


In which Anthora is boxed in.

Well, that’s one way to prevent Nova sorting things out by going in front of the Council and accusing the Department: send someone in front of the Council to accuse Korval of everything the Department has done.

Interesting that it’s Aragon who’s been maneuvred into making the accusation. Aragon has been mentioned several times as an old and respected High House, so an accusation from Aragon will be taken seriously; it’s a significant step up from the last time we saw somebody make an accusation in Council at the Department’s instigation, when it was an ambitious clan hovering around the border between the high and mid levels. Also interesting because the most recent of the Agents of Change that have been named to us, earlier in this book, was a chel’Mara, and chel’Mara looks to Aragon — so it might even be her specifically that Aragon is about to ask about when he’s interrupted.

Because of course there’s an interruption: having Korval called before the Council to answer an accusation might be an effective way to force Anthora out of Jelaza Kazone, but letting things run on long enough for her to actually answer would be risky. I presume the interruption was part of the plan, for that reason and because it provided the excuse to hustle Anthora into the room where the trap lay ready, but I wonder how the Department managed it. Did they know their targets so well as to be able to predict that attacking dea’Gauss at a particular time would result in a Master Accountant interrupting the Council hearing? Worrying thought, that.

Having done this re-read, paying more attention to names than I usually do, I recognize everyone in the list of Korval’s allies and friends. Justus is the clan of Ken Rik, Guayar is the clan of Clonak, Ixin is the clan of Jethri and of Aelliana’s prize student Rema, Reptor is the clan of Aelliana’s space pirates, and Mizel is the clan that produced Aelliana herself. (The fact that it’s counted now among Korval’s friends is a pretty clear sign that Aelliana’s mother is no longer delm.)

The date issue is compounding itself: if the chapter heading was wrong about it being Day 53 when Anthora was told to present herself to the Council the next day, this chapter must also be wrong about it being Day 54 when she presents herself to the Council. But I still think that’s more straightforward than the alternative.

I Dare – Chapter 43

Day 53
Standard Year 1393

Dutiful Passage
Lytaxin Orbit

In which Ren Zel’s interpretation is not widely shared.

We seem to have lost a day somewhere: last time we looked in at Lytaxin, it was nearing the end of Day 51, and Ren Zel had just begun rushing off to start his shift. Now it’s Day 53, if the chapter header is to be believed, and Ren Zel is still rushing off to start his shift.

(I myself am inclined to disbelieve the chapter header, for what it’s worth. It seems the least complicated solution if this is in fact Day 52.)