Tag Archives: Mr pel’Kana (Trealla Fantrol)

Intelligent Design

In which Trealla Fantrol gets a new butler.

This is another story where I wonder how it comes over to a reader who hadn’t read any of the later-set novels featuring yos’Galan’s robot butler, and who therefore didn’t know where it was going from the moment Roderick Spode appeared. (I’m not sure what we’re supposed to make of Roderick Spode. The story gives us no cause to suppose that that wasn’t actually his name, but it seems like a bit of a tidy coincidence if it was.)

Incidentally, I notice Jeeves is not the only inhabitant of Trealla Fantrol mentioned here with a name from a Terran story: the cat Merlin, mentioned as an earlier beneficiary of Val Con’s hunches, is another. Presumably that means he’s a more recent arrival than Anne.

It’s interesting that Val Con’s sense for a person in danger responds just as much to a machine person as to a living creature, but it cuts in both directions. There’s the obvious implication that the retired unit is a real person despite being composed of wires and code. But there’s a complication introduced in the fact that he was sending out a distress signal at the time Val Con got his hunch: assuming for the sake of discussion that it’s not just a coincidence, the idea that the distress signal might have actually been what triggered the hunch suggests that on some level technological signals and psychic communication might be the same thing. And after some of the sufficiently-advanced-technology shenanigans that went on the prequel duology, I definitely suspect the authors of doing this deliberately.

This is one of the stories that doesn’t have a definite position in the chronological order. Shan is not yet 20 Standard Years old, which is about the most solid indicator in the story. It’s set approximately around the same time as “Heirloom”, and I take it to be somewhat after, since there’s mention of Nova serving an apprenticeship with Luken and she didn’t seem in “Heirloom” to have had much previous involvement with Luken’s trade.


Tomorrow: “A Matter of Dreams”

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 25

In which Aelliana takes decisive action in response to Mizel’s message.

I said in an earlier entry that one of the things worth noting about Scout’s Progress was the way it wasn’t a story about Aelliana being rescued, but a story about Aelliana rescuing herself. Even though she is now, for the most part, rescued, Mouse and Dragon has continued to be a story in which Aelliana makes the decisive moves in her own life. She was the originator and driving force of the idea of going for courier, and each time her personal relationship with Daav has tightened a notch, it’s been her making the move. (Which is an important thing, for a person whose life was for so long out of her control.) That continues here: the proposal that they cry lifemates comes from her, unbidden, when she’s ready and not before.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 24

In which Aelliana receives a summons from her Delm.

The chapter quote is being pointed again, as seems to be its habit whenever Mizel’s qualities of kinship are displayed. Incidentally, this same proverb previously appeared at the head of Local Custom‘s eighth chapter, the one in which Er Thom, Anne and Shan showed themselves to be a family in truth if not yet in formal declaration.

Also reminiscent of Local Custom is the return of the dramatic device where the authors deliberately give a misleadingly incomplete account of a character’s intentions, in order to add extra suspense.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 23

In which the worst of coming home is dealing with one’s mail.

The quote at the head of this chapter seems, at first glance, not to have much to do with what follows. There isn’t obviously anybody doing something dangerous in the name of necessity.

Unless it’s the Tree.

I am deeply suspicious of the Tree’s purposes in giving out this set of sweet cedar-smelling seed-pods — the more so since, on this re-read, I’ve noticed the other place in the chapter where the smell of sweet cedar recurs.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 17

In which yos’Galan advises Korval, for the good of the clan.

Ah, Daav’s famous toasted cheese sandwiches.

On this readthrough, it strikes me that they’re toasted cheese sandwiches, because the word that’s been used up until now has been “handwich”. (At the risk of self-incrimination, I admit that this is a thing I’ve been actively tracking.) Perhaps it’s a translation convention, where “handwich” is the Terran word and bears some etymological connection to “hand” and “sandwich”, but the Liaden word is so completely different that one might as well translate it as “sandwich” and have done.

I like the idea that every toasted cheese sandwich is a unique work of art, and that there is therefore no wrong way to make one.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 16

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.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 14

In which Lady Kareen gives Aelliana an idea and the Tree gives Daav a fright.

I believe this is the first time since we’ve known her that Aelliana has admitted to being hungry without external prompting.

Speaking of food, it suddenly struck me that in the last few chapters we’ve been told what Aelliana had for breakfast and for lunch, and in neither meal was there any meat. There was fish in the sandwiches in Chapter 4, but apart from fish I can’t remember the last time we saw a Liaden eat meat of any kind, and now I’m wondering if that’s significant. (I doubt it’s as simple as a lack of meat animals on Liad, because I can remember plenty of examples of Liadens eating cheese, and there’s usually an overlap between milk-giving animals and animals that are considered good to eat.)

Daav’s view of his sister has grown a bit more nuanced than when we first saw them together in Local Custom, I notice. Her view of him, on the other hand, seems as rigid as ever. (And she still hasn’t given up on her grudge about Pat Rin, nor come to any better understanding of what happened there, it seems.)

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 13

In which Aelliana and Daav communicate.

Now, this is more like it. I’m glad this isn’t one of those stories where the characters drag on in misery for chapters on end over something that could be cleared up easily if they just talked about it.

It occurs to me that Daav’s error is in some ways similar to Aelliana’s error of a few days earlier. Aelliana shut out her comrades for fear of them getting hurt, without giving them a chance to decide for themselves what level of risk they were prepared to accept for her sake, when as it happened they would have been prepared to accept the risk and to point out that the risk was less than fear made it seem; that also describes what Daav tried to do to Aelliana. Fortunately, this time it got sorted out before anyone got seriously hurt.

And in the midst of all that drama, a passing mention of a plan of the delm’s that will become important later. No, two passing mentions of projects of Daav’s that will become important later; this chapter is also the first in which the name of Kiladi is mentioned.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 11

In which Aelliana and Anne go shopping.

And here already is an illustration of my point: Aelliana can feel Daav’s emotions, but not the process of thought that produced them, so without an opportunity to ask Daav she is left with the knowledge that he was horrified but with only speculation about what, and whom, he was in horror of. If Daav absented himself deliberately to avoid disturbing her peace of mind, he’s having the opposite of his intended effect.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 9

In which Mr dea’Gauss has news.

Servant to lord? Mr dea’Gauss is being very serious about Daav’s wish that Aelliana be honored as fully as possible. (And not just in the sense that Mr dea’Gauss is serious about everything he does.)

I do hope, if Daav is going to tell people that he hopes Aelliana will be his lifemate, that sooner rather than later one of the people he tells is Aelliana. He’s already had one dramatic lesson about the risks of withholding important information from her because he doesn’t think she can handle it, and it would be a terrible habit to get into if they’re going to be lifemates. (At least he’s only telling people who really need to know; he’s not handling it nearly as badly as, say, Miles Vorkosigan… though “not handling it as badly as Miles Vorkosigan” is so far from a ringing endorsement as to be practically a warning sign in itself. Still, Aelliana definitely falls in the category of people who really need to know.)

…it’s just occurred to me that Daav’s instructions to Mr dea’Gauss were ambiguous enough in their wording that Mr dea’Gauss might have come away with the impression that Aelliana is already aware of the situation. I hope that’s not going to cause trouble.