Tag Archives: pages from the logbook

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 33

In which Daav decides to go into a possibly-hostile port without accepting backup.

Had this book been other than it is, the previous chapter might easily have been the last, perhaps with an epilogue in which Daav finally gets to hold his son in his arms. It is, after all, what the main plot line was building up to for the last two volumes.

But this is a prequel, which knows if any form of literature does that Peter Beagle was right about endings, and getting married isn’t the end of the story; it just means that Daav and Aelliana now have attention to spare for what else is going on in their lives.

I see a parallel between Daav’s decision to go to the Low Port alone, declining backup, and Aelliana’s decision last novel to go to the house of Mizel alone, declining backup, though in this case I’m not sure the decision is wrong; Daav does have a point about the advantages of working alone and under the radar. Still, one can wish he could have gone better protected. (Perhaps another Scout might have worked, if there were another Scout he could trust with this business. It’s a pity that Clonak is not available to be suggested as a possibility.)

Daav’s deliberately exaggerated worst-case hypothesis of “ghosts who lure the unsuspecting into the mists and steal their self-will” is not, after all, so far from the truth as one might prefer.

Mouse and Dragon – Chapter 18

In which Kiladi gets the third degree, Ride the Luck gets a job offer, and Clarence O’Berin gets a mixed reception.

This appears to be a chapter for Daav to encounter old acquaintances (“friends” is too strong a word for some of them, if not all). There is Clarence O’Berin, the Juntavas Boss who Daav met in “The Beggar King” (which is already 15 years ago, although one imagines they’ve met again a time or two since then). There is the merchant Gus Tav bel’Urik, who was one of the guests at the gather Daav held for his betrothed in Local Custom. And there is Scholar Expert Jen Sar Kiladi, who is clearly someone Daav knows well, though for now we are getting only hints as to how.

Clan Hedrede has gone up in the world. Aelliana notes here that they are High House; when last we heard of them, in Scout’s Progress, they were in the Mid rank. It was noted that they were in the top 5% of the Mid rank, but it was also noted that they’d been there, apparently content, for many years. And now, apparently, something has changed. One can’t help wondering if it had anything to do with that incident that occurred when last we heard of them.

The nature of Tey Dor’s establishment, at which Aelliana and Daav have an appointment following lunch, is not elaborated on here, but it’s established elsewhere that it revolves around guns and the shooting thereof. It would appear that firearm proficiency is one aspect of the preparations they’re making for the courier life.

As this is apparently a thing I notice now, Aelliana and Daav’s lunch is once again meatless; the soup is noted as being a vegetable chowder.

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.)

Scout’s Progress – Chapter 38

In which Daav’s future is decided.

And now the Tree approves of Daav’s choice of Aelliana — because, as I see it, now Daav has made the choice, where before he was only thinking sadly of a choice he might have made.

(And why does the Tree care? Is it, as Daav accuses, only interested in breeding stock, or did it want Daav to choose the woman with whom he’d be happy? I don’t suppose we’ll ever know. Either way, Daav is certainly right about one thing: the Tree’s method of expressing its disapproval wasn’t fair on Pilot tel’Izak.)

Reminder: Although there is one chapter of Scout’s Progress remaining, it is repeated in its entirety near the beginning of Mouse and Dragon. With that in mind, tomorrow we go straight to Mouse and Dragon chapter 1.

Scout’s Progress – Chapter 36

In which Delm Korval goes visiting again.

This seems like a good time to mention a thing I like about this novel: Aelliana rescues herself.

She has had help along the way, and wouldn’t have done as well without it, but her achievements are her own, seized with her own hands. This isn’t a story about how she needed someone to save her. It was her own idea and decision to seek an escape, her own skill that won her her ship and her license. And, in these later chapters, she escaped from the house by herself, after rescuing herself from the worst effects of the Learning Module.

I love the bit where Daav is politely but firmly establishing his intention to stand in Mizel’s hallway as long as necessary.

(And speaking of Daav, it’s interesting to note at which points in the chapter Daav is “Korval” and at which points “Daav” comes to the fore.)

Scout’s Progress – Chapter 35

In which the first duty of the co-pilot is the well-being of the pilot.

This chapter is another with a quote that later got expanded into a story of its own with more to it than the quote implies. Like the Tinsori Light quote from a few chapters back, it seems to be being used here only for its obvious meaning (in this case, a reminder of the nature of co-pilot’s duty).

I like that Sinit knows about what Aelliana’s been up to, and understands its significance, simply because unlike her other siblings she pays attention to the world outside — and the detail that, thanks to the extra context from the news reports, she knows at least one thing about Aelliana that Aelliana herself doesn’t know.

Scout’s Progress – Chapter 27

In which several people ask, reluctantly, “Now what?”

I’ve said this before, in the comments under Chapter 39 of Local Custom, but I might as well say it again so it appears in a post: I don’t believe that lifemating works on the basis of there being a pair of people predestined to join together. (Which is a relief, because it’s a pretty horrifying idea, as Daav suggests here: what if something happens to one half of the match before they meet, and the other is left forever incomplete?) Every time we see a lifemate bond form in this series, it’s a consequence, not a cause, something that happens to a pair of people who have already joined together in other ways. It makes sense that some people can’t form a lifemate bond at all, and that those can can’t do it with just anybody, but I don’t believe it’s as reductive as each person having one and only one possible partner.

Here’s an interesting sentence: “Jelaza Kazone had not spoken and he wished, with everything in him, to be at Binjali’s.” Is it that the Tree did manage to suggest an idea to Daav without him realising, or is it that the Tree didn’t speak because it knew that he was already, on his own initiative and by his own desire, going to do what it would have told him to do?

Scout’s Progress – Chapter 26

In which Samiv tel’Izak is introduced to the Tree.

The Tree disapproves of Samiv tel’Izak, and is not shy of making its disapproval known. What the basis of its disapproval might be is less easy to see. It’s unlikely to be merely that marrying her would make Daav unhappy; the happiness of its fellow creatures has not always been the Tree’s primary concern, and Daav was making some progress toward a comfortable union before the Tree itself stomped on his efforts.

One suspects that it disapproves of Pilot tel’Izak because she is not Aelliana Caylon and the Tree has realised, as Daav has not yet, that Aelliana Caylon is an available possibility. Presumably it’s aware of Aelliana second-hand, through Daav — though one does wonder what other sources of information it might have, remembering that it was a suggestion from the Tree which put Daav in Pilot Caylon’s path in the first place…

Scout’s Progress – Chapter 25

In which Delm Korval goes visiting.

Zan Der pel’Kirmin and his family join the collection of impressively detailed one-off characters. From the little we get to see of them, I like them a lot.

Ran Eld is locking himself into a course that’s going to take him nowhere good; every hint he gets that he might be in serious trouble is just making him stick to it with greater determination. It doesn’t help that his mother doesn’t seem to have realised how much trouble he’s in either; another delm might have twigged, for better or for worse, that there’s more to Ran Eld’s enthusiasm for this scheme than just misguided optimism. Is Ran Eld that good at deceiving her, or does she just not want to consider that her bright-eyed boy might be mixed up in something really nasty? A bit of each, perhaps.

Scout’s Progress – Chapter 21

In which desperate pirates are no match for Aelliana and her co-pilot.

Aelliana’s self-confidence is coming along in leaps and bounds; here she’s making significant decisions on a moment’s notice, without hesitation or apology. And she’s spent the whole evening tracking around in public without her “armor”, apparently without missing it except that it would have kept her warm.

It’s interesting that we’ve had two chapters in a row featuring people making desperately unwise decisions out of owing amounts of money they can’t scrape together honestly. Sed Ric and Yolan are in rather more desperate straits than Ran Eld (at least for now), a fact underscored by the tiny amount of money their future depends on. The dex, according to the handy table in Balance of Trade, is the smallest unit of Liaden currency, and the cantra is the largest. The four cantra Ran Eld borrowed, probably to pay for things he could well have lived without, is worth more than a one and half thousand times the four dex Yolan and Sed Ric need. The twenty cantra he now owes is equivalent to nearly thirty-five thousand dex.

(It’s a handy reminder, too, when the cantra is the unit most often mentioned, and the children of Korval are rich enough to carry cantra coins like loose change, that one cantra is actually a quite substantial amount of money.)