Tag Archives: Pen Rel sig’Kethra

Trade Secret – Chapter 29

Arrival on Hatalan

In which Jethri Gobelyn regains his birthright.

Hah. I did wonder if they were just going to let the ex-Scout walk off with the Envidaria, but of course Captain ter’Astin had a plan.

Interesting that Jethri’s lucky fractin ended up in the deal. I wonder whose idea that was: just yos’Belin’s, to sweeten the pot? or did ter’Astin suggest it, knowing that Jethri would get to keep all, as a roundabout way of making a start at apologizing for bringing him all this trouble?

I like the bits where the Scout is describing the world they’re visiting: more of those bits of background detail that aren’t absolutely necessary but add to the richness of the story. (And then you get further on in the chapter and realise that there was, after all, a plot-relevant detail hidden in there.)

I’m not sure I grasp all the details of the extract from the Envidaria, but one thing I get is that it’s talking about shifts that cause Jump points to change, with some routes to become safer and others more dangerous, which sounds like the foundation of the explanation for why, a few centuries from now, it will be necessary to revise the official Jump tables. (And that the example of “more dangerous” is a Jump point moving hazardously close in to a star reminds me of the tale, near the end of Mouse and Dragon, of a certain pilot coming to grief through using the unrevised tables.)

Another thing I get is that he’s saying that in a particular area of space the result will be that the big Combine-backed cargo ships won’t be able to pass through, so trade there will be left to smaller ships, like the Market and Balrog. And this will continue for four or five hundred years, so it’ll still be the case in Val Con’s time and for some time after. (Say, I wonder where Bechimo rates on the scale of “small enough” to “too large”…)

And now, they’re for Ynsolt’i, which gives the idea of a nice tidy ending of the story at the place where it began. I was wrong when I predicted a geographical appropriateness for Jethri and Freza (although come to think of it, I was right that Jethri would have better luck on that visit, just not about who with); I wonder if I’ll be wrong again if I predict now that Jethri’s first return to Ynsolt’i since he left the Market will coincide with the Market‘s first return to Ynsolt’i since Jethri left.

Trade Secret – Chapter 26

Port Chavvy

In which there are many secrets.

This is another chapter that calls for the reminder that I do appreciate the emotional parts of the Liaden stories, but I’m not very good at talking about them.

Some of the things Freza tells Jethri about the intent of Arin’s Envidaria remind me again of the conversation Theo has with the Carresens of her time. (Though that doesn’t help as much as it might, because I don’t quite recall what the Carresens actually said.)

When the dateline said “Port Chavvy”, I said to myself, “That sounds familiar, has someone mentioned it earlier this book?” – and then there was Dulcimer, and Klay Patel Smith sitting by the equipment rack. So apparently I was wrong when I guessed “Out of True” was set earlier than the Jethri books, having underestimated how unfamiliar a sight Liadens are in parts of Terran space. In fact, there are several things about “Out of True” I understand better having read (this much of) Trade Secret, and I think I would recommend to a new reader that they read Trade Secret first and then “Out of True”.

Trade Secret – Chapter 7

Control Deck, Keravath, Outbound from Boltston

In which the junior trader and the senior pilot both have things to learn.

I find Iza’s treatment of Jethri, as revealed in this chapter, quite upsetting. Neglect is one thing – I can kind of see (which is not to say I approve) how an intention to be rid of him might translate into a desire not to invest more than necessary of ship’s resources into his development, when he’d be gone before there was any chance of a return on the investment. But to deliberately hamper his development, to not only deny him the opportunity to develop a potential (and ter’Astin’s right, the tale of his fathers says he’s got the genes for it, at the very least), but to go about actively persuading him that he doesn’t even possess the potential – I just… ugh.

The more we learn about Iza, the less I like her.

The Scout says that he knows of Jethri’s father and Jethri’s uncle, “and more now than when first you and I met”, which apparently extends to knowing something of Jethri’s father’s father as well. That being so, I wonder whether ter’Astin, when he speaks of Jethri’s uncle, means Uncle Paitor, who is the only person Jethri knows to call uncle… or if it’s Arin’s Uncle he has in mind?

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 3

Clan Ixin’s Tradeship Elthoria, in Jump

In which Jethri reads his mail.

Maybe I just have a suspicious mind, but I do wonder if there was more than just unlucky timing to Dyk’s interruption of Jethri’s getting-to-know-you session, either on Dyk’s own part or on the part of the Captain.

I’d been meaning to keep an eye out for the first honest-to-goodness, undeniable cultural reference that shows that Terrans are from our planet Earth, but I may have let it slip by me. “Balrog” is surely one of those, anyway, even if it’s not the first.

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Jethri as a possibility, but it seems plausible to me that the Scout’s desire to speak with Jethri Gobelyn rather than Jethri ven’Deelin means he’s made some discovery touching on Arin’s kin. If so, that could be good news or bad, and no way to tell until the Scout has had his say, and possibly not even then.

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.

Trade Secret – Prologue

Stateroom Number Two
Liaden Tradeship Wynhael, Outbound from Banth, a Backworld

In which Jethri’s story is by no means over.

A new novel!

The prologue gives us Bar Jan chel’Gaibin nursing his grievances, some hints about what’s up on Banth, and Jethri continuing his career but discovering that Old Tech is still going to be a part of his life. The chel’Gaibin seems to have decided to take particular offence against Khat, so no doubt we’ll be hearing more of the crew of the Market along the way. That’s all the major dangling threads from Balance of Trade picked up already – all I ask now is a throwaway line about how Jethri’s moustache management is getting on, and I’ll be happy.

We get quite a detailed portrait of Bar Jan chel’Gaibin in the first part of the prologue. Not a nice fellow, the chel’Gaibin. The description of his debt book is revealing, and so is the bit about the rigged dueling pistols – that latter also saying something about the family he comes from, given that they’re the house’s pistols and not his personally. (I wonder if we’ll be seeing those pistols in action, later.)

We also learn some things about Jethri. The bit about him feeling as if fractins are aware of him is new, though it fits in with what we already had about his knack for salvage items.

Jethri is currently working on a world where they go in for elaborate ceremony, which gives us some interesting new flourishes on the bows. I particularly like the revelation that the language of bows includes a construction for “I realise my sleeves aren’t long enough to do this bow justice”.

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 33

Day 166
Standard Year 1118


In which Norn ven’Deelin considers her options.

Master ven’Deelin is decisive in moving to assist her foster son, not that I expected anything different from her by this point.

I am not sure I have correctly untangled that very long sentence which comes third in this chapter. It sounds like it has a story behind it, whatever it means.