The drinking establishment named “The Headless Yxtrang” echoes an established pattern on Earth — there have been, for example, several taverns that commemorated some soldier’s deeds in the Crusades by being named “The Saracen’s Head”. Vepal sees a more metaphorical resonance with his own situation: the problem he is trying to solve is that the Yxtrang are collectively headless, in the sense of lacking the leadership they need. Continue reading →
In which Daav, Aelliana, and Kamele embrace opportunity.
As I read the afterword, this chapter was left out of the novel only because there wasn’t a convenient place to put it without interrupting the flow of the story, not because the events it describes have been superceded. Therefore, unless and until there’s a more definite declaration (or Accepting the Lance comes out and blatantly contradicts it), I’m going to assume it’s canonical. Continue reading →
In which Val Con and Miri are not getting much sleep tonight.
Chapter 20 is shaping up to be a long chapter, to the point that I’m almost wondering if I need to subdivide the sections even further. Makes sense, though, since this is the chapter where a whole bunch of plot strands come together, not just from this book but from the four books preceding it. Continue reading →
In which Admiral Bunter and Tolly discuss necessary action and acceptable risk.
A nice piece of narrative judo, here. By having Tolly explain things to Admiral Bunter, the reader is informed of matters that will be relevant to the ongoing adventures of Inkirani and Tocohl, who couldn’t have handled that bit of exposition themselves without it coming down to them telling each other things they already know. As a bonus, there’s the little touch of irony that Tolly and the Admiral consider going to the place where they would have met again with their former companions, and then decide not to.
I also like the bit where Tolly is telling Admiral Bunter about the rumour regarding the Carresens-Denobli long-looper. He says that there is this rumour; he doesn’t say what he knows from his own experience of its accuracy. Of course that’s something he doesn’t need to be telling Admiral Bunter at this point in their relationship; all the Admiral needs to know is that there may be other people like him out there.
Well, that’s a good start. I was pretty convinced that Surebleak was going to be put aside for another book, and that all the people who have been travelling toward it would continue doing so until it was time for the big finale. Maybe we’re getting out of the setting-up stage, and all the different threads are starting to weave together.
Although it seems there’s still some more setting up to do (well, fair enough, it’s the beginning of the novel), as two characters we don’t recognise arrive in Surebleak orbit. Continue reading →
In which Fer Gun begins to be introduced to people.
Fer Gun is still accepting things without thinking them through. But at least he remembered to scan it first, so that’s something.
I like the recurring thread of Fer Gun being bemused by houses that have names, “like ships”. It’s easy, after having spent so much time reading about people living in such houses, to forget what a strange idea it is to people who haven’t.
I find that I share Chi’s hope that she will have an opportunity to speak to the cousins.
In which Fer Gun pen’Uldra is given an offer he can’t refuse.
I was right: I did know the protagonist’s name from somewhere. I was also right when I decided it would more entertaining trying to figure out where as the story went along than it would have been to just look up the answer.
In fact, I enjoyed having no idea where the first chapter was going so much that I’ve decided to do this novella a chapter at a time, to make the enjoyment last a bit longer. Continue reading →
I think I made the right call, for me, to leave this story until after the novel, even though it doesn’t directly relate to the plot. If I had read the story first, I’d have spent most of the novel trying to figure out how it connected, which would have been distracting. Continue reading →