Tag Archives: Surebleak consolidated school

Accepting the Lance – Chapter 9

The Bedel

In which the Bedel receive long-awaited news.

Back around the time Maysl first entered the story, I spent a while speculating about how she and her parents were going to manage when the ship came to pick up the kompani. It appears that Droi has been assuming that the question wouldn’t arise, that the ship which was already late would not appear in her lifetime.
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Dragon in Exile – Chapter 28

Surebleak Port

In which Tolly lifts out, and Rys has news.

I’d never really thought about the issues involved in fitting an Yxtrang into an autodoc designed for a smaller person. This is probably a worst case, being a shipboard autodoc, which means it would take up as little room as possible, and on a Liaden ship whose designer presumably envisaged it only being needed by Liadens.

Tolly’s apology to the pilot for getting Korval tangled in their business by bringing Hazenthull onto the ship suggests that he doesn’t know that pilot, ship, and business all belong to Korval already. And I don’t understand why not. I can see that Tolly comes from the kind of background where you don’t speculate about your employer’s identity if they choose not to tell you, but why not tell him?

I suspect, given the way Korval’s Luck tends to run, that Rys and Val Con’s visit to Yulie is going to intersect in some interesting way with the Syndicate’s plan to take over the farm.

The incident at Bob’s Grocery reinforces the point that Bosil was reflecting on during the first incident at Quill’s Bakery: if the new way of doing things survives on Surebleak, it’s not going to be just because the Bosses insist, it’s going to be because the ordinary people see the advantages and are willing to fight to keep them.

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 23

Boss Conrad’s House
Blair Road

In which the Road Boss makes plans for the day.

Miri’s bruised cheek is one of those things that have extra resonance from details mentioned in other stories. Pat Rin is especially upset about it because the culture of Liad puts a big value on presenting a clean and unblemished face to the world: no dirt, no smudges, no injuries. (No concealing make-up, either.) That’s also part of why everyone made such a fuss about Val Con’s scar in Plan B, beyond its inherent unpleasantness. Val Con is less concerned about it, partly (as with his scar) because of his Scout training, and partly because, as he reminds Pat Rin, this is not Liad.

Val Con and Miri do a neat job of diverting Nelirikk’s disapproval.

I somehow suspect there’s something to the fact that Tocohl’s proportions are described entirely in terms of being similar to Theo’s. Her voice isn’t Theo’s though, if Val Con recognises it but Miri doesn’t. (I wonder if it’s modelled on Aelliana…) Perhaps Jeeves decided that if Tocohl was to be a child of Korval, she ought to bear some resemblance to her sisters and her cousins and her aunts.

Tocohl takes after her father in choosing a name from fiction that suits her intended role: Susumo Tocohl is the protagonist of Janet Kagan’s novel Hellspark; she’s a linguist, a dab hand at smoothing over the problems caused by clashing cultural assumptions, and her universe’s leading authority on the process of teaching an AI how to be a person.

(Hellspark is a long-standing favourite comfort-read of mine, and I would perhaps be more excited about this development except that the surprise was spoiled for me long ago by an acquaintance who, in addition to our shared loved of the works of Lee & Miller and of Kagan, has a taste I don’t share for reading Advance Reader Copies.)

We still haven’t been given the name of the specialist Jeeves proposes as Tocohl’s colleague, which suggests that the authors consider it something worth building up to. My only guess at this point is that it’s Tolly, if only because he’s been established as a specialist earlier in the novel. And, come to think of it, if he’s still being looked for by someone he doesn’t want to be found by, he might welcome a trip away. (…and if he’s a specialist in AI, what does that say about the person who’s looking for him?)

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 22

Boss Nova’s House
Blair Road

In which there is a nice dinner followed by serious conversation.

I find it interesting that Kezzi’s triumph at school is reported by Syl Vor, and vice versa.

The phrase “something so trivial as an apparent breach of contract” has an edge to it, coming after Val Con’s lecture on the importance to Liadens of the making and keeping of contracts. One might suppose that in the general way, the Liaden attitude about self-reliance being what it is, a breach of contract would be resolved between the parties to the contract without bringing in any outsiders, so a breach of contract wouldn’t normally be taken to the Council of Clans unless it developed into a major situation. This is not the general case, however – for one thing, the Council of Clans is one of the parties to the contract in question.

The mention of Quin in this context makes me belatedly wonder whether his current project – which is, you will recall, to gain piloting experience by flying off somewhere for several weeks – was already planned, or if it was invented as a way to keep him out of reach of any more Balance-seekers while his family determined whether any more are to be expected.

Val Con’s aunt Mizel would be his mother’s sister Sinit, who was appointed Nadelm Mizel in Mouse and Dragon and presumably has succeeded to the Delm by now. (She also formed an alliance with yo’Lanna in that book, so that mention is another pointer.) Seeing her mentioned now as still in contact with Korval, with Aelliana’s return in prospect, makes me wonder how she is going to react to having her sister come back from the dead.


In which things are changing on Surebleak.

Even granting that a public gathering of all the Bosses seems like a good opportunity to make a statement, it strikes me as particularly lacking in foresight for the disgruntled pack to try and start something at, of all things, a shooting competition. That’s right up there with the legendary criminal who tried to knock over the local precinct’s favourite coffee shop during the cops’ lunch break.

The old argument about the new consolidated school suggests this is set shortly after Necessity’s Child, though how much after would depend on the balance between the newness of the school and the oldness of the argument. Actually, it might even be during the late stages of Necessity’s Child, if the argument is “what to do when the new school opens” rather than “what to do now the new school has opened”.

(It might turn out that I’d have had more to say about this story if I’d read it after Dragon in Exile, the way Trade Secret turned out to contain details that clarified the situation in “Out of True”, but I had important pragmatic reasons for putting Dragon in Exile last in the schedule, namely that that meant I could schedule everything without needing to know exactly how many chapters there are in Dragon in Exile.)

Necessity’s Child – Chapter 37

In which the first day of school is an exciting time for everybody.

Rys says explicitly that he knew when Agent bar’Obin explained the mission that he wasn’t going to survive it, but it’s also implied that Agent bar’Obin, who is inside the building she’s about to blow up, doesn’t expect to survive either. The Department doesn’t care for the lives of its people.

I want to note that there are quite a few taxis in this chapter, with at least three and probably more simultaneously present outside the school at one point. I’ll have more to say on that subject in a couple of days.

Necessity’s Child – Chapter 36

In which everybody has plans for the first day of school.

In the author’s note to one of her books, Connie Willis suggests that all the best stories with heartwarming/uplifting endings have a moment not long before the ending where it seems that every chance of a happy ending has been destroyed. Here we are now at that point in Rys’s story.

The horrifyingly plausible thing about Agent bar’Obin’s revelation is that although we know enough about Rys Lin pen’Chala before he fell into the hands of the Department to know he wasn’t the kind of person who would want to destroy a shipload of Terrans (including a friend) because one of them mistreated him, we also know enough about the Department to know that he might have become such a person by the time they were done with him.

Necessity’s Child – Chapter 35

In which Rys has a reunion.

But of course it doesn’t occur to Syl Vor that Ms ker’Eklis was asking something of him in advance of his age and ability; he’s used to living under the Plan B conditions which regularly did the same.

At last we have a name for Rys’s former colleague – and it’s one that has appeared before in this novel. Isphet bar’Obin was present, credentialed as a member of the Blair Road Patrol, when Mike Golden interviewed the criminals who mugged Rys. Several details about that scene seem much more significant, reading it again now, starting with the description of her eye colour, moving on to the fact that Mike only assumes she’s a Scout, and finishing up with the bit where Mike delegates to her the task of discovering the owner of a knife found among the muggers’ possessions.

And this naturally explains how she came to be in the bakery during the meeting, in such an artfully covered position that I assumed at first she was one of the Road Patrol assigned to be Nova’s backup: it’s because she was. How very amusing for her.

Necessity’s Child – Chapter 33

In which Rys goes for a mug.

There are several things to be suspicious of in this chapter, but I don’t know if I’m suspicious of them only because I know where the story’s going; I can’t remember what I thought of them the first time I read the novel.

Droi’s anger, “anger that was more than half vey“, is interesting, both for the half that is vey (that is, inspired by the gift by which she sees things that others don’t see), and for the half that isn’t.