Tag Archives: Tey Dor’s

The Rifle’s First Wife

In which Diglon Rifle does what he may to help a teammate.

Poker was one of the first new things Diglon was taught after he came under the dragon’s wing, and he showed an immediate aptitude for it, so it’s good to see he’s continuing to develop it. In general, it’s pleasing to see that Diglon is thriving in his new environment – and a bit worrying that Hazenthull apparently isn’t, even now.

I say “even now” because the internal evidence suggests that it’s been over a year since the two of them came to stand with Korval: baby Lizzie, who was not yet born then, has progressed to standing up under her own power.

Lizzie’s development also means that although it’s early spring – “winter having been gone some weeks now” – it’s the spring after the one in which Lizzie was born, and so doesn’t tell us anything useful about that contested spring I’ve been worried about lately.

(It also means that I’ve scheduled this story too early, which is an acknowledged hazard of scheduling a story without reading it first. The actual position would be some time after Dragon Ship – and possibly one or two more novels as well, but since I haven’t read those yet either I’m not going to attempt a definite pronouncement.)

It’s nice that Alara has found a chance to make an alliance with somebody whose company she enjoys and who she has an attraction to, but I do wonder how she’s planning to explain her choice to her delm. It’s all very well saying that Diglon isn’t an Yxtrang any more, but is she going to be able to get away with not mentioning that he was? The delm did specify a “long lineage” as one of the criteria to look for, which means he’s going to want to know about Diglon’s antecedents.

One thing that might help is that, Clan Silari having made the decision to leave Liad, Alara and her clan are themselves, in a sense, no longer what they were either.

Incidentally, I notice that Diam, one of the two people who entertained Diglon on his evening off, is another of those for whom the authors have chosen not to constrain the reader’s imagination by specifying pronouns.

Next: Dragon Ship

Roving Gambler

In which Quin yos’Phelium finds occupation.

Oh, so that’s what a nerligig does.

It strikes me that “Roving Gambler” is very much about what the Code calls “proper conduct”. It’s full of people facing the question of what would be the correct thing to do in the circumstance, and as like as not finding that it’s not an easy question on a world like Surebleak, which is continually being challenged on what answers it did have. The kinds range from small domestic questions involving a father and his son to big policy issues involving the Boss of Bosses (and in classic melant’i fashion, the extreme ends of the spectrum involve the same people wearing different hats).

Korval has it particularly bad, as Pat Rin points out at the end, because they’re used to living on Liad and having the Code to consult on questions like this, but now they’re on Surebleak and the answers are different. (Something that’s foreshadowed all the way through the story, as Quin keeps finding moments where proper Liaden behaviour doesn’t quite fit the circumstance.) I’m not surprised that it was Kareen who’s been given the job of figuring out their situation; if anybody knows about proper conduct, it’s her. It’s interesting, though, that she’s specifically stated to have been ordered by the Delms to study the question: Is that just them putting an official stamp on the enterprise, or did they find that she was unwilling to get started?

I suppose if there’s any course of study that might help prepare one for running a planet, Generalist might be it. It’s been a while since we’ve encountered a professional Generalist; I’m pretty sure the last one was Quin’s many-times-grandfather Jela.

On the question of Surebleak’s seasons, I find this story inconclusive; all we hear about the weather is that it’s recently turned good after a long bad stretch, which doesn’t say much on a planet with weather like Surebleak’s, and anyway it’s not clear precisely how long after Ghost Ship it takes place, so there’d be no way of comparing.

Tomorrow: “The Rifle’s First Wife”

Ghost Ship – Chapter 25

Surebleak Port

In which Theo has luncheon with the Reform Boss of Surebleak.

Theo makes a good point well when she asks if Bechimo is really a starship. A certain amount of caution is understandable given Bechimo‘s history, but a pilot’s life is never exactly going to be safe. There are always risks, and you need to engage with them sensibly, but above all if you want to get anywhere you need to engage with them. It’s a big part of what pilots are saying when they say “the usual rules apply”. (For all the rules the Builders gave Bechimo, he doesn’t seem to have gotten that one. Maybe that was something he was expected to pick up from his captain and crew.)

Another data point for the question of whether Pat Rin looks like Val Con, supporting the idea that the resemblance is most striking if one is not expecting it.

I Dare – Chapter 57

Day 59
Standard Year 1393


In which the Council of Clans throws Korval into the briar patch.

The Delm Hedrede who delivers the Council’s judgment here is not the same Delm Hedrede who clashed with Korval thirty years ago in Scout’s Progress – different pronouns – but it does make me wonder if Hedrede has a personal investment in Korval getting booted off the planet.

There’s a neat bit of narrative sleight of hand with the problem of what to do with the dies: the problem is carefully laid out, then just as Val Con is about to suggest a solution, the conversation is interrupted. The reader is left to assume that a solution is found without the authors having to actually come up with one.

Tomorrow and tomorrow: Revisiting old friends and seeing how they’re affected by recent events, in “Misfits” and then the remainder of Saltation.

I Dare – Chapter 55


In which the Captain acts for the safety of the passengers.

The mode of Ultimate Authority, which is referred to twice in this chapter, has, perhaps unsurprisingly, not come up much before: three times in the series up to this point. Priscilla adopts it briefly when putting Sav Rid Olanek in his place at the end of Conflict of Honors; Commander of Agents is said in Carpe Diem to use it when dealing with his underlings; and Val Con, greeting the Tree in Plan B, places the Tree in the position of ultimate authority.

The fact that it’s used twice in this chapter, and by whom, is the central conflict in a nutshell: the first is Commander of Agents again, and the second is Miri when she takes on the melant’i of Liad’s Captain. And I think it says something that, whereas Miri adopts the mode temporarily and in a situation where she is in fact the duly-appointed ultimate authority until the emergency is resolved, the Commander is not only self-appointed but apparently expects to be regarded as the ultimate authority all the time.

There’s a leap near the end of the chapter that I’ve never been able to follow. After the doomsday weapons are activated, ter’Fendil says he can deactivate them if Val Con gives him the control device, and Val Con does. Then it cuts to another scene, and when it cuts back everybody’s running for their lives and talking about the urgent need to do something before the weapons break out and start killing everybody. Is there something missing, or is it just me missing something?

I Dare – Chapter 20

Day 308
Standard Year 1392

Blair Road

In which the people meet the new boss.

Following on from what I said last time, I note that when telling Ms Audrey about the Sinner’s Carpet Pat Rin is again selective with the details, and selects a different set than when talking to Jim Snyder.

On a subject I’ve been keeping track of: Ms Audrey’s guess is that Pat Rin’s preferred game is dice, rather than cards, but his reply is exquisitely uninformative.

I Dare – Chapter 10

Day 286
Standard Year 1392

Teriste MidPort
Panake House, Field of Fire, Speculator’s Trust

In which Pat Rin meets she who is called, among other things, Natesa the Assassin.

We’ve heard the name of Natesa the Assassin quite recently: she was mentioned in “Quiet Knives” as one of the Juntavas judges who had made herself scarce to avoid the disfavor of the late Chairman Krogar. And there was another Natesa way back in “Veil of the Dancer”, which may be part of the reason why I often have trouble remembering which of those two stories is which.

LaDemeter is another name we’ve encountered before: the handgun Theo won by right of conquest shortly before being thrown off Eylot was also a LaDemeter design. To some readers, the name also rings a different bell: it’s a shout-out to the classic Lensmen space opera series, in which the hero’s ray gun of choice was the DeLameter. (It is thus an amusing twist that Cheever’s LaDemeters, rather than being futuristic ray guns, are powered by the classic process of combustible powder.)

Certain Symmetry

In which Pat Rin executes the will of Fal Den ter’Antod.

The other reason I placed “Shadow Partner” before “A Day in the Races” was that I knew this was up next, and it follows on from the end of “A Day at the Races” in a way that I felt would go better without another story intervening.

This is one of my favourite Liaden short stories. It has several shining personalities in it, not least of them Pat Rin himself. I also admit a certain fondness for the sense of humour evinced by the man in the back room, though I’m not keen on the nature of his work.

(A couple of side notes about Pat Rin: First, his field as a gamer is again cards and not dice. Second, there’s a nice though not surprising bit of continuity in the names that appear in Pat Rin’s social circle; in particular, the names of yo’Lanna and bel’Urik, which also appeared in yos’Phelium’s social calendar in the days when Daav was delm.)

This story also has a special place in my regard for another reason: it is the story which brought me to a conscious understanding that Liadens have a number of cultural hang-ups regarding the face, which brought together and shone new light on all the moments in other stories where Liadens were careful not to look another person too long full in the face, or felt distress at meeting someone whose face was distinctly marked (whether by dirt, injury, or deliberate decoration), or sought privacy before wiping a sweaty brow or rubbing a sore nose.

And I recall the sense of epiphany when I realised that this is not just an arbitrary bit of alien culture, but is complemented by the other famous marker of Liaden culture, the use of modes and bows to express thoughts and emotions — or, to put it another way, the fact that in Liaden speech all the messages that a Terran might convey through facial expression are transferred to other parts of the body. Terrans in conversation have to pay close attention to each other’s faces or they’ll miss part of what’s going on; in Liaden culture it’s impolite to pay close attention to another person’s face — and communication has been arranged so that it’s possible to carry out a conversation without doing so.

Tomorrow: “This House”


In which Pat Rin receives some advice, a history lesson, and a treasure.

With this story, we return to Liad, and Korval, about a decade after we last saw them. Nova yos’Galan is now twelve, and Pat Rin yos’Phelium, whom we last saw as a child on the day of her birth, is now a young man, and considering how he might make his way in society.

Reading these in chronological order does mean that the last time we saw Pat Rin was the day of Nova’s birth, which was also the day he demonstrated to his aunt an uncanny facility with dice — which makes it seem odd that in this story we’re told he’s been tested by the Healers and found to have no psychic talents of note. Perhaps in the intervening years the facility has faded away, or been redirected in another direction, or gone into hiding. While we’re on the subject, though, I did say I’d be watching whether he had much to do with dice when he took up his career as a gamester, which he does in this story, so I’ll note that his game of choice appears to be the card game piket, and no mention of dice at all.

Another trivial note, one of those connections the discovery of which are among my motivations for this project: Pat Rin’s new landlord is a textile merchant named bin’Flora, presumably a descendant of that bin’Flora to whom Jethri made his first sale way back in Balance of Trade.

I’m not sure what to make of Pat Rin’s dream at the beginning. It’s possible that it is, despite everything said against it, a prophetic dream foretelling Nova’s danger later in the story, but I don’t find that a compelling interpretation. I’m more inclined to think, given Pat Rin’s history, that if the endangered child in the dream had a face it would be Pat Rin’s own.

Tomorrow: “Intelligent Design”

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.