Tag Archives: Vaxter Syndicate

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 40

Sherman’s Shootout
Expert Round

In which the people make their feelings known.

Nelirikk has a new surname: nor’Phelium. I wonder whose idea that was, and what it signifies. I tried to see what could be gleaned from seeing who else has had a surname with the nor’ prefix, but there hasn’t been anyone – which might be significant in itself.

I like the bit about Nelirikk feeling under-equipped with only four handguns, six knives, explosives, arm-chains, and zhang-wire. (We’ve seen zhang-wire before, only romanised slightly differently: “jang-wire” was the name of the weapon Sed Ric the pirate carried for self-defence in Scout’s Progress.)

I was surprised to see Yulie. Makes sense a man with his shooting ability might want to come along to an event like this – but this is Yulie, who doesn’t do well with strangers and has been actively avoiding the city for as long as we’ve known him and longer. That he’s in the city now, having trusted somebody else to watch his farm and his cats (a Scout, he says, perhaps Tan Ort?) says a lot about how much he’s benefited from the changes on Surebleak.

For the final chapter of the book, we return to the main theme. Pat Rin’s making a deliberate point by standing unarmed in the middle of the argument: he could have shot quite a few people if he’d wanted to, but he wants people to understand that his leadership isn’t just about who can shoot who the fastest.

I may have got a bit sniffly at the bit about the people opening the road that they own.

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 38

Boss Conrad’s House
Blair Road

In which Penn Kalhoon has something to say.

I was wrong about the meeting Pat Rin sent Quin to, which I might have known if I’d thought; on further consideration, if it had been something other than an ordinary sort of meeting Pat Rin would have said so. This is not the first time I’ve been wrong in this novel about an upcoming meeting going to be the occasion for excitement; my persistent mistake has been to misunderstand what kind of story this is. I kept assuming that if a meeting got mentioned it was probably going to be important to the plot, and that if trouble was brewing it would come to a head quickly, but this is a more slow-burn story than that, and meetings of the Council of Bosses are important to the plot even if nothing dramatic happens at them simply because it matters to the characters that there is a Council of Bosses and that it’s holding regular meetings.

And that brings us around to what Pat Rin tells Penn, which is another thread of the ongoing thing about how the new ways are going to survive: if Pat Rin and Val Con and Miri get killed, that isn’t the end of the new Surebleak. Korval might have shown the way, but they couldn’t have made it happen without Surebleakeans, and now the way has been shown the Surebleakeans can make it happen without Korval if they have to.

I suspect it speaks to how much Surebleak has improved already that Pat Rin is able to compare its port to Solcintra’s Mid Port instead of its Low Port. For that matter, the state Surebleak Port was in when Pat Rin arrived was so run-down and uninhabited it might not even have stood a comparison to the Low Port, which whatever it may not be at least has an active population.

It hadn’t occurred to me how useful a scholar of the history of education might be in a city trying to develop a proper education system. I wonder how long the authors have been planning that one.

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 36

Warehouse District

In which the Bedel are far from defenceless.

That’s a neat trick with the meteor shielding. (And probably implies something about how meteor shielding actually works in this universe, if you’re a reader who’s interested in that kind of technical thing.)

After all the ways they’ve been thwarted, the Syndicate are probably going to make one big serious attempt to make their presence felt before the end of the book. Which reminds me that we haven’t had the shooting match yet.

I wonder if the shooting match is the meeting of Bosses that Pat Rin’s asked Quin to represent him at. Even leaving aside the excuse that the Emerald needs his presence, which has the virtue of probably being true, sending his heir to shoot in his place is a neat way of supporting his consequence without giving away anything about just how good with a gun he personally is.

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 24


In which there are meetings and partings.

I’m still inclined to the idea that Tolly is the specialist Jeeves is sending with Tocohl. Conversely, this implies that Jeeves is the colleague who encouraged Tolly to settle on Surebleak, which raises the interesting question of what enterprise they might have been colleagues in.

I haven’t the faintest idea what High Judge Falish Meron (whose name is given here for the first time) might want with Val Con. Based on past performance, this probably means I haven’t been paying attention and it will be obvious as soon as it’s said.

Smealy’s meeting with Miri is sure to go badly for somebody, but I’m not confident in guessing who. Miri might send him out with his tail between his legs, the way Val Con did, but he’ll be more inclined to fight back this time, because he needs a success to show his colleagues. He might be tempted to do something foolish because Miri is small and female, in which case he’d be making a mistake in underestimating Miri – not just because she’s ex-merc and Korval, but because she grew up on Surebleak, and was pretty tough already before she was either of those other things. I suspect the Syndicate Bosses are similarly underestimating Surebleak’s population in thinking the campaign of examples will make them roll over.

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 21

Riley’s Back Room
Fortunato’s Turf

In which Miri talks about the past, and Droi thinks about the future.

And one way in which things immediately become more interesting is that Rys’s role as leader of the freed Agents, with all its responsibilities and risks, has ceased to be merely hypothetical now that there is at least one freed Agent to lead.

It’s an interesting point about Droi perhaps not having a place on the ship of the Bedel when it returns. This chapter seems to be gesturing toward the possibility that she might by then discover that she has a place on Surebleak with Rys, which would not be quite the same as being left alone among gadje. The problem I see with this as a solution is that it revives the issue of the kompani needing to have a particular number of members at the end of chafurma, which was the necessity that drove Droi to start interacting with Rys in the first place: if both Rys and Droi leave, the kompani will be short, even if the kompani keeps their daughter, which I could see being a Balance demanded of them.

(Unless, it occurred to me as I composed the previous sentence, the newly freed Agents follow Rys’s path, and enough of them join the kompani to balance the loss. I’m suspicious of this idea, though: it seems a bit too neat, the kind of prediction that I’ve usually been wrong about before with Liaden novels.)

I was right about the nosy crews being connected; good to know my intuitions aren’t entirely off. Having some kind of underground-space-detecting technology explains how they knew where to look without necessarily knowing what was in the spaces they were looking for. The mention of an Insurance Committee suggests they might also be connected to the shakedowns Pat Rin has been dealing with. It says something about their ideas of neighbourliness (or at least of the behaviour of Bosses) that they assume they can nobble the Road Boss’s nearest neighbour without anybody noticing or caring.

It occurs to me that the kompani, who have been on Surebleak many generations “to learn what there was to know”, might well have learned things that would be relevant and useful to Kareen’s project, even if they weren’t interested in the social constructs of gadje particularly. Whether anybody in the story is likely to have this occur to them, and whether the Bedel would agree to share such knowledge, who knows?

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 15

Jelaza Kazone

In which Lionel Smealy has a deal for the Road Boss.

There’s a lot of cultural misunderstanding in this chapter; it becomes apparent long before Lionel actually comes into the presence of the Road Boss that he’s setting himself up for failure, and it’s largely because he keeps trying to interpret the Liadens as if they were members of his own culture. In fact, this chapter reminds me a lot of the one in I Dare where Jim Snyder the insurance man completely failed to deal with the newly-arrived Conrad – which is not a complaint, in case it sounded like one. It shows that Jim and Lionel come from a common cultural context, one that has not disappeared from the Surebleak cultural mix just because the mix has had a heap of Liadens dumped into it.

The fact that his entire plan is founded on the common misapprehension that Val Con is Conrad’s younger brother doesn’t help either, of course. When you’re trying to make someone a deal they can’t refuse, it helps to actually know who you’re dealing with.

Although I see how a group of people used to operating in a laissez-faire environment might find the imposition of load size limits annoying, I kind of get the feeling that that’s not really the issue. It occurs to me that a lorry running the full length of the Road at midnight might have other reasons for not wanting to have its load inspected than just the question of its size.