Last week we met newly-weds Kiem and Jainan and dipped our toes into the present situation on Iskat as the renewal of their treaty with the Resolution looms. This week we’re swimming in the political relationship between Iskat and Thea and the suspicious goings-on that all seem to come back to Jainan and his previous partner, Prince Taam. Interesting isn’t the word.
The schedule for this SciFi Month read-along can be found here at Dear Geek Place, and the weekly prompts are posted on this Goodreads page here. This week imyril has provided the prompts to get us talking.
Let’s dig in …
(And please beware: SPOILER alert!)
Week 2: Chapter 7 through 15
Now we have a better grasp of the political and diplomatic context, where do your sympathies lie? Any thoughts on Gairad or the Thean ‘intervention’ at the embassy?
At the moment my sympathies are firmly with Thea and with Jainan for the impossible position he was put in. I can’t help but feel that Iskat is trying to pull a number on Thea and I don’t like it one bit. Jainan has essentially been isolated from his own people. I don’t yet understand why, exactly. I see that Taam was pulling his own scam, but this doesn’t feel like a part of that. It feels bigger. By “discouraging” Jainan from keeping in touch with his family, friends and clan members he’s been denied the ability to improve the understanding between Iskat and Thea. Almost as if Iskat wants to make Thea a special territory, so they can then take what they want from the planet and its space instead of having to play nice. Which is making me think they’ve found something more than just a rich mining source. I am equal parts deeply suspicious and confused at the moment.
I was kind of impressed by Thea’s chutzpah in plonking Kiem on a plastic chair and giving him a telling off though. And I loved the way he handled it.
Having got to know Jainan – and Taam – better, how successful do you think his first marriage was? What do you make of his chances at happiness with Kiem?
I still suspect that his first marriage was abusive in some way, so massively unsuccessful. That’s the only way I can read Jainan’s behaviour and thought processes, which I’m finding increasingly upsetting. Jainan is like an animal that has been kicked one too many times. While I’ve no doubt some of his quirks are just his personality, his constant monitoring of and attempts to second guess Kiem’s mood appear to be self-defensive. I desperately want him to get better and allow himself to be happy. When we see those rare glimpses of him enjoying himself, like when he was talking about the latest extreme sport in Thea (*snort laugh*) and when he and Kiem were in the flybug on the way to Hvaren Base, it’s such a relief. I feel that Kiem will be the perfect person for him to be happy with. Kiem’s just so wonderfully relaxed and easygoing, and absolutely what Jainan needs if he’s ever going to stop looking over his shoulder and jumping at shadows.
Any ideas why Jainan’s security access was flagged? What do you make of his response to it?
No, I’m confused by this. I think it’s part of this bigger plot to break down relations between Thea and Iskat, but it might also be because of Taam’s embezzling, which Jainan has clearly been set up to take the fall for. Maybe I’m wrong to assume that the Taam thing and the diplomatic relations thing are separate, maybe it’s all one big plot that I can’t see yet. I’ve never been very good at seeing these sorts of pattern before they’re revealed.
Jainan’s response to the whole situation, however, is befuddling. He seems to berate himself for everything, whether it’s something he can control or not. He uses silence and stillness and acceptance to defend himself, but it’s not really working right now.
Lunver is awfully keen not to share the textbook perfect crash data and insists the issue with the Auditor is the speed of Kiem’s appointment. She wants him to step down and let someone else marry Jainan. Thoughts?
Lunver knows something, but what does Lunver know? And who the heck does she think she is telling Kiem to step down and allow Jainan to marry someone else? She really pissed me off when she said that. Especially when the Auditor made it clear that Taam’s murder is the reason for not instating Kiem and Jainan, not the speed with which the two married or Kiem. And the Auditor didn’t really come across as someone who’d lie about such things. So eff off Lunver.
On the other hand, while Aren is being helpful, I don’t really like his free and easy attitude. The ease with which he’s handed information over to Kiem and Jainan makes me just a smidge suspicious. Sure, it’s super helpful, but what does he get out of it? I feel like he might be after something, although I can’t imagine what.
I’m just suspicious of everyone who isn’t Kiem and Jainan at the moment!
Who do you think is responsible for all these mysterious malfunctions? Who do you trust?
I trust no-one! Well, nearly no-one. I trust Kiem and Jainan. And Bel, I think. But that’s it.
I’m thinking it’s probably someone in the military that’s responsible for the malfunctions – maybe someone who was in on Taam’s scheme? – because they were at the Base for enough time for someone to have messed with their flybug. And as Jainan was there to investigate Taam’s embezzlement, it makes sense that that’s alerted someone who was also in on it. And there’s Aren again, happily handing over information to civilians. So, maybe, just maybe, he had something to do with all this. He was Taam’s friend after all.
How about those mysterious remnants? Why do you think the Resolution wants them back? What do you make of the timing of the Empire returning the remnant that powered the notorious Tau field device?
I want so much more information about the remnants. I want a whole book about them.
I guess the Resolution wants them back because they represent considerable power (this Tau field that is used to torture people being a case in point). Maybe they have Star-Trek-ish intentions of keeping such power out of everyone’s hands, but I sort of suspect this is how they maintain the upper hand. Without the Resolution, the Empire faces being overcome by larger, stronger empires through the link. All that really means to me is that the Resolution is the largest, strongest of them all.
The timing suggests to me that the Empire feels it has a good grip on things. After all, you don’t give up a weapon until you feel you’re in a position not to have to rely on it anymore. I know it’s naïve of me, but I’m horrified that they have a torture device at all (assuming that is actually what it is, and not just a rumour-creation), but then how do you rule over seven other planets without some force, skill or knowledge that gives you an upper hand?
And, of course, my paranoid little brain wonders, if they’re only now handing over the Tau field device, what else have they kept back? And for how long?
Thoughts on Week 3 (Chapters 16 through 22) can be found here