Jan 272012
 
I’ve been a little lax with posting my reviews. I’m going to try to catch up this weekend, get a few scheduled in advance.

In this very short chapter, we evaluate a flashback moment. Based on context, it must be Daetrin’s POV. He’s in a church, during an era when there is a Plague.

C.S. Friedman’s The Madness Season Chapter 14.

From a purely informational basis, this page-and-a-half chapter adds nothing to the story. (Really, it doesn’t.) The narrative is historical, it presents a time in the POVC’s life when they are living in a community that has been struck by the Plague. They are trying to establish themselves within the community, and they are faced with a priest who conducts a ritual (communion and consumption of the Body and the Blood of Christ).

Informationally we are presented with:

  • His mother was a priestess and oracle (possibly predating Alexandria.)
  • His father was a scholar of Alexandria, trading his knowledge for acceptance (and other necessities and luxuries.)

The timing of the piece is indistinct. There’s a lot of periods when the Plague ran rampant through the world. The was an epidemic in Asia in the late 1800s that even made its way to California via Hawaii. Based on what we know, it would have had to have been late 1800s to early 1900s. The one thing I found when looking up information on the Plague is that it did not reach the same level of severity in Europe that it did in Asia— and because of the lack of specifics we can’t know where we are, or when we are.

What the timefugue does do though is set the mood. We know that Daetrin fell off a cliff and nearly died (it was possible he died, but unlikely… he is the protagonist after all.)

There are thematic similarities between the last chapter and this one. The hostile community. Daetrin’s attempts to fit in (but the conclusion of this chapter says he never fits in). The priest. The chapter moves the mood and pacing from Daetrin’s attempt to flee (and near death experience) to something more claustrophobic. In this scene/chapter, we’re not shown anything outside of the church and we’re told little more. There’s a sense of brooding danger, hidden just out of site.

I’m left with the conclusion that the point of this scene is to draw back from the fast pacing of Daetrin fleeing and transition to a lower paced scene.

Concluding this chapter, we end with the following hooks: None, this short chapter suggests that Daetrin is not dead.

Stakes: None.

Jan 122012
 
Following Daetrin, we’re offered more evidence that there is some relationship between Daetrin and the Marra. We’re shown strange behavior by the Raayat. We’re given a flashback. Daetrin performs SCIENCE! During one of Daetrin’s scientific experience, he’s told something cryptic by a Tekk-human. And finally, having answered the Call to Action, our hero sets in motion a plan to escape the Tyr. But will he succeed? Let’s find out…

C.S. Friedman’s The Madness Season Chapter 9.

We return to Daetrin’s POV. He’s still on the Longship, still where we left him, and still struggling with his sanity. Does he trust his senses, or not? Does he trust his memory, or not? Looking in the mirror he realizes that he has gray sideburns, which is, of course, impossible. After focusing on an image of himself without the gray, he looks again in the mirror and discovers he looks the way he should. This doesn’t comfort him, in fact…

 The Tyr had suspected me of being extraterrestial in origin. Could it have been correct? Might that explain some characteristics which seemed bizarre by Earth standards, but were consistent within an alien context? I had clear memories of the father who raised me, the mother who left me, the sister who was lost to me after some tragic accident … but I had other memories, too, which were clearly riddled with fantastic inaccuracies. Were those images of family no more than false memories, which only seemed true when viewed through the haze of centuries? Was I, in fact, something other than human?

So, the longest Marra span is around five hundred years (at least, the longest that our unnamed Marra knows). Daetrin only remembers being alive for the last five hundred years. Coincidence, I hear you say?

Trembling, I knew that I stood balanced on the brink of madness. Insanity and longevity are a truly terrifying combination …

The whole episode reminds him of why he has always hated mirrors.

Later, the Raayat comes to wake him.

Was the Unstable One living up to its epithet at last?

The Raayat leads Daetrin to a room, some kind of multimedia processing center. The Raayat shows Daetrin photos and orders Daetrin to interpret them. After many photos, too many for Daetrin to keep track of, and much anger on the Raayat’s part, Daetrin finally begins to grasp what the Raayat is looking for.

… “A farm. Earth-farm.”

There was silence. I felt my heart skip a beat. Had I failed it one time too often?

“What do you see?” it asked me again.

Hesitantly, I answered “It looks like an Earth-farm—”

“What do you see?”

I looked up at it, into eyes that were framed in swollen red. What did I see? Or, what did I perceive? They were two different questions, I realized suddenly. And I had been answering only the latter.

The Raayat’s hand was on my shoulder, the pressure of its tension near to drawing blood. I turned quickly back to the screen and told it, “Cattle: there.” I pointed. Then, moving my finger in illustration, I pointed ou the other vital farm-signs. And explained how I had deduced that this was indeed a farm, and why it was probably not something else.

And I waited, my breath held, for a response.

Its hand on my shoulder loosened. …

The interrogation continues, but with less frustration and at a slower pace. Daetrin speculates on the cause of the behavioral shift. Finally, when the episode comes to a conclusion, Daetrin wonders how the Raayat could seem to have missed the gestalt of everything that Daetrin had told it.

I love the implications in this scene. It’s the perfect kind of dramatic scene (show don’t tell). It shows us something new and makes the reader guess as to it’s cause. Then it poses the question to frame the reader’s mind, aligning the reader towards the story goal.

… The Raayat was part of the Tyr, and the Tyr was not crippled in this manner … therefore the Raayat could not be. Which brought us back full circle …

When the pair reach Daetrin’s cell, the Raayat having decided that the excursion was over, Daetrin asks the Raayat what it sees. The Raayat responds that it sees Leyq on the walls. Guidelines of color, visible only to Tyr-sight, that codify direction and distance (to what?)

Flashback:

Our POVC character is captured, we assume it’s Daetrin (it fits the narrative). While the captors dictate terms, the POVC speculates. Who ordered this assault, their motives, what he might do to escape. In a moment of distraction, he makes his escape. Outrunning his pursuers, he takes to the roofs where they do not think to chase him, believing him incapable of using his abilities because of their Christian magic (prayers and holy water are magic? I guess it’s a useful summary.) Everything in Florence is lost to him, and he cannot escape the city injured until he has had time to heal.

I struggle with the purpose of this flashback. Having read the chapter, I assume it’s to reinforce the knowledge that Daetrin once shapechanged with ease, that he once was more aware of his nature. This becomes critical to the (very) next scene, so it is relevant. It also adds a bit of action/drama to the narrative, speeding up the pacing and increasing the tension. (Which might be the exact reason why it’s added before the next scene, now that I think about it. The next scene is really just a scientific experiment. I bet if you removed the dramatic/action sequence immediately prior to the science, it would have been a little flatter, a little less tense.)

Returning to the present:

Daetrin decides to perform a SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT to try to understand the conflict in his perceptions. Ah, I love this idea here as much as I loved it when someone wrote fan fiction of Harry Potter doing the same (which, naturally, the fan fiction came much later than this book did.) However, there’s two continuity errors:

Earlier in this chapter, we have three changes in Daetrin’s appearance:

  1. Daetrin changes his hair so that he has gray sideburns (gray sideburns are a cosmetic change).
  2. Daetrin restores himself to normal.
  3. He saw a reflection of himself, looking anything but human (but how he looks is unexplained; he’s contemplating what manner of creature fits the criteria he has for his nature).

We don’t see Daetrin’s appearance change again.

Earlier in chapter 6, Daetrin discovered the zipper on his clothing jammed (but no mention of buttons.)

In this scene, Daetrin is lining up evidence

  1. Evaluating the malformed buttons on his clothing.
  2. No mention is made of a jammed zipper.
  3. His hair (again) has gray sideburns, which he cuts a bit off to compare against his reflection.
  4. When he looks in the mirror, he sees the reflection he saw when he last looked in that mirror.

1&2: His clothing could have both, he could have lost the zipper, or, he might not have been able to separate the zipper from the clothing without ruining the clothing (whereas a button was easily removed).

3: He might have changed back to the older image after he last looked in to the reflection, before the Raayat came. This would have been done off screen.

4. Err… the last time we saw him looking at himself, he looked anything but human, and he flipped the mirror over so as to not look at himself again. Any additional looking had to happen outside of the narrative.

After attempting to alter his appearance, and failing, he sees himself in the mirror again with the gray intact. OK, let’s let that go and move on. He performs a series of experiments, trying to change his human appearance, trying to submit to the timefugues to take a non-human appearance, trying to make any change whatever… and failing. He decides that all this means he’s possibly cured of whatever madness had overcome him when he drank blood again, but he’s afraid of what the Tyr will discover when they experiment on him, and so he must complete his experiments—test himself according to the parameters of his madness. By facing this down, he hopes to rid himself forever of his mystical past and root himself firmly in the world of science. SCIENCE!

While attempting to prepare for his next experiment (something to do with the lab and mixing chemicals under the watchful gaze of the Raayat), Daetrin struggles to get the Raayat to explain its seeming individuality and how that relates to the whole. It’s a pointless conversation, one they’ve had many times, but it distracts the Raayat from watching Daetrin too closely. When that tactic fails, Daetrin inquires about his destination, Kygattra. The planet has no day/night cycle, the Raayat informs him. A planet that orbits the sun the way Earth’s moon orbits the Earth: One solar rotation is the same as one planetary rotation—one side of the planet is always facing the sun. A death sentence for radiation sensitive Daetrin.

During Daetrin’s distraction, the Raayat circles back around to the earlier conversation and essentially invites Daetrin to name the Raayat-part-that-is-separate-from-the-Tyr. Our Raayat-Tyr becomes Frederick-Raayat-Tyr. At 29% through the book, we’re presented with the Call to Action: Daetrin is willing to die to protect “his people” (which clearly isn’t the humans). He will betray his people if he allows the Tyr to land him on Kygattra. So, he must leave the Longship by any means necessary (up to and including his own death).

Planning to try to escape, Daetrin dreams of his plans; he dreams of blood. (Not clearly in the literal sense, but it’s possible.) And then the moment arrives, and he begins his escape. First, to get past the door. The mechanism that opens it is heat sensitive, but only accessible from the outside. Somehow, he guesses, he must have generated enough body heat during his delirium that he was able to activate the sensor from inside the cell. If he can do it once, he can do it again, and so he triggers the timefugue:

I relived the incident, again and again, until my body shook with the force of the repeated memory, and I was filmed with the sweat of exhaustion. My shirt clung to me, dampened by my efforts, but still I persevered. Over and over, an endless loop of memory which must eventually take control of the body that harbored it, and force whatever process had once taken place to repeat itself, here and now—

I admire the rhythm of this (short) paragraph. I’ve been studying sentences that I really like a lot lately, trying to deduce how rhythm works. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t. I try to grasp the technical aspects of the sentence (and I hope I do a good job):

The first sentence is three connected clauses. The first clause (“I relived the incident”) is modified by an appositive phrase (“again and again”). The second clause (“until my body shoot with the force of the repeated memory”) is dependent upon the first clause, connected via the dependent marker until. The third clause (“and I was filmed with the sweat of exhaustion”) is independent, but has a casual relationship with the previous two clauses. That is to say, that because Daetrin relived the incident, until his body shook with the force of repeated memory, he was filmed with the sweat of exhaustion.

Second sentence is clause, appositive phrase, conjunction, second independent clause.

Technically speaking, in the third sentence just before the conjunction “and”, the comma is unnecessary. While unnecessary, its inclusion doesn’t destroy the meaning of the sentence. Its addition turns the clause “and force whatever process had once taken place to repeat itself” into a non-essential element. However, the sentence remains structurally sound if you were to remove the non-essential clause. Let’s take a look, shall we: “Over and over, an endless loop of memory which must eventually take control of the body that harbored it, here and now—”

The effect of this paragraph is rendered (less eloquently): I did something, I kept doing it until it generated a physical reaction (not the one I wanted). Despite the stress of my efforts, I continued. I kept doing it in the hopes that my memory of a past incident would control my body in the present.

I actually got the idea to do this kind of analysis from a web search I did recently for sentence rhythm which led me to Purdue OWL. Thanks Purdue OWL. They had a re-write of the Gettysburg Address; a comparison between the original speech and a rewrite using less florid [but more modern] speech. The re-write lost something in the translation. I think I’ve contained the same essential elements in the rewrite, but the impact, the essential meaning is lost. (It’s become all facts and no soul.) It provides (I hope) an excellent comparison to illustrate rhythm. And that’s the reason that I continue to love this prose.

Daetrin opens the door, escapes in to the corridor, and suddenly his plans are rendered askew: he’s encountered a Tekk woman, the dark skinned woman he met previously in the lab.

“There are no eyes,” she told me, “among the Tekk.”

Hrm? This is a curious phrase. It seems to mean that the Tekk do not report things that they see to the Tyr. (As this is a re-read, I appreciate the subtlety of this sentence. Like the seyga, it foreshadows a later event. How positively sly you are, Friedman.)

Daetrin departs the corridor, leaving the Tekk-woman behind, going to the animal penns. Once there, he tranquilizes one of the human predators and drinks its blood. Once he’s returned to his cell, before the translation (the FTL jump to the next solar system), Daetrin conducts his experiments again. This time, he feels more energetic, more alive. And there are results. His form is reverted from the aged image to the young image he had briefly before. Then, he transforms himself in to a wolf. Successfully. He’s forced to confront his real nature, but despite the shock he confronts it calmly. He now has a real chance of escaping the Longship, preventing his delivery to Kygattra and his eventual death (not to mention the death of everyone else like him who are still on Earth.)

Scene-break.

When we return, the Tyr are delivering the caged animals to Meyaga. The narrative is remote, unemotional, and not that dramatic. There are phrases though:

[Describing the Tyr’s method of trying to establish an ecological balance on Meyaga.] A creature with limited creative capacity must feel its way through life via trial and error.

and

I drank it [Daetrin’s heightened senses] in until the last glimmer of twilight had faded, and the light of a thousand alien stars blazed furiously against the stark black backdrop of the Meyagan night. A thousand brilliant points of light that burned my eyes as I stared at them, and filled me with the wonder of  their power and beauty—as well as my own vulnerability.

and (in closing)

Feeling a sudden hunger for human company—and for an additional kill, to strengthen me for my journey—I turned my nose into the most promising wind, and followed the scent of man into the forest.

Hrm? This is either context pollution, or Daetrin just decided to start eating humans. If you remove the interjected clause, the sentence reads: Feeling a sudden hunger for human company, I turned my nose in to the most promising wind and followed the scent of man into the forest. Which has a completely different meaning than when you consider the sentence, interjection included. But which is it? I’ll save that answer for a later post.

Concluding this chapter, we end with the following hooks:

  • Daetrin is hungry.
  • Daetrin craves human company.
  • Daetrin may or may not crave human blood.
  • Daetrin is on Meyaga, away from the Tyr, and planning to fight them somehow.
  • What are the humans like on Meyaga?
  • What will Daetrin do on Meyaga?
  • What will happen to Frederick-Raayat?

Stakes: Low. He’s safe for now, his nature is known to him again, he’s recovered powers he’d given up, he’s no longer held prisoner by the Tyr. Things seem to be looking up. It’s a perfect bookmark moment.

Jan 102012
 
In chapter seven we learn about the Tekk right of passage, as they pass from childhood to adult. We’re given an introduction to another Tekk woman, and presented with a Blooding (the name of the Tekk right of passage) from her memories as a child, and then given a shortened telling of four children’s right of passage. Then we’re told something (hinting really) that is supposed to be shocking for the children that survive the Blooding.

C.S. Friedman’s The Madness Season Chapter 7.

We start with an info dump, about the Tekk. We then go in to a flashback, from a Tekk’s perspective. I know the information is important to help us understand the Tekk, but having read this before I find myself bored with this part of the story. Soz. I can’t remember ever being excited, in the past I’m sure I read through it (in a hurry, hoping to return to the main story plot.)

On the negative side, it’s an info dump. New characters, we’re not sure why we care about them except that they’re Tekk, but we don’t even know what that really means (we learn something about that as we read this chapter), and then we move on. Do we ever come back to these characters?

Things I learned in this chapter:

  • Zinc oxide paints have been around since at least 500 BCE (Before Common Era).
  • The paint is intended to turn her in to a caucasian, to stand in for an Earth race that is absent on the Talguth. Instead, it makes her look like a ghost. Ntaya is dark skinned (though how dark is left ambiguous. It’s not actually important to the plot, so we let that go.)
  • Our POVC is named Ntaya. Ntaya appears to be of Indian origin (random factoid, it took some research to find, although Google seems to think it’s a misspelling of Tanya, which is Russian.)
  • Ntaya is starsha, though it’s used as a descriptor, the word doesn’t mean anything. A fellow fan of Friedman’s work created a glossary of words in The Madness Season, and they think the word means “elder.” From the first scene (before the flashback) we determine that Ntaya is an adult. We know this because the flashback takes us to the time when Ntaya went through her Blooding.
  • The Blooding is when the Tekk children leave the safety of the “Place of Children”. Before the Blooding, Tekk children have never seen a hraas or a Tyr. During, the children are scarred (literally cut), scared by Tekk wearing frightful costumes (e.g., some costumed to resemble Tyr, and, Ntaya in her zinc oxide painted ghost-look), and thrashed with wet rags that make their cuts burn like fire. Finally, the children meet the hraas and it kills two of the three.
  • The Tekk tell the Tyr that the children who die to the hraas were never born.
  • We’re given the Bloooding from two perspectives, both Ntaya’s: one perspective is how she saw it as a child, the second is how she sees it as an adult.

In the present, the four children are tested by the hraas but only two live. We conclude with:

… They had been trained from birth to serve the Tyr without question; such upbringing was necessary to insure that their facade of subservience never faltered. But now, for those whom the hraas had accepted, there was one more surprise to come. And this time it was her job to explain it.

And the truth might well prove the worst shock of all.

Concluding this chapter, we end with the following hooks:

  • The Tekk employ a semi-mystical right of passage that involves a lot of pain and fear. The children are told not to fear, and by not fearing, they will be protected.
  • The hraas choose which Tekk will grow to be adults, killing those found unworthy. The hraas selection criteria is not known.
  • The Tekk do not server the Tyr as they pretend.

Stakes: None, another background chapter.

Jan 072012
 

Rash of short chapters. Based on the alternating narrative between Daetrin and the Marra, this chapter must be from Daetrin’s perspective. It’s possible that it’s not, only because if it is Daetrin’s perspective then there’s a continuity error. Andrews (our POVC, or point of view character) drives to a field (military airbase, grass field, what?) has a conversation with a Major and is accepted as a fighter pilot to fly against the Tyr in man’s last ditch effort to repel Earth’s invaders.

Short chapter.

C.S. Friedman’s The Madness Season Chapter 5.

With a subtitle to this chapter (“Timefugue”) we’re given to understand this is a flashback.

Our POVC is feeling rushed. The stacatto rhythm to the sentences in the first paragraph dump a lot of information quickly, some of it is tell but most of it shows our POVC arriving at a field (what kind of field?). Around two hundred recruits, a mix of military and volunteer, are running around.

What’s going on is vague and facts sparsely populate the scene, but you sense the urgency in the writing. Our POVC (by the name of Andrews) meets a Major who knows about our Andrews’ “hyperallergic [reaction] to ultraviolet radiation” but the circumstances are grim. We know this not because we’re told so specifically, but because we’re told

They never would have taken me on in the old days, but with Earth’s pilots dying right and left, a man who can fly only at night is better than none at all.

Except he’s being asked to fly dayside (Andrew’s word for it). Andrews might have been an unnamed 3rd party, but since I’ve read this I’m going to go ahead and spoil it for you: It’s Daetrin. (We were told in Chapter 1 that Daetrin was a pilot during the Conquest, and that he’d flown against the Tyr.) The Major tells Andrews (Daetrin)

“If we don’t do it this time … it’s over. So we can’t afford to lose.”

The Tyr have done what no diplomacy could, rendered human borders meaningless. And then we’re given a suggestion that maybe this isn’t Daetrin (it is, which makes this a potential continuity error):

… I feel the sudden bite of fear—but what does fear matter, when Earth’s entire future is at stake? If I’ve lived for more than ten centuries [sic] until this time, it’s only been so that now, in the time of Earth’s need, my experience can be applied to her defense.

It is possible that this is a throw away POVC who has a similar life to Daetrin (but lived ten centuries prior to the Conquest, instead of Daetrin’s only a single century.)

Hooks?

None really. This is a world building chapter.

Stakes:

None really, this is the past. Whatever happened, happened.

Jan 062012
 

This is a very short Chapter. We return to our Marra POV, after experiencing death through the POV of a nameless and random sentient of the Tsing race. Our Marra possesses the body and goes in search of answers. She finds answers, but not answers that she likes, in the form of a Tsing-Marra who inhabits the planet and believes that all Marra made some compact to spread out through the universe to reduce the risk of discovery by the Tyr. After a conversation that tells us a lot more about the Marra as a species, the chapter concludes with our Marra deciding that she will go in search of other Marra on other worlds.

C.S. Friedman’s The Madness Season Chapter 4.

We start the chapter from the perspective of an unknown and unnamed alien, of the Tsing race. Being hexapodal and lacking hands, the low-slung sentient is ordered to maneuver a a crate off the top of a pile; a job to which the Honn-Tyr, who gave the order, would have been better suited. It notices the burned body of a Honn-Tyr tucked between two crates. Investigation reveals that the burned body still has its weapon, the Tsing rashly thinks to take the gun back to his people (the Tsing are also Subjugated by the Tyr), but when the nameless Tsing touches the weapon he becomes breakfast.

We switch to the Marra’s POV. She is left with the choice of rebuilding her existing form or possessing the corpse of the now dead Tsing. Each decision has its attendant difficulties, but the Marra decides to possess the corpse she created when she ate the Tsing’s life force. Taking stock of the sensory apparatus (a very mechanical sounding phrase, seemingly appropriate for a disembodied entity), she attempts to orient herself within the host body. Unable ot master the hex-gait walking patterns, she tucks two limbs and walk on four limbs instead, grabbing a carton and departing the shuttle. Behind the other Tsing, the Marra is able to observe their kinesics and approximate the way they walked. She sets off, after delivering her carton, to investigate the Tsing which have been transplanted to this mildly inhospitable planet by the Tyr. She hopes to find another Marra or some head of government that will give her answers.

Eventually she locates another Marra, also disguised as a Tsing and introduces herself.

“My identity is without root,” she told him. The explanation was a plea, the ultimate Marra distress signal; it stated need as only the Marra could know it, hinted at a fear that was unique to their species. No Marra could hear those words and fail to respond—she hoped. “I need help in getting my bearings. I need context. I am without root,” she repeated, uneasy. “Help me.”

These are the moments that I love in this story. The language is evocative and communicates well the nature of the Marra. As we learned in Chapter 2, the Marra have a FIFO memory. The idea that you could forget who you are, forget your identity, is apparently a terrifying concept. And we’re about to be given an example of why (though in theory, our Marra has never seen this before, at least, not that she is aware.)

The conversation that follows is a conflict. Our Marra trying to coax information from the Tsing-Marra, the Tsing-Marra expressing something that can only be described of as fear and trying to hurry her away. Somehow the Tsing-Marra has begun to this of the Marra as nothing more than parasites, and though our Mara indicate that the Saudar would have willingly submitted to Marra hunger (presumably draining only the excess life, not enough to actually kill) for their services. But the Tsing-Marra is concerned that the Tyr will identify the Marra and attempt to apply genetic husbandry techniques (our Marra points out that the whole concept of genes even applying to… but the Tsing-Marra interrupts again claiming that the Tyr would act.)

“What in Unity’s name would they do to us? Give us an ugly form and ask us to change in to it?”

“Kill us,” he said coldly.

That stopped her. Her voice quiet, her soul incredulous, she asked, “I assume you’re kidding?”

And there you have it. The Marra are, essentially, unkillable. (Unless she really has forgotten quite a bit, but she really does seem like the more stable of the two Marra in the room.) But yes, he insists it’s possible that the Marra can be killed. An experience trying to taste the soul of the Tyr-collective seems to have engendered a sizable dose of fear in the Tsing-Marra. He again tries to get her to leave, insisting that the Marra had divvied up the universe to spread out and reduce the risk of discovery by the Tyr. Playing along, she asks what the terms of the agreement were (i.e., the agreement where the Marra agreed to divvy up the universe.)

“You don’t remember?”

“Obviously not. My … Span is short.” She saw no reason to tell him the truth, it would only add fuel to his paranoia. In fact, she had one of the longest Memoryspans [sic Kindle] of any Marra she knew—but he had no way of knowing that. Let him assume that she had simply forgotten, as all her people did in time, the details of her past existence. “Tell me.”

After he explains the preposterous agreement, she asks how do the Marra handle transportation between worlds. Only the Tyr can, the Tsing-Marra insists.

Ah, she thought sadly, you have forgotten so much …

She decides to go in search of other Marra, on other worlds; hoping that she will find more palatable answers elsewhere. Surely not all Mara will have forgotten—unless she did pass a full Span on Shian? Did she create false memories to fill the emptiness? Were the Marra never anything but parasites? Too jarring to contemplate, those questions, she is verbally ejected from the Tsing-Marra’s abode. She leaves in disgust.

Concluding this chapter, we end with the following hooks:

  • Our Marra experienced a setback. She went in search of information about what happened to the Saudar Unity, and discovered a Tsing-Marra who seems to have forgotten the past.
  • Our Marra must consider the possibility that she’d been on Shian too long and her memories are false, but she doesn’t want to believe this.
  • Our Marra must use Tyr transportation to travel between worlds, but how will she do that?

Stakes: Not much is at stake at the moment. It’s a bookmark moment. There’s the possibility that her identity is dissolving and she’s forgotten the past, but we’re left with the impression that it’s unlikely—she does, after all, have one of the longest Memory spans of any Marra she knew. (That could be a fabricated memory, but Occam’s Razor suggests we go with what she believes until we learn otherwise. In our narrator we trust.)

(Edit: Note to self, don’t forget to spell check.)