(by Silver Adept)
When we last left F’lar of the Immense Ego and Darth Lessa, Lessa had just obtained her dragon companion, Ramoth, guaranteeing she would be the next Weyrwoman of F’lar’s Weyr, ensuring the two of them can continue to be forced to spend time together. They do have something in common, though – they both have some belief that they are better than everyone around them.
Dragonflight, Part II: Content Notes: Misogyny, Rape
There’s a short timeskip after the aftermath of the Hatching, leading to the part of a princess movie where the princess has to learn all the boring details of court life, when all she wants is to go have adventures. R’gul and S’lel, the Weyrleader and his lieutenant are Those Two Guys, the perpetually bickering pair, neither of whom is able to impart any useful information and that resist her pushback against their rote instruction with “It’s tradition.” (Traditioooooooon!) For more than a few pages, we have Lessa working through the equivalent of the classics, slowly realizing their koan-like natures, in between bouts of snark at the last, now-deceased queen and her rider and how F’lar wouldn’t have touched her with a ten-foot pole and the desire to go back to Ruatha and oust the regent and the child. I still maintain that Lessa is entirely okay with infanticide, and that is not a quality to have in a leader.
To get away from history lessons, Lessa gets informed of a logistics shortage. R’gul is getting ready to trade with the holds instead of using the dragons to go grab everything for the Weyr and leaving everyone else to take the scraps. Not everyone is sending their proper tributes, and there’s only one half-staffed Weyr instead of a full five. And F’lar is waiting, as is tradition, for the mating flight to take over so that he can dominate legitimately. So Lessa hatches another plan, not only to depose R’gul, but also to bring all the Weyrs and their corresponding holds under her control.
It must be tiring for F’lar to be right all the fucking time – avarice does become Lessa’s motivation to be a great Weyrwoman. And it gives her a purpose and plot to move forward with – apparently, Lessa isn’t alive if she isn’t scheming something and keeping secrets.
This time around, however, when Lessa tries to use the Force and goad the dragonriders into raiding the holds, her Jaegermomster-subtle strike is picked up by F’lar, who reacts as F’lar does – violence against her body, and a strong backlash against her mentally. And, as always seems to happen, Lessa’s plan to encourage raiding and supplying the Weyr backfires because the rider she encouraged to raid draws too much attention to himself.
Y’know, this pattern is chock-full of issues, now that I look at it. Lessa hatched her original plot, with her ambition to kill Fax, and it sustained her for ten years, while she…sabotaged the Hold and generally made things miserable for the people that were there, while Fax was away. And then she maneuvered F’lar to kill Fax, finally, only to be undone by her lie coming true. And now, she’s trying to provoke the dragonriders into fighting the Holds, but the one she chooses lacks discretion, and F’lar snuffs out her attempts. Which is setting up Lessa as the conniving, shrewish, bitchy woman who needs a Strong Man to teach her the right and proper way to be submissive to men, and to stop trying to advance her own interests and just dutifully accept her powerless role. We’re in Taming of the Shrew territory instead of Much Ado About Nothing, but without any signs that the classic Shakespeare inversion is on the way.
And, right on cue, we now have a mating flight opportunity, which means F’lar, a bronze rider, will get his shot at becoming the Weyrleader if Mnementh can mate with Ramoth. So, the dragon surrogates will have a dominance fight in proxy to F’lar and Lessa. Because the bronzes are the ones that go after Ramoth as she takes to the air.
Once aloft, though, Lessa and Ramoth gestalt into one consciousness, running solely on instinct and wanting to get away from the stupid boys that think they can catch her. As the “lesser” ones drop off, Lessa-Ramoth goes down to taunt the survivors, thinking about how great she is, and the inevitable fouling-of-plans happens, and Mnementh is able to catch Ramoth and mate with her.
Which apparently means that F’lar has free reign to have sex with Lessa without her consent. Since she was never informed about what happens when dragons go on a mating flight, and because I think it’s safe to say that having a dragon in heat in your head qualifies as a sufficiently altered state of mind to be unable to give a true consent. The narrative carefully constructs things, though, to give credence to the “but she was asking for it” defense:
The mating passion of the two dragons at that moment spiraled wide to include Lessa. A tidal wave rising relentlessly from the sea of her soul flooded Lessa. With a longing cry, she clung to F’lar. She felt his body rock-firm against hers, his hard arms lifting her up, his mouth fastening mercilessly on hers as she drowned deep in another unexpected flood of desire.
And, fade to black, with F’lar once again getting everything he wants, now including Lessa and the Weyr.
And F’lar even gets his victory lap, with no mention of how Lessa actually felt the morning after, when her mind was clear, other than an impassive look on her face and a warning from Mnementh to be careful of her. And, look, conveniently on the horizon, a distraction on the form of an invading army!
…which we’ll get to next time.