Dragondrums: Topsy-Turvy Day

Last chapter, Piemur survived an attempt on his life, for which no real discipline was issued to those who were responsible, or the person who allowed it to happen.

Dragondrums: Chapter 6: Content Notes: Getting Away With Attempted Murder, Victim-Blaming, Gaslighting

Chapter Six resumes the action near the end of Piemur’s enforced convalescence, with Silvina spoon-feeding him broth, since Piemur doesn’t know what his Hall future holds.

Piemur caught her skirt as she made a move. “There was grease on those steps, wasn’t there, Silvina?” Piemur had to ask the question, because he couldn’t really trust what he thought he had heard.
“Indeed and there was!” Silvina frowned, pursing her lips in an angry line. Then she patted his head. “Those little sneaks saw you fall, scampered down and washed the grease off the steps and handrail…but,” she added in a sharper tone, “they forgot there’d be grease on your boot as well!” Another pat on his arm. “You might say, they slipped up there!”
For a moment, Piemur couldn’t believe that Silvina was joshing him, and then he had to giggle.
“There! That’s more like you, Piemur. Now rest! That’ll set you right quicker than you realize. And likely to be the last good rest you’ll get for a while.”

Bit of gallows humor there, eh, Silvina? Also, with Piemur asking about the grease, something tells me that Dirzan has been gaslighting him for quite a while before the murder attempt, off page.

Piemur sleeps for a while until Menolly appears with proper food for him, and they talk about the attempt and his upcoming mission.

She grinned, then, her eyes twinkling. “Clell and the other dimglows are on water rations and they won’t get to the Gather!”
Piemur groaned.
“And why not? They deserve restriction. Pranks are one thing, but deliberately conspiring to injure – and you could have been killed by their mischief – is an entirely different matter. Only…” and Menolly shook her head in perplexity, “…I can’t think what you did to rile them so.”
“I didn’t do anything,” Piemur said so emphatically that he slopped the water glass on his tray.
Rocky chirped anxiously, and Beauty took up the note in her trill.
“I believe you, Piemur.” She squeezed his toes where they poked the sleeping furs. “I do! And, would you also believe, that’s why you had trouble? They kept expecting you to do some typical Piemur tricks, and you were so busy behaving for the first time since you apprenticed here, no one could credit it. Least of all Dirzan, who knew all too much about you and your ways!” She gave his toes another affectionate tweak. “And you, bursting your guts with discretion to the point where you didn’t tell me or Sebell what you bloody ought to have. We didn’t mean for you to stop talking altogether, you know.
“I thought you were testing me.”
“Not that hard, Piemur. When I find out what Dirzan…no, eat all your tubers.”

No, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO!

Cocowhat by depizan

[The Loudest Profanity I’ve Ever Heard]…several times.

Before we even get to the content of this exchange, I object in the strongest terms to Menolly being used in this fashion. Yes, she’s Piemur’s friend, but she’s only been three Turns off of her own harrowing Hall experience, and she has her entire lifetime of abuse from her father as experience toward how much pranking and malice can be dangerous and harmful. The Menolly from Dragonsinger would not be satisfied merely with restrictions on liberty and on diet as punishment for attempted murder. She probably doesn’t have the authority to expel them on her own, but she shouldn’t have to make too much of a case for it, either.

I also object to Menolly engaging in victim-blaming here. Firsthand experience of what being yourself results in, and having to work through the issue that such things are not the fault of the victim, no matter how much the bullies insist it is, remember? Menolly is the very last person that would say “You brought this on yourself because everyone expected you to act like your reputation, so when you didn’t, it was open season on you. You should have just conformed to their expectations.” Bullshit. Absolute coprolite.

Finally, although it is minor compared to the flagrant fouls already committed, “bloody” as an oath is derived from “God’s blood”. There is no indication, anywhere, that there is any sort of religious practice on Pern, much less monotheism, and certainly not Christianity. An oath like “bloody” has zero fucking context to appear in, so it should not exist.

So. Plot. Not one to waste opportunity, Menolly informs Piemur of his upcoming trip to a Nabol Gather, where his bruises will provide extra realism to his role as an apprentice herder (a role Piemur is intimately familiar with, as he was part of a herder family before becoming a Harper). Sebell will be playing the role of the herder, and their mission is to discover why there are so many fire lizards at Nabol, whether Meron is trading with Southern Weyr, and which of Meron’s heirs will be the best fit to inherit from him.

Oh, sorry…

“Meron’s trading with the Oldtimers?”
“Lord Meron, lad you don’t forget the title even in your thoughts…and yes, that’s the possibility.”

Because even if he is a slimeball in everyone’s opinion, and he’s done things to piss off most of them, he’s a Lord Holder, dammit, and that means he must be respected with his title. Much like how criticisms of dragonriders must be suppressed to the point of not even becoming conscious thought. Even though Sebell immediately undercuts that respect, Piemur is supposed to give it.

“He is dying then?” He’d [Piemur] been sure the message to Master Oldive was spurious.
“Oh, yes, a wasting disease.” Sebell’s grin was malicious, and there was an unpleasant gleam in his eyes as he met Piemur’s astonished gaze. “You might say, a very proper disease to fit Lord Meron’s…peculiar ways!”

No details are forthcoming about the disease, but we can probably surmise it’s an STD, since what we know of Meron from Dragonquest and this book is that Meron sleeps around a lot (many heirs) and sleeps with dragonrider queen riders (Kylara) who are well above his station, and, oh, is also abusive to those women (also Kylara). The way it’s described by Sebell, the “wasting disease” could be HIV/AIDS, although at the time of publication, I don’t believe it had yet been changed from Gay-Related Immune Disorder. If it is HIV/AIDS, with the implication that Meron is bisexual and collected it from a male partner, then Sebell and all the people, including Harpers and others not quoted in this chapter, who are taking great schadenfreude in someone they hate dying painfully, get an extra “you’re a homophobic asshole” on top of their current astronomical count of sins. So why, again, is Sebell telling Piemur he has to remember to say Lord Meron, since Sebell doesn’t respect Meron at all?

Everyone has promised Master Oldive that Piemur will have a light-duty time at the Gather, so we can expect that not to happen at all as soon as Piemur gets out into the wild. Because of that, though, Piemur gets dropped off by dragon ahead of where Sebell is driving the herdbeasts and told to wait for him. Piemur hears the sounds of people coming, and hides from them to observe.

He curled up small, hugging knees to chest, secure in the belief that he couldn’t be seen.
A chirrup disabused him off that notion and, startled, he glanced up and saw three pairs of fire lizard eyes gleaming at him.
“Go away, you silly creatures. I’m not even here!” To prove this, he closed his eyes and concentrated on the awful nothingness of between.
The fire lizards responded with an agitated chorus.

Piemur escapes discovery because the men with the fire lizards are uninterested in what just caused their fair to squeak frightfully. Which, yeah, moving cart, Gather, so it makes sense. However, it does raise an interesting question: Since fire lizards communicate mostly by images and emotions, is Piemur saying something like “I’m going to kill you.” unintentionally when he tries to communicate that he’s not here? It drove off the fair, but what will happen with a fair that doesn’t have a destination?
After quite the long wait, and enough time to feel somewhat sorry that he’s going to Nabol instead of performing at Fort, Piemur wonders whether Sebell is anywhere nearby. In the middle of a boast about his abilities with drum measures, Piemur gets an idea.

He groped on the ground beside him and found a rock, gave it an experimental whack against the builder that sheltered him. The resultant shins echoed about the small valley. Piemur found another rock and, rising, went to the now visible track. He beat the rocks together in the monotone code for “harper”,adding the be[a]t for “where,” grinning as the sharp staccato sounds reverberated. He repeated the two measures, then waited. He beat his measures again to give Sebell time to find his own rocks. Then in the pause he heard distantly a muffled reply: “journeyman comes.”

Hey, that skill Piemur picked up is going to come in handy after all, not just in sending coded messages on parchment. I’d like to see more of this creative problem-solving, and less of the abuse-because-talented, please.

After another giant fair of fire lizards and humans passes by, with Piemur thinking of nothingness again, but counting and confirming that there are way too many fire lizards about, Sebell arrives and the two go to the Gather. Sebell haggles down the fee for stable space for the animals, then sends Piemur to collect fodder for the animals while others start to bargain with Sebell for the beasts.

They got the beasts enclosed, and Piemur was sent with a worn mark of the Herdsman’s Crafthall to haggle for fodder. He managed to save an eighth on the dealing, which he pocketed as any apprentice would. Sebell was already deep in bargain with one of the men while the others were examining the beasts with pinch and prod.
Trust a Harper to weave words well, and Piemur’s respect for the journeyman increased proportionately to the elaborations of the tale he told. Sebell would have his audience believe that he merely used an old trick handed down from grandsire to grandson: a combination of herbs and grasses sweetened with just the right amount of berries and well-moistened dried fruits.

So, apparently, Piemur and Sebell are cut from the same mischievous, bargaining, advantage-gaining cloth. Which says good things about Piemur’s career trajectory, assuming he doesn’t end up dead from inexplicable reasons or poking his nose somewhere that gets his head cut off. I see promotions in Piemur’s future, and possibly a blue sapphire. Especially since he pockets the savings, “like any apprentice would”, which says a lot about how much everyone intends to take advantage of everyone else at all times. What’s to stop a journeyman from shorting his apprentice and forcing the apprentice to haggle down to ridiculous amounts? And would anybody care?

Also, that thing I talked about in the last book about the Smithcrafthall’s apparent monopoly on mark pieces? Utter bullshit. Which, okay, yes, Italian city-states pastiche, but holy fuck, how do you establish valuation for different Crafthall marks? It’s not like there’s an overarching monetary control authority that establishes the equivalencies. And marks aren’t based in precious metal or gemstone values, to the best of our knowledge (except maybe Miner marks). It seems like there’s no reason for the Crafthalls not to try and screw each other over in the exchange rates. “Oh, you have a Herder mark. That’ll net you a thirty-second of this Smithcraft mark, so I’ll need four more of them for this thing that costs an eighth, since I only deal in Smith marks.” And other such shenanigans. There’s no real rhyme or reason to this, and even a little bit of worldbuilding and thought would have been very welcome.

Sebell sells the beasts at a significant profit, and the two Harpers go off to their real missions. Piemur counts lizards, realizing that most of the lizards are browns, blues, and greens, and listens into a conversation that suggests that Meron is distributing fire lizard eggs, all right, but eggs from green fire-lizards. Piemur puts two and three together and follows the people conversing to the main Hold gates to confirm his suspicions. He can’t see inside, but he does see people leaving, concealing things that could be egg pots under their clothes.

A happy accident gives Piemur another piece in the puzzle.

Then three carts, heavily laden to judge by the straining of the burden beats struggling up the ramp, forced the smithmaster to one side. The guard waved the carts toward the kitchen courtyard. The last cart jammed a wheel against the ramp parapet, the driver thudding his stick against the burden beast’s rump.
“Wheel be jammed.” yelled Piemur, not liking to see any animal beaten for what was not its fault.
He jumped forward to help guide the carter. The man now backed his stolid beast, swinging its head left. Piemur, setting his shoulder to the tailgate, gave a push in the proper direction. He also tried to peek under the to see what on earth was being delivered to the Hold on a Gather day when most business was fine in the Gather meadow. Before he could get a good look, the cart had picked up speed as it reached more level ground.
He was past the guards, arguing with the smith and paying no more attention to the procession of carts. Ducking quickly to the side of the cart away from the carter, Piemur gained access to the Hold proper.

For once, empathy turns out to be useful to the plot, instead of a commodity to be shared only with intimate friends.

(Nitpicking again – to the residents of Pern, Terra doesn’t exist, so the phrase “what on earth” wouldn’t, either. “what on Pern”, perhaps, but not “what on earth.”)

And from here, we step into a boys’ adventure story again. Actually, that’s not true, we’ve always been in a boys’ boarding school story, it’s just that the consequences and the pranking went well beyond what a hazing for that kind of story would have gone through. This looks like it could be the longest attempt at this style of writing, since previously it was limited to a chapter or two as a breather here and there. The previous attempts worked out pretty well, and were good breaks. Considering we’re only a chapter out from a murder attempt, we might need a bigger break this time around.

Once inside the gate, Piemur snags some drudge coveralls and is immediately put to work helping unload the carts, gutting food, doing dishes, and then helping with a scramble when the kitchen is informed that Meron is dining in his quarters, instead of elsewhere. Piemur has confirmed to him that Meron has not picked an heir, and is apparently playing them all against each other. Having cleared out rooms full of an extraordinarily foul funk, confirmation of his theory comes with the largest room.

The foul odor hung heaviest in the last of the four large rooms that comprised the Lord Holder’s private apartments in Nabol. It was then that Piemur blessed the happenstance that had sent him in here ahead of the others. Reposing on the hearth were nine pots of exactly the size in which fire lizard eggs were placed to keep warm and harden. Mastering his urge to gag, Piemur ducked across the room to investigate. One pot was set slightly apart from the others and, lifting the lid, Piemur scraped enough sand away to see the mottled shell before he covered it carefully over. He took a quick look at the contents of the first pot in the other group. Yes, the egg was smaller and of a different hue. He’d rather every mark he owned that the separate pot contained a fire lizard queen egg.

Observation! A useful skill, indeed. What I’d like to know is whether Piemur is currently reinventing the wheel, considering the Weyrs would have many hundreds of years of experience looking at eggs to see what kind of dragons will pop out of them. And everyone else would have the collected experience of all the attendance at Hatchings to also make proper deductions. If fire lizards are kin to dragons, it should follow their egg patterns are kin, as well. So this feels like it should read more definitively, instead of as a very good guess.

So what does Piemur decide to do with this revelation of so many fire lizard eggs?

Quickly he switched pots. Shielding his actions with his body in case Besel [another drudge] ventured this far to check on him, he dumped the sand with deft speed into the cinder shovel, removed the egg and shivers it up under his coverall and into his shirt above his belt. Poking among the cinders, he selected one that had a slightly rounded end and nearly inserted it into the egg pot, replaced sand and lid and stood the rifled put back in line, straightening up just as the woman crossed the threshold.

…Steal one? Huh? Why do that? If someone notices, then there’s a lot of heat to have to avoid until it dies down, and being the new guy, Piemur is going to get immediate suspicion. And a few chapters ago, Menolly told him that she hasn’t forgotten about her promise to give him an egg. Maybe Piemur thinks he needs it to show Sebell as proof? Does he think Sebell is going to behave like Dirzan did toward him about things? I can’t find a credible justification for why Piemur takes the egg anywhere. Unless this is part of that “any apprentice” idea that says everyone is out to gain as much as they can without regard for other people.

As it turns out, the answer is “the plot made him do it”, as best as I can tell. After stealing the egg, Piemur finds a good place to dump it where he can keep it warm, insulated, and away from casually prying eyes, and then goes back to work assisting with the preparation of dinner. Having completed that, Piemur finally gets to eat scraps from the main table as his dinner. Now resolved to get out and report to Sebell, Piemur heads for the gate.

He jauntily approached the main gate, whistling deliberately off-key.
“And where do you think you’re going?”
“T’Gather,” Piemur replied as if this was all too obvious.
He was surprised by the man’s guffaw as he was by being swung around and roughly propelled back the way he had come.
“Don’t try that one on me again, guttingman!” called the guard as the force of his push sent Piemur stumbling across the cobbles, trying not to fall and damage the egg. He stopped in the darkest shadow of the wall and stood fuming over this unexpected check to his escape. It was ridiculous! He couldn’t think of any other Hills in all Pern where the drudges were denied the privilege of going to the Hold’s own Gather.
“G’wan back to the ashes, guttingman!”

As if we needed another reason to dislike Meron. This particular reason, though, serves double duty, as it keeps Piemur inside the Hold, with stolen goods. This doesn’t bother Piemur that much – he just thinks he’ll wait it out until there’s some other Hold traffic that he can slip out with, so he finds an out-of-the-way spot by where the coal is collected and the ashes dumped and naps.

And wakes up to the alarm in full fury looking for him and the stolen egg. Which he brought completely on himself by stealing the egg. And we still don’t know why he stole it. Realizing he needs a better place to hide, Piemur manages to climb the walls and slide through a window into a locked storeroom. The lock is tested by the searchers before they move on. Piemur still needs an even better hiding spot than this, and his cleverness provides an answer.

He crawled cautiously over the stacked bundles until he found one with enough slack at the top to admit him. He opened the thing, and just as he was crawling in, wondered how under the sun he was going to tie it up again, the switching in the side began to give in his hands. Smiling happily at such a solution, he rapidly undid the stitching down the side. Crawling out, he retied the knot about the mouth of the sack, then slid through the undone seam, which, once inside, he could do up slowly, but enough to pass a cursory inspection. It was hard to do, feeding the thick thread though the original holes from the inside, and his hands and fingers were cramped when he finally accomplished the feat.
[…Finally safe…ish, Piemur falls into a deep sleep, then has a moment of panic trying not to suffocate in his bag…]
It was then he realized he wasn’t in Nabol Hold any longer. That the heat was not due to the unventilated stores room beyond Lord Meron’s kitchen, but the sun pouring down from southern skies.

And thus, in one of the more clumsy ways possible, but fitting with the idea of a boy’s adventure story, the narrative deposits Piemur where it wants him – on the Southern Continent, where he will get to have a survival adventure in a land he has no firsthand knowledge of. There’s just the matter of food (he snags an orange fruit from a tree and eats – and it is apparently not poisonous), and of the people who are coming to collect the supplies.

“If we don’t get some of that stuff under cover, it’ll be ruined” said a tenor voice.
“I can smell the wine, in fact, and that better be taken out of the sun or it will be undrinkable,” said a second male voice with urgency.
“And if Meron’s ignored my order for fabric this time…” The woman’s sharp alto left the threat unspoken.
“I made it a condition of that last shipment of fire lizard eggs, Mardra, so don’t worry.”
“Oh, I won’t worry, but Meron will.”
“Here, this one bears a weaver’s seal.”
“At the very bottom, too. Who piled this so carelessly?”
Piemur, scurrying down the other side as fast as he could, felt the shiver as someone began tugging at the sacks in the front. Then he was sliding and grabbed the egg more tightly, exclaiming as he hit the ground with a thud.
Immediately three fire lizards, a bronze and two browns, appeared in the air about him.
“I’m not here,” he told them in a soundless whisper, gesturing urgently for them to go away. “You haven’t seen me. I’m not here!” He took to his heels, his knees wobbling uncertainly, but add he lurched down a faintly outlined path leading away from the voices and the goods, he thought so fiercely of the Black nothingness of between that the fire lizards gave a shriek and disappeared.
“Who’s not here? What are you talking about?” The strident tones of the woman’s voice followed Piemur as he careened away.

Good piece of writing to have the singer identify unknown vices by their singing ranges. I’m not very fond of Mardra continuing to be painted as evil, although it does make sense that she’s able to casually threaten Meron. It would be interesting to see if Mardra were really in charge at Southern through some form of power that’s not feminine in nature, since we’ve seen enough of that before.

Also, Piemur, your trick scares the fire lizards, but it doesn’t make them forget you. Which means Mardra should know your picture, if not who you are, and be thumping the bushes and posting an overwatch to find you, in case you are a spy, saboteur, or you just know too much about what is going on with the Meron-Southern deals. (Not that anyone in this sequence is being particularly subtle about what’s going on.) Since this is a boy’s adventure story, of course, Piemur will be able to thrive in the new environment and evade any patrols that might be looking for him. He should also probably figure out what it is he’s really saying when he projects between at them.

Chapter Six closes with Piemur finding shade and shelter under a plant and falling deeply asleep from his exhausting day. I’m going to predict that once he wakes up, he’s going to find he has no trouble at all adapting to his new environment. And that he might find a friend or two.


33 thoughts on “Dragondrums: Topsy-Turvy Day

  1. genesistrine April 30, 2015 at 3:40 am

    Just a quick rhetorical question here (and partly to try some italics-banishing) but what the hell is Piemur supposed to have a reputation for doing that justifies retaliation-in-advance of pissing on his clothes, dipping them in gutters, whacking his shins with furniture, trying to get him in trouble for spreading confidential info etc non-stop?

    We’ve seen him be sharp with money (to the benefit of his friends as well as himself) and be suspected of a couple of silly singing jokes, as well as being willing to scam extra sweets from friends, but Menolly’s way off-course if she’s trying to use those as a reason, not least because she knows how bullies find justification.

  2. genesistrine April 30, 2015 at 11:15 am

    The whole thing about whatever it is Meron’s got is really weird. I thought of Herod’s Evil when I first read DD, but I think I’d read Graves’ Claudius books shortly before so it was in my mind.

    (Flavius Josephus: “He had a fever, though not a raging fever, an intolerable itching of the whole skin, continuous pains in the intestines, tumors of the feet as in dropsy, inflammation of the abdomen, and gangrene of the privy parts.”)

    Sebell’s gloatiness does come over as a moral judgement, which is extra peculiar on a planet where we’re told sexual relations are freer and Lords have multiple wives and concubines, not to mention the whole “no religion” aspect. But it’s never been mentioned that Meron has any sexual interest in men (or any other nastier possibilities), and if that’s so taboo you’d expect to have heard gossip and sniggering and rude remarks.

    We do know he left bruises on Kylara, though there’s a definite possibility she liked that. Given that Pernese men in general seems to be OK with getting rough with their girlfriends it seems unlikely that that would cause that level of serves-him-right unless he’s exceptionally violent (or Sebell is unusually decent). And again, no gossip or complaints or holders with attractive relatives moving out of the area. (Incidentally, I don’t think it’s ever mentioned how many of the potential heirs, if any, are his descendants – the popular one certainly isn’t.)

    It looks suspiciously like he’s just a Designated Nasty Person who was Complicit in Hurting a Favoured Character so horrible gangrenous things happening to him serves him right by Author Fiat.

    As for Piemur nicking the queen egg, there’s a strong hint as to motivation earlier:

    “He opened his eyes now and saw the flicker of winging fire lizards in the gathering daylight, and the point-lights of their eyes in gloom. And these were carters? Small holders? The anger that injustice roused warmed Piemur long after the caravan and the comfort of their glowbaskets passed from his angle of vision.”


    “Again anger consumed Piemur. He knew that he wouldn’t have resented this latest concentration of fire lizards, obviously companioning holders prosperous enough to own fast pacers, if the earlier caravan hadn’t been just as well favoured with the creatures. It wasn’t fair. He agreed wholeheartedly with Lord Oterel! There were many, too many fire lizards abroad in Nabol.”

    Teenage IT’S NOT FAIIIRRR! at its finest. (I’m assuming the whole “peasants have fire lizards and that’s extra unfair” is Piemur’s POV rather than the narrator’s, but that may be a judgement call. It certainly shows the hierarchical nature of Pernese society, at least.)

  3. beappleby April 30, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Regarding fire lizard eggs – it was established in Dragonsong and Dragonsinger that the gold eggs can’t really be distinguished from any others – Menolly picks the two biggest for Robinton, but says they could both have been bronzes. I don’t think this is meant to be Piemur realizing how to tell a gold egg apart, but rather realizing that this bigger egg has been set apart from the others because has the best chance of being a highly prized gold or bronze.

  4. Only Some Stardust April 30, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    I could see ‘bloody’ as standing for ‘dragon’s blood’. Dragons seem the closest thing to a religion.

    And there’s no respect for Lord Meron, clearly, but there probably is respect there for the title of lord. If this were a genuine medieval fantasy setting, I’d say this was a case of ‘peasants aren’t allowed to punish their lords or do anything to upset the hierarchy, but if God strikes him down with disease then it is fair and square’. They don’t have god, so… luck? Nature?

  5. depizan April 30, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Also, with Piemur asking about the grease, something tells me that Dirzan has been gaslighting him for quite a while before the murder attempt, off page.

    Which would fit nicely with the idea that Dirzan is responsible – or at least involved. However horrible and wrong the “pranks” the other apprentices pulled were, they made no attempt to hide their actions. Why would they this time? I maintain that, at a minimum, Dirzan is the one who cleaned the stairs and railing. Or ordered the other apprentices to do so. And it sure seemed like Dirzan wouldn’t have gotten Piemur help if the journeyman hadn’t interfered. And what would’ve happened if Piemur had gotten no help at all for his concussion? Or been left up there where he could easily suffer another “accidental” fall?

    Makes you wonder how many apprentices have died in the drum heights.

    “They kept expecting you to do some typical Piemur tricks…no one could credit it.”

    Going along genesistrine’s question, even if Piemur had been shown to be the prankiest prankster that ever pranked (which he hasn’t been), why would his doing nothing be seen as cause to be cruel to him? Wouldn’t a more plausible response be “Whew, he finally grew out of it”? (I know bullies need no reason, but this is being presented as if it actually makes some kind of sense.)

    Given that Piemur’s actual characterization as a “scamp” did include being good at gathering information, I’m left wondering just what in fuck is going on in the drum heights that Dirzan and the other apprentices are willing to murder over.

    (Not that that fits very well with the previous abuse – it would if he could opt to leave, but he can’t, so that’s just all very WTF.)

    “Lord Meron, lad you don’t forget the title even in your thoughts”

    This would make sense in a world where you could be severely punished should the wrong person over hear you not using the title. But since we can’t even be sure there are laws on this horrible planet, I don’t know if that’s supposed to be the implication or what. And that doesn’t fit with people having equivalently open glee that Meron is dying of whatever he’s dying of. I’m pretty sure in places where you’d get punished for leaving off Meron’s “Lord,” you’d also get punished for grinning while talking about how appropriate the disease he’s dying of is.

    Sebell sells the beasts at a significant profit

    Is this even a good idea? I mean, they’re there as spies, not to make money. Do they want to call attention to themselves? (Or did Sebell go to the James Bond school of spying?) It just feels a little…off. Like McCaffrey couldn’t resist having her “good guys” be good at everything, whether it fit the plot or not.

    The foul odor hung heaviest in the last of the four large rooms that comprised the Lord Holder’s private apartments in Nabol.

    Two questions. One is a world building one: does this drudges do all kinds of drudge work make sense? I have some vague idea that servants were divided among type of work in at least some of the time periods she’s basing all this off of. (Especially in a place that has so many servants that no one, other servants included, notices an extra.) The other is: why is there a foul odor? Is this a symptom of his disease?

    It was then he realized he wasn’t in Nabol Hold any longer.

    He slept through being loaded onto a dragon and flown/teleported to the Southern continent? WHAT

    you just know too much about what is going on with the Meron-Southern deals.

    And now we’re back to the problem of an inconsistent world. Are they doing anything wrong here, or not? Did the exile specifically prohibit contact and/or trading with the Northern continent? Or is this a retroactive addition to their exile? (And exiling them with no contact seems like a terrible, terrible thing to do with your enemies.)

  6. depizan April 30, 2015 at 3:29 pm


    And these were carters? Small holders?

    Oh my fucking god. There is so much wrong there, I just want to scream. Woo! Classism. Spiffy coming from somebody who, it sounds like, was the kid of small holders himself. (Never mind his good friend Menolly’s background.) Also, firelizards are wild animals. Anyone might find and impress one.

    These people suck. Their society sucks. Most of the time I want most or all of them to be eaten by thread.

    Is Pern supposed to be a dystopic crapsack world full of awful people?

  7. genesistrine April 30, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Yep. Pernese classism at its finest. How dare common carters have fire lizards? The cheek! Down with this sort of thing! Only special important people should have them! I.e. protagonists!

    And there’s also this bizarre remark:

    Piemur wondered if anyone in Nabol realized that a deception was being practiced on them, and green fire lizard eggs were what were dispersed so lavishly.

    But… what deception? (Other than the risk of sterile eggs.) They’re still fire lizards. Are you somehow being cheated if you don’t have a chance of nabbing one of the super-special metallic shades?

    Looking at it from the other direction, the Oldtimers are rescuing green clutches that would otherwise be eaten by predators and rehoming them with people that will care for them. While keeping trade flowing. But they (and Meron) are Bad People, therefore this must be a Bad Thing.

  8. depizan April 30, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    *stares* I…what…

    I’m with you. I really don’t see how they’re doing anything at all wrong. And the elitism just keeps finding new and dizzying heights.

    Man, I hope Piemur’s egg hatches a Queen. Not because he deserves to have his elitism reinforced, but because he so clearly devalues everything else.

  9. notamolly April 30, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    @depizan “Is Pern supposed to be a dystopic crapsack world full of awful people?” I think that is a perfect description. 9th pass Pern is space amish from hell and thread is the most noble thing on the planet.

  10. depizan April 30, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Team Thread *hands out shirts to anyone who hasn’t got one yet*

    Okay, the bit where Southern riders came and tried to extort gemstones from the miners is just so wrong and nonsensical now that we have established (possibly blackmarket) trade through Meron’s hold.

    If it is illegal (or the Pernese equivalent thereof) for the Southern Hold(s?) to have contact with/trade with the North – regardless of what a bad idea that seems – then why would riders from the South risk calling attention to themselves by coming up and trying to extort what Meron could get for them?

    If it isn’t illegal (etc) for the Southern Hold(s?) to be trading with Meron, what even is this plot?

    And there’s still not a very sensible reason, beyond, I suppose, pure greed and dickishness, for the riders to risk coming up and extorting gems rather than trading for them. And why do they even WANT gems? They’re not using them to trade with Meron, and I can’t make enough sense of the economy to tell if they’re valuable. But even if they are, generally speaking, I don’t see how they’re of value to the Southern Hold(s), at least not of so much value that they’d take that risk.

    Bandits didn’t stick people up for gold and jewelry so they could wear them in their bandit hideouts. They had a bigger economy that they had access to. That doesn’t exist here on Pern. It has one country, possibly two now. If they even count as countries.

    It sounds as if they’re just trading through Meron for normal goods for the kind of lifestyle they want. So they’re not (obviously, anyway) hording valuables to try and buy their way back to the North or something.

    Did McCaffrey stick in that bit just so the Southerners would seem like the bad guys? Because without that, I am at a loss as to how they are in the wrong. At all.

  11. notamolly April 30, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    So you have people with time traveling big flying flaming lizards and you want to force them to stay in one place? With nothing to do, no job no nothing other than wait to die? Gee I wonder why they are pissed. And gee why do the other weyrs not trust the rapey duo at Benden and psycho Lessa?

  12. genesistrine May 1, 2015 at 2:53 am

    Mardra wanted a pretty sapphire necklace for her birthday* and T’ron went to pick up the raw materials because they’re only traded to Harpers so Meron couldn’t source them. It’s the only interpretation that makes sense.

    Incidentally, I didn’t notice it at the time, but why are the guys who mine the gems also cutting them? Do they have a workshop in back?

    [*Not science-fictiony enough. Nameday? Firstday? Parturitiondate?]

  13. depizan May 1, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    They use them to attract fire lizards! They’ve started their own Harper Hall! They’re coming of age presents for new dragonriders!

    Actually, coming up with explanations is kind of fun. Too bad McCaffrey didn’t. :\

    But as for the guys mining and cutting the gems, um…. that is weird. Unless it’s more evidence that gems are only of interest to very few people (like maybe only Harper Hall and now the Southern Hold)?

  14. beappleby May 2, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Genesistrine – “birthing day” is the Pernese term!

  15. Nothing May 3, 2015 at 2:19 am

    One explanation for Piemur being so put out be “mere” small holders/crafters having fire lizards is because he. Was effectively told that he’d have to do a whole lot of work to earn one of his own. So, why do they get fire lizards without the hard work?

    Also, classism is rampant in the series, but according to the author, Pern is meant to be a meritocracy. If that were actually true (it isn’t, from the evidence we have), then those small holders and low-ranking crafters would not “deserve” the luxury of a fire lizard. But that is ignoring the fact that many people work hard but lack the high skill levels needed to achieve mastery, or lack the land and resources to expand their holdings, or have poor land that doesn’t support animals or crops well. But according to McCaffrey, no matter how good the people actually are, or how hard they work, they are “lesser” because they haven’t done as well for themselves as the masters or the Lords Holder. That is… All kinds of classist and problematic, and it’s one of the issues with Pern I didn’t notice before, outside of the Weyrs. Basically, it’s like saying that because you weren’t born the heir to the throne or with the musical talent of Mozart or the inventiveness of Leonardo da Vinci, you don’t deserve more than you have (and maybe you deserve less than you have).

    Effectively, if you aren’t spectacularly gifted or born to nobility on Pern, then you are totally undeserving of luxury. Except that fire lizards are not a luxury, not when they are proven useful as messengers and watch/guard amimals. Honestly, what is the issue with green clutches being given out? At least then people can have messenger lizards, and the clutches are spared from drowning or predation. The only real downside is that they breed in the wild, so it may make the smaller lizards have a population boom. Or not, since they don’t guard their clutches, bury them too shallow, and usually put them too close to the water. That said, is an egg only worthwhile if it’s possible a queen or bronze may hatch from it? While they may prefer that chance, I would suspect most of these less-important people are simply glad to have the chance at all.

    But, the meritocracy/classism thing starts with the Weyrs, too. We’re also told that every rider is equal unless they are given a rank. That is untrue. Queens outrank everything else, but the bronze riders outrank all other humans in the Weyrs (Lessa was not allowed to attend important meetings at first–she is said to be the true leader, but aside from her Jedi mind tricks, there is little evidence for that; F’lar is in command–McCaffrey’s novels share a theme where there is a smart, capable woman protagonist, but she must always fall in love with and then be overshadowed by someone who is more capable than she is–women hardly ever are the highest ranking people in a McCaffrey novel. I’m sure there are one or two, but it’s rare.). And although the other colors are important in combat, you’ll notice even weyrfolk refer to them as “just” a green/blue/brown. And none of those colors will ever be Weyrleader or Weyrwoman. The problem gets even worse when taking into account that the riders of those colors are, until post-Mirrim, gay and bisexual men. At the time it was written, including those men at all would have been shocking and a huge step toward acceptance. Even so, McCaffrey’s opinion was clearly that non-straight men could not be leaders–not a very progressive opinion. Sadly, it doesn’t improve–I won’t get into spoilers, but this opinion is basically outright stated by a character in one of the colonist-era stories. Actually, it’s stated by more than one character, in more than one novel.

    Sorry for the tangent. Tl;dr version: the author either wants us to empathize with Piemur because he has to earn a lizard and these people didn’t, or she wants us to feel that these people are low ranking because meritocracy and therefore they don’t deserve a lizard whether Piemur is jealous or not.

    But we should be mollified, it seems, because at least they are just greens, blues, and browns and these unworthy people are being duped like they deserve. No matter that they probably aren’t directly involved in trading with the Oldtimers, or that they are almost certainly hard workers to be able to afford or be rewarded with fire lizard eggs. We aren’t supposed to think of that, or feel it’s okay for these people to have awesome pets if the protagonist can’t.

  16. Silver Adept May 3, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Now that you’ve mentioned the classism, it fits extraordinarily well for the motivation for Piemur (he’s taking what he deserves, unlike all those other people who got something before him), for the moral judgement that Sebell passes (Meron is an inferior Lord in our eyes, and so deserves whatever insult can be given him), and for why Benden expects everyone to just obey them (because they are clearly best pony and everyone under that should just obey their betters). I think it also pervades how Piemur can sneak in as a drudge and not be noted as significant until he draws attention to himself – drudges are unpersons, interchangeable and not even worth getting to know.

    As for this plot, I don’t even know. There’s still no reason why the others want to kill Piemur (unless there’s some sort of classism going on there in the supposedly unranked Hall – Piemur’s background as a herder son influencing the others) or why trade with the South shouldn’t have been expected (because assuming your enemies are going to just sit down in a land of lush stuff and willingly starve themselves to extinction is stupid) or why Sebell sells at profit (maybe as a demonstration as to what Piemur will be capable of with training?).

    Team Thread, always and forever.

  17. Michael I May 4, 2015 at 11:41 am

    One relatively minor point. As far as Sebell selling at a profit is concerned: there is an argument that a real herdsman bringing beasts to market would be expected to try to drive a hard bargain when selling them. Unless done very skillfully it might be more noticeable to not get as much profit as one can get.

  18. genesistrine May 4, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    @beappleby: I should have guessed…. *eyeroll*

    @Nothing: I jokily suggested in the last article comments that AMC was writing Libertarian SF, and that’s coming to seem less and less like a joke.

    I love the idea of a trouble-with-tribbles situation in Nabol though. Little green fire lizards! Everywhere!

  19. bekabot May 5, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    @ Nothing

    What AMC on Pern has actually done is leave the food supply in the hands of stupid people. Or, worse yet, of people who are generically unworthy.

    Remember what Paul Atriedes says: the people who can destroy a thing control it. By that standard, the Pernese peons share control of the food supply with the Thread — because they and only they (again, apart from the Thread) can destroy the food supply: not just hand it around as a reward for good behavior or trade it or tithe it to the Weyrs, but destroy it. And the people with this capacity are the people who are not merely the low-men-on-the-totem-pole in terms of societal status, they are the people of the lowest grade.

    So many things wrong with this (at least to major problems I can think of). Yikes…

  20. boutet May 5, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    @nothing Your comment about ranks within the world and dragonriders made me realize… the leader of the weyrs is the rider with the dragon who is most skilled at violently subduing a sexual partner. That’s it. The dragon that can force a queen to mate with him, that dragon’s rider is the leader. No wonder the weyrs are so messed up with sex and consent! The system of rank there is -entirely- based on being the best rapist (or their human partner).

  21. Starry May 5, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    It is supposed to be a meritocracy? Really???

    So, there is some way for drudges to become lord holders, or are we to believe they are just barely-worthy-of-cleaning-shit-people from birth? how does it mesh with bloodlines being important? some people just born as ‘golds’ and others ‘greens’?

  22. bekabot May 5, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Your comment about ranks within the world and dragonriders made me realize… the leader of the weyrs is the rider with the dragon who is most skilled at violently subduing a sexual partner. That’s it. The dragon that can force a queen to mate with him, that dragon’s rider is the leader.

    Hence F’nor and his winning ways with Brekke. I always thought he was on the make, in the worst possible sense.

  23. Nothing May 6, 2015 at 7:03 am

    @boutet: Yes it’s rapey. I think that we are meant to see the queen dragons like queen bees or ants, which also have mating flights. The problem is, I don’t think bees and ants try to avoid mating. Later in the books, or somewhere, we’re told that the golds really do want to be caught and if no male can catch them they pick for themselves. Soooo… Why don’t they do that to begin with, then? Most warm-blooded species (and many reptiles and fish) have at least some degree of mate selection, and it’s usually the female who ultimately makes the decision of who mates with her. But that’s not the case on Pern–dragons and fire lizards just accept mating with whoever can catch them. Yet despite not apparently wanting to be caught, they don’t teleport away. It doesn’t really make sense. Why risk an undesirable mate at all? Why only choose if a potentially unpleasant/violent partner can’t force himself on her? Even Ramoth shows preference in Dragonflight; she wanted Orth. So why not just mate with Orth and skip the mating flight rape?

    What I think was intended here is that only the strongest and fastest pass on their genes, but it has much more disturbing implications than that. Those won’t be acknowledged until much much later (in one of Anne McCaffrey’s last Pern novels, not sure if Todd co-authored it or not).

    In an interview, Anne McCaffrey also once responded as to why dragons only mate in the daytime… They do so so that the mating can be seen. And the higher the flight/longer the mating, the bigger the clutch… All while broadcasting sexy vibes to all other dragons and humans in the area. Rape is probably rampant even outside of the rider ranks within the Weyrs. The visual thing may be based on eagles, which have mating display flights. However, I’ve read that contrary to popular belief, that’s only a display and they mate after landing… Whether Anne or eagles inspired the idea, though, the mating flight idea is basically everywhere there are fictional dragons. I think it’s because of the “you couldn’t see them at night” thing, and like Anne, other people fail to think about what exactly it means. Or, people just think dragon mating should be violent. Take your pick. It’s even more troublesome, though, when like Anne, you add humans into the mix.

    @Starry: Yup, according to Anne, Pern is a meritocracy. Drudges are meant to be the lazy who won’t work to better their lot and the intellectually challenged, like Camo, who can’t do much else (according to Anne at least). Lords Holder only somewhat bypass the supposed meritocracy. They’re meant to produce quite a few heirs, and even though they name one as successor, the other Lords Holder have to hold a Conclave to confirm an heir–or possibly select a different one. That only ensures that the best politician wins, but it’s supposed to make sure only the most capable leader gets the job. And yet, you still get people like Fax, or ostensibly Meron (who’s supposedly a terrible leader, even though he’s clearly fostered a flourishing trade industry to the benefit of his people–though to be fair he’s horrible to his drudges). People like Fax simply take power if they want it, and people like Meron inherit it even if they aren’t capable, either to prevent war or because they’re the only heir or what-have-you.

    Meritocracy, I agree, doesn’t hold water for Pern. It’s what McCaffrey said it is, but as I said, she never really wrote it believably. The closest thing to it is in the Crafts, but as I said before, people who work hard can still fail to advance due to lack of talent. To teach, you do need knowledge and some degree of skill, but does the hard-working eternal apprentice or journeyman somehow become a lesser person due to lack of skill? And if a drudge works hard, can he or she advance to other opportunities?

  24. genesistrine May 6, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    @Nothing: To add to the oh-god-this-is-so-wrongness, we may actually have an example of Meritocracy In Action in Meron – one of the Lords complains in Dragonflight that he’s not actually of “the Blood” at all, but the ex-Steward of Nabol, though this seems to have been forgotten about by the time everyone’s fussing about heirs.

    So he could be read as an example of how Undeserving People (i.e. anyone not from the hereditary nobility) rule badly and only People Born To It should be in charge….

    As for drudges, presumably the only way up for the majority of them is Impressing a dragon; instant lottery-win promotion to the highest tier of society, even if they only get a low-rank colour. As long as they’re “worthy”, and assuming they manage to catch the eye of a dragon or its rider in the first place. And also extremely unlikely if you’re older than your teens, though I daresay that doesn’t stop people hoping.

    Obviously the odds are much better for male drudges, and I’d say vastly better if they’re gay, given the numbers of green dragons, but I’m pretty sure there’s a remark somewhere to the effect that weyrbred is better for greens, so so much for that bit of logic.

    And we’ve never found out what happens to unsuccessful candidates, either. Do they just hang around the Weyr until the next Hatching? Hooray, you get to be a drudge in a Weyr instead?

  25. genesistrine May 6, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Thinking about fire lizards reminds me of another weirdly inhuman thing about Pernese people; no pets. Cats apparently don’t exist; there are spit-dogs in the first book but no mention of pet or herd dogs. No small boys make pets of tunnel-snakes to freak their peers and parents out. No singing birds, no fighting crickets. Just fire lizards, and those only if you’re Special (or live in Nabol and win Meron’s incentives lottery).

  26. Nothing May 6, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    @genesistrine: It’s been a long time since I read the books; I sold them a few years back. So, I didn’t remember about Meron being ex-Steward. I do know Nabol and Bitra both have terrible reputations to start with. That said, his former position should actually bolster his claim, assuming he had been a capable steward. It doesn’t, of course. The later novels about Pern’s past will explain why the Blood is important, but having that importance in a world meant to be ruled as a meritocracy doesn’t jive. The author herself was a former USA citizen who later moved to Ireland, so her insistence on noble bloodlines makes less sense in light of that.

    I think Meron’s unsuitability is probably partly his lack of the Blood, but mostly due to his violence, cruelty, and sexual proclivities. But we are mostly told these things, not shown them; wasn’t it hinted that drudges in Harper Hall are also subject to verbal and physical abuse? Meron may be worse, but drudges everywhere have it bad, yet must tolerate that or be left Holdless, or even in dire situations be staked out and left for the Thread.

    Considering how Lessa was nearly overlooked, a drudge can’t even hope too much for being Searched, regardless of sexuality. And it’s bound to be awful for people who lost their ability to do other jobs due to injury, or lost their holdings to Thread that got through the dragons, etc. There are likely many of those people serving as drudges. Some drudges may very well be “lazy” or “unambiguous” due to depression or other mental illness–and being beaten and shouted at surely would not help.

    There are, indeed, lazy people out there, and people with no ambition, too, or lack of education, lack of skill, etc. A lazy person would make a terrible drudge, so why even put them on a job that demands hard work? Regardless, they–and the unambitious, uneducated, unskilled, etc.–do not deserve abuse. I could almost see it if it were punishment for minor crimes, a sort of community service, and also occupied folks who like that kind of job (they are rare but they do exist) and those without the mental or physical capacity for other skill sets, so that they could still feel like (and be) contributing members of society.

    Ahem. Just pointing out that the drudge thing in general is all kinds of problematic, especially since, like you said, the only way out appears to be Impression, even though Pern is supposed to be a meritocracy and therefore a drudge should be able to raise him/herself up from that position. It’s even worse for the Holdless, but that’s another story.

    As for firelizards, they are actually not the only pets. Small dogs are used to turn spits and hunt tunnel snakes, so some dogs (I refuse to use “canine” because it is a longer word and they ARE dogs) are probably kept as pets, especially in the smaller holds. In at least one other novel, cats are kept–also to control vermin, though that’s how we likely domesticated them as pets in the first place–and several characters are fond of their horses (aka “runner beasts,” though why you’d replace a quick, short word like “horse” with “runnerbeast,” I don’t know). There are pets, we just don’t see them much. Birds, though, are pretty much not there–only poultry birds, and they are rare because of predation by tunnel snakes. Tunnel snakes are often venomous, which makes them poor pets. Whers are kind-of pets, I guess? But firelizards are, despite centuries of domesticating various Earth animals to be our companions, meant to seem more ideal as pets.

    The Dragonlover’s Guide was notoriously inaccurate, but it did say dogs, cats, and ferrets were kept as pets. I’m thinking scratch the ferrets, since we never see one in the novels, but they would be handy against tunnel snakes. Most of the dogs are small, but there would also be mastiff and German shepherd types–which will show up much later and possibly only on the Southern Continent (what an original name for it). Todd also included a hawk in one of his Pern novels, which acted nothing like a bird of prey in the real world. Possibly a native animal with some resemblance to Earth hawks? He and Anne seem to have had considerably different visions of Pern, though.

  27. genesistrine May 7, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Yeah, there seems to be almost-racism – ethnicism? – about Bitrans and Nabolese, of the greedy-and-grasping-tight-fisted-untrustworthy-bastards variety. I suppose we can consider ourselves lucky we’re spared the “people from x are thick as two short planks ha ha” stereotype. Or have been, so far.

    As for Meron’s unsuitability, that’s only from our POV. The Lords complain about him being a nasty little parvenu, dahling, not one of us, and we hear he treats his people badly*, but no-one seems interested in or capable of removing him. There doesn’t seem to be any method at all for removing an unpopular or just plain bad Lord – neither his peers nor the dragonriders bother to get involved, and peasant uprisings/assassination/backstabbing by a pissed-off drudge with a knife don’t seem to be considered. Though it’s implied (possibly accidentally) that Meron’s using the good old Elizabeth I method; with no heirs everyone prefers a bad Lord to the chaos of multiple contenders fighting it out for the Lordship.

    AMC’s fetish for nobility isn’t that unusual, though; there seem to be a good number of Americans that share it. Sometimes to a really silly degree; the Star Wars prequel “elected queen” thing, for example, is a ridiculous combination of royalty-fetishism with yay democracy woo. (And to be fair we’re not short of royalty fetishists in Britain either; royal baby royal baby royal baby LATEST DI CONSPIRACY PROOF front page of Daily Express every month with an R in it etc etc.)

    Drudges: I don’t think many (if any) are actually Searched, but I think it would be a really common fantasy.

    Pets: I dunno, absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence, but you’d expect herd dogs to make themselves noticed during a Gather/cattlemarket (ahem, herdbeast market); getting underfoot, getting into fights, gazing lovingly into the eyes of humans who are eating something tasty-looking….

    AMC seems to have had a considerably different vision of Pern from book to book herself, let alone Todd!

    [*Though I bet Weyr drudges don’t get to go to Gathers either…]

  28. Silver Adept May 8, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Michael I –

    That’s true – a part of the narrative I didn’t mention was that the traders descend on Sebell almost immediately, trying to take advantage of him being tired, and he turns it into a fantastical story and a significant profit for himself. It seems a bit off.

    On mating flights –

    Didn’t we get a picture of what it feels like during a mating fight for Lessa? Is apathy a thought of “look at all these foolish males that want to mate with me – I’ll fly circles around the–ack!” and then surprise!, so it seems like there’s either a lot less choice than we think, or the chase is supposed to be light and playful…ish? and is instead actually really traumatizing.

    And if I recall rightly, they don’t teleport because that would make for either no fertility or because dragons in heat don’t have a firm enough destination in mind to emerge on the other side, like Prideth and Wirenth.

    As for the meritocracy, I think everyone’s covered the part where there’s no method at all for social advancement outside of Weyr candidacy, but that’s no guarantee, either. I can’t infer or point to anything that would support that authorial claim at all.

    And based on Lessa, Camo, and how Piemur is treated, I can’t see the drudges as anything other than a permanent slave-like underclass.

  29. genesistrine May 9, 2015 at 3:42 am

    Assuming all children are educated equally, including drudges’ children, there’s at least some room for hoping they’re at least not a hereditary underclass.

    Though Lessa passed as one at 10 years old and small for it, so I wouldn’t get your hopes up too far. Sith mind powers can only go so far….

  30. notamolly May 9, 2015 at 7:20 am

    For some reason Frederick Douglass’ story comes to mind. If the holder or crafter wants to train the drudge kids or all hold/craft kids to read and write and look for talent themn there may be mobility but…

  31. genesistrine May 9, 2015 at 8:37 am

    But if they don’t….

    Harpers are supposed to make sure children know their Teaching Ballads, but at this point I can’t say I trust AMC to be including “drudge’s children” in that. Are they included in fostering? We don’t know. They’re not important enough for us to know. Do Teaching Ballads include the 3Rs? Or is learning to read and write a specialised activity?

    Also we don’t know how easy it is to be apprenticed to a craft. The harpers obviously do some talent-searching, Menolly and Piemur both got in on musical gifts, but do the other crafts do similar or do they preferentially recruit from their own children?

  32. notamolly May 9, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Exactly. I think Smiths are inclusive and are talent based (which AMC condemned them for) and have to wonder if a functional weyr (Benden IMNSHO is anything but) has some mobility for riders and non riders who are taught skills. Harper Hall under this “leader” is a dysfunctional disastrous mess where abuse, bullying and criminal behavior are applauded. Robinton it seems is one of those toxic leaders everyone fears in private and sucks up to in public.

  33. Only Some Stardust May 9, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I would expect dragons to fly in the day time simply so they don’t collide into each other. If you are not built for it specifically like a bat with built in sonar, it’s really hard to fly around at night and not die.

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