Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern: A Whole New Ballgame

Thanks for the votes of confidence. There’s been five years since the last book and this one coming out, so there has been time for reflection, and so this foray into Pern is likely more deliberate. The Author’s Note at the beginning of my Ballantine ebook says that the original thought that brought Pern into existence was to write one short story about an equal relationship between people and aliens, and to put dragons in a good light. Then came six books. The Author’s Note also says up front that this book is explicitly the past, not the future, so no resolutions to the scenario left hanging at the end of The White Dragon.

The Note itself concludes with an interesting thing:

For readers who have extrapolated themselves and their wishes onto Pern, I have probably NOT written the adventure you hoped might be presented within these covers. With all the best intentions in the world, I doubt I could write such a broadly-pleasing, all-encompassing, wish-fulfilling novel. In a roundabout way, that is a compliment to you, the reader, not a fault in me, for you have put more of yourself on Pern than I could ever imagine for your sake. I appreciate your enthusiasm and I also appreciate the list of dragon names which have been sent to me.

Well, clearly there’s a fandom that’s developed in this interval (or rather, in this interval, the fandom has been the only thing sustaining Pern). The Note seems to suggest that the decision to write Moreta is much like Arthur Conan Doyle’s decision to resurrect Holmes after throwing him off the Falls – the popular demand is just too much. But there’s the immediate disclaimer that this story is not going to be the story that all the fans have imagined, which is probably supposed to be an ass-covering move, but which also suggests to me that the fandom that has developed in this time is already starting to diverge with the canon presented in the books. Considering how much we have already looked at in relation to how absolutely screwed up Pern is, this divergence is likely inevitable, as fixing the problems is almost a prerequisite to making the world work for those who want to inhabit it. While one could conceivably have an entire society composed of nobility, as some reenactment groups make their conceit, the more likely fixing, in addition to needing better gender equality, would be to make all three classes more equal, and possibly even bring in the non-nobles into the game as somewhat equals. They may have also started noticing some of the less consensual options with regard to mating flights and be working to rectify those as well.
If that’s the case, then the disclaimer is meant to signal that no such things will be forthcoming in the original canon. That’s somewhat disappointing if this turns out to be true.

After the note, we have a prologue that still feels like it has been added to the original tale. It still appears mostly the same as before, but now that we actually know more about the Ancients that arrived on the planet through canon discovery of the South’s landing site and preserved dwellings, the prologue is less spoilery for us. There is also a section that describes for us how the various divisions of labor came to be.

The rest of the population agreed to tithe support to the Weyrs since the dragonmen did not have arable land in their volcanic homes, could not afford to take time away from nurturing their dragons to learn other trades during peacetime, and could not take time away from protecting the planet during Passes.

Eh, okay. During the intervals, though, it would make sense for dragonriders to learn crafts and such, as they’re more like reservists than active duty.

Settlements, called holds, developed wherever natural caves were found – some, of course, more extensive or strategically placed than others. It took a strong man to execute control over terrified people during Thread attacks; it took wise administration to conserve victuals when nothing could be safely grown, and it took extraordinary measures to control population and keep it productive and healthy until such time as the menace passed

Cocowhat by depizan

*spit-take* Population control? Since they only way we know of right now to abort is to go dragonback on a hyperspace hop, what other methods are being used for this “population control”, especially in situations where food supposedly cannot be grown and has to be conserved. Sending someone to the dragonriders? Locking them outside during a Fall?

…And now I have to wonder if this was in all the other prologue spoilers, too.

And the “nothing safely grown” bit doesn’t make sense, either, because the giant flaming dragons are supposed to make it possible to grow things, even when threatened by Thread. As a justification for the existence of Holders, this is pretty slim.

Men with special skills in metalworking, weaving, animal husbandry, farming, fishing, and mining formed crafthalls in each large Hold and looked to one Master-crafthall where the precepts of their craft were taught and craft skills were preserved and guarded from one generation to another. One Lord Holder could not deny the products of the crafthall situated in his Hold to others, since the Crafts were deemed independent of a Hold affiliation. Each Craftmaster of a hall owed allegiance to the Master of his particular craft–an elected office based on proficiency in the craft and on administrative ability. The Mastercraftsman was responsible for the output of his halls and the distribution, fair and unprejudiced, of all craft products on a planetary rather than parochial basis.

Except, of course, for that whole money part, which introduces inequality by its very nature. Also, it seems highly inefficient for there to be only one hall where the secrets are preserved and passed on. It would be like having one single graduate school for each major on the planet.

I’m also pretty sure that Holders have, at many times, tried to restrict, divert, or otherwise affect the supply of craft goods leaving their zones of control. Yanus seems to have done so somewhat successfully in the previous books, while Meron bought extra supplies by trading in fire-lizards, and the Crafts didn’t seem to care much.

The best is saved for last, though, in talking about how Weyr culture developed as “the greatest social revolution”:

Of the female dragons, only the golden were fertile; the greens were rendered sterile by the chewing of firestone, which was as well since the sexual proclivities of the small greens would have resulted in overpopulation.
[…more on the various colors and the bronze dragons taking primacy in queen mating games due to stamina…]
Consequently the rider of the bronze dragon who flew the senior queen of a Weyr became its Leader and had charge of the fighting Wings during a Pass. The rider of the senior queen dragon, however, held the most responsibility for the Weyr during and after a Pass when it was the Weyrwoman’s job to nurture and preserve the dragons, to sustain and improve the Weyr and all its folk. A strong Weyrwoman was as essential to the survival of the Weyr as dragons were to the survival of Pern.
To her fell the task of supplying the Weyr, fostering its children, and Searching for likely candidates from hall and hold to pair with the newly hatched dragons. As life in the Weyrs was not only prestigious but easier for men and women alike, hold and hall were proud to have their children taken on Search and boasted of the illustrious members of the bloodline who had become dragon riders.

Except, of course, when they don’t, or when they would really rather have that kid around for a marriage, or to inherit, or to help on the household… or any one of a hundred other possible reasons why.

Also, it might be easier for the men, who just have to train themselves and their dragons to fight, and that also get plenty of opportunity for sexual contact of a dubiously consensual nature thanks to mating flights, but check out the laundry list of responsibilities on the Weyrwoman – keep everyone supplied and in good spirits, raise the children, and go find new candidates. If anything goes wrong outside of a battle, it’s her fault. And she doesn’t get to fight, because it would make her sterile (unlike the slutty slut green slutty dragons, who deserve sterilization for their slutty slut behaviors), so conveniently, the only things that a Weyrwoman can do are the things that would make her the idealized housewife in The Past That Never Was. Including the regular sexual availability to potentially many men over her lifetime, all who get to claim ownership of her when she’s their partner.

Maybe it would have been better to skip this as spoiler data like before. Truthfully, though, it’s packed more worldbuilding into a few short pages than the books so far. Surely there could have been a way to incorporate all of this into the narratives, so that the characters could remind us of it at crucial points, rather than having it come out as declarative statements from an omniscient narrator. (Although, doing it Rod Serling or Outer Limits style might impart enough subtext to point out that this apparent utopic social setup was not, in fact, all that it seemed.)

In any case, the last element of the prologue is our single item that places this story into the history of Pern and gives us a chronological point of reference – near the end of the Sixth Pass, either about or exactly 1400 years after the landing of the Ancients. Which says that a full cycle of attack and retreat is a little over two hundred years, if the Ancients landed in the first year of a Pass and there were no anomalies like the Long Interval that Lessa jumped across to bring forth the time-skipped Weyrs, where more than four hundred years went by without a Pass. (So maybe the long interval is just a double-length break?)

Keep that temporal signature in mind, as it will be the last time you see it or any other epoch/era/age marker in this book. Even in the past, the Present Pass system of calendar records is in use, which makes me wonder how anyone in the future can figure out what era their past Records are from.

Next week, we’ll actually get to the action.

26 thoughts on “Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern: A Whole New Ballgame

  1. Firedrake December 3, 2015 at 4:56 am

    While Anne was a pretty successful writer, she was also running a stables in Ireland, and was pretty much always more or less short of money from the 1980s onwards. So I could readily believe that she went back to the well she had thought was dry.

    The problem I see with the explanation of the Crafthalls is that the mediæval guilds on which they’re obviously based were built on the idea that it was better for a technique to be lost forever when its inventor’s line died than for it to be spread around without compensation. (Much like copyright really.) If they’re trying to keep the skills going, the knowledge doesn’t need to be “guarded”, it needs to be available to everyone.

    Do we ever get a Search other than the one that finds Lessa? (Which is unconventional anyway.) I don’t remember weyrwomen ever being involved in getting outside candidates into the weyr.

  2. Nothing December 3, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Since we are discussing the prologue…

    When I used to read these books, I took the notion of dragons and riders as equals to heart. But, in reality, even though the dragons are more capable than the humans give them credit for (they can fly Thread alone and they are capable of abstract thought), the humans are in charge. It is later pointed out that the outcome of mating flights is often influenced by the members of the Weyr in a leadership flight (not the riders participating). The participants often have influence in non leadership flights–able to pick who wins in some cases, always able to ensure dragons only blood their kill, often able to have a say in how high/far the flight goes (incidentally, lower, shorter flights mean fewer eggs for some unscientific reason, so that’s dragon population control there), and at least in the case of male dragons, whether they participate at all. Prior to the retcon where greens are just plain sterile anyway, riders were even responsible via firestone for their dragons’ fertility–whether it still sterilizes golds, I don’t know. Gold firelizards seem to be unaffected, however (and unlike gold dragons, can belch flames).

    Going beyond mating flights, the riders tell dragons where to go, how much to eat, what is and is not okay to do (no attacking the Holders, Dragonth), and no matter what the dragon is doing, he or she drops everything to obey. We are repeatedly told riders serve their dragons more–bathing and oiling daily, attending to health and need for affection–that having a dragon doesn’t mean it’s at your beck and call. But in practice on the page, dragons very much are servants of their riders, and the excuse given is that they love their riders. And riders reward them by riding them into mortal danger, often resulting in excruciating injuries from Thread.

    I think maybe McCaffrey forgot that she wanted the dragon-rider relationship to be equal, because what we get is master-animal, except these animals can talk and might even be confused for people (my opinion: they are people, yet the Pernese insist on calling them beasts and treating them as such). But these are idealized pets; they don’t need training, discipline, or rewards to do what you want. Mostly, you are the one who is trained to work with your dragon without getting both of you killed (particularly in reference to teleportation, but also in care, feeding, and maintaining both of your riding gear). I wonder if the “pets” perception is why most of the dragons, other than Ruth, actually converse with their riders very little.

  3. depizan December 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    This world building is…odd. Some of it doesn’t fit with what we’ve seen in the books and other parts of it are offered up without any real explanation (and may also contradict what we’ve seen).

    the dragonmen did not have arable land in their volcanic homes

    Dragons can teleport. They could farm wherever they please. Also, why are they living in volcanoes? Have they always been living in volcanoes? I sure didn’t pick that up from the decons or the few books that I read. Regardless of whether this is a retcon, WHY? Are they wanna-be supervillains?

    Also, dragons hunt – in fact, I could’ve sworn Lessa watched some hunt from the weyr in the first book – why would you choose to live in a place that they would have to teleport from to hunt?

    could not afford to take time away from nurturing their dragons to learn other trades during peacetime, and could not take time away from protecting the planet during Passes.

    If caring for dragons is so all consuming that they can’t do anything else in peace time, how can they take the time to go fight thread during Passes?

    Also, this does not at all fit with what we’ve seen. We’ve seen dragonriders having lots and lots of spare time to meddle and explore Southern and all kinds of other stuff.

    It took a strong man to execute control over terrified people during Thread attacks; it took wise administration to conserve victuals when nothing could be safely grown, and it took extraordinary measures to control population and keep it productive and healthy until such time as the menace passed

    NOPE! We’ve seen none of this in the previous books. Threadfalls are brief, crops continue to be grown during passes, very few people are terrified, the only people who maybe engage in population control (if by that we mean birth control) are dragon riders, and the “extraordinary measures” taken to keep people safe amount to “go inside and wait for a few hours for the dragons to fry the thread.” Gosh. Much extraordinary. Wow.

    (And according to the Pern wiki Passes last fifty years. You cannot not grow food for fifty years.)

    The rest of it, I think you’ve pretty well dissected.

    So, basically, all of the spoilery prologue is a mess of stuff that doesn’t fit what’s actually shown in the books. And/or doesn’t make any sense.

  4. genesistrine December 3, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    It took a strong man to execute control over terrified people during Thread attacks; it took wise administration to conserve victuals when nothing could be safely grown, and it took extraordinary measures to control population and keep it productive and healthy until such time as the menace passed

    This is word-for-word from the DQ intro, so yeah, it’s not new. Ditto the Crafthall stuff. I think what AMC is going for is a centre-of-excellence kind of thing, but as Firedrake says that’s not compatible with the Guild model – we’ve seen how the Crafts lose knowledge by hoarding it; look at the grubs – that’s knowledge that was completely useless because it was hoarded.

    Also, how do some of them even work with that model? The Harpercraft essentially operates as a boarding school with no holidays to go visit the family, but the Farmercraft, for instance, can hardly do that with every young farmer; the majority of adults on Pern must be farmers to support the population. There’s no mention AFAIR of anyone at Half-Circle going away to apprentice to the Fishercraft, and the Healercraft doesn’t even have a Crafthall; the Masterhealer works out of a room in the Harpercrafthall with no journeymen or apprentices to learn from him.

    Re the Weyrwoman’s duties, it’s another case of what we’re told contradicted by what we see, Most of that is stuff we’ve seen being done by the headwoman. It could be argued that Manora took over the work while Jora was busy being FAT and INCOMPETENT and HATEFUL, but since she does exactly what we see Silvina doing as well these seem to be the standard headwoman duties. So… what does the Weyrwoman do, again?

    @depizan: I take that whole intro as being the Harper spin on Pernese history – a just-so story to explain why the existing social structure is perfectly designed and nothing should be changed otherwise THREAD WILL EAT US ALL AND YOU DON’T WANT THAT DO YOU.

  5. boutet December 3, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    If all the “can’t grow crops, riders busy with dragons, panic, living in volcanoes and caves” type stuff is referring to right at the beginning it would make some sense. Right at the start there were not enough dragons in existence to cover many areas.

    So it would make sense for the riders to take an area that would not need defense (it’s all rock and blah land) so that they would have less to defend, and to focus their defense on settlements devoted to crops (holds). And it makes sense for the holders to live in caves so that the dragons can focus on only protecting the crops and not the people or the homes. Everyone hides in rock, the few dragons protect the crops, everyone scrapes by while the dragon population grows big enough to protect more.

    And at the beginning dragons were still a new species and the riders were still figuring out how to manage everything. Figuring out abilities and food needs, health, skin care, injuries, diseases, training. At the beginning it was all just made up and then had to be tweaked as you went. So I can see a few generations being entirely caught up in the study and care of dragons.

    The part that falls flat there is the sterile greens. Greens are super breeders, they’re short on dragons, let’s breed all the greens! If you’re a snob about green offspring then only breed greens born from gold clutches, sterilize the green offspring to be fighters only, you still maintain golds as the primary passers of genetics or whatever.

    And as time passed this situation would change and the relationships between weyr/hold/crafthall should have changed as well. So the intro makes some kind of sense as a “here’s where we started” intro, but lacks the updated information of the current situation.

  6. WanderingUndine December 3, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    Volcanic areas can have hot springs, warm sands and suchlike, along with high peaks. But volcanoes can produce notably fertile soil so…they apparently vary.

  7. emmy December 3, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    >Also, why are they living in volcanoes?

    I think this is covered in a later book but the explanation for preferring certain kinds of caves/mountains has to do with them having sources of geothermal heat, which is both handy for plumbing and important for the sands of the hatching grounds which must be kept hot.

    However, iirc they’re not generally living in actual VOLCANOES, or we probably would have seen a lot more disruption in the weyrs over the years!

  8. Silver Adept December 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    @ Firedrake – I don’t think we’ll see a Search front-to-back, but we might get glimpses of how it goes and how it looks to others.

    @ Nothing – the pet idea is a pretty strong one – the Benden Weyrleader noting the nearly automatic nature of fighting and the way in which the dragons seem to be concerned only with a perpetual present suggests they are pets more than aliens at this point.

    As for the volcanoes, I think one of the stated reasons for putting Weyrs in inactive volcano areas is that volcanoes lack the greenery that Thread apparently finds so delicious, so during a fall, nobody has to stay behind and protect Weyr things.

    The prologue is a mess. I do like the suggestion that it is Harper Hagiography and not a true and accurate account.

    As for what the Weyrwoman does that the headwoman doesn’t, well, if dragonriders are supposed to be the mounted class, then the Weyrwoman serves as the chivalric lady of a courtly romance – unattainable but for a select few, but the nominal reason why all the mounted warriors go out and fight the menace. Which means the Weyrwoman is there to be sexually un/available and to be put on a pedestal and admired.

    As for the Crafthall system, if only seems to work that way with Crafts where one can apprentice far away. Farmers, fishers, weavers, and others would have to have a Master come to them to do any sort of Craft teaching. So it’s pretty convenient we only see the Healers, Harpers, Miners, and Smiths at their hall – the Masterherdsman and Masterfarmer exist, but never at their own Halls. If such things even exist.

  9. genesistrine December 4, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Weyrwoman-as-figurehead makes sense.

    There are definitely Mastercrafthalls for the Herders and Farmers – F’lar visits the Masterherdsman in his Crafthall at Keroon in DQ to ask about the grubs, and there’s mention of the Masterfarmerhall when talking to Andemon the Masterfarmer.

  10. depizan December 4, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Harper Hagiography makes the most sense, especially with the classism of it all. (The peasants just panic without strong leadership! etc)

  11. genesistrine December 4, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Without strong MEN leading, at that. And let’s not fail to notice that it’s skilled MEN who set up the crafthalls too – any skilled women are presumably too busy having babies to pass on any knowledge they might happen to have.

  12. depizan December 4, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Oh yes can’t forget the sexism. It’s just oozing with it.

  13. Silver Adept December 6, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Mustn’t forget the sexism, or the entire house of cards collapses in the face of a strong and competent woman who doesn’t need a man and babies to live her life. Everyone was so scandalized by Fandarel favoring skill over sexism, it would completely blow their heads to have a woman in a high-ranking post with no male oversight. Menolly for Masterharper?

    Thanks for the correction about the Crafthalls for the Farmers and Herdsmen. But there’s still only one on the planet. How do you get that knowledge out to more remote Holds like Half-Circle, which is basically cut off from everywhere else excepting for dragonriders? I doubt the riders are carrying all of that icky Craft knowledge in their heads to distribute everywhere they go. Drum communication presumably gets some stuff across, but I doubt drum code is secure enough to transmit craft secrets over and I doubt the code is robust enough to have words for all the technical terminology of all the other Crafts.

    Maybe there’s a lot more dragon taxi service than we see – I can see it being a good way for young riders to practice their visualization of destinations and to get comfortable with where their arrival points are going to be. Admittedly, that means anyone going with them runs the risk of dying in hyperspace, but I suppose they would be okay with the risk in the same way we’re okay with the risks of automobile driving and plane flying.

  14. genesistrine December 6, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    How do you get that knowledge out to more remote Holds like Half-Circle, which is basically cut off from everywhere else excepting for dragonriders?

    Ask AMC, not us!

    Though bear in mind Half-Circle wasn’t so cut-off before the Pass started – there’s mention of trading caravans before then. You’d expect there to be a system like the Harper one for assigning journeymen of other crafts to remote Holds; Smiths in particular, Half-Circle must need on-site metalwork and repairs, but also Healers at the very least – cloth and leather and such can at least be traded for. But we know Mavi is the resident healer (with no apparent craft rank) at Half-Circle, and we know how that works out for her daughter, and there’s no mention of any outsiders except the assigned Harpers, so… it looks like remote and poor Holds may just do without.

    As for dragon taxi service, doubt it. F’lar begins the practice of assigning watchdragons to Holds and Crafts when Thread first starts falling, gets sneered out of it by the Oldtimers then reinstates it when the off-schedule Falls begin. We see the watchdragons bringing in Lords, Craftmasters and protagonists for conferences and exposition, and there are dragons waiting to take Harper journeymen to their new assignments in DSinger, but Elgion got brought in by boat so it’s obviously not SOP for all of them.

  15. emmy December 6, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    I can’t remember anymore if it was fanon or an actual book but somewherre in pern they invented a system of people carrying information from point to point by.. running. on foot. even though they have horses, if dragons weren’t available. it made nos ense.

  16. boutet December 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    @genesistrine: I think in Dragonsinger we get a throwaway comment about Mavi being “better trained” than the care that Menolly received on her injury, and that it was canon that she allowed it to heal badly to prevent Menolly from pursuing music. Presumably she trained with the person at the weyr (was it Brekke?) for that person to be familiar with Mavi’s training.

    I don’t have the book myself so I can’t check, but I think it came up when Menolly’s hand was being checked out after she was treated for her feet.

    So there is some training but I guess people are sent from the Holds to be trained at the Halls? You’d have to have the dragons assisting for that to make any sense. Unless Mavi is supposed to have been from a weyr/hall and came to Half Circle only to marry.

  17. alexseanchai December 6, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    emmy: actual book

  18. genesistrine December 7, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    @boutet: I checked the books; Manora knows Mavi from food-collecting trips:

    And the women of the Weyr came every spring and fall to berry or cut withies and grasses. Menolly had once served Manora, the headwoman of Benden Lower Caverns, and a very pleasant gentle woman she’d been, too. Menolly hadn’t been allowed to stay in the room long because Mavi shooed her daughters out, saying that she had things to discuss with Manora. But Menolly had seen enough to know she liked her.

    The comment she makes is while she’s looking at Menolly’s home-made fire-lizard oil; “I think you did wonderfully well all on your own, Menolly, not but what I’d expect it of someone Mavi has trained.”

    It’s not to say they didn’t know each other from whatever life Mavi had before her marriage, of course, maybe she married in from outside the Sea Hold, but I don’t think there’s any indication in canon.

    @emmy: The story’s Runner of Pern:

  19. boutet December 7, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    @genesistrine: aha! I remembered there being mention of training and someone knowing Mavi but the details were lost to time. Thanks!

    And shoot. There was almost some information to work with there.

  20. Brenda A. December 9, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    Regarding Menolly’s hand, this is one of my pet peeves.

    Menolly assumes that Mavi allowed it to heal badly on purpose. All the other abuse notwithstanding, this is explicitly not true. AMC wrote that section of Dragonsong from Mavi’s point of view, from consulting with “one of the other Hold women deft in such matters” to being dreadfully afraid they might have to remove Menolly’s arm…and hearing Menolly begging to be allowed to play, just one more time.

    “…it all but broke Mavi’s heart to realize that unkind fortune had made that impossible. The hand would always be crippled. Which was as well since some of the new Harper’s questions were provoking Yanus…”

    Mavi did NOT sabotage Menolly’s hand. She did the best she could.

    It’s a little shocking that a community as big as Half-Circle doesn’t have a trained Healer. I wonder if that’s one of the things Elgion noted? It was his first day there that she cut herself, and if he didn’t see it happen he might not have known there was a medical crisis going on in the back room – especially since they didn’t want his attention drawn to her.

  21. genesistrine December 13, 2015 at 7:58 am

    I started wondering if Healing was an actual craft, or whether Oldive being called the Masterhealer was a bit of cunning Harper PR – “best in the world! Call on Robinton’s tame druggist in all emergency situations! (Which will also get us an in for useful info and possible political pressure!)”

    Sharra, as far as I can find, is only called a journeywoman healer in that index at the back, never in the text itself, but there is a journeyman healer attending to Meron when the torure squad turns up. That’s the only time we ever see any Craft appurtenances for Healers though; like I said, no crafthall, no apparent training structure.

    Though we’ve got a Masterhealer coming up in Moreta, so it’ll be interesting to see if there’s a more organized healercraft in this era….

  22. Silver Adept December 13, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    @Brenda A –

    With regard to Mavi and Menolly’s hand, I don’t trust the narrative, and I don’t necessarily trust that Mavi isn’t working against Menolly. She may not consciously be doing so, but Yanus is pretty clearly abusive to everyone, and so I can’t ever be sure that Mavi is working fully to her potential, even if she thinks she is. I just can’t believe the narrative enough to say that things truly were at their best. Especially since the narrative pretty blatantly hints, with everything regarding Menolly’s scar, that Mavi is a better healer than what she gave Menolly.

  23. emmy December 13, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    That hand thing is so confusing. The text is a blatant contradiction, and I can’t tell if we’re supposed to think about it deeply and consider all the ways that the viewpoints might be incorrect or fooling themselves, or if it’s just a mistake.

    Did McCaffrey originally mean for Mavi to have done her best, and then changed her mind later? Is Mavi trying to convince _herself_ that there’s nothing else she could do, to avoid bringing herself into conflict with Yanus if she heals Menolly? Is it meant to be representative of the general state of affairs at Half-Circle Sea Hold, which despite its ‘prestige’ is a pretty shit place that doesn’t even have gathers, and regularly gives up on its occupants? Maybe they only THINK Mavi is better-trained than that, because they themselves are, and they can’t imagine how backwards Half-Circle actually is… maybe men’s hands being regularly ruined by fishing and unable to play instruments doesn’t happen elsewhere?

  24. genesistrine December 17, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    @emmy: I’m inclined to think you’ve got it there, but then again why would Petiron never try and send for a better Healer? Indifference? Internal hold politics? Mavi’s ego? Yanus not wanting to admit that his wife wasn’t the superest-bestest Healer ever?

  25. Silver Adept December 19, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    @ genesistrine – Yanus always strikes me as the kind of person who is obsessed with the image of his Hold, so anything that doesn’t look like perfect tradition running smoothly gets viciously stomped out in the name of order and harmony. Getting an outside Healer would be admitting that they can’t handle everything themselves and need assistance from somewhere else. Yanus bends on a Harper because they’re the only people other than the dragonriders that he actually wants to court the respect and favor of.

    Petiron may have sent out for as much as he could to try and break Yanus’s hold on things, but Yanus is also the kind of person that will look for excuses and faults in others, and so the other Crafthalls may find themselves unable to send anyone that will fit his requirements and that he doesn’t immediately send back for one thing or another.

    Or they’ve all decided nobody goes to Half-Circle after the last three that were sent all meet with “accidents” that couldn’t be conclusively proven to be deliberate, but that took a Crafter out of commission for a long time (or killed them). The isolation of Half-Circle works in Yanus’s favor there – without trade and traffic, it becomes that much harder to keep anyone there and get their reports back to the Crafthalls in a timely manner.

  26. genesistrine December 19, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    I find it hard to believe that Yanus wouldn’t accidentally tragically fall overboard himself in that case. If people thought that he was actively preventing them and their loved ones from getting competent medical care/properly maintained and repaired flamethrowers/whatever then you’d expect someone to get rid of him, no matter how good he is at fishing.

    It seems likelier that Half-Circle’s the arse-end of the Universe as far as Pern’s concerned, and no-one wants to be assigned there. (Certainly nobody seems to want to foster their kids there….) Healers don’t even seem to have the Craft structure that would get them assigned the way Harpers are* – the way they seem to work is that ~educated ladies~ learn basic nursing skills (note that it’s Lessa who patches F’lar up after he gets knifed – apparently even Benden Weyr doesn’t have a Weyrhealer!) and anyone with more talent or inclination seems to have to get a Healer to teach them – there’s a scene early in TWD where Toric wants Sharra to study with Oldive, but it’s not presented as “apprenticed to the Craft”, it’s just “study with him”. And Oldive, “the Masterhealer”, isn’t even asked – it’s Lessa who says yes of course. So Mavi may simply be the best medical care available because no-one’s been sent away to study with a better Healer for generations.

    *it’s even possible that the Harpers are unique. We don’t know if any other Craft assigns journeymen to remote Holds the way they do. The usual practice may be that you learn with your local Healer/Smith/Miner/etc, and only get sent to the Crafthall for further training if you’re exceptionally skilled, well-connected and/or lucky. If that is the way it normally works Yanus may be too cheap or controlling to send people away, or quite possibly got sick of sending them away and never having them come back….

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