Last time, there’s a plot happening in Southern that nobody really knows yet, and Thella, Lady Holdless, evaded capture with her lieutenants despite the best attempts of the Lords and Benden to catch her by surprise. With one of her main strongholds captured, Thella is on the run without much for supplies or hiding places, until she can get the heat off of her and start to rebuild.
The Renegades of Pern: Chapter Eight: Content Notes: None
(Telgar to Keroon’s Beastmaster Hold, Present Pass 12)
The fallout from the failed raid opens the chapter – Jayge collects his pay and charges off into the wild, Perschar retires back to Nerat so as to paint less dangerous subjects, and Thella’s band find themselves still in the Hold they had, under the command of Eddik, making them no longer holdless and less likely to return to Thella. We then settle on Jayge as the lead for this segment, having decided on revenge against Thella and an attempt to save Readis from her as his course of action. Sticking close to Aramina is the long term plan, but for now, Jayge tries very hard to beat Thella to Igen. He failed. Brare, the one who served Thella chowder, is already dead, so Jayge sees if he can find the secret passage to Thella’s hiding place here. Nothing turns up, so he turns himself toward getting to Keroon by well-traveled means, fueling his journey with the thought of putting Thella in a pit that she can’t get out of and leaving her there to die, as she screams and begs to be released. At Keroon, he signs on to help move some animals to the Beastmaster Hold, while inquiring about Thella’s lieutenants. We finally get some connective tissue to the Toric story, as Jayge discovers here the regular shipments to Southern, and their unofficial nature. And then forges new shoes for his runner in a Smith’s forge, waiting to see if a contact of his comes through. It does, and so Jayge gets a mare to be delivered to Benden, some money, and an escort of other runner drivers going in the same direction.
Naturally, this means it’s time to switch back to Piemur and Toric. There has been some progress, maybe…
Piemur was back at Southern and had finally cornered Toric into fulfilling his promise to let him explore freely in the South. He had arrived armed with a polite request from Master Robinton, a request that, since it bore F’lar’s signet, was more of an indirect order.
“I’ve got my journeyman’s knot, I spent hours with Wansor, Terry, and that oaf of a Fortian, Benelek, so I’m qualified to keep Records that will be accurate as long as the Dawn Sisters remain in place. So you’ll know, my Lord Holder-”
“Don’t call me that,” Toric snapped, his eyes flashing so angrily that Piemur wondered if he’d overplayed his hand.
Why is Toric angry at being called a Lord Holder? It’s pretty clearly what he is, with more of a claim than many, although he hasn’t officially made the claim yet. (The next few lines past the quote are Piemur telling Toric what he needs to put together for when he makes that official claim.) Is it something like not wanting the title of the person he so forcefully rejected at the beginning? It is it that he doesn’t want to be in the same grouping as the sons that he’s taking on? With the way Toric is, I would have expected him to preen some at that address, not get pissed at it.
Also, Piemur has been getting progressively rougher around the edges than he was in Dragondrums. He had previously been characterized as clever, sometimes too clever for things, and very possessed of the wanderlust, and I still wonder whether he has an attraction to Sharra, but this Piemur is either working in the deep cover that requires almost becoming the mask, or someone took sandpaper to his characterization in this revisiting, that he’s so openly contemptuous of the others he just studied under.
Also, is this the first time anyone has mentioned that dragonriders have signet rings for their communications? Doesn’t that also posit the existence of wax and/or candles, which would make glow collection seem strange, unless there have been enough accidents that candles are used only for signatures, instead of for light and heat? Or ink of some sort, perhaps, for the rings to stamp a design on official documents?
A few of these things get answers in the next segment. Namely, Piemur definitely has a thing for Sharra, who has him rather firmly as a friend. That’s not important to Piemur, though, as he hopes that perhaps he can be useful enough to Toric to collect Sharra as a bride anyway. Piemur also has a dual purpose for exploration – both Toric and Robinton will benefit from his maps, and he knows that both Toric and the dragonriders will want as much of that land as possible. Piemur doesn’t care about the politics just as long as he can explore the place forever.
In any event, as long as Piemur got to set one foot in front of the other unto he ran out of land, he would let the disposition if it rest with others – such as the Masterharper and the Benden Weyrleaders. They deserved more of the South than Toric ever did. But then, Lessa had a habit of giving perfectly good Holds away.
Huh? If Piemur is talking about Ruatha, Lessa had no intention of giving it up, and it took Jaxom’s birth to take that away from her. If he’s talking about something else, I’m not sure we’ve seen it enough for it to become a habit attributed to Lessa.
In any case, the Southern segment finishes with Piemur getting permission to explore and then setting off with Stupid into the brush. Then we go over to Jayge, who has made the turn to go north to Benden, and really appreciates the mare he’s escorting. After a night in a farm, Jayge encounters a hunting party of kids going after wherries, who ends up escorting him the rest of the way to the Hold, where he delivers the mare and earns his delivery fee, as well as another endorsement for his warrant of character. The hospitality of the Hold is excellent, and Jayge receives a “blatant come-on” from a journeywoman, who then also contrives to give Jayge a good feel for her breasts during the serving of the soup. If it weren’t for the fact that Jayge spots someone much more interesting at the table, he might have been getting busy that night. The lady he spots is out of his league and destined for the Weyr, and as he finds out the next morning, is also the intended recipient of the horse he brought. She has him entirely tongue-tied, not that she knows how smitten he is with her. Despite the narrative being coy with her name, we have a big clue as to who she is.
“Ah, so you’d know burden beasts better.” For some reason the girl’s smile was tinged with wistfulness. “We had a yoke – I called them Nudge and Shove. They did a lot of it, but they never let us down.”
So, of course it’s Aramina, and she’s beautiful and destined for the Weyr, and possibly Thella’s designs. Jayge wants to stay, but has no excuse to do so. And that brings this chapter to a close.
The problem is, this chapter is filler. There’s no actual content here other than “Jayge takes a horse to Benden, and falls for Aramina. Piemur gets closer to being the Explorer of Pern.” This is the second filler chapter for the book, which is not a good sign – tightening it up would probably leave more room for Thella, who is the only plot worth following at this point.