Dragonseye: Lurching Toward A Conclusion

Last time, the dragonriders intervened in a humanitarian crisis on the borders of Bitra, and continued to gather large swaths of evidence that Chalkin is unfit and needs to be impeached.

Dragonseye: Chapter X: Content Notes: Ablism, Patriarchal Norms

Chapter X begins with the attempt to convince Jamson of Chalkin’s bad behavior, but Jamson is unconvinced that such behavior is possible, and also has no desire to go out and verify things for himself because it’s winter in High Reaches. M’shall points out that Chalkin’s complaint about dragonriders not attending to his urgent signal is void because Weyrs have the right to refuse service to anyone (much like the Crafts do) with sufficient justification, and he and Bridgeley leave before Jamson can respond. But Jamson is still not convinced. “One simply does not impeach a Lord Holder overnight! Not this close to Threadfall,” he says, and he’s right that the process shouldn’t be easily doable, but at this point, there’s enough evidence that a trial should be getting underway shortly. Azury, who lives at Southern Boll, in much warmer climate, is not convinced initially, but does take up the offer to do his own interviews and see if there are liars or exaggerations going on. He comes back convinced, and the three go to see Richud of Ista, who is out fishing and has a lot of dolphins by his boat, because he claims the dolphins understand him. (We know, of course, that they do. One would think that the people of this time know as well, given that they’ve had access to the computers until recently.) Richud is on board, but asks that they hold the vote on a day he isn’t out fishing.

Which leaves Jamson. This time, they go back with Azury and with Iantine’s drawings.

“Very good idea, if Jamson will accept the proof as genuine,” the Southern Boll Holder said skeptically.
Which is exactly what happened.
“How can you be sure these are accurate?” the High Reaches Lord Holder said when he had leafed through the vivid and detailed drawings on Iantine’s pad. “I think the whole matter has been exaggerated out of proportion.” He closed the pad halfway on the stark sketch of the hanging man.

It is entirely possible that what I am about to say is strongly influenced by the fact that I’m writing it in a time where the President of the United States and several of the high officials of his government and campaign are currently being investigated as to whether they accepted and directed the machinations of a foreign government to interfere in an election, and then appear to have taken actions to obstruct the truth from coming out, but if Jamson turns out to have been bribed or bought off by Chalkin, I’m noting that I’ve called it all the way back from here.

Not that the narrative wants to give me the satisfaction, as right after Jamson dismisses them firmly, his son, who has been conveniently listening outside both times, offers to provide what help he can to get Jamson on board, while noting that Jamson’s memory and faculties have started to deteriorate over the last year. Paulin, the party’s next stop, volunteers that the son has been increasingly shouldering the responsibilities of running the Hold, but he can’t declare Jamson unfit and take over, even though Paulin knows who’s likely running the show there. Paulin praises the new learning scheme for including Charter rights in it, as well as rote learning as a method in times where databases are not available, to which he gets a side-eye from a significant body of research that flatly contradicts that idea, but characters know only what their writers know.

The action shifts back to Iantine, painting Zulaya, but it’s K’vin’s perspective as the viewpoint character, so that we can continue to sexualize the Weyrwoman while she sits. K’vin is pleased that Zulaya is wearing the red dress, as well as having her hair done up in such a way that uses the combs he got for her at the last Turn’s End celebration. He mentally praises the expression Iantine has painted on her face, and there’s a short flashback where he gets convinced that the idea of portraits of everyone in the Weyr is a good idea, if for no other reason that to remember who was there when the inevitable happens during the Fall.

Zulaya calls a halt, examines the portrait and is slightly unnerved at the way the eyes of the portrait follow the viewer around the room, before they turn to the issue of hot klah and whether or not Iantine’s sketches were enough to convince everyone.

Iantine grinned as if, K’vin noted with a twinge of jealousy, totally at ease with the Weyrwoman. Few were, except Tisha, who treated everyone like an errant child, or Leopol, who was impudent with everyone.

K’vin’s jealousy has to get him in trouble at some point in this narrative, since we keep coming back to it. But also, Tisha seems to be Manora and Silvina rolled together and I could have double-checked to make sure that line wasn’t Piemur instead of Leopol. Characters need to be differentiated more instead of the stock tropes of a type of character.

As it is, Zulaya mentions that Jamson is not fully there mentally, and getting worse, according to her sources, but Jamson would have to abdicate for anyone else to take charge according to the Charter, which everyone has been rereading or relistening to, and noting that it gives a lot of leeway to the Lord Holder to do things, although it’s immediately followed by “he’s [Chalkin] abrogated almost every right the holders are supposed to have” such as denying the trial by jury required before stripping a holder of their lands. There are also apparently provisions for collusion or mutiny, and a process by which a formal list of grievances can be delivered to the Lord Holder. Jamson’s reluctance to interfere in another’s business and skepticism about the drawings is met by Zulaya remaining (justifiably) upset about the violence done to the pregnant women.

“How are they?” K’vin asked.
“One has delivered prematurely, but she and the babe will be all right. The others…well, Tisha’s doing what she can…getting them to talk it all out before it festers too much in their minds.”
“They can swear out warrants against the guards–” Iantine began.
“They have,” Zulaya said in a harsh tone, her smile unpleasant. “And we have the guards. As soon as the women feel strong enough to testify, we’re convening a court here. And M’shall wants to try the murderers he’s holding at Benden.”
“Two trials, then?”
“Yes, one for rape and one for murder. Not at all our usual winter occupation, is it?” Zulaya said in a droll tone.

K’vin remarks that the Charter is actually rather detailed, and asks the obvious question about whether they can hold trial of another Hold’s men for actions they took in that Hold.

They can. “Justice can be administered anywhere, provided the circumstances warrant,” we are told. But all the same, the three agree to keep the idea only between those that have to be involved, so as not to provoke things that could get in the way, like Chalkin showing up.

That ends the chapter, but I want to keep talking about a couple things. First, I’m actually kind of surprised that the Charter document is as detailed as we are told. I was envisioning it more like the United States Constitution, or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – a fairly broad document that would then be hammered out by subsequent legislation and court decisions establishing the boundaries and implementations of those rights. But apparently the Charter has specific things spelled out in it that are planet-wide no-nos, such as rape and murder. I’m glad they’re there, because it suggests there was a little more thought put into things than has been implicated before. I’m also a bit interested in how the provision of justice being applicable everywhere runs up against the autonomy of the Holder in their Hold. If it’s legal to defraud someone in Bitra, but Telgar prosecutes any and all cases of fraud vigorously, what happens when at a Fort Gather, a Telgarian can conclusively prove that the Bitran game is rigged so that nobody can win it? Whose law applies – Fort, Telgar, Bitra, or just the Charter? And who is recording these decisions for posterity?

Second, it appears that we have found the missing counselors and psychologists, and, as usual, it is untrained headwomen taking on these roles, without compensation or acknowledgement of what they are doing. Not just in emotional labor terms, which is a construction that might not have been available to the author, but the standing assumption that the headwoman is essentially the Weyr mother and confidante, so any issues like this that would need a sensitive touch go straight to her. I’d be interested in a story where we get to see all the work the headwoman does on a regular basis, just so that we can see how much gets piled on her shoulders. And who does she turn to when she needs help with everything?

Next chapter is going to start with the trials. I can hardly wait to see what constitutes the justice system at this point in Pernese history.

12 thoughts on “Dragonseye: Lurching Toward A Conclusion

  1. genesistrine December 7, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Jamson’s reluctance is pretty obviously due to him thinking his memory problems mean he’ll be next for the chop after Chalkin if he allows an impeachment. Which raises the question, why isn’t there a mechanism for replacing/retiring Lords who develop medical conditions affecting their faculties and/or judgement?

    No offence intended to anyone with mental illness, but on Pern psychiatric treatment seems to be limited to “talking to the headwoman”, so if a Lord develops, say, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenic delusions, or Jamson’s apparently age-related memory problems what happens? Do they just keep ruling until an acceptable heir gets around to arranging a coup? Since the whole rationale behind the Lord system is “strong and stable leadership in a planetary crisis” it seems odd that that doesn’t seem to have been taken into consideration in this apparently highly detailed Charter.

  2. Sontin December 8, 2017 at 3:41 am

    @genesistrine (also with no offense intended to anyone with mental illness) Or what happens if an elderly rider develops Alzheimer’s? Does it affect the dragon too? It’s semi-established that physical illnesses don’t carry over (ie, if the rider catches a cold, the dragon isn’t the one who starts sneezing) but with a telepathic link, how far does that go? Do dragons also take on their riders’ prejudices, or are we supposed to believe that dragonriders are just so SPESHUL that they’re above such things?

  3. Silver Adept December 10, 2017 at 8:56 am

    If Pern follows the traditions of Latin Christendom, then yes, there’s no provision at all for succession barring death or coup, which makes a situation like this likely to have happened already at least once, but since nobody was in conflict with each other, I’m sure they just made it all work out off the pages of the charter and the records, so we don’t know what happened. Most likely what happened is that someone else ruled in practicality, and the Lord only used for when something really has to come officially from him, and then everyone praying for a swift death to befall their addled Lord.

  4. genesistrine December 10, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Well, it’s what the Jamson situation seems to be heading for, but we keep being told how well-planned and sensible the Pernese system is (ahahahaha) so….

  5. Silver Adept December 13, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Yes, they planned it, I’m sure, on the assumption that nobody was going to get sick or have any sort of mental health problem in their agrarian paradise. And they can’t have provided such a thing, or the situation where Robinton and Oldive both violate their ethics to make sure that Meron names their preferred successor wouldn’t have happened, because there would have already been a method in place for succession should the Lord Holder be unable to attend his duties and unable or unwilling to name his successor.

    It certainly is odd what the Charter has planned for and what it has left out.

  6. genesistrine December 13, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Yes, they planned it, I’m sure, on the assumption that nobody was going to get sick or have any sort of mental health problem in their agrarian paradise.

    Well, they’re all Superior Genetic Stock, aren’t they. :snarls:

  7. Silver Adept December 14, 2017 at 8:16 am

    @ genesistrine and Sontin (welcome!) –

    I think we’re supposed to believe that everyone is of better genes than us, and given that the draconic gestalt essentially stopped Robinton from dying while he was having what would have been a fatal heart attack, the dragons probably also protect their riders, wherever possible, from diseases of the mind. Whether that’s by routing around the damage or by having a hyperspace-related accident the first time they get an addled command, I don’t know. The likely consequence, though, is that dragonriders that develop failing minds probably don’t live very far past the point where it happens.

  8. genesistrine December 15, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Sontin!

    And do dragons have degenerative diseases, too? There’s an aging dragon in the first book, and Lessa’s watch-wher buddy is described as “senile”?

    As for prejudices, it wouldn’t surprise me. We’ve seen a couple of instances where Mnementh has the detachment to see that F’lar needs to calm down, and Ruth seems to have some ability to detach himself from Jaxom’s emotional state, but I don’t remember ever seeing that in any other dragons so they may be exceptional.

  9. Sontin December 19, 2017 at 8:31 am


    *waves* Hi!

    You’re right; I’d forgotten all about the “senile” watch-wher. But I feel like there was a whole lot going on with the dragons that AMC never bothered to explain. Particularly since

    (SPOILER ALERT FOR MasterHarper of Pern!)

    at the beginning of MasterHarper of Pern, there’s a conversation just between dragons while their riders are busy doing Human Things and the dragons are just chatting to each other, and at one point even sniping at each other. That suggests that the dragons could have personalities and likes and dislikes that are completely separate from their riders.

    There’s a bit of a trend for rewriting stories from the POV of other characters. I wish someone would rewrite one of AMC’s stories purely from the POV of one of the dragons, with humans only popping in now and again.

  10. genesistrine December 20, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Yeah, that would be really interesting to see. How do dragons perceive what goes on? How much do they notice human personalities and politics?

    But let’s face it, AMC has very little interest in the inner lives of anyone who isn’t a protagonist; Pern from the view of, say, a drudge would no doubt be a very different place too….

  11. Silver Adept December 21, 2017 at 11:35 am

    I would definitely be down for a story told entirely from dragon or drudge perspective. We learned a lot more about how the other side lives when we followed Jayge around. It would have been great to have kept that perspective – no ascending to the nobility, but just a trader or low-level Crafter or drudge as the focus character, and seeing all the life that goes on without invoking anybody higher up, except where absolutely necessary.

    It would warrant taking a hard look at the society and seeing if it really is good for anything once you get past the nobility.

  12. genesistrine December 21, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    It would warrant taking a hard look at the society and seeing if it really is good for anything once you get past the nobility.

    Which is why we’d never see AMC write one like that. As far as she’s concerned if you’re in the bottom strata of society you deserve to be; Good People become dragonriders or holders or journeypeople.

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