Dragonseye: Anticlimax

Last chapter, Vergerin was held up as a model of virtue, because the narrative likes him, and K’vin finally got Zulaya by behaving how she wanted him to all along – right after K’vin rightly chewed another rider out for his own toxic masculinity. I’m still steamed about that, so we should just finish the book.

Dragonseye: Chapters XVI and XVII: Content Notes:

When we last left the new couple, they were about to sneak off on a clandestine observation of Thread in the south. K’vin and Zulaya find out they are far from the only dragonriders to have had the same idea and time for observation.

Consequently, he was perhaps not as surprised as he might have been to realize the airspace around them, and Meranath and Zulaya, was well occupied. With that extra sense dragons had, the two had averted a collision.

So it is canonical, then, that dragons do not just warp themselves out wherever they are envisioned, but do make adjustments for the presence of others. Then weyrling accidents are because juvenile dragons don’t have that sense fully developed? (If so, though, Moreta’s jump to nowhere should have thrown an error somewhere, along with any of the other dragons that do the same thing, since they are all mature enough to know better.)

In any case, the plan might be to just observe, but the dragons themselves have other ideas about that.

The word seemed to rumble from dragon to dragon, and K’vin had to grab hold of the neck ridge as Charanth started to lurch toward what he had known all his life as his adversary.
I have no firestone! How can I flame it! What is wrong? Why have you brought me here where there is Thread and I have no fire to char it!
It’s all right, Charanth. We’re here to watch. To see.
But it is Thread! I must chew to flame. Why may I not flame when there is THREAD!

[…K’vin tries to reason with Charanth, and notices other riders having similar trouble…]
Then, all of a sudden, Charanth stopped flying toward Thread.
Oh, all right! The tone was that of a petulant child forced by a senior authority to follow orders totally against the grain.

So the queens kick in the override they have (and that Menolly observed in her fire lizard fair) and everyone lands and calms their dragons, before sheepishly admitting that perhaps this idea wasn’t quite as brilliant as they had envisioned. And having a laugh at it. Before someone thinks to thank the queens for their help.

Then everyone present is told that this meeting never happened, before K’vin suggests that the Weyrleaders should agree to rotate wings from every Weyr in for the first few sessions of Threadfall so as to give them practice before the actual thing happens in their neighborhood. Everyone present agrees to the idea, with the seniormost Weyrleader agreeing to present it to S’nan, so that he will listen and agree to it as well.

And that actually closes the chapter out.

Chapter XVII is essentially, “And then Thread came, and they fought Thread beautifully.” There’s some tweaking of S’nan for being serious about things, and lots of description of how the fighting goes, but it’s all from K’vin’s perspective, and in the jumble of everything, he can’t really focus much on anything other than what’s in front of him and whether his wings are staying in the formation.

There is one bit to draw attention to, mostly as the coda to P’tero and M’leng.

K’vin briefly thought of P’tero’s vain attempt to be included in the fighting force Telgar would launch. Maybe he should have put the blue rider in, sore ass and all, to prove that there was a lot more to fighting Thread than having the guts to do it. But to include P’tero would have been to exclude a perfectly healthy and less erratic rider. K’vin had not selected M’leng of the green riders chosen for the First Fall. That would ease discord between that pair: that one had gone and the other had not. Basically, they were good weyrmates, having a reasonably stable relationship ever since P’tero, who was the younger, had Impressed Ormonth.

So it ends well for them, at least at this point. It’s always possible their partnership will be cut short by tragedy, but K’vin exercises good leadership by not putting salt in P’tero’s ass. As he said when giving P’tero his talking-to, there will be plenty of opportunities in the future.

Yes, that’s a big gloss over an entire chapter, but the actual fighting mechanics of the dragons haven’t changed since we saw them before. Flame in formation, all the way through, turn, reload, flame again. Queens pick up the stragglers and help the ground crews catch and roast burrows before they go too far. This first official fall happens over Bitra, of course, because otherwise the plot wouldn’t have nearly as much impact and Vergerin wouldn’t be able to have a pat on the back for getting the hold right with Jesus…err, the dragonriders.

Let’s take a look at what’s next…oh, fsck. The next recommended book is The Masterharper of Pern. Well, at least it was nice having a book that didn’t have Robinton’s hands in it before we get his biography.

So…thanks for sticking around with this book, and also, go support your local public library. Without them, this series would be both expensive and painful. Thanks to the library, it’s just painful.


19 thoughts on “Dragonseye: Anticlimax

  1. genesistrine January 25, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    (If so, though, Moreta’s jump to nowhere should have thrown an error somewhere, along with any of the other dragons that do the same thing, since they are all mature enough to know better.)

    There’s no creature ever that’s 100% accurate all the time though. Cats fall off tables, dogs miss catching balls, it’s not unreasonable that dragons occasionally whiff their teleporting.

    This whole book feels weirdly unresolved to me; there’s a lot of, well, threads left hanging. Jemmy bamfs out of existence immediately after the Pern Male Voice Choir performs for the first time (though really I suppose we were lucky to avoid the Classic AMC Relationship-Starter with him and Bethany…), we got a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene of “yeah, Threadhenge works” resolution for Clisser on top of that, Iantine and Debera got a vague acknowledgement that any relationship they had would be tricky. Was this maybe spposed to be the first of a Second Fall series?

    As for Masterharper of Pern, it’s at the very least immense fun for playing Spot the Retcon!

    And thank you for plugging on with this whole series, however bad it gets.

  2. Eilonwy Has An Emu January 25, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    Oh my, Masterharper of Pern! I feel like I should send you pillows and flowers and foot rubs and little reminders that no, you’re not losing your mind, what you’re reading does not make sense with established canon at all. If it hadn’t been a library book, I would have thrown my copy at the wall, just as a matter of principle.

    As far as Holth’s incorrect jump with Moreta, the issue was maybe partly that Holth was jumping among times. The White Dragon-era books harp on how Ruth always knows when he is, implying it’s not as natural and easy a feat for other dragons.

  3. Silver Adept January 25, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    If I were feeling generous, I suppose I could chalk it up to rider and dragon being tired, and the jump being slightly more complex than usual, and this was one of those situations where a whiff happened and nobody could recover from it. It still seems like something put in there because the story already was going to end in a tragedy, and not because it made sense.

    I wonder whether this was an abortive attempt at a Second Pass series or not, but something clearly sunk the idea. I’m kind of glad that we can believe Jemmy gets nowhere and that Debera finds someone better than Iantine.

    I may need help spotting all the retcons, mostly because I’m likely to focus on big picture things like bad relationships and miss the shifting going on.

  4. genesistrine January 26, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Oh, absolutely it was put in there for Required Tragic Ending. And even that wouldn’t have been so bad if the characters hadn’t been timing it previously and realised that they could take as much time for Critically Important Mission as they wanted and stopped off in the past for sexytimes. Just to make it blatant even in-story that it was Death by Author Fiat.

  5. WanderingUndine January 26, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    Reaction count for Dragonseye: A record-shattering 15 cocowhats,* 4 “Surrounded by Assholes,” 1 “Fuck You,” 6 “Homer shouts a bad word,” 1 “Bite my shiny metal ass,” 1 “Ten Duel Commandments,” and 1 “Cat says F this.”

    Sounds like it deserves every one of them.

    I think I read part of The Masterharper of Pern but remember little of it. That’s true of many books in this series, so I’m easily swayed by new perspectives on them and now feel generalized suspicion toward people who praise them. I never disliked Robinton all that much, so have probably forgotten or overlooked a lot. >_>

    *The previous cocowhat recordholder was The Renegades of Pern, but 5 of its 11 were given in the last chapter. For more widely distributed cocowhats, iirc, The White Dragon held the record at 9.

  6. Eilonwy Has An Emu January 28, 2018 at 10:23 am

    @WanderingUndine If you’ve never disliked Robinton much before, Masterharper of Pern is the perfect book to fix that. Developing his backstory puts a lot of his adult decisions, ones that were kind of quasi-acceptable if you read fast and just rolled with it, in a much more negative light.

  7. depizan77 January 28, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    @Eilonwy Has An Emu

    So we’re going to be in for high cocowhats and “Fuck You” counts?

  8. WanderingUndine January 29, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    Just what I needed — reasons to hate another fictional person I liked. *exhausted sigh*

    OK, I never gave Robinton (or most Pern characters) much thought. But I liked him in a somewhat disinterested way, and clearly failed to notice why I shouldn’t.

    Pern just got left out of this essay, and subsequent comments, on “SF concepts and settings that deserve better execution”: https://www.tor.com/2018/01/29/almost-classics-sf-concepts-and-settings-that-deserve-better-execution

  9. genesistrine January 29, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Bear in mind we’ve already got to see him be the main mover in torturing Meron for no particular reason except Meron being a Designated Asshole, so….

  10. Eilonwy Has An Emu January 30, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    @depizan77 This book may start a cocowhat shortage.

  11. Silver Adept January 31, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    *reads count*

    …that’s a lot of things, there. And they did deserve every last one of them.

    @ genesistrine –

    I think the stated reason why Robinton and the Healers tortured Meron was because he refused to name a successor and was going to relish the civil war that ensued from beyond the grave as a final “fuck you” to the assembled.

    The unstated reason, of course, was that Meron was not naming Robinton’s chosen successor…

  12. genesistrine January 31, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    That was the stated reason, but it was never explained why they had to torture and trick him into naming the one they wanted rather than just saying he’d named their favoured candidate before he carked it.

    And any legitimacy to the procedure went right out of the window when one of the Lords (who’d even been present for the torture scene) died without naming a successor and the response was a council of Lords choosing from eligible relatives rather than CIVIL WAR PEASANTS REVOLTING CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER THE HORROR THE HORROR, so it was very obviously “what excuse can I find to torture a dying man” rather than any actual necessity.

  13. Silver Adept February 1, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    I suppose it looks better for the broadsheets if you can honestly say someone got named?

    You’re entirely right, though, there’s no really justifiable reason for torture if all you want is your own puppet in place. And we don’t know what Meron did to personally piss off Robinton so. For normal people, it usually takes a major act of some sort. For Robinton, I’d be willing to say he’s in for torture if Meron beat him at the gaming tables.

  14. Michael I February 2, 2018 at 7:04 am

    Silver Adept@2/1

    we don’t know what Meron did to personally piss off Robinton

    Presumably Meron is partly blamed (apparently for good reason) for the deaths of the two queen dragons back in Dragonquest.

  15. genesistrine February 2, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    For what good reason though? He could hardly be expected to know when a queen dragon’s due to rise and he had no control whatsoever over the situation. His relationship with Kylara was disapproved of for reasons the author seems to think were too obvious to be explained as well*, so it just comes over as “I the Author say these are Bad People who Deserve to be Punished”.

    * it may have been abusive, it was definitely violent, but from what we saw of Kylara’s thoughts she seemed to regard that as a proof of passion and no-one seems to have framed their dislike of the relationship as “oh no he is a horrible person we must save her” so I don’t think that’s the reason

  16. Michael I February 2, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    It is true that Meron is unlikely to have known he was doing anything dangerous. So “good reason” is probably too strong a statement, since it seems to suggest more responsibility than warranted given this likely lack of knowledge. Still, his actions did contribute to what happened and I don’t think it’s at all unexpected that this would be resented.

    (I’d actually expect that he did know that Wirenth was about to rise. I didn’t get the impression that this was really any sort of secret. And Kylara surely knew.)

  17. genesistrine February 3, 2018 at 7:00 am

    (Wirenth was Brekke’s queen; Kylara’s was Prideth.)

    And I’d be inclined to think he wouldn’t; he didn’t grow up in a Weyr, he grew up when there was only one queen who seems to have hardly ever (if ever) left the Weyr, and we don’t know how obvious it is when a queen’s ready to rise. The Weyrfolk can tell, but can anyone with little-to-no experience of dragons?

    It’s possible to suggest that there’s a warning system in place to let people in the local area know when a queen is likely to be rising; what with the likelihood of rape mindrays raining down from the sky it’d be a courtesy to warn people that they might want to go around with clubs/vials of knockout drops/understanding FWBs/etc. But given the apparent Weyr attitude of “hurr, prudes” I don’t think it’s very likely, plus the ex-Southern lot had only moved in to High Reaches a few days before so even if a warning system existed it wouldn’t have been updated.

    As for resented, no doubt and I think we even get examples in the book. But “resenting” someone to the point of denying them their pain medication until they do arbitrary-thing-you-want-that-isn’t-necessary-even-though-you’ve-apparently-convinced-everyone-it-is is an absolutely terrifying level of manipulativeness and cruelty.

  18. Michael I February 3, 2018 at 8:29 am

    (Wirenth was Brekke’s queen; Kylara’s was Prideth.)

    Yes, but,Kylara would still have known that Wirenth was close to rising.

    But “resenting” someone to the point of denying them their pain medication until they do arbitrary-thing-you-want-that-isn’t-necessary-even-though-you’ve-apparently-convinced-everyone-it-is is anan absolutely terrifying level of manipulativeness and cruelty.

    No argument here. But I was just answering the question of why Robinton disliked Meron.

  19. Silver Adept February 3, 2018 at 8:44 am

    I can see Robinton having done it by direct or indirect request of, say, the Benden Weyrleader’s brother, although we don’t get to see that particular action on screen. Or Robinton doing it himself as a favor to them, so they don’t have to get their hands dirty with direct action, and so they can see that Robinton is loyal to the cause promoted by Benden.

    As for Prideth, Meron probably only knew what Kylara would have told him about it. Kylara is pretty consistently depicted as someone who wouldn’t give a damn about informing partners, so he might have known or figured out that Prideth was ready, but I doubt he would have known about Wirenth. It’s tremendously easy to scapegoat someone you don’t like, though, and to ignore every fact that stands in your way when you want to do it.

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