Last time, Fiona and Terin meet a group of traders and convinced them it would be profitable to set up shop at Igen in conjunction with the dragons ferrying trader goods (as good practice for weyrling waypoint drills) and convincing the watch-wher hold to relocate to nearby), minus a reasonable fee for storage. We also found out Tenniz, Tannaz’s sibling, can see intimate the future and make cryptic prophecies, which introduces new wrinkles and headaches into the conception of Pern as a place.
Dragonheart: Chapter 13: Content Notes: Sexualizing very young girls,
The stars shine so cold at night,
The sun burns so hot by day.
The wind whips in wild delight:
The weather at Igen is fey.
(Igen Weyr, Early Morning, AL 498.7.3)
Honestly, this would have been a much better poem for the last chapter, or any other. Here, it follows something that was less great, even though it probably is contextually appropriate for this chapter.
The chapter starts with the traders leaving Igen, having helped turn it back into a functioning Weyr. Fiona tries not to wake Terin, who is sleeping in the same bed of blankets as Fiona, fails, and the two get a final piece of advice from Mother Karina to change their schedules to work through the nights, rather than the days. They think it’s a nice idea, but not a good one for when you need to see what you are doing. Instead, they decide to take stock of injured riders and dragons, with different slates for riders and dragons, and eventually settle on creating Flight boards so that there’s detailed information available about each rider, dragon, and injury in the same place.
There’s also a bit in here where the author might think they’re being subtle about setting up the pairing for Igen. Fiona gets irritated about her hair falling into her face and ties it back.
T’mar reluctantly looked back up at her. “It’s just that you looked cute when you did that.”
Fiona felt her cheeks flush and a thrill run through her at his words. Cute!
At this point, I want to remind everyone that Fiona is still thirteen and Terin ten. Because it’s about to become important. Once the narrative gets done letting the leadership council here realize that the people who were muzzy in the future are sharp here and those sharp in the future are most here, and that, just maybe, time travel might be responsible for all the issues of both past and present.
In any case, they’re thinking about who is getting assigned leadership duties along the weyrlings, and in addition to the bronze riders, two browns get suggested as the “obvious” candidates to fill out the ranks.
“Browns are usually wingseconds,” T’mar replied.
“Or wingleaders,” Terin added. T’mar accepted the addition with a nod.
“Why not go by ability?” Fiona wondered.
“Brown and bronze riders are often the ones with the most leadership ability,” T’mar said.
Fiona cocked her head challengingly.
“Oh, you get the occasional blue or green rider who makes a good leader,” he explained, “but more often their skills lie in different areas.”
“Like cavorting!” Terin snickered. “It’s a wonder we don’t see more of them.”
“Greens are sterile,” T’mar reminded her.
Because they chew firestone, we note. But also, here’s one of those things that’s basically ingrained into Weyr culture. Bronzes are superior, browns are better, greens and blues couldn’t possibly be good enough to lead. But how much of that is dragon selection and how much of that is that greens and blues never get the opportunity to lead, and therefore never get any confirmation that they are or aren’t good of it. It seems like the sort of thing that could be tested in weyrling training and drill by rotating through who is the leader and who are the callers for drill. But we also realize that this inherent superiority is drilled into everyone right from the beginning of their lives, and so anyone running a Weyr based on the actual leadership capacity of the riders would be flouting TRADITION by doing so. Fiona would have to wait until she was a Senior older than thirteen to implement it, I think.
The talk about promiscuity of greens and blues brings talk about mating flights (Terin claims she’s going to be fine when Talenth rises), and then talk about exactly how old Fiona and Terin are going to be and how they should count their birthdays. Which turns to talk about body age versus chronological age and mating flights from Talenth, which Terin teases Fiona about, and then apologizes later for it. Fiona waves it off, but the narrative doesn’t tell us whether she’s doing it genuinely or because Fiona doesn’t want to alternate Terin on this situation.
The next major scene is Fiona setting up some mirrors to light the Records room sufficiently for work (one in the hallway, and then one that reflects light up to the ceiling, somehow) and then goes to work examining records. Because it involves records, there’s the obligatory complaint about records
It didn’t take all that long for Fiona to recall her father’s choicer oaths in regards to reading Records. “A boring necessity best delegated,” was the most innocuous of his pronouncements. For a brief moment she toyed with delegating the work, but curiosity overwhelmed boredom and she soldiered on, stifling a yawn.
which makes me scream again and again that there was a librarian on staff in the original colony and therefore organizational systems for documents and volumes should have been passed down through the years in such a way that made them easy to find, because records that can’t have their useful information found easily are worse than useless.
Fiona is able to find references to a “surveyor map,” and then the map itself, before calling in T’mar to examine the contents with her. Fiona points out the symbol for gold and T’mar picks up that it’s where the Wherhold is going to be, and that with the tithe coming from the gold mined from that spot, Igen will be able to trade for all its goods needs. At the next scene point, Fiona is proud that in five days, lots of herdbeasts have been found, herb gardens started, and wild foods collected, along with housing for everyone. T’mar grumbles about butter, which allows Fiona to point out what kind of logistics chain that needs
“To have butter, we’d need milch cows, cowherds to herd them, milkers to milk them, a churner to churn the butter, and a cool place to store it,” Fiona said as she chewed her roll.
and to hit upon the idea that Igen could trade ice for significant profit and have some on hand to cool quarters with if “a fan” were set up to take advantage of the plentiful wind and carry ice-cooled air. After a certain amount of trying to figure out where to harvest ice that won’t bring them into contact with any other Weyr, T’mar hits on mining out the Far Watchers, two mountains north of Benden mostly used as examples of “It’s too cold for Thread here.”
T’mar says that he will take weyrlings and Fiona will figure out where to store the ice, because she’s expendable and she’s not. (Conveyed with a single word: “Weyrwoman.”) Fiona explains the idea to Terin and heads off to check on the injured dragons, where we get another rider that should be sent back as soon as feasible.
“Say hello to K’rall for me,” Terin said in a waspish tone–the older bronze rider was a very bad patient who was completely unwilling to have young Terin tend to him and refused to accept that she was headwoman, even when Fiona had asked Talenth to relay the information to Seyorth, his dragon.
Fiona he treated with a mixture of awe and condescension, not forgetting for a moment that she was a queen rider but constantly harping on about her youth. As she got to know him more, Fiona started treating him like one of the old guards at Fort Hold: she was polite, deferential, but definitely in charge.
And she was grateful that of all the older wingleaders, she had to deal with him rather than H’nez, whose manners brought out the worst of her famous Fort Hold temper.
Cocowhat by depizan
Time out, “famous Fort Hold temper?” We’ve only seen it in relation to the screaming match Fiona had with Bemin, and then all of these situations where Fiona is being told she’s wrong and has to apologize, or is being strong-willed against others. The author is assuming facts not in evidence by calling it a “famous” temper when we haven’t heard anyone else talk about it, or react to it in any way other than thinking that it’s something to try and make Fiona discard.
Second, K’rall being injured and unwilling to take help means that he’s made his decision about what he wants, and resources should be devoted to others who are more interested in getting better and willing to work with what’s on offer to do it. He’s a bronze rider and should be setting a better example for everyone rather than dismissing the headwoman and being awful to the Weyrwoman, but no, he’s a bronze rider and apparently needs to be coddled and cajoled into doing what he should already be doing as a leader. K’rall has taken his bandages off, despite needing to keep them on to have a hope of healing well.
“You have to listen to your Weyrwoman!” Fiona shouted at him, losing her temper. Before K’rall could voice an angry retort, Fiona softeend, and reached out to take his hand. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to see you disfigured.”
[…Finoa realizes that she’s been faking knowing what she’s doing long enough that even though she’s faking, she knows how to be convincing about it…]
“You are a handsome man, K’rall,” Fiona said, not surprised to hear his breath catch or see his eyes rise to meet hers. She met them squarely. “I’m of the age where I notice such things more and more”–she felt heat rising in her cheecks, but she persisted–“and I’ve seen the way some of the women back the Weyr watched you.” She smiled. “I think that won’t change when you get back.”
“You can’t know,” K’rall murmured.
“Nor can you,” Fiona told him firmly.
Cocowhat by depizan
SHE’S THIRTEEN! And yes, I know, this is still someone’s idea of a fantasy world, where the idea of marrying people and sex at very young ages is an assumption that just gets made without actually consulting the historical record. This brings a lot of things to mind about the sexualization of young girls, and how Fiona is literally having to behave in sexual ways to get someone to respect her enough to do things that are in their own self-interest. Just, aigh, is Todd or any editor thinking through the implications here (which might be thinking it through more than Anne did, scarily) where everyone is casually joking about the part of Finoa’s life where she’s going to be turned into a sexual being, whether she’s actually ready to or not? And the further implications of having Fiona harness that sexuality because nothing else seems to be working to get people to behave? And that Terin is rejecting Fiona’s request to find her somewhere to go when this happens, because she’s apparently already experienced one and everything was fine? I presume it wasn’t because still-yet-younger Terin was being sexualized, but that’s because my brain actively rejects the idea that an author is deliberately courting pedophilia in a series like Pern. Like, seriously, think through the goddamn implications here.
Before this, Fiona has been looking around Igen and wondering what kinds of canopies the dragons and their riders might want as coverage for their Weyrs, and this brings back the offhand comment from earlier about how Fort was somewhat famous for their sweaters. It wasn’t clear earlier, but Fiona notes that the riders are the ones knitting sweaters in their spare time, rather than the weyrfolk. I absolutely approve of knitting as a thing dragonriders do in their spare time, buit mostly because I would like to hear the scene where you hear several curses coming from different Weyrs in sequence about dropped stitches. Or ridiculous competitions between the riders to produce ornate and beautiful work that can be sold or judged.
Anyway, after Fiona handles K’rall and flatters him unnecessarily to try and get him to do what he’s supposed to do, there’s also a bit about how Fiona has had to train any sort of reaction out of the weyrlings attending to the injured, as well as herself, despite the fact that it means having to deal with nudity and intimate parts. And that they’ve invented hospital gowns, not that they refer to them as such.
Fiona’s ministrations are interrupted by the return of T’mar, who is incredibly woozy, but came back with some carisaks full of ice, as requested. The weyrlings are not quite as strongly affected, but they’re also exhausted. Terin asks what to do with the ice, and Finoa suggests that they put it on display for the trader caravan that’s on their way back to the Weyr by having cold drinks and such available for them. Then Fiona goes back to T’mar and discusses with him why the ice trip was so terrible, and she zeroes in on the problem immediately.
“And when do you think you went to the Snowy Wastes today?”
T’mar frowned. “It was–”
“Was it now, in this Turn, or then, ten Turns in the future?”
T’mar’s jaw dropped and his eyes widened as his certainty gave way to confused possibility.
T’mar, to his credit, realizes Fiona is right, given that the only recognition points he knows are the ones in the future, so the exhaustion at having jumped back and forth in time, as well as giving themselves an additional point of existence where they are multiples-in-time. He complains about not knowing the recognition points back in time, and yet again I am complaining about how, given how much the dragonriders use time travel to fix their problems, they haven’t developed any sort of standard astronomy or visualization technique that would allow them to hop back and forth to places with precision.
Anyway, after they figured out the reason for T’mar’s extra exhaustion, it’s time to impress the desert traders with the apparent abundance of ice that Igen Weyr now possesses. Which they do with iced klah and ice cream. The traders say there isn’t any cattle to be traded for directly, and that ice is far too much of a luxury to be slinging about if everything is supposed to be kept under wraps. Fiona suggests watch-whers, which gets a good response, and then gold, which gets the very best response from the traders, because gold is, on Pern, anyway, fungible enough that it could be traded for things that could be traded for cattle. Fiona also says that if the traders want to do trades and transport by night, they’re going to have to teach the dragonriders how to navigate by the stars. The traders shrug and nod, and only T’mar realizes that Fiona had ulterior motives for the ask and wants her to explain when they’re alone.
“Well,” Fiona said, her lips curved upward with satisfaction, “it’s just that I realized these traders have spent Turns navigating the desert by the stars.”
“Well, we know that the Red Star is one of those stars,” Fiona continued, “and that the moons and planets and other stars all move in the sky in determined patterns.”
“Yes,” T’mar agreed impatiently.
“So,” Fiona continued, smiling sweetly, “why can’t we use the stars to tell us when as well as where we are?”
T’mar stared at her for a long moment and then, slowly, his lips curved up in a grin to match hers.
“And with the stars to guide us, we can come back to Fort Weyr three days after we left!” he exclaimed. He grabbed Fiona in a great hug. “I couldn’t use the Red Star for such accuracy, but I’ll bet the traders can teach us how to use the planets! Well done, Weyrwoman, well done!”
Fiona basked in his praise.
And, apparently, I am anticipating what is about to happen in the narrative again. My point still stands, however, that this is not something that should be learned from desert-traveling traders, but already be drilled, if not into weyrlings, into full-bore riders to make sure they can always arrive on time to their Threadfall. They should already know this well by now. And have controls on it so that it’s not being used in such a way that people will cross their own timestreams too much. Such that Moreta should have gone into what she was doing knowing full well it was super-dangerous, instead of having a catastrophic failure of hyperspace travel because a dragon doesn’t have a default destination programmed in.
Also, the narrative is still not being subtle about who the pairing is going to be for this Weyr when Talenth rises. And I am still not on board with Fiona having to come to this decision because her dragon produces intense sex rays. But we’ve made it to the end of Chapter 13. Also, Fiona is being written as far more competent than Tullea ever was, but I think that’s a consequence of us not getting to see Tullea while she was back in time, only that she’s much changed and grateful when she returns from her trip. Perhaps Fiona’s trip is the way of explaining to us what Tullea would have been like in the past and wanting us to not think of her as a terrible–oh, who am I kidding?
Chapter 14 next week.