RogerBW's Blog

Darktraders, Eluki bes Shahar 30 September 2021

1992 SF, middle volume of a trilogy. Saint Butterflies-are-free Peace Sincere, a smuggler pilot without a ship, has nearly got her inconvenient protégé back to safety… but it's never that simple.

Well, this one's missing Paladin, and that makes it less fun; it made an effective double-act with St.Cyr, who remains as the narrator. Instead she's talking with that protégé, because of course dropping him back with his highly-placed father isn't the answer to anyone's problems.

She still talks in heavy dialect, and even the protégé can be referred to as any of Flower, Tiggy Stardust, Tiggy-bai, Baijon or Valijon, depending on the situation; there isn't a large cast but it can still get confusing at times.

"What would I do with them?" He thought about it.

"You could smuggle them," he said hopefully.

"Sssst!" I looked around, but wasn't nobody close enough to me to hear. "I don't do that," I said, when I could keep my voice down.

"But-" Baijon looked puzzled-and indignant.

"I don't tell nobody I do that," I corrected.

"But I already know what you do, Kore," Baijon said helpfully. "You circumvent the false laws of the chaudatu and participate in the freemasonry of deep space, the brotherhood of open economic frontiers-"

One of us had been auditing too many talkingbooks.

There are political machinations, and the distressing realisation that several major players simply don't care about mere background megadeaths if it'll help them get what they want. And, somewhat unexpectedly, a meditation on what honour is worth when the people who've been claiming to live by it can find convenient ways to let them do whatever they like while still claiming to be honourable.

It's not quite up there with the fun of the first book, because this spends much of its time setting up the Big Plot rather than on any little side jobs, but this is still good stuff and I'll carry on with book three.

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