[LMB] GJ&RQ - Ch 13 - Past and future images

Gwynne Powell gwynnepowell at hotmail.com
Sat Oct 29 13:39:10 BST 2016

And this chapter tears apart things that we knew from the very beginning of
the whole saga.

They tour the old Prince Serg, reliving memories of the great battle, great
victory, that Miles and Jole saw up close. Lots of memories of Aral, and his
superb abilities, and the terrifying excitement of those times past.

During the tour, as parents took care to restrain children, and everyone kept
an eye on Miles, I had a quick flashback to Bothari showing Cordelia around
the ship (name forgotten, sorry) when she was first taken prisoner.

Then Ekaterin, sweet gentle unmilitary Ekaterin, tosses her own bomb - she
wonders about the abilities of the Haut, particularly bioweapons. Ekaterin
has probably had more first-hand up close experience of the Haut ladies in
bio-action, from the time she spent with them while they treated Miles. He
saw one side of them, she saw them at work. For several long days. And she
has a very scary view of their abilities.

This leads to Miles dropping another bomb - Gregor is sitting on information
(thank you Ivan) about the Cetagandan defeat and withdrawal. Which, it turns
out, was very very nearly the Cetagandan victory, thanks to bioweapons the
Ghem stole from the Haut.

They all tacitly acknowledge that the Haut could win anything, wipe out
anything, they chose at any time. Ghem are fun to fight with, Haut are
terrifying. But the Haut don't use their power. Yet. Why not? Well, because

nobody else has anything they want? The weapons control the Ghem, the
Ghem keep the Haut comfortable while they evolve. Nobody else matters
at all, the rest of the Nexus is just a playground for the Ghem to keep them
happily occupied and compliant.

Kinda turns Barrayaran history around a bit.

And then the children get back from their tour, and you realise what real
terror is - looking at your children and realising all the dangers around them.

Back to the planet, and Cordelia is knee-deep in people who want things -
she wonders if being a Vicereine is good practice for parenthood.

Night-time meeting with Alex - who is quiet, which is unusual in that family.
Alex is going to have the whole thing fall on him - Countship, District, and
of course, of COURSE, Mile's son, Vorkosigan heir, must go to the Academy.
And he doesn't want to go.

Just about every adult male he knows went to the Academy. Well, not Mark,
but he's different (and a trained assassin anyway. Being dangerous is the
baseline for most of this family.) But Professor Vorthys didn't. And he's an
Auditor (dangerous, but a different kind of dangerous.)

Cordelia shows Alex some of Aral's artwork - I'm glad he went back to that,
it shows he had some contentment after all the turmoil. (I love the moment
when he finds a couple of more...er....relaxed and intimate... pix. Oops.) She
also points out that traditions have to start somewhere, that you can work
for the Empire in many different ways, that building up is just as good as
tearing down. It's a wonderful scene, so quiet, and possibly pivotal in his life.
She offers him a selection of the pictures, bound in a book, for his personal
interest. One day, who knows what Alex might create?

Cordelia reflects on the old curse - May you have six children just like you.
Miles would have loved that. He got six children, all different. It doesn't seem
to occur to Cordelia to wonder about those six children she's cooking up.  Could
be some interesting karma there.

So much Aral in this chapter, he practically oozes from the page. (Ok, bad image.)
First Aral at war, and his superb abilities there. And then Aral in contented
peace, hiding his talents, but quietly happy. Past to future, warlike history and
the child of the future wanting a new path. And a whole new view of some of
that bloodied history, and the thin shell between them and more horror.

Yes, it's a very full chapter.

Gwynne (at last!)

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