walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Scout's Progress_, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Liaden universe, SPOILERS RAN ELD IS GONNA BEAT YOU

Not kidding about the spoilers. You should scoot.

By the time of Scout's Progress, Anne Davis and Er Thom have hooked up and Er Thom has become Thodelm since Petrella has finally moved along. So that's a mercy, anyway.

Being a pilot involves a bunch of math and math references works: tables. The tables were revised by Aelliana Caylon some years before the events of this book (I want to say eight, but that would mean she did the revision in her late teens if my math is right, so I could absolutely believe that I misunderstood something. OTOH, maybe she did that as a project after her horrible marriage ended. *shrug*). Aelliana Caylon teachs a Math for Survival course mostly taken by Scouts-in-Training. She teaches the class at a small town technical college, which is a little weird but is explained in _Mouse and Dragon_. Basically, she's too depressed to actually pursue her career as a career with any avidity.

The depression is because her mother Birin, Delm Mizel, is mostly absent and shows wildly bad judgment. The Nadelm is her brother Ran Eld who if you read the subject line you now know is physically and in every other way abusive. Turns out he set up the marriage with a friend of his who was more of the same plus a bit more. So this is a real classic of the romance genre: super smart, utterly beautiful, graceful, strong person aggressively hiding their light under a bushel because of relentless abuse is rescued by a Rich, Powerful, Super Cool Guy who is pretending not to be Rich, Powerful, etc.

It's a pretty good entry in that genre. The Rich etc. person is Daav yos'Phellium, Delm Korval, and about half the book is set at the port among pilots everyone hanging out being mostly equal and a lot of the highly structured Liaden stuff in abeyance. That's all fun. Aelliana gets sucked into helping some of her students get revenge on one of those classics of the Regency novel: rich guy who suckers youngsters out of their money at the gambling table is in turn suckered himself. She wins his ship, and Lee and Miller actually go to the bother of explaining what else happens to the guy to explain why he doesn't just come around and beat her up and make her sign it back over to him. Nice!. Then she works through the requirements to become a pilot (she's done a lot of it already, with a plausible reason given connected to her job and that seminar she teaches). Her family slowly figures out what is going on, and then the conflict with Ran Eld spills over to the port and things get really ugly. There's a bunch of pressure on Daav to sign a marriage contract, but the Tree turns out to not like the lady in question. And then one more severe beating, a trip to the Healer's, a hug, and a satisfying if abrupt ending.

I'm not a huge fan of the abuse-victim theme. OTOH, this version did a really detailed development of getting from a really bad, trapped place to a much better one, and while there are some miraculous elements (Daav), mostly Aelliana does it on her own.
Tags: book review, sf
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