As always, spoilers for the whole book are in play: this is for your enthralled/outraged re-read!
Join me in the vivisection of my work.
Chapter Three — Lemon Time With Farrier
Eighteen and hungry, the memory of father Salm an old scar kept close at hand, Baru made ready to leave Taranoke.
I was paralyzed for a while by all the things that would happen during Baru’s adolescence, things I didn’t have the pacing to talk about. So many vital emotional moments come during our time in school, our awkward teen years…and then I realized Baru would hate those moments of awkwardness and weakness, and pass them over, concealing them from us.
Troubled Aurdwynn and its thirteen treacherous dukes. A test? Or an exile? Had Cairdine Farrier betrayed her?
Baru is a brilliant strategist, but she’s also young and unseasoned, and she tends to rely overmuch on her own spontaneous brilliance. She works in a hard-charging linear fashion: here is the problem, I will assemble my resources and solve it, here is a new problem, now I will solve it too. She doesn’t yet think in terms of multiple contingent plans, or operate many steps in advance — she just picks a target and hurtles towards it by any path available.
I say all this because it’s in evidence here: Baru doesn’t explicitly note that it could well be test and exile, betrayal and promotion, all at once.
I’m also starting to prep the reader for the challenge of remembering thirteen dukes with weird names.
You will never change anything with your hut and your little spear!
Carefully selected devastation in these words. ‘Your hut’ implicitly removes Baru from her own home, as well as diminishing that home. The hut is not just the literal building but all of Taranoke. The spear is an object of family craft, made by Solit for Pinion, tied by its nature as a weapon to Salm, and Baru’s derision must hurt like hell.
You will return with a steel mask instead of a face.
Iriad harbor gave birth to a new ship, hulled in Taranoki lumber, flying the red sails of the Imperial Navy. Baru’s letter of assignment said it would take her north—two children of Taranoke, cut and worked by the Masquerade, leaving together.
The Masquerade must keep the Ashen Sea firmly within its naval control if it’s to have any chance against the vastly larger Oriati Mbo. Building ships on Taranoke helps extend Imperial reach.
I’m vaguely dissatisfied with the passage ‘Baru’s letter…take her north.’ It feels flabby and nonspecific. Sometimes I ask myself, would Ursula LeGuin ever write this sentence? Usually not. I wish I could’ve found something more spare and powerful.
The comparison between Baru and the ship is obvious, but I liked the ‘cut and worked’ construction so much I kept it. Also, Baru’s sympathy for the ship completes a neat cycle: Baru to birds (in the first chapter), birds to ships (second chapter), ships to Baru (third chapter).
Feed the forests to the shipyards, expand the plantations, tame the plainsmen and use their land for cattle—
This is a frightening sentence. There’s no ‘they would’ or ‘Falcrest would.’ It’s simple imperative, Baru giving commands. She wears the mask well.
Incrastic eugenics would dictate the shape and color of the island’s children.
Anyone trying to breed people is quickly going to discover that the human organism’s extraordinarily long generations make them pretty bad subjects.
…the island’s economy was a Masquerade economy now.
The Masquerade has cornered the market on vital commodities, and by embargoing trade from the Oriati Mbo and other islands, it can set prices and quantities at will. Worse, it has now compromised the domestic economy by gaining control over the money supply.
She would come home with the answers of rule and find a way to ease the yoke.
I’m rooting for you, man. I really do believe you can do it.
After Falcrest. Once I find the way.
A rare moment of sentiment and genuine emotion, part of why I believe that deep down Baru really is a good person. In Taranoki myth, the caldera was once the home of spirits of water and fire, but they turned over responsibility for moral conduct to humans and now they sleep.
socialized federati (class 1) with a civil service star and a technocrat’s mark, inflected with the mathematician’s sign.
A Masquerade citizen’s service jacket is an aesthetic object, a personal artistic expression as well as a record. Federati are those born in Imperial provinces. Baru’s socialized because she was born outside the Masquerade but rehabilitated, and her performance landed her in ‘class 1’. Her marks, stars, inflections, and other decorations help the bureaucracy understand what she’s proven herself to be capable of.
Marriage rights after hereditary review, with further review after first childbearing.
The Masquerade’s social and physical violence also targets the heterosexual, both men and women. Although I resolved to show gruesome Masquerade action against men (coming up later!), I didn’t let Baru dwell on it much, since I didn’t think it would be on her mind as a matter of great urgency. I wonder if this was an error, and if perhaps I should’ve made more explicit the actions taken against (say) promiscuous men, unfaithful husbands, and the antisocially exploitative. I could’ve used one of Baru’s male acquaintances to highlight these anxieties. Next book.
I wrote—maybe I wrote the letter in Aphalone, and didn’t notice, and they couldn’t read it—
I prefer not to italicize thoughts like this. It’s all Baru’s internal narrative. I like these moments of nervous speculation on Baru’s part.
“You chose one kind of strength, daughter,” Pinion said. “I choose another.”
This scene is perhaps too on-the-nose. Again, a missed opportunity to give Pinion more personality and charisma, humor and grace. Characters who say exactly what they’re thinking are thin, and they part under the reader’s fingers like tissue. The meat of character is in the way someone dances and struggles around the hard things.
“I remember my father. I remember my fathers.”
A very rare chance for Baru to say what she really feels. Perhaps the last time in this book that she gets to speak her heart without calculation or reserve. Perhaps not.
“I hope you return carrying all the things you want.”
A poet I once faintly knew wrote a goodbye poem for a workshop he attended. One line that stuck with me was, and I paraphrase, “I wish that you could open a box of all the things that you love, and find me inside.”
Baru backed up a few steps, not ready to look away. But it hurt too much to see them receding step by step, so at last she made herself face the sea.
I like this blocking. Sometimes I find myself walking away from someone, after a visit or a hangout or whatever, but I look back or dawdle or hesitate to prolong our time together, and I realize that although they’re still just a little ways away, they’ve already left: they’re ready to be gone, thinking of the next thing. I wonder how many times I’ve been the one leaving too quickly! Anyway —
“I’m going home,” he said, “just as you’re leaving it. My work on Taranoke is done, and now you can begin that same work in Aurdwynn. It feels like a design, doesn’t it? Like a made thing. Elegant.”
“And what work is that?”
“My favorite work,” he said, tugging at the breast of his summer jacket. “Finding those who deserve more, and raising them up.”
Farrier has moments of real charisma and portent (even when he’s being a shit). He vanishes from the story after the first act, but his presence remains felt. In his moment-to-moment presence he is not a figure of great dynamism, being a genial merchant…but hard, angular thoughts sometimes protrude through the wool and smiles.
“Congratulations on your service appointment. I understand you performed remarkably.”
The tension is successful, but I should’ve doubled down by contrasting it against memories of friendship — a casual greeting, an easy togetherness, to make this hard formality even harder.
The new ship was a frigate called Lapetiare, and from her deck Baru saw for the first time the whole shape of Taranoke, hazed in birds, black and fertile and oh so tall, falling down past the horizon and into memory.
This passage is a nice image, well and fine. But the real work here is Baru’s belief that the shape of something can only be seen from outside, detached, above or away, on a ship, leaving…the whole shape of her, a ship and a haze of birds, standing outside herself with the receding and perfect detachment that some deep part of Baru associates with truth and control. If you are detached you don’t have to feel how it hurts.
Lapetiare turned north with the trade winds, racing along the Ashen Sea’s western coast.
North and west, in theory, are the old Tu Maia heartlands, across taiga and steppe. Directly west are strange lands not known to Falcresti civilization, since they’re all the way on the other end of the Ashen Sea and the Oriati are grouchy about sharing with them.
If she failed as an accountant, at least she could find a ship.
Deeply veiled foreshadowing. She fails as an accountant (in that she does not correctly tally the costs!), and she does indeed find a ship, looking out from the parapet of the Elided Keep. But she has succeeded as an accountant too (in that her mission is complete), and only by the will of Tain Hu does that ship find her. Back to the now, though…
the southern sailors, from Oriati Mbo and its many islands, threw them salted fish and called out wishes in their own tongues.
The two northern mbo nations, Lonjaro and Segu, both fade out into the Ashen Sea in a scattering of islands and deltas. Their tongues include Uburu and Seti-Caho.
“Salt to preserve food for long journeys…citrus for scurvy.”
It is unbelievably hard to make long journeys at sea. Just astounding.
Lapetiare was a character from the revolutionary classic The Antler Stone…
I like both these names. It is a historical injustice that the Oriati tactician Iro Mave, so vital to the revolution in Falcrest, has largely been erased from the popular memory of that time.
“Two of my colleagues are greatly interested in exploratory chemistry.”
Hesychast and Stargazer.
She waved him away without a glance.
Baru’s body language conveys power and assurance even when she’s being sulky. Perhaps especially then.
“The hereditary strengths of your people are untested, and their degenerate, unhygienic mating practices are a source of great unease. You should be pleased to—”
Looking at the intersection of racism and sexual prejudice here. Each reinforces the other cyclically. Baru can’t resist a jab at the hypocrisy of it.
The motion of the ship made him cautious with the blade, and he laughed softly at himself.
Farrier is no towering barbarian with a greatsword. He’s a guy of frail flesh and conventional blood. He is the real terror of history, the kind of functionary who consigns civilizations with the stroke of a pen.
“It could be that you’ve demonstrated truly exemplary capability. That you’ve been judged fit for additional tests.”
Again, Baru is gifted but unseasoned. She doesn’t consider that perhaps her hasty advancement is a sign that Farrier is pressed for time and urgently requires a new asset in pay. She’s blinded by her own conviction that of course she would be chosen.
Beginning to hint at the existence of the Throne committee.
“There are wolves to our north, rising from cold dens, and water buffalo in our south, circled and ferocious. Very soon the Masquerade will win or lose a great game.”
An accidental Great Game invocation, alas. The ‘water buffalo’ phrase may sound funny, but — as mad as this might sound — I sometimes like to leave in slightly awkward phrasings as a faint reminder that they’re speaking Aphalone and this is a translation of sorts. Anyway, water buffalo will fuck you up.
Farrier is dangling hints about the grand strategy of the Masquerade to intrigue Baru.
“You will have to trust the Imperial Republic knows how best to permit you to serve it.”
What an insufferable phrase. Baru stalks off to go hit things with a sword.
He was a slim man, narrow-shouldered, his skin almost invisible to Baru in that it was so very Taranoki…He wore gentle Falcrest-style makeup over a carefully composed face. Instantly and inexplicably Baru wondered if he could sing, and only after a moment did she realize that he reminded her of a finch, curious and abrupt in his movements. She hated to trust these impressions:: there seemed no reason for them to be true.
A number of interesting things happening here. Note first how Baru’s gaze falls differently on men then women. She sees slim, narrow, invisible, gentle, composed, curious, abrupt…not one of them about power, dynamism, confidence, grace, athleticism, alertness, incision, brilliance. Not one in line with the markers of attraction and gaze we’ve seen from her so far. Baru’s gaze is always fairly subtle, but she responds to women, she sees them as dynamic and alive and compelling. Muire Lo is also interesting to her, but her attention lacks that frisson of consideration.
A wonderful first reader pointed out, later on, that the only men I’d mentioned wearing makeup were hostile or obstructive to the plot. I didn’t want to associate makeup with malevolence, so Muire Lo too falls in line with masculine gender norms. The Falcresti would doubtlessly argue that the male of the species is so often the one with the display traits, so of course men would wear makeup, naturally.
She’d tidied her effects with a nervousness she preferred not to admit. This was her first subordinate.
Baru’s bragging: if she preferred not to admit it, she wouldn’t have. She wants to note how much it excited her to finally be in charge of someone.
When he did this his eyes were sharp and probing, frankly curious.
Could be read any number of ways. My strongest inclination is that he’s been prepped for Baru for so long that it’s quite odd to actually meet her. Baru has powerful presence.
“I left at thirteen. After the Fools’ Rebellion.”
All you need to remember about this thing is that it’s the last time Aurdwynn tried to get rid of the Masquerade occupation, it all went to shit, and Xate Yawa and Xate Olake were involved on both sides.
Falcrest-educated. She felt a snap of resentment and possessiveness at that.
Baru’s competitive. She can only feel secure about Muire Lo’s Falcrest education if she owns him.
If Muire Lo or anyone else challenged her authority on those grounds, she could always invoke that delightful word savant.
Youth has more cachet in Masquerade society than its neighbors. There’s an obsession with the child prodigy and the bright young functionary. This gives Baru disproportionate hitting power for an 18-year-old.
He hesitated for an instant, too brief to be an affectation.
Baru has a lot of faith in her read on body language, but I think she’s right.
But she would have to be careful: he had been chosen for her.
Introducing one of the core conflict threads with Muire Lo’s character, but also with Baru’s relationships as a whole. She has to be absolutely paranoiac about who she trusts. She learned from Aminata that very nearly any relationship in Masquerade circles can be exploited to hurt her.
But whoever ruled Aurdwynn ruled the north of the Ashen Sea, and whoever ruled that piece of sea controlled the seaward approach to Falcrest itself.
Cause of the circular trade winds, see? They move clockwise.
The Masquerade ruled from Falcrest and its rule was like an octopus: stealthy, flexible, smart, gripping half the Ashen Sea—but soft, so soft. It had to surround itself in hardness to armor itself against the Oriati and its other rivals.
I love this passage. I love marrying the high-level geopolitics to tactile imagery. I hope you guys find it half as entertaining as I do, and not too dry.
…running her fingers of the landlord-manors of Duchy Erebog, the clay lands that gave Aurdwynn its pottery and its oldest duchess.
Beginning the crazy, furtive process of teaching the reader about all thirteen duchies. One vital tool is associating each name with a climate and a specific detail, like brine or clay. Snape always gets described as bat-like, so he’s easy to remember.
“I was two when Xate Yawa — she’s the Jurispotence now — killed the old Duke Lachta and arranged our formal surrender.”
Xate Yawa gave Aurdwynn to the Masquerade. Baru doesn’t immediately fasten on this person and become obsessed with her. An error, or an obfuscation?
If it was foolish to mention rebellion, it was more foolish to shy away from it.
Baru rapidly becoming more sophisticated at acting her role. A little bit of doubt and sedition are only to be expected.
“The Fools’ Rebellion gave up arms when I was twelve. Not even a man. I have always been loyal.”
Muire Lo voices one of his deepest conflicts, right out in the open. He is afflicted with a question of masculinity. By Aurdwynni standards he isn’t a very good man. He doesn’t provide for his family, he has no spouse, no place in a community, no trade, no friends, nothing to offer. And by Falcrest standards, well, no matter how hard he tries…he’s not Falcresti.
Is he even a man?
She could afford to make some of her agendas known to Farrier and Farrier’s creatures. Far more dangerous to shut him out and deny even the illusion of control.
Yes, Baru, good! She’s a prodigy at the Falcrest way of thinking. If you want someone’s trust, permit his spies close. How else can you be trustworthy? You must appear to be giving up information without appearing to know you’re doing it.
“We want to hold Aurdwynn…your Excellence.”
Muire Lo is a great etiquette coach.
Alpine forest and rugged mountain, coastal plain and rich cold fisheries. A land of mineral and animal wealth. An economic dream and a military nightmare: a land of valleys riven by dangerous geography. Cavalry would be king in the lowlands, the key to controlling the Sieroch floodplains and the capital at Treatymont. But in the north, rangers and woodsmen roaming the towering redwood forests would be able to close the roads during summer. In winter there would be no forage to feed an army to chase them.
Laying out the game board for you, o reader. I want all the tensions and possibilities clear in your head hundreds of pages before they boil, so that you have the same information as Baru, so that you can wonder with her about the best way to proceed. I want you to feel like an overlord of nations.
Much of the inspiration for these passages about Aurdwynn’s geography came from Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen of Attolia and from playing so, so many games of Dominion. I want Baru’s adventures in Aurdwynn to have the same slick, snappy feudal satisfaction as a good Dominion game.
(a mystery Baru’s schooling had not touched upon, though one often blamed on unhygienic mating)
The mystery is solved in this book. Did you catch it?
A dozen contenders had tried to unify Aurdwynn in the centuries since. A dozen alliances rose to amputate their dreams of a throne.
On the gates of Lachta, the old Stakhieczi outpost that everyone now called Treatymont, the stone bore ancients words —
“Aurdwynn cannot be ruled,” Baru murmured.
“Only the Masquerade can rule Aurdwynn,” Muire Lo said, eyes still downcast in respect. “The Northgate engraving has been amended.”
Hahaha, those bastards. Stakhieczi is pronounced “stock-ee-chee”, I guess (I hope that comes out right). Anyway, I like Baru’s very pragmatic line of thought from here: this place is fucked up! Why would Farrier want me here? There must be something wrong for me to fix. Give me the papers, secretary, I’m going to find it!
all the dukes and duchesses of Aurdwynn, Autr through Vultjag
Desperately namechecking to get these names out and circulating early.
“It is said he rides with Duke Heingy the Stag Hunter, and that together they hope to find a Falcresti husband for the young lady Heingyl Ri.”
Kicking off the Heingyl Ri shadow plot, which drives a great deal of the action but which Baru never picks up and tugs on. Ri is superb at operating in Baru’s blind spots. We never learn her personal name, do we?
She controlled not just the pursestrings of the provincial government, but, through the Fiat Bank, the economic prosperity of every duke in Aurdwynn. She could do what the Governor and the Jurispotence could not: keep the dukes in line.
How like Baru to conclude that the power available to her is the best and most viable power. But she has a compelling point here. The power to send armies and the power to call courts require specific, targeted action. They are obvious. They coerce. The power of economics allows one to change the terrain on which choices are made…to compel without ever tipping your hand.
There had been younger queens…Perhaps Cairdine Farrier intended to test his Taranoki find on the grandest scale. Perhaps he had offered her exactly what she wanted.
Baru checking herself against history to be sure she’s not crazy.
It’s easy to accuse Baru, here, of conveniently intuiting the plot. But this leap is characterization. She decides that she must be here for a grand important reason. How else could it be otherwise? (And what does she get? A counterfeiting plot which she handles, and then two years of abject abandonment. She could easily have been used and discarded. Baru’s overconfidence can verge on hubris.)
I love this terrible quandary: in order to gain the power to liberate her home, Baru has to secure Masquerade rule over someone else’s home. Those bastards.
Twice a day they all washed in salt water without care for modesty, sailors all hooting and hollering at each other and throwing sponges, as untroubled by each others’ nakedness as any Taranoki. What attention Baru got was practical: one woman marine asking after her exercises, a sailor telling her she looked as sleek and mean as a tiger shark, and finally the boatswain, who challenged her to a rope climb (she lost, but loved it).
I like clothes a lot, and I refuse to give them up, but this scene was a chance to explore how rapidly nudity becomes divorced from sexuality. In some ways I think this is a politically important distinction, because it helps highlight the fact that bodies aren’t intrinsically sexual — sexuality is created by certain behaviors and signals. We live in a culture where nudity is seen as sexual, but the nudity we’re served in our media is carefully preened and photoshopped.
“Hot iron,” one said. “Hsssssssss.”
Falcrest’s punishments for sodomy and tribadism are an example of dual-attitude sexism, in which nominally positive attitudes towards women reinforce a power dynamic. The women receive a ‘merciful’ (ugggggggggh) treatment, but the men are seen to require harsher punishment.
astonishingly pale northerners, gregarious and welcoming
Exotifying the white people.
She found his games of heredity and eugenics queasy, invasive, deeply frightening.
One of the more direct statements of Baru’s attitude about Imperial policy. Baru dwells less on the eugenics problem, because it’s less viscerally relevant and immediate to her, but it matters a great deal to other characters (like Ake). Here I’m both signaling Baru’s dismay over the topic and making it clear that she thinks of this as an intellectual problem, less than a personal one.
What would it be like to meet these people, stare them down, inflict her will on them? Could she confront the dukes Oathsfire and Lyxaxu, one short and stout as a badger, one tall as redwood, and tell them she would tax their river trade? Would they go whispering to their old northerly rival Erebog, the Crone in Clay, and arrange some revenge? What courage would she need to write to Nayauru Dam-builder and Ihuake the Cattle Duchess saying: ah, yes, hello, Nayauru, young and proud and most beloved of your people, and greetings to you, Ihuake, lord of all milk and wool, whose might is a stampede.
Namedropping, but I do like this passage, as I think it sells some of the feudal majesty of these people. I love their mythic epithets.
Oathsfire is the only survivor of an attempt on my part to anglicize the Ducal names for easy reading. He was originally Othisfyrr, an Iolynic name. Unuxekome became Seacomb, and so forth. I eventually decided that this cost too much cultural information, so I’m afraid you have to live with the hard-to-pronounce names!
In the world, Oathsfire’s chosen an Aphalone adaptation of his name for commercial reasons.
She risked the wrath of those born to power.
Baru and power again. The beginning of her thought-thread about the difference between feudal and Masquerade power.
“Nothing a wool merchant would know.”
A screaming flag that he’s not a wool merchant, as if we didn’t know that already. But look at it again: there’s a nice double meaning. Farrier values Baru for her incision and brilliance, right? He knows she wouldn’t ask for this information if she didn’t know he was important. He’s complimenting her and marking her progress. ‘Good job figuring out I’m not a wool merchant. Took you long enough.’
Baru came on deck to see stern stonework and blackened iron, towers set against far white mountains that scraped the bottom of the sky. Caged beauty.
I’m never quite sure I succeeded in invoking Aurdwynn as a physical place. Curious what you think.
“Lieutenant Aminata,” she called.
Baru is always agentic, even when it comes to awful fights with your only real friend.
Baru had avoided her studiously during the riotous bathing-times.
Yeah, that would be weird.
Aminata drew her own sword and offered it, head inclined, eyes politely downcast. “Single-edged. Falcrest forged. A symbol of Imperial power. Will it do?”
Baru considered the woman and the sword, her expression carefully neutral, mind racing through permutations of etiquette and plot, trying to sense some meaning here: was it a traditional gift between lovers?
Remember the first details Baru remembered about Aminata? Her height, her skin, her sword? Here Aminata stands, gifting a sword to Baru, and around that sword she’s wrapped Falcrest and function and Imperial power. Will it do? It’s no wonder Baru’s mind went to lovers — this is a powerful, powerful gift to her, and not only intellectually but in her heart.
I think this is, in a very quiet subtle way, actually one of the most romantic scenes in the book. Friend-romance, yes, but it’s Aminata trying very hard to use only the formalities of Masquerade etiquette to say something deeply personal while still being wholly proper.
Aminata waited, head bowed, legs braced against the slow rock of the ship, the blade balanced between her two open palms.
Power pose. I like this a lot. Baru is extremely attentive to body kinematics.
The proper place of a Taranoki, she imagined Cairdine Farrier saying, looking back on the disastrous failure of the Imperial Accountant in Aurdwynn, is among a large extended family, in a restricted environment, where her natural limitations can be overcome —
The immense and unfettered bullshit of being taken as an ambassador and representative for a whole population. No pressure, Baru. How much of Baru’s isolation and self-imposed denial is driven by this need to be un-Taranoki?
The waiting party looked at her in surprise as she clambered up like a common sailor, purse and sword banging awkwardly beneath her.
just a tall usefully built islander girl with warm brown skin and dark eyes…competent and strong in her motions and yet always, Aminata had complained, so impatient.
One of the few explicit physical descriptions I allowed myself. Baru’s supposed to be entirely unmarked to herself. Here she’s imagining through foreign eyes, which is a bit of a cheat.
beaming out from beneath an awful or majestic…wolf’s head cap
He wasn’t supposed to be motherfucking Macklemore but now I can’t unsee it. Cattlson is a tragic bro.
“Jurispotence Xate, Your Excellence, I am honored,” Baru said, and marked the woman an enemy: her greeting had started at foreign, gone to woman, then young, and last of all to a reminder of what Xate had done.
These two have some of the most freighted, subtext-heavy conversations in the whole book. I’m sure the cycles of speak-and-explain were exhausting for some of you.
She’d assumed Xate Yawa would be weak, ineffectual, powerless to control a rising insurrection. But there were other alternatives, weren’t there? Perhaps she wanted the opposite of control…
Baru leaping to conclusions. A hostile reader might protest how convenient it is that Baru deduces all this off a single exchange. I ask you, grouchy reader, to consider: are you sure you aren’t being lured in by the same seductive presumption-of-insight as Baru? How much of what she guesses about Xate Yawa here is actually correct? Does she actually want rebellion any time soon? Is she leading the rebels? Who’s her ultimate master, if she even has one?
Another villainous incarnation by Dickinson!
He clapped the Jurispotence on her frail shoulder, seized Governor Cattlson’s wrist as if to bring them together in some kind of dance, and looked between them with feverish intensity.
As usual with Farrier, his body language and the marks he hits are significant. Compare to his gesture a few chapters from now, raising one hand, then the other…
And Baru noted, to her disquiet, that Governor Cattlson barely checked a gesture: a polite, deferential bow, as that of an officer to a superior.
A vital clue, but only if you’re playing the reread game of trying to figure out which member of the Throne is pursuing what agenda in Aurdwynn.
And here we are, at the end of our road trip with Farrier, familiarized with Aurdwynn and ready to begin our work! I like that we, the reader, are in the same position as Baru: lightly educated, not quite certain what happens next, but braced for shoes to drop.