Tremontaine 13: Departures


It’ll all be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end. Of course, it can’t always be alright for everyone, can it? Which means – delightfully, and even without considering Swordspoint – that it can’t ever be the end. HOORAH. 

As happy endings go, Micah has found a master to study with who recognises her as a girl and  who doesn’t seem to think that’s a reason to bar her from his classes. Her journey through Season One has been that of a precious cinnamon roll: everyone loves Micah, and her challenges in facing an unsettling new environment and many of her greatest triggers without going into meltdown. Strengthened by her mathematics, she’s learnt to navigate the City and make her name at the University. She’s one of the most unusual and adorable characters in anything I’m currently reading, and I hope her future holds nothing but equations and tomato pies.

For Rafe Fenton, unwittingly caught between two ruthless women, there’s little sign of a happy ending. The Duchess is prepared to keep him close, but not close to her raving husband. As usual, Rafe allows his frustration and desperation to boil over in entirely the wrong direction. Poor Micah gets the brunt of it, and Joshua has to intervene when he turns on her (GRRRR). Really, what Rafe needs most is a hug, and it’s a clever, unexpected beat when it’s Micah who recognises that and – more to the point – overcomes her discomfort to give him one. It’s a strong friendship, this one, even though I’m not convinced Rafe deserves it.

I remain on the fence about Rafe. He frequently behaves badly, and struggles to see beyond his own navel. However, his heart is good and his journey from rake to distraught lover has been heart wrenching. His willingness to humiliate himself to be close to William is so sharp it hurts (oh Diane, you glorious, vindictive bitch for doing precisely what I expected; and of course Rafe is just naïve enough to walk straight into it).

Kaab is full of sympathy, and a little guilt, but little help. She has won back her family’s trust and conquered Tess’s heart. It can hardly be plain sailing for two such feisty characters, but they’re prepared to give it a go. Kaab will stay in the City rather than returning home with honour; and Tess will try to understand her ways. 

I’ve got reservations on this front, as I see Tess accepting a lot of Kaab (with occasional, entirely understandable hissy fits) and trying to learn Kinwiinik ways. I see a lot less effort from Kaab and lot more expectation. She’s going to have to make some sacrifices too to balance this relationship. But she has at least unbent enough to share some secrets, a huge step for her, so I’ll keep a watching brief for now. 

Which brings us to the Duchess. HALLO DUCHESS.

Kaab has ferreted out the Duchess’s secret, and these two remarkable, clever women have struck an accord for their mutual good. I love watching Diane at work. She is a calculating genius, spotting the opportunities and weighing the risks. For once, she’s got her back against the wall – certainly there’s a business opportunity to unseating the Balam trade monopoly, but she can make a fortune and preserve her position without it.

Whether the Balam can trust her in the mid and long term remains to be seen. I’d be terribly disappointed if my Duchess didn’t pull strings quietly behind the scenes to try and have someone else bring down the Balam and preserve her secret with eternal silence. I also have complete faith in the Balam to have armed themselves against such an event. It’s going to be a joy watching these two manipulative powerhouses push against one another in future seasons.

After all, the Duchess’s secret is a crippling Achilles’ heel – but Kaab has a smorgasbord of weaknesses for a sharp mind to exploit. She is in love. She’s headstrong. She walks the streets of Riverside alone at night. She has friends. Of course, she also has family, so we’ll see how this plays out.

This first season of Tremontaine has been a blast. It’s been a joy to be back in the City, and I quickly became attached to the new characters so skilfully introduced way back in Arrivals. I have some minor gripes (I would have liked to have seen more of Kaab’s family, and for the desperate political situation in Binkiinha to have been more than just noises off – or perhaps what I’d really like is to read a sister narrative set in Binkiinha. Err, yes, that), but they are really very minor. It’s been intensely satisfying and it’s a sad day to read a wrap-up episode – not to mention one that so consciously says goodbye (yes, I got teary when Micah hugged Rafe).

However, I find I can cope as season two is just around the corner. Indeed, episode 1 is in my Inbox already – so expect more flailing next week!

My best guesses for what comes next: it seems likely that the second season on Tremontaine will be much involved with Rafe’s journey from this low point (much as season 1 has followed Kaab’s amends for her disgrace). Rafe is so humbled by his desire for William that he’s prepared to go home to his father. Can the Fentons challenge the Duchess? Will Rafe break his promise to Kaab? Can I wait to find out? HELL NO!