In the dark hours before dawn, an unsettled conscience pricks our leading ladies. Caught between duty and affection, can they screw their courage to the sticking place or will they relent?
Relationships take centre stage as the Duke and Duchess Tremontaine have a falling out, and Kaab entices Tess to talk about her nightmares. Micah may have puzzled out planetary orbits, but she’ll never fully grasp the ruthless mathematics of emotions.
In classic scientific style, Micah’s mathematical breakthrough is inspired by a turnip-related accident. Like the cinnamon roll that she is, she is seized with terror for Kaab’s people – they must be warned that their navigational techniques are flawed before their luck runs out and they start losing ships. What will the Kinwiinik do to protect their secrets?
Life goes on after the Ball, but it is a dull, tasteless affair now the Kinwiinik have stopped supplying the City with chocolate. The Duchess almost certainly knows more than she’s saying about this unpleasant state of affairs – but does the Duke have a hand in selecting the panel to preside over Rafe’s doctoral exam?
It is the annual Swan Ball at Tremontaine House. Nobody who is anybody would turn down an invitation, but some may get more than they bargained for if they attend. But what will the Swan be this year? A savoury marvel? A sugary confection? An artisanal delight? Or a total disaster?
The City is bustling in the run up to the annual Swan Ball at Tremontaine House. Saabim and Chuleb can’t understand why the Balam have been invited; is Diane trying to soften them after failing to keep her promises? Kaab takes a break from her swordscraft to find out, and beleaguered Rafe finds he really is the only person in the City who doesn’t want to talk about the Ball…
As Diane instructs her swordsman to ensure that poor Ben’s associates are in no position to talk about whatever he knew, Tess finally accepts that perhaps she needs a new protector. Kaab holds auditions, but her swordscraft is wobbly enough that she could do with a protector herself. As for Rafe, he has no idea that he might need one soon if he doesn’t stop annoying the Duchess…
Doors close, doors open. Rafe is still seething over the changes to University regulations when he is unexpectedly offered a position in the Tremontaine household. Can Rafe achieve his goals through his new lover’s influence? Or will the vengeful Duchess ensure that the young upstart meets a similar end to Ben the would-be blackmailer?
Tensions are high at the University: the Governors are on the verge of changing the rules and both Rafe and Micah are convinced their Doctors have their facts wrong. Diane could tell them that public confrontation is no way to endear yourself to influential men who control your future, but with Rafe eyeing up her husband, she won’t be doing anything of the sort…
Alaya Dawn Johnson keeps us strictly in the lower City in this second episode of Tremontaine. Rafe is living down to my fears rather than up to my expectations; Micah is liking all the math; and Kaab is trying to earn her way back into her family’s good graces.
It’s an earlier time in Riverside. Diane, Duchess of Tremontaine, is trying to maintain her husband’s wealth and estates. Young Micah makes friends across a gaming table at the University with her mathematical prowess. And disgraced trader’s daughter Ixkaab Balam arrives from overseas, keen to practice her swordcraft. I’m finally turning my attention to Tremontaine, Ellen Kushner’s adventure in world-sharing and serial publishing.