Kirstein, Rosemary: (04) The Language of Power (spoilers)

This post contains book-destroying SPOILERS for The Language of Power (and the prior books in the Steerswoman series). Here’s the non-spoiler post if you got here by mistake.

So, the sleep-deprived misunderstanding was in jumping from “four little fast-moving lights” to my recollection of watching the ISS go by overhead, and not remembering that the pictures were taken from a satellite, and therefore can’t be of anything in local orbit. It took Chad explaining it to me to realize that there’s another spaceship on the way.

Which in another writer would make me fear deus ex machina type stuff, but now I just want to know when it’s going to get here . . .

I still don’t quite understand the effect it had on Kieran and Slado, though. I can imagine that Kieran maybe realized how the “wizards” would look to outsiders and decided to turn over a new leaf, but I can’t yet fathom why it would start Slado on a campaign of destruction.

Also, while it was really lovely to see Will again, I would like the next book to not contain an apparently-friendly male character who turns out to have a hidden agenda, please.

12 Comments

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  1. Just occurred to me that the spaceship might not be from Earth and might not have a human crew.
    Slado: I think he’s doing what he thinks is necessary to make the world look better to new arrivals from Earth.

  2. I think Slado
    a) doesn’t want the other wizards to know and take precautions that might mean being nicer to the ordinary people.
    b) is making preparations (of whatever kind) for the arrival of the ship. He knows the date, we don’t, but I bet it’s soon.
    c) Stopping the Routine Bioform Clearance, and then using it to mess about with the Face/Outskirts might be intended to cause war between the Outskirters and the Inner Lands to coincide with this arrival. Then when they get there in the middle of it he can say “Look what terrible people they are! They’re always fighting. We Crew can’t have anything to do with them. Technology? Look at them. Their cities are in ruins! Would *you* trust people like that with technology? We kept it to ourselves for a very good reason. Oh, the terraforming, yes, doing well isn’t it, we work very hard at it — and you mentioned technology, do you have anything you’d like to share with us?”
    However this isn’t going to work because of Bel Margasdotter Chanly.
    I love those books so much.

  3. Dan: it could, but I hope not, because that’s just one too many complications.
    Jo: your c) actually makes sense to me, which is good because I was sure there had to be *something* besides mustache-twirling evil and it was driving me nuts that I couldn’t figure out what. So thanks.

  4. I expect the apparent mustache-twirling evil to evaporate in the last (or second-to-last) book; I’ve been expecting this since book two. I’m *pretty* sure, on pure instinct, that Slado is terrified of something and that’s what has driven him to extreme measures.
    But extreme measures are a recent thing. He didn’t really start a campaign of destruction until Bel’s investigation started, right? (I hope I’m not forgetting details.) He killed a satellite, which is a tactical move (unless we find out that it was a manned station, which I don’t think it was). He shut down the terraforming effort, but that’s playing for time (order of decades). Conceivably the collapse of the Face and then of the Inlands is the *lesser* evil, something that won’t happen before the ship arrives and everything changes.
    (Does anyone remember whether Slado identifies as a blue wizard or a red wizard?)

  5. Kate: no comment on the second half of the book? I found it hard to focus on the ‘main’ plot after reading it…

  6. Andrew: I don’t think the satellites can be manned.
    I agree that the destruction of G3 was probably to prevent anyone else from seeing the oncoming ship, and I believe you’re right that the *active* campaign against the Outskirts began after Rowan started investigating.
    David: umm, just that the second half was really exciting and awesome; not sure what else you’re referring to.

  7. Kate: I was being dumb, and confusing the last book with its predecessor. That’s partly because the previous book introduces such an enormous plot digression that I can’t really believe it was ignored in the latest book. It feels like it ought to have changed everything from that point on… but it hasn’t.
    Sorry about the weird cryptic question.

  8. David: ah, I see. Yes, the series tends to have a bit of a monofocus, I guess, on whatever problem is before Rowan at the time? I can see that the sentient aliens, like Bel’s subsequent activities in the Outskirts either, aren’t the driving force behind the plot of this book and wouldn’t change much about it, yet the sharp switch of focus is a bit disorienting.

  9. (Spoilers)
    I still don’t get the whole Krue=Crew thing, my brain’s still working on it lol. Are they the crew that took humans to that supposedly half-terraformed world? And I’m really excited cause I had suspected the lights were not stars, but a spaceship, and I’m glad to hear more people say it is…. but I don’t understand why that spaceship would get Kieran teaching constellations and stuff to the “ordinary” people…
    And to finish, I’m a little disappointed with Rowan, because I thought that the whole thing about the demons in the third book would be like a sort of revolution, you know, Slado is stopping the Routine Bioform Clearance which threatens humans but actually saves the original life in that planet… demons etcetc. So is Slado really evil, what are his purposes? Why is that spaceship a threat to him? And yet in the Language of Power none of this is mentioned…

  10. (spoilers)
    I just did a full reread of the series and would love to bounce ideas around with people.
    “I agree that the destruction of G3 was probably to prevent anyone else from seeing the oncoming ship, ” Hmmm… I don’t see how that could be right. The planet rotates and different portions of the sky are visible at different times of night and year; Rowan even commented on it. Kieran had his transformation during his local night. I’m not sure what the time difference is like between Donner and Farside, but it doesn’t seem like it would also be night on the other side of the world, where G3 sits.

    I do think G3 *might* have been occupied, though. Rowan described it as the size of a house and found an airlock on it. But that would have meant people spending centuries in a small facility with no resupply … unless there’s a spaceport at Farside. Hard to say.

    I’m still trying to interpret what Kieran saw. Do you think it would have been a decelerating ship that made a course correction with 4 thrusters, then resumed deceleration? (40 years of deceleration?) Or was it launching 4 probes?

  11. (Spoilers)

    (Shino) “I don’t understand why that spaceship would get Kieran teaching constellations and stuff to the “ordinary” people” I interpreted that as Kieran working up to teaching them about what was coming.

  12. (spoilers)
    (Jo) “Slado a) doesn’t want the other wizards to know and take precautions that might mean being nicer to the ordinary people.”
    “c) Stopping the Routine Bioform Clearance, and then using it to mess about with the Face/Outskirts might be intended to cause war between the Outskirters and the Inner Lands to coincide with this arrival.”

    It might be this. Slado really does seem to feel contempt for the lives of his fellow human beings. Not just the common people though, also the Krue. Could it be that both he and Kieran saw that the authorities (or at least people with more tech who might judge them) were on the way, and Kieran’s reaction was to treat his fellow human beings better… while Slado’s was to quit exterminating the natives? Perhaps in their own separate ways, they both tried to do the right thing?

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