THINGS I WONDER ABOUT
Why did Temeraire pick Laurence?
1) Since Temeraire remembers being in the shell before he hatched, he presumably remembers his hatching as well. Are we ever going to hear from him *why* he picked Laurence out of the officers on deck, especially given that Laurence was not trying to attract his attention and that he peered into a few other men's faces before addressing Laurence?
My own theory is that since later on Temeraire identifies a woman who's frightened of him as being "simple, like Volly," most of the men on deck for his hatching were scared and therefore looked unintelligent to him. Laurence was too busy fretting to be scared, so he's the only one who struck Temeraire as being intelligent enough to be interesting to talk to.
Alternate theory: Temeraire's eye was caught by the golden epaulets worn by naval captains.
2) Is Iskierka's nose going to be out of joint if she learns that while she may have picked her own name, Temeraire picked his own captain?
The sword Temeraire gave Laurence in China
3) What happened to the sword Temeraire gave Laurence in China? It seems to me that the last time we saw it was when Laurence used it to behead a boarder during the Battle of Jena-Auerstadt. It doesn't seem typical of Temeraire to lose track of a thing like that. Was it given to Lord and Lady Allendale along with the rest of Laurence's things after he was arrested?
4) Did the egg that Volly sired hatch in "Novembrer" 1807 as Volly said it was going to?
Harcourt & Riley's son
5) Did Riley end up bringing his son aboard the Allegiance for the trip to Australia or not? If he did, how did he persuade a wet nurse to come along for the 14-month trip to Australia and back, and how is he going to explain the wet nurse's presence to the Admiralty?
Think about it - the child was conceived in May 1807 at the earliest. At ten pounds, he can hardly have been premature. However, we know he was born before the Battle of Shoeburyness in early March 1808, so he must have been conceived in May and born in February. At the time the Allegiance sails for Australia, he can't be more than a few months old - and infant formula hasn't been invented yet.
Lily's geometry notes
6) Did Lily ever get the bound copy of the geometry discussion notes that Catherine promised her, and did it indeed have gold hinges?
The Akhal-Teke egg
7) Whatever happened to the Akhal-Teke egg that Temeraire & Co. brought back from Turkey?
Does Iskierka speak Turkish?
8) The fact that Temeraire was hatched already knowing three languages appears to be considered unusual. Iskierka was hatched speaking English and she apparently learned Durzagh during her first few weeks of life, but did she also learn Turkish and German in the shell? Or is she the only Kazilik on the planet who doesn't speak Turkish?
9) Why did the Incans suddenly break off negotiations to trade a fire-breather's egg to the British in apx 1794?
The clipper ship route
10) The clipper ship route used by British merchant ships during the Age of Sail took advantage of the wind patterns in the southern hemisphere to go from Britain around the Cape of Good Hope westwards to Australia, then on westwards across the Pacific to South America, where after making Cape Horn they turned towards Britain. Given the wind patterns favouring the route from Australia to South America, will Temeraire and Laurence in fact spend much time in Australia, or will they be sent on to the Inca Empire to deal with some sort of emergency there?
Dragons in Australia
11) Are there dragons in Australia and, if so, are they divergent from dragons elsewhere, similar to how mammalian fauna in Australia are divergent to mammalian fauna elsewhere?
Chinese government's reaction to events in late 1807
12) What do the Chinese think of the British government's actions in imprisoning a Celestial and sentencing one of the Emperor's adopted sons to death? Has this made life difficult for Hammond and Staunton? If Temeraire and Laurence are setn to China to make explanations, what can Laurence possibly say in Britain's defense, esp. given that Temeraire will not be reluctant (at all) to voice his own disgust?
I wonder about this a lot. The British appear to cover up small misunderstandings like 'commandeering' their ships by Chinese officials but when Emperor's adopted son commits treason, instead of hushing things up, they sentence him to death. This has to have consequences. There must be a reason why Hammond and Barham bent over backwards to please Yongxing. It would be logical if sending Temeraire and Laurence to Australia destroyed the relations between Britain and China.Natli 13:30, 4 October 2008 (PDT)
There's at least two reasons why Hammond and Barham bent over backwards. One is that up 'til now, China has been neutral in the Napoleonic Wars. But if China had a active reason to be angry with the British gov't, they might ally with the French.
The other reason is trade. There was a huge demand for Chinese tea, silk, and porcelain in Britain, but very little demand for British goods in China, as well as a lot of Chinese gov't trade restrictions. The British were so desperate to do something about their trade deficit with China that the East India Company was smuggling opium (illegally) into China, then using the money from the opium trade to purchase tea, silk, etc. (Prince Yongxing alludes to this situation in a conversation with Laurence - it was eventually to lead to the Opium Wars in 1839-1842 and 1856-1860. You thought the US gov't invented the war on drugs? <grin>)
So the British gov't would certainly not want to do anything to make the trade situation worse than it already was. Rose 15:18, 4 October 2008 (PDT)
Okay, I've got an idea. In "real history", the Prime Minister of the UK from March 1807 to October 1809 was the Duke of Portland. He was followed by Spencer Perceval, October 1809 to May 1812 (when he was assassinated). Mulgrave was First Lord of the Admiralty until 1810. George III's son (also named George) became regent for his father in 1811. He was expected to put the Whigs under Lord Grenville into power, ousting Perceval, but he didn't. Instead, he asked the Whigs to join with Perceval.
In "Temeraire history", the regency begins earlier, after the Battle of Shoeburyness, while the Duke of Portland is still PM. Let's say that the Prince Regent and Portland don't get along, so the Prince Regent goes ahead and puts Lord Grenville into power. Since the position of First Lord of the Admiralty is something of a political plum, Mulgrave is also booted out.
Now Confucianism has a virtue called Ren - humanity or humaneness. It's expressed in the rule, "What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others." (Kind of the Golden Rule approached from the opposite direction - you're not enjoined to do good things, but rather to avoid doing bad ones.) Confucianism is also strong on Zhong, loyalty.
So what if the Chinese were presented with the following facts:
- 1) The King of England was ill and mad at the time his ministers made the decision to spread the Dragon Plague to the Continent. He was not aware of this action being taken.
- 2) Laurence and Temeraire effectively thwarted this action, thus preventing a violation of "Ren" from happening in the King's name. This can in fact be seen as an act of loyalty.
- 3) The ministers, again without the King's knowledge, had Laurence placed under sentence of death and Temeraire imprisoned in the breeding grounds.
- 4) Laurence and Temeraire's role in expelling Napoleon's armies from Britain is another act of loyalty.
- 5) The King's son has taken over the government during his father's illness to avoid any more wrongful acts from being committed his father's name. (Filial piety, Xiao) The evil ministers have been removed from government.
- 6) Out of loyalty, Laurence and Temeraire have agreed to leave Britain at the government's request. (Hammond can drop vague hints that this is to avoid them becoming a centre for rebellious elements, not mentioning that Temeraire himself is the most rebellious of the elements. He's a diplomat, lying skillfully is his job.)
If the Chinese just sort of try to ignore the actions of the British, they'll lose face. I'm guessing that this is the main problem rather than any real desire for revenge. The line of reasoning I've outlined satisfies the demands of face, much as Laurence's distant relationship to the Plantagenets and his adoption by the Emperor makes it possible for him and Temeraire to be sworn as companions. There was a problem (evil ministers), it was thwarted by Laurence and Temeraire, the King's son has taken steps to ensure that the problem does not recur.
Laurence comes off looking pretty good, especially for a guy who's never read the Analects. (Maybe it's a chance remark by Temeraire that gives Hammond the idea to pursue this line of reasoning? Temeraire would certainly be quick to agree that Laurence is both humane and loyal.)
Quite aside from the issue of diplomatic relations with the Chinese, this might give Laurence a new way to think about what he's done, not as treason but as a sort of deeper loyalty that would act to prevent genocide from being perpetrated in his country's name?
Rose 17:45, 20 October 2008 (PDT)
Will Ferris go to Australia?
13) Ferris is undoubtedly both now unhappy and an embarrassment to his wealthy family. Is it going to occur to him to strike a deal whereby they pay his passage to Australia - and perhaps send him an ongoing monthly allowance - in return for getting him out of public view in Britain? If so, is it also going to occur to him to bring along a crate of the latest books and scientific journals as a gift for Temeraire?
Perscitia's former captain
14) Is Perscitia's former captain going to try to make up to her and get her to take him back now that she's found a useful role in the Aerial Corps as a non-combattant tactics and weapons specialist?
He probably knows about it, such news travel fast. It would be really interesting to read about his reaction, but I don't think he would try to get her back. She still refuses to fight so she is useless to him. Of course, he might want to get a share of her treasure, but I don't think that Perscitia is so naive.Natli 13:30, 4 October 2008 (PDT)
I'm not so sure. If you were an aviator with a dragon who refused to fight, the Corps would have no interest in paying to house and feed her (except for breeding purposes), and unless you happened to be independently wealthy, you wouldn't be able to do so yourself. So all you could really do would be to give her up and have her sent to the breeding grounds, where at least she'd be fed and have a place to sleep and the company of other dragons. Like a parent who gives their child up to the state because they can't care for it themselves. "He didn't want me because I wouldn't fight," is how Perscitia understood the situation, but it may not be the whole story. He may still be fond of her.
Whether or not she would take him back is another question. I think she's gotten used to not having to take orders. Maybe she'd take him back as an assistant to help her work out tactics and weapon ideas. <grin> Rose 15:18, 4 October 2008 (PDT)
Can fire-breathers fish?
15) Since the Allegiance is now headed for Australia with two dragons on board instead of one, presumably they don't have enough cows, sheep, etc., so Temeraire and Iskierka will have to fish for their suppers.
- a) When a fire-breathing dragon dives in for a catch, does she get seawater inside her steam vents, and if so, what effect does this have?
- b) Since Temeraire will undoubtedly refuse to leave Lawrence alone on board, aren't the poor Marines going to be terribly uncomfortable when their so-called "prisoner" keeps flying away on dragonback?
The courier-weight egg
16) One of the eggs appears to be a courier-weight. Normally such a dragonet would be harnessed by a boy of perhaps 14, but I don't think even the Admiralty is going to want to ship a 14-year-old off to Australia as an independent captain (vs. as part of another captain's crew). On the other hand, few adult aviators are going to want to be sent off to Australia for the sake of harnessing a courier-weight. Only someone who's desperate for a dragon would be likely to be interested. So... is the third captain taken on at Gibraltar going to be Lt. Dayes?
If so, is he actually going to end up harnessing the dragonet? Or will it evade him and head for... Tharkay? Allen?
17) Is there going to be a prisoners' revolt on board the Allegiance, and if so, whose side is Temeraire going to take, given his dislike for putting humans and dragons in chains and also given that the majority of prisoners will have been shipped to Australia for comparatively minor crimes or, in the case of Irish prisoners, for political activities? Will Laurence end up having to negotiate between the two sides?
18) Are Temeraire and Laurence going to meet D'Arcy Wentworth in Australia? Wentworth "was acquitted of three charges of Highway Robbery [and] only narrowly escaped conviction of a fourth by declaring that he was moving to Botany Bay to serve as assistant surgeon to the colony. He arrived in June 1790 on the Second Fleet convict ship Neptune and not only served in this role, but was made Superintendent of Convicts on Norfolk Island, in Parramatta and Sydney... Around 1808, Wentworth played a significant role in the rebellion against and overthrow of William Bligh, then governor of the colony." See more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D'Arcy_Wentworth
Given that Laurence has voluntarily accepted transportation to Australia - he and Temeraire obviously could have gone to China or any number of other places instead - isn't Temeraire going to think it's horribly unfair that Laurence is technically a convict and Wentworth is not?
19) Is Hollin going to be able to persuade the dispatcher to adjust his route assignments so that he and Elsie can continue courting Miss Jemson?
Laurence's next career change
20) Poor Laurence - left the Navy to join the Aerial Corps, now he's been broken out of the Aerial Corps. What's next? I thought it was interesting in VoE when he ended up acting as a sort of union negotiator for the dragons. Temeraire and Minnow stated their demands for pay and pavillions ably enough, but lacked the practical experience to hammer out details with Wellesley, such as how many shillings and pence, and where should the pavillions be located. Laurence took over on this and handled it quite well, despite feeling a bit morally queasy about making demands in the midst of a military crisis. (Good grief, Will, you think the government's gonna listen after the crisis is over?)
That got me thinking that Laurence's next career might involve some sort of negotiation. Then I got to remembering how he and Temeraire were able to assist Hammond in China with a combination of stubbornness plus graciousness to the right people (Liu Bao, Lung Tien Qian). Their mission in Istanbul also became largely diplomatic, at least for while. Here Laurence displayed a gift for knowing when to cut the diplomacy and resort to action.
So... might the British Foreign Office have a use for an agent abroad? Not exactly a secret agent - it's hard to keep a 20-tonne dragon secret - but someone(s) who can be sent in to deal with touchy situations requiring a variety of skills to handle, including a capacity to handle both diplomatic negotiations and physical violence? Someone not officially part of either the military or the diplomatic corps, so that if things go totally to hell the British gov't can wash their hands of the situation?
The Foreign Office won't mind a bit that Laurence is officially a "traitor." The military's little stunt with the plague germs will have left the FO with a huge mess on their hands, as they try to explain to their allies and to neutrals that oh, no, the intention was never that the plague should spread beyond France, dear me, do you think it might have?
Wellesley or Wellington or whatever will agree to anything to keeps Temeraire away from other British dragons.
Laurence doesn't really like diplomatic work, but he still wants to be of service to Britain. (I'm as baffled as Temeraire is about this.)
Temeraire will enjoy just about anything that keeps him and Laurence together and is not boring. He doesn't like politicking either, considering it to be something that Lien would do, but he handles it pretty well himself - consider his negotiations with Gentius and Majestatis. And he's great at communicating with the locals, whether it's preaching sedition to an interested group of Turkish dragons in Istanbul or finding Laurence halfway across Africa by asking directions of the local dragons in return for a few cows (after Sutton has told him it can't be done).
Tharkay's linguistic and survival skills will also come in handy, and he'd probably be interested to come along, and Temeraire will want the rest of his crew to along as well.
As the African trip showed, Temeraire will occasionally need rescuing. And Wellington will be happy to get rid of Iskierka. The question is, can she learn even just a bit of self-control and discretion? (I think I've been on a few e-mail lists with Iskierka - the "flame first, ask questions later" attitude is familiar.) If so, she and Granby would be useful as well.
Could be a good time!
21) As Warren observed regarding Harcourt, the future of a Longwing captain whose dragon died of the plague was considerably chancier than that of her male colleagues - "Half pay may keep body and soul together, but money don't make a woman respectable." What happened to Gardenley after she was forced to shoot Conterrenis?
Will's second brother
22) We've been told that Will Laurence is Lord and Lady Allendale's third son. The oldest is named George, we know he has several children, that his wife's name is Elizabeth and that he takes over management of the estate when Lord Allendale is ill. What's Will's second brother's name and what is he doing with his life? Something too disgraceful to be mentioned, or simply too boring?
Okay, answered part of this myself: Fred. George III's sons were named, in order, George (later George IV), Frederick, and William (later William IV, Victoria's uncle). So Will's second brother is almost certainly called Fred. Rose 16:58, 20 October 2008 (PDT)
Australia to China via islands?
23) Could a Celestial fly from northern Australia to China by island-hopping, either across to Indochina and then north, or via the Phillipines and Taiwan? See the map of the 1806 voyage to China.
Do dragons sing?
24) Do dragons sing? They write poetry and tell stories, sometimes in a style that approaches interpretive dance. They enjoy listening to human music. So, do they sing?
They do :D At the end of BPW Arkady and his ferals start something like a march song, and the words are 'We are all flying home'. Natli 01:46, 18 October 2008 (PDT)
Oh, you're right! :-) I'd forgotten that. Rose 06:17, 18 October 2008 (PDT)
Women's hours at the Loch Laggan baths?
25) In "Empire of Ivory", Harcourt asks the men she's imprisoned with to turn their backs when she wants to bath. This suggests that mixed bathing by adults is NOT the norm, not even among aviators.
Emily goes bathing quite happily with the male crew in the ferals' cave in the Pamirs. When corralled by a highly embarrassed Laurence, she is baffled that he thinks there's a problem, noting she hasn't begun to menstruate yet and anyway, she doesn't want to go to bed with any of the other crew members. This sounds as if she would not bath with the men if she were already adult.
So there should be special women's hours at the baths for Longwing captains and adult women in training to become Longwing captains. After all, would YOU like to be the one to tell an acid-spitter's captain that she's not allowed to use the baths?
Will's other brother
Somewhere in HMD or ToJ Will mentions that his father would have been happier if he had chosen to be part of the clergy like his brother.
Iskierka the Pirate Queen
26) I'm still having trouble imagining Iskierka settling down sufficiently to ever give Granby any peace of mind. And as we saw in HMD with Levitas and in VoE with Majestatis and Perscitia, dragon/captain relations don't always work out. So my best guess for Iskierka's future career is as... a Pirate Queen!
The Allegiance has to cross the Indian Ocean to get to Australia. Say a large storm kicks up, as one did the last time she made this crossing. Granby, who's been drinking more and more heavily, is passed out below decks - no one can rouse him. Temeraire, remembering his last voyage, grudgingly submits to having storm chains put on him, but neither he nor Laurence can persuade Iskierka to do the same. Instead, she declares she will ride out the storm aloft and takes off. By the time the storm subsides three days later, she is not to be seen anywhere.
Granby is initially heart-broken and has to be kept an eye on. However, he eventually starts to recover. Since there's no chance that the Corps is going to give a captain who's lost their only fire-breather another hatchling, Granby goes back to being Temeraire's first officer. Temeraire is unabashedly delighted, Laurence a bit more sensitive but glad to welcome Granby back.
The next time we meet Iskierka, she's become the leader of a band of pirates. They discovered her half-drowned and nursed her back to health, planning to "return" her to the Turks for a reward - she's a Kazilik, so they assume she's Turkish. Recovered, Iskierka has no interest in this idea at all, but discovers a shared interest in winning prizes with the other pirates and ends up taking over the band.
She's still attached to Granby, so when she meets him again, she wants him to join the pirates - she herself is unwilling to give up the freebooting life. Granby, sadder but wiser, refuses.