Saturday, 22 November 2014

Roan Tom

"Later ages wove a myth about Roan Tom. He became their archetype of those star rovers who fared forth while the Long Night prevailed."
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), p. 457.

These two opening sentences of "A Tragedy of Errors" inform us that the Fall of the Terran Empire and the subsequent "Long Night," delayed by Dominic Flandry, have occurred at last. They also apply the evocative phrase, "star rover," to this new character, Roan Tom. (Anderson's Time Patrol series gives us a "time rover.")

Tom's Lochlanna father, outlawed after a family feud, became a space pirate. Tom, born on a spaceship to a freedwoman said to be of Hermetian descent, grew up fighting, was captured while in a landing party and sold into slavery. He somehow regained his freedom, acquired a spaceship and a following and went to Kraken which:

like Nyanza, is mostly ocean;
has 1.25 standard gravity;
has a half barbaric region where the Eylan-speaking inhabitants are intricately tattooed and women learn combat skills.

An impoverished Krakener noble family, the House of Brenning, made alliance with Tom by giving him Dagny, Od's daughter, in marriage. Tom accepted Krakener body tattoos but, having gained some power on the planet, tried to restart trade, regarding fighting only as a means to an end.

Although no non-human intelligences appear in any of the post-Imperial stories, they are mentioned twice. Tom makes alliance with the Shah of Sassania and is on that planet when the Pretender's non-human mercenaries overthrow the Shah. Tom and Dagny escape in the Firedrake with Yasmin, the deputy governor's daughter. Yasmin speaks Pelevah and has studied the classics, like Anglic, astrophysics and planetography, at Anushirvan University and in the Royal Library.

No comments: