Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Conquistador: Any Loose Ends?

SM Stirling, Conquistador (New York, 2004), Epilogue.

(i) A saber-tooth is the perfect symbol for an ancient, uncivilized world.

(ii) We want to see the Commonwealth expand onto ThirdSide and what they find there.

(iii) Segei Lermontov came to the Commonwealth to open Gates for the Imperialist rebels but now instead opens one for the Founder.

(iv) Good-hearted Ralph Barnes helps with the Gate because Rolfe has threatened to kill Lermontov. Barnes openly calls Rolfe a "'Blackmailer...'" (p. 581) while the latter smiles slightly and sardonically in reply. It is good to see these two characters remain in character.

(v) "Sergei prayed to a God in whom he'd never believed..." (ibid.) This is an excellent example of the agnostic prayer that I mentioned here.

(vi) Rolfe does not want to be bothered with technical details:

"'I'm also content to let you experts handle these matters. Leaders motivate their subordinates, and the subordinates act. A division of labor.'" (ibid.)

That sounds like Nicholas van Rijn in Poul Anderson's The Man Who Counts, although Rolfe and van Rijn are different kinds of leaders. Rolfe is a head of state, according to Barnes a fascist bastard, whereas van Rijn is an employer, trader and negotiator, according to his detractors an exploiter, Machiavellian manipulator etc.

Different writers, different characters, equally enjoyable and even instructive.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

As regards your point "iv," I strongly suspect wily old John Rolfe had no intention at all of actually having Lermontov shot--rather the "conditional" sentence of death pushed Ralph Barnes into helping Lermontov build a new Gate.

And I like how you compared Nicholas van Rijn to John Rolfe VI. Yes, their characters and circumstances were different, but they are both "equally enjoyable and even instructive."