Friday, September 16, 2016

Masters of Sleep - Chapter Nine - I Refuse to Call Them "Buckaroons"

We interrupt this withering satire of primitive psychology to check in on Pirate King Tiger.  Hubbard gives us a page's worth of belated background for these pirates, how they started out as revolutionaries under Emperor Lenny... sigh... but their zeal faded when they discovered how much easier piracy was, then Lenny and his loyal officers suddenly fell ill and died, allowing someone named Stahlbein to take over and turn a bunch of escaped slaves into slavers themselves.  Eventually Stahlbein took on the name Thunderbolt, and... yeah, that pretty much covers it.

So see, it's alright that Tiger used magic to force ol' Thunderguts in a duel and stab him in the heart before he knew what was going on, since we've now learned how the former Stahlbein probably killed the good pirates and turned them into bad pirates.  And no, Hubbard couldn't have given us this information in earlier chapters, because then this already dinky chapter would only be four pages long.

Anyway, Tiger is able to whip the crews into shape and inspire them to fight for freedom again, so the ships are cleaned and reorganized and all the pirates are thrilled to be sailing with a purpose instead of lounging about.  Good thing too, because Tiger expects a Jinn fleet to show up in a few days that will outnumber then twelve-to-one.  The only bright side is that the genie ships' human crews might defect to the pirates once they realize this is a fight about liberty or something.

What about the diamond, though?  Well first, it's vanished once more, as Tiger finds out when Wanna asks if he'll let her wear it when they're home agai- Wanna, honey.  "Home" is under the control of Tiger's mortal enemy.  You and he are sailing with a bunch of outlaws that have sworn to overthrow the jinn tyrants of this realm.  So are you so optimistic that you're assuming that Tiger will defeat the forces of geniekind, defeat Zongri in Tarbutón, and go back to a somewhat normal life in whatever dwellings you were able to hold onto after he lost his barony?  Or are you so dense that you haven't quite grasped the current situation?

Anyway, Tiger tries to produce the diamond but can't find it, and McCoy hasn't stolen it either, so he can only conclude it's "playin' games" with them.

"Maybe it has a spirit that carries it," said Wanna thoughtfully.  "In the temple we had three talismans that had spirits which took them around.  I remember one of the girls had the office of feeding one of the spirits."

"Probably it was a priest," said Tiger, who cared little for superstitions of the Jinn.

"No, they were real spirits.  One of them sang awfully cute."

"I'll bet he did," said Tiger.  "But that isn't solving where that diamond goes."

Is it me, or does Tiger seem really dismissive of his wife consort here?  And why is he being so quick to roll his eyes at Wanna's story as some superstition or trick?  The genie goddess turned out to be controlled by chains and levers, true, but Tiger saw firsthand how Queen Ramus was able to transform herself into a beautiful woman, so it's possible there is more to Wanna's wandering talismans than a corrupt priest moving them about when no one's looking.

But back to the diamond.  Tiger is certain that the Two World Diamond has some magical powers, and he was hoping to do some quiet tests to try and work out how to use the thing to his advantage during the inevitable naval battle, but that isn't an option now.  Again, there's no continuity with the last book, no admission that Tiger used a similar artifact to wreck an entire enemy fleet.  He wasn't even hoping to use the diamond to pull the nails out of enemy ships, but was thinking more about how it moved Wanna and Tombo and Malek around.

So Tiger is uncharacteristically troubled.  There's also some uncharacteristic sympathy between Tiger and his unknown human world counterpart, as the sailor has been suffering an unexplained headache all day, feels strangely thoughtful and cautious, and is troubled by "Dim recollections of things he felt he had never seen or done," a sense that some vital part of him has returned but is in danger.  Which would mean that now that the Two World Diamond is gone Tiger is finally feeling his connection to Palmer, who has similarly lost the thing in his world.  So you just need to handle the thing for a bit to get your two-souls aligned, and then it's okay if you lose it?

And that's the situation in Genie World - Tiger's fleet is preparing for battle, which will either begin a campaign that could see him in control of the sea lanes and thus the world, or he'll get curbstomped by sheer numbers.  There's nowhere to run, no magic diamond to bail him out this time, and he has a headache.  And so days pass, with the pirates waiting for the enemy to appear... huh.  First time we've fast-forward like this without switching to Palmer each time Tiger calls it a night.

Well, as we've seen, consistency isn't one of this book's strong points.


Back to Chapter Eight 

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