Monday, September 26, 2016

Nethereal, Chapters 49-54

Chapter 49: Eldrid gives Navkin a white robe with Master Steersman markings as a thank you for tending her wounds.  Later, the Gen maiden takes Jaren out on another tour of the Avalonian countryside.  Jaren is about to leave Avalon, as the Exodus has been repaired.  He asks Eldrid to join him, but she demurs.  Jaren instead offers to stay, but is told that he must keep his word.

Over a bottle of wine, Teg confides several misgivings about Jaren and Eldrid, Deim and Elena, and Navkin’s relationship to each couple.  After Navkin jokes that it’s a wonder that any Gen are born if Jaren’s single-mindedness is typical of Gen, Eldrid interrupts, telling her that the White Well has been emptied of so much prana that Gen can no longer bear children.

Inside the vault, Jaren asks Elena to channel prana into a vault cube.  Elena obliges, and the experience overwhelms Jaren, knocking him unconscious.

Jaren is smitten with Eldrid, or as smitten as a Gen obsessed with avenging his family can be.  But while Eldrid has his attention, Navkin and Teg are bonding.  Not romantically, but over shared misery and a concern for Elena.

Only Elena can channel raw prana, as befitting the gods and their priests. It's odd that Jaren doesn't follow the logic here.  As befitting his laser focus on defeating the Guild, he only sees capabilities, not causes.


Chapter 50: Deim is initiated into the way of Teth.  Given one final chance to turn away, he presses onward in his instruction.

Jaren wakes up to find Eldrid at his bedside.  She presses him on what the stone might have told him before he passes out.  Jaren avoids answering her and leaves the room.  Teg catches up with the pirate captain and informs him that the king of Avalon will soon give him a privateer’s marque.

The king arrives, only for Jaren to confront him over the true nature of the stones, which hold the souls of Middle Stratum Gen – including Jaren’s father.  These stones are offered by Avalonian Light Gen as payment for Mephistophilis’s tithe.  Jaren refuses to deliver the stones.  The king still offers the letter of marque.  Avalonian soldiers shoot arrows at Jaren, but before the attack can be pressed, clouds of yellow and black swarm them, leaving only screams behind.  The crew of the Exodus recognizes it as the handiwork of the kost Fallon.

Eldrid is the one that puts the idea of Elena as priestess into Jaren's mind.  While this fact will have little effect on future events by itself, Jaren's acceptance of her explanation shows the esteem in which he holds her.  Also, it obscures the obvious fact that there is a specific soul Elena's creators intended for her to retrieve.

Avalon has shades of Omelas about it, as its peace is bought on the misery of others.  Not only are the soulstones Jaren's people and relatives, had fate turned a different way, Jaren's soul might be trapped in a stone as well.  As it is, Avalon is willing to violate any code of hospitality to ensure that the stones are delivered to Mephistophilis.


Chapter 51: As the Exodus flees Avalon, the crew tries to hide from Fallon in the engine room, but Fallon cuts them off.  He appears in the form of an ancient smoke beast, trapping them.  Before Fallon can kill the crew, Elena advances upon the beast in a trance.  The kost strikes at her, and everything is flooded with white light and a surge of prana.  The light fades, leaving the Exodus among a sea of Middle Stratum stars.

Could Elena's miracle only be done in the prana saturated Sixth Circle?

Elena calls Navkin “Mother”, changing Navkin's affection from protective to outright mama bear protecting her cub.  This only increases the tension between her and Jaren.

The tale of a unkillable kost who kept his soul in a jewel makes me think that Fallon is still alive.  Sure, he soaked up a small sun's worth of prana, but typically in anime and other media, white-outs like the one in this chapter have a tendency to transport people through time and space instead of annihilating people.  Besides, Navkin, the daughter of a demon, managed to endure the prana burst.  I would not be surprised if he turned up again. 


Chapter 52:  Aboard the Gambler’s Fallacy, Captain Randolph attempts to continue a shattered resistance against the Guild through guerilla action.  His bridge crew detects the Exodus’s transponder.  He commands his ship to investigate the signal.

Master Malachi chases rumors of a Lost Dutchman ship that matches the Exodus’s description.

Jaren broods on the bridge, plagued by an ever present hum of voices.  Only a report of the Shibboleth approaching shakes him from his funk.

Master Malachi mentions Elathan, the god of shipwrecks.  The god has been mentioned offhandedly prior to this chapter, but the name will be seen more often.

Almeth Elocine.  Remember that name when you read Souldancer.


Chapter 53:  The Shibboleth is commanded as a prize of war by Captain Dilar of the Mithgar Navy, a survivor of the Guild attack on Caelia Station.  Jaren interrogates him, learning that the Guild has shattered the Mithgar Navy in the six months that the Exodus was in hell.  Jaren plans to rally the remnants of Guild resistance to the Exodus’s flag.

Teg tracks down Deim and catches the steersman reanimating a chicken skeleton.  Teg tries to break Deim’s trance by dislocating his joints.  Deim shrugs off the pain.  After an ominous hum, Teg finds himself suddenly outside Deim’s room without explanation.

Teth's soul corruption acts quickly.  Deim has only worked with it for a few days.


Chapter 54:  Jaren pressures Navkin to fly the Shibboleth to a meeting with the Navy remnants.  Navkin resists, as she is weary of constant conflict and would rather spend time with a now sick Elena, who she now recognizes as her flesh-and-blood daughter.  She trades her pilotage for Jaren’s promise to track down the Arcana Divines for info to cure Elena.

Jaren and Randolph negotiate an alliance.  Randolph calls Stochman’s actions mutiny, acknowledging Jaren as the rightful captain of the Exodus and the Shibboleth.  Jaren inquires about Braun and Vernon, the two Arcana Divines that built the Exodus and Elena.  He learns that Braun is a suicide and Vernon is held captive by the Guild.  Before Jaren leaves the ship, a Freeholder on his crew requests transfer to the Navy.

Navkin returns to Tharis to meet with her teacher, Master Kelgrun Narr.  She accuses his of selling her out, and demands a favor.  After she admits that the favor is for Elena, Kelgrun agrees, providing Navkin passes to the prison holding Vernon.

Necessity brings strange bedfellows, but Jaren is not picky as to what tools he will use to bring down the Guild.  Unfortunately, he cares more about utility and less about maintaining what he would use.  For all of his shared experience with the woman who has been both mother and sister to him, Jaren relies solely on authority to compel Navkin’s obedience to his plans.  It is no wonder that he is losing his crew.

Navkin's visit to her mentor is significant.  I will discuss Kelgrun Narr in depth in the next post.


This is a lighter post than usual.  Nethereal is careening towards its climax and resolution, and the next few chapters are filled with revelations.  Tomorrow's post will delve deeper.


  1. Really great analysis. I read the book three times and got about 25% out of it as your analysis shows.

    Half-way through 1st pass of Souldancer.

    1. I can't wait to find out what you think of it.