Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Yep, three chapters this time. Given how many chapters are in this book a little speeding up isn’t such a bad thing, but I wonder how many more short chapters this book has. It’s still better than Op-Center but short chapters rarely sit right with me.
So last time Ravill showed he can back up at least part of his boasting when it comes to covering his own rear end. I’m not sure why he left Joanna alive but I don’t understand a lot of what this guy does, even within what I can understand about Jade Falcon culture. (I can understand something, even respect it to a point, without agreeing with it. It’s becoming a lost art.) Of course we need her alive for the spy story and I’m wondering when we’ll get back to that. Maybe somewhere in these three chapters we’ll get an answer to that.
Chapter 15 is really short as Joanna and her freebirth friends (something both she and Horse would deny, Joanna actually doing so when Diana suggests it) bid farewell to each other. It’s a nice moment between the three and I really want to see more of them together. Joanna isn’t bringing anything with her and despite the brave face she puts on it’s obvious her loss, where she wasn’t even allowed to die in battle, has wounded her pride (no pun intended) and we see it made her look bad to the younger soldiers when one is sent to bring Joanna to Ravill’s office, where the just arrived Pershaw is also waiting. Looks like things are finally happening, but why is this a separate chapter? She’s walking maybe a few yards to command office. That change of location demanded it be a separate chapter?
Chapter 16 is the longest of the three chapter I’ll be looking at today. Chapter 15 is a mere 3 pages, chapter 17 four pages of content over five pages. (You have the top half of the first page with chapter numbers and a lot of space before giving the location and time. Chapter 17 only have a few lines of text on its final page, a necessity I guess.) Ravill is actually rattled by the arrival of Star Colonel Penshaw. (Not just because of all his prosthetics, since I guess in this version of 3050 they never developed proper robotic limb replacement…while here in our 2021 you can print a rough version on a 3D printer in your home office.) Joining him is Martha Pryde, one of Adian’s sibko, so she basically came out of the save vat. Joanna trained her the same way she did Adian…you know, I wonder if that plays into Ravill’s unhealthy worship of Aidan?…and both of them have experienced battle alongside her. I wonder if Ravill is just freaked out by all the brass or their history given his obsession?
At any rate, Ravill’s been told that Joanna is being reassigned to a local solahma unit. The BattleTech Wiki explains better than I can translate from context.
A solahma unit is generally an infantry unit made up of old or dying Clan warriors. Though often used as garrison forces, these units prefer to be used as shock troops. In this way, the aging warriors can serve their Clan to the bitter end, dying in combat – a death considered far more appropriate and honorable than dying in bed.
However Joanna has a different opinion of them, as a (and I’m paraphrasing here) a bunch of old fogies on their last warrior gasp. Penshaw and Martha agree (too many Prydes in this story…and prejudice if you’re a freeborn I guess) that this is beneath her, but given what they want her for it’s going to get worse. Apparently Joanna’s mental pecking order of bad assignments is the “canister nanny” she was originally being shoved to, to the old farts unit, to her actual assignment of using said units to act as a spy. She is not really happy about getting worse assignments down the line. Specifically she needs to find the Clan Wolf spies. Given what we’ve learned maybe they should look at the science caste. It would explain Ravill getting Wolf genetics in his DNA soup.
Chapter 17 gives us a new location: Dogg Station. I’m guessing the old Inner Sphere folks on this world named it that because that seems insulting if I’m following the code correctly. (Heck, maybe they changed the name on the way out as a final middle finger to the incoming Jade Falcons?) Dogg seems an odd name for a planet too, and they named the station after the planet. Here we get Joanna’s new best friend…or rather a dude whose worse than she is temper-wise AND uses contractions while part of her assignment is staying out of trouble. Just in case you thought it wasn’t going to get worse for our heroine. Then there’s a paragraph break. Based on how this book works I’d almost expect it to be another chapter. I’m not even sure why given that outside of the exposition of her first month breaking the conversation between Joanna and the clearly baiting Bailly continues on. I’m not sure if I’m going to like him or want him to be cut in half by an Axman. (That one I remember from the show.)
Apparently it’s been two months total since she came to Dogg and Joanna finds it odd that a spy would come here, or at least a Wolf spy. If it were one of the Inner Sphere factions they may want to find the Clan homeworld, but otherwise this is a supply station so routine that only the old warriors are enough to protect it. They don’t even have barracks for the warriors; they’re sleeping outside in the cold with the only buildings some leftover Federation Commonwealth buildings used to hold the supplies until they go out to the more important Jade Falcon occupied worlds. That means Joanna has a deeper mystery, not just find the spy but why he or she is working undercover at this place. This should be interesting.
Next time we presumably get to see more of the investigation. And another three chapter review, because I guess they’re going to be a lot of shor…sorry, Joanna, they are going to be short chapters for a while.