We’re back in Treydolain! So, it’s never stated in this chapter but this evidently takes place on the Verase estate, where we spent some time in the first couple of arcs of the book. It’s changed somewhat since then, with the Verase family no longer in residence and the place having turned into somehing of a refuge for homeless people fleeing the inner areas of the city. Treydolain was always depicted as a kind of pseudo-Mediterranean place, with heavy influence from southern Spain. Much of it is based on Ronda, as I think I’ve talked about in these notes before. This chapter starts to explore what happens to beautiful places when the people living there stop being beautiful.
It’s fun to put Stryke and Michels together. Michels is dour and curt and to-the-point, never saying more than he needs to. By comparison, Stryke comes across as a great orator.
We also have the return of none other than Gatley. Remember him? He’s the guy who worked in the fisheries, witnessed Tarn’s initial arrival, and was the recipient of some of the door breaking when Pienya was going door-to-door on her search, way back. The intent with some of those minor characters at the start of the book was always to sprinkle some of them into the finale, in order to give it a bit more resonance and avoid having to introduce minor characters at such a late stage.
There’s a risk inherent in that approach to making the world feel overly ‘small’, with the same small cast recurring. It’s the Star Wars problem of its obsession with Tatooine and weird coincidences, which make the universe feel more like a large town than multiple solar systems. Part of that is simply down to the necessities of telling a story, where there will usually be some coincidences and conveniences, but it’s a balance that has to be struck. At least TMC is set in a single valley, with built-in limitations.
Something else that is going on beneath the surface here is Stryke’s continuing guilt, which is going to manifest further as arc 7 progresses. As he mentions, he should really be resting in a hospital bed, but he’s not going to allow that for himself. Everything he’s doing here is an attempt to atone for his earlier actions.
Anyway, this chapter was about one of the ground assault teams. Next time we’ll catch up with the aerial squad.