is a Bench intelligence specialist, a sort of a Texas ranger in
space with Bench-sanctioned powers of "extraordinary discretion."
Five foot ten and prematurely balding, Garol has a round face and
narrow eyes; he could mimic Jack Nicholson convincingly.
almost completely suppressed artistic streak is expressed in the
sketch-work he does to keep his hands busy while he is thinking
believes in the Bench and the rule of Law, but is not blind to the
abuses of power of which the Bench is capable. His job exposes him
to hidden corruption and abuse at all levels of Jurisdiction authority.
A reasonable and thoughtful man, he is increasingly disillusioned
and depressed by the Bench's continued tactic of responding to unrest
by increasing the repressive measures that generated the unrest
in the first place.
trusts no one and nothing, and feels his isolation from every basic
human entitlement of trust and confidence deeply. He keeps very
much to himself and considers any spontaneous emotional gesture
to be an error that he is sure to regret.
the same time, however, he is an honorable man who is capable of
gaining the trust of desperate people, and the settlement of the
Langsariks was due in large part to his ability to make meaningful
personal contact with Flag Captain AGENIS the Deep-Minded. He strenuously
resists making commitments, but once he makes a contract he considers
himself honor-bound to fully execute it.
of his hostility to the Malcontent lies in his jealous resentment
of the bonds of mutual respect and affection that he sees at the
core of Dolgorukij society.
Intelligence Specialists have no leisure activities. Bench Intelligence
Specialists have no lives that anybody has ever been able to detect.
This makes Garol's suspicion of the Malcontent mildly ironic, since
the Malcontent is a lot like a Bench Intelligence Specialist of
a sort in many ways.
IVERS is the closest thing to a genuine friend that Garol Aphon
VOGEL has in the world. A Bench intelligence specialist like Garol,
they differ in psychology and value systems.
is five foot five with jet-black hair and eyes to match. Her round
and well-shaped eyes are unfortunately set a fraction more closely
together than usual, giving her a mildly squinty-eyed expression
that Andrej Koscuisko will find oddly attractive in another place
at another time.
athletic, a born campaigner with a genuine warrior's ethic, Jils'
life is Jurisdiction. Duty and honor are her highest and only values.
While regretting the occasional excess committed in the name of
the rule of Law, Jils firmly declines to question whether the cause
to which she has devoted her life may ultimately prove the wrong
and Garol have teamed together on some of the most difficult issues
to have faced the Jurisdiction in recent years. Her partnership
with him in cracking the case of the Langsarik pirates is a career
the time of this novel she has spent the past several months in
port Rudistal monitoring the course of the trials and the execution
of once-Administrator Geltoi at the hands of Andrej Koscuisko, who
has been returned to Rudistal to execute the sentence of the Bench
and now awaits transport to his next ship of assignment.
absolute devotion to the principle of the rule of Law does not stop
her from challenging the First Secretary over the issue of Koscuisko's
assignment, which she considers to be very ill advised. She will
not, however, take any steps to raise her concerns to a higher level
if the First Secretary is not receptive, since she has not been
asked by the Bench to address the issue.
mentioned before, Bench Intelligence Specialists have no leisure
activities. However, Jils Ivers is particularly fond of having her
spine adjusted by the Jurisdiction equivalent of a chiropractor;
and has a peculiar interest in the history of certain obscure world-families
that have become extinct.
is a young man of about twenty-seven years old. A Sarvaw mercantile
captain or pilot for hire, he is five foot eleven with blond hair
and brown eyes, long legs, high waist, big hands, and a big nose.
and HILTON have been friends for several years, ever since Hilton
saved Kazmer's life in an incident surrounding a raid by Langsarik
pirates on an isolated port prior to their amnesty and settlement.
He has been courting Hilton's cousin Modice on and off for as long;
however, Hilton's aunt, the Flag Captain AGENIS the Deep-Minded,
opposes any match between a Langsarik and an "outsider" on principle.
attitude toward authority is resentful, suspicious, and contemptuous
-- reflections of the stormy relations between Sarvaw, emphatically
low world on the totem pole, and the rest of the Dolgorukij Combine
(with Azanry at its apex).
has been less than two hundred years since the Aznir Dolgorukij
made Sarvaw a vassal state, the Combine's last act of military aggression
prior to its pacification by the Jurisdiction. Sarvaw still shudder
at the memory of the atrocities committed by the savage Chuvishka
Kospodar and by the terrorist "Angel of Destruction" that he sponsored
and encouraged during that campaign.
a result of Kazmer's Sarvaw attitude he sees nothing wrong with
helping his Langsarik friends turn a dishonest profit, so long as
nobody suffers physical harm. When Kazmer himself is faced with
the immediate prospect of suffering torture at the hands of the
Bench, however, it is his loyalty to Hilton, not a failure in personal
courage, that leads Kazmer to make his dreadful choice.
is loyal and true, brave and skillful. His biggest faults are his
inability to really believe that Hilton's cousin is just not interested
in him; his reflexive resentment of authority; and his tendency
to assume that his conclusions in any given instance are reflective
of absolute reality -- which is what creates his initial misperception
about Hilton's involvement in the proposed "Langsarik" raid, as
the story opens.
flies off the handle, uses intemperate language, and is constantly
on the defensive. But he's a good guy and his heart is in the right
place. In the course of time he will probably convince Hilton's
cousin Modice to give him a chance, and he will be a terrific father
when he gets to that point in his life.
idea of an ideal leisure activity is socializing with a group of
friends. He is probably a tenor.
is the nephew of the Flag Captain of the Langsariks, AGENIS the
Deep-Minded, and a battle captain in his own right at the ripe old
age of nearly thirty. He is six foot one with big bones, long hands,
and big ears, and wears a little patch of beard precisely centered
on his chin below his lower lip. Brown-haired and blue-eyed, Hilton
has an agreeably raspy baritone.
and even-tempered, Hilton is doing his best to adjust to his emphatically
reduced circumstances in the Langsarik settlement. While he has
been involved in one or two pranks just to relieve excess antagonism
and anxiety, he is sincere about honoring the Langsarik agreement
with the Bench.
is quiet and mildly humorous in his address, slow to anger and quick
to forgive. He and KAZMER compensate for each others' deficiencies
in a sense: he is calm where Kazmer is intemperate; Kazmer is passionate
where Hilton may tend to an excess of diffidence.
likes speed, and misses the "good old days" of interstellar travel.
He compensates by cultivating the Jurisdiction equivalent of a motorcycle,
of which he has wrecked several (one reason he needs a job).
idea of an ideal leisure activity is driving very fast (when he
has a machine) and mechanical tinkering (to fix the machine he wrecked,
or to get the machine to go faster, so that he can wreck it at the
highest possible rate of speed).
after his aunt Agenis the Deep-Minded in his methodical and reflective
approach to life, Hilton will become a powerful community leader
in time, if he doesn't kill himself with high-speed personal transport
is a slave of the Malcontent; technically speaking, he is a Reconciler,
meaning that he is responsible for the health, welfare, and activities
of the several Malcontents/agents he directs. Five foot eight, blond
and brown-eyed, Cousin Stanoczk has been accused of looking a good
deal like his third cousin twice removed Andrej Ulexeievitch Koscuisko;
on the other hand many Dolgorukij look similar to non-Dolgorukij.
Cousin Stanoczk has a very deep speaking voice, but does not sing
position as a reconciler requires him to display a high degree of
empathy and sensitivity to the suffering of others. His training
as a Malcontent has qualified him to offer sexual reconciliation
in many forms, but that is not an issue with Kazmer (and it is probably
just as well).
Aznir Dolgorukij, Stanoczk is -- like his cousin Andrej -- related
to the monstrous Chuvishka Kospodar of Sarvaw atrocity fame. Part
of the conflict he has with Kazmer is undoubtedly founded in the
ancestral tensions between Sarvaw and Aznir Dolgorukij.
was sent to the Malcontent by his family at an early age, though
he made the contract himself (no one is permitted to make that decision
for another). I have no idea what the Malcontent offers Stanoczk
by way of Reconciliation and I don't want to know.
could be seen as a sad or tragic figure, having been condemned by
his family to be the scapegoat punished for their collective complicity
in their ancestor's crimes; but Stanoczk doesn't see himself as
his family, like Andrej's, continues to enjoy resources inherited
from Chuvishka Kospodar, the family considers itself to bear collective
guilt for Kospodar's crimes. A child is sent to the Malcontent in
every generation, and once a year everyone gets together in church
and talks about how guilty and bad they are to be enjoying the fruits
they get over themselves and return to their normal lives until
the "day of remorse" comes around again in the following year. Instances
in which remorse for enjoying the fruits of unjust acts actually
result in returning resources to their original owners are few and
far in between, and rather frowned upon as an excess of hypocritical
self-righteousness that is fundamentally unfilial in its implied
reproach of the previous generations.)
his personal character Stanoczk is rather cynical, a self-defense
mechanism he has developed to protect his sentimental nature. He
is utterly dedicated to his role as a Malcontent and has been a
fairly successful agent over the years.
has a strong sense of the ridiculous but lacks any particular sense
of moral outrage. (Malcontents have their sense of moral outrage
surgically removed at an early stage of their orientation. It is
an important part of their training.)
the same time he is deeply and genuinely horrified at the evidence
that the Angel of Destruction may have risen from the dead. The
Angel is an abomination beneath the Canopy of Heaven, and Stanoczk
has no difficulty in fully committing to the idea that the Angel
must be destroyed by any means necessary.
rather likes beer and women, neither of which are necessarily beyond
his reach as a Malcontent. If he had a private life or leisure activities
(which Malcontents don't) he would probably either go bowling or
go to the opera to boo the tenor.
is the Flag Captain or war-leader of the (former) Langsarik fleet.
She is an older woman of nearly sixty and has several children and
a few nieces and nephews, of whom HILTON is one of her favorites
(he takes after her in temperament).
the Deep-Minded is so named for her long-term strategic thinking.
She is five foot four, white-haired, with the blue-gray variety
of hazel eyes. Though the inactivity of life within the Langsarik
settlement rather bores her she is not unhappy with the bargain
she made with Garol VOGEL when the Langsariks accepted settlement.
thinking for the long term, Agenis focuses on the problems and promises
of the future rather than the frustrations of the present, and considers
a sixteen year probationary period to be a small price to pay for
the survival of the Langsarik Fleet's people and peace with the
Bench -- so long as the Bench will honor its side of the agreement.
driving instinct is to maintain her options, which accounts for
the particularly keen edge to her concern when the Bench begins
to barricade her escape routes one by one.
has a deep appreciation for Garol Vogel but doesn't quite like Jils.
She and Garol share an almost instinctual rapport bounded on irrational
but absolute trust, and even when Garol must report that the Bench
is about to descend on their settlement to destroy them Agenis remains
serenely confident that Garol is on her side -- to the maximum extent
appropriate for his job.
doesn't have a lot to do these days and spends much of her time
replaying the battles of her past, writing alternate histories in
her head in an attempt to deepen and broaden her strategic skills.
is the agent of the Angel of Destruction in port Charid. A big,
genial man, his approachable demeanor and amiable manners disguise
his basic fanaticism. His apparently genuine concern for the people
he has befriended is completely compartmentalized, having no appreciable
impact whatever on his core intent to use them ruthlessly -- and
then destroy them.
Angel of Destruction is a creature of monstrous hate that has taken
as its mission the furtherance of Dolgorukij interests at the expense
of any obstacle of whatever sort that might stand in its way. The
Angel hates the Langsarik pirates for having once preyed on Combine
shipping as much as the Angel hates the Langsarik pirates for being
successful harriers whose war skills, if turned to economic ends,
could all too easily develop into a genuine challenge to Combine
Baritz enjoys the suffering of victims of the Angel as an endorsement
of the natural order, in which the Dolgorukij are fore-ordained
to be masters and the entire physical universe exists merely to
serve them. To wrest information by force from a prisoner in agony
is a genuinely enjoyable exercise in demonstrating Dolgorukij superiority.
inferior races hesitate to inflict suffering. It is evidence of
misplaced compassion and a sense of justice -- concepts that are
meaningful only when applied to Dolgorukij by Dolgorukij.
the Angel is a monster with insanity at the foundation of its very
being, its aims are coldly practical and its methods are calculated
and methodical. During the reduction of Sarvaw to Combine rule the
Angel's aim was to destroy Sarvaw resistance, and its methods were
so efficient that it could be said that the Sarvaw have never recovered
from the psychic shock of the Angel's atrocity.
the course of this novel the Angel's aim is to punish the Langsariks
for having ever preyed upon Combine shipping; to neutralize the
possible future threat that a successful and proven fighting force
might offer in the economic arena; and to place the Combine shipping
interests in an advantageous position in port Charid by systematically
destroying the warehouse facilities of competing shippers under
the cover of "Langsarik" predation.
the Angel will have to destroy its own property in order to present
a convincing picture is merely part of the calculation. The Angel
knows that the Combine has much deeper pockets than many of the
other shippers trying to get a foothold in port Charid, and what
is an inconvenience to the Combine -- an acceptable price to pay
for obtaining priority at Charid -- is more than many shippers will
be able to absorb, and still maintain their presence there.