The Kindly Ones
Copyright 1987 by
I first read this on the 10th April 2004.
Orestes and Electra are the two moons of the rather larger planet Agamemnon
of the star Atreus. Humans colonized these moons and the resultant political
structure is one of several feudal kingdoms with blood lines descending from the
original crew members. Orestes is the more developed, and warmer, though still cold.
Citizens in the society obey a rigid code of honour and to break it means death.
However in more modern times, this 'death' does not mean loss of physical life, but
a total ostracism from normal society. Citizens of the society must pretend that
such code-breakers do not exist, that they are imperceptible to all the senses.
However, there is a protocol by which the two communities may communicate: an official
medium is allowed to act as go-between. Trey Maturin is such a medium, working
for the Halex queendom.
Under the influence of the evil Halfrid of the Brandr domain, the code of honour is
being twisted to achieve his personal aims and war results between Brandr
Trey Maturin, her friends and the live and dead of all the houses will be caught in
this brutal war.
Melissa Scott tells the story from various viewpoints, that of Maturin the medium,
ex-peacekeeper Moraghan, pilot Guil Ex-tan'ne and others. However, I noticed no
real differentiation in these voices. I also couldn't keep straight which characters
were women and which were men (and I attribute that to the writing
of course). In some ways of course this is rather good - it avoids preconceptions
and counters prejudices, however in the context of this society I found it
unconvincing. Oh bugger, I've just realised this gender obscurity may be deliberate,
in which case, jolly well done. Well, my characteristic deep analysis has clearly
But still, this novel was disappointing, especially since I so enjoyed
"Five Twelfths Of Heaven".
The first half of the book was great, chock full of Japanese
influences with strict codes of honour, outcasts and entertainment zones.
Clearly my sort of planet. The second half dragged, including an interminable
flight from Electra back to Orestes, and then a less than enthralling battle
Oh and why was the novel entitled the "The Kindly Ones"? Recall your classical
history, specifically the blood feud of the house of Atreus (and that's Atreus,
Loaded on the 5th May 2004.