The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Kinnall Darival is the second son of the septarch of Salla, an important province on the planet of Borthan. His father is killed unexpectedly, impaled by a hornfowl while hunting. According to tradition, Kinnall’s older brother, Stirron, inherits the position of septarch. Not only must Kinnall find something else to do with his life, but he also must take special care not to aggravate the culturally ordained paranoia of the new septarch. To ensure his own security, Kinnall flees his native land, and his voyage of self-discovery begins.

Several years working underground and below his station in society in the neighboring province of Glin give Kinnall increased strength and maturity. He also begins to question the mores and social customs accepted on Borthan almost universally. The workers and peasants with whom Kinnall associates in Glin are not nearly as strict as the upper classes about their denial of self, the first rule of social behavior on Borthan. This denial is so intense that even the various forms of the first-person singular pronoun—I, me, my, myself, and mine—are forbidden. They are considered vulgar, and using them in polite conversation is a serious social offense.

Eventually, Kinnall makes his way to Glin’s main seaport and manages to get work on a ship headed for Manneran. His bondsister, Halum, lives in the capital city there, and her father is the High Justice of the Port. He likes Kinnall and employs him as his chief...

(The entire section is 567 words.)