We have made it to the floor of the Senate at last! This was a wonderfully fun passage, and Terrin even got to show some of his personality! Let’s unpack.
The title for this section is a phrase also used in the body. “The depths of power” is an obvious flip from our culture’s perceptions. For us the places of power are high and lofty and, in general, the folks of The Valleys also speak that way. The actual Senate chamber, however, is found deep in the lowest reaches of The Ravine. From that chamber the fates of all those who live in The Valleys is decided – and “the depths of power” is how they think of it.
Of course, looking at the nature of power in our culture “depths” is probably a better adjective than “heights” anyway.
Jeremy is “chosen”
I’m not entirely certain what Sheilak meant by her assertion Jeremy was chosen. Chosen by who, and for what? I mean, I have a general idea, but it seems like Sheilak has some other insight which hasn’t been revealed as of yet. I love it when my characters do this.
This is also the first time we get to see Sheilak and Jeremy interact on a more personal level. Jeremy’s snippiness is actually an indication he’s becoming more comfortable with her presence. Sheilak’s return dig, “Oh, I’m sorry, no talking” actually made me laugh as I was typing. Up on the surface Sheilak’s ability to communicate is, at present, more limited – so she appears to be no more than a powerful dispenser of information. In the deep of The Ravine her personality is more free to emerge, and I find I really enjoy her presence.
Incidentally, Guardians who are not linked to a human do not tend to make jokes. Humanity tends to rub off on people, even when said person is a shadowy semi-spirit who lives in light.
Jeremy is reminded by Shelter when he first enters The Refuge. The connection is absolutely correct, the construction of Shelter was based entirely from lessons learned in creating and maintaining The Refuge.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the people of The Valleys aren’t remembering their story very well. The Refuge was, indeed, a refuge for their people in a time of great fear. It was not, however, their first refuge. There is a settlement outside walled section of The Ravine which marks the first area settled in The Valleys which the people referred to as “The Refuge.” In fact, Michael’s family currently lives there.
While The Ravine was always thought of as a place of security, something happened after the initial settlement which drove the people into it on a more permanent basis. The town then grew up, and gradually became the city seen in the story.
All about privilege
You should have guessed this by now, but The Valleys is not a democracy, or even a representative Republic. It is, in fact, an oligarchy. People of the greatest political rank, the Senators and Junior Representatives, enjoy immense privilege in their society. Walter has claimed this privilege on several occasions during the story thus far, though he has always done so in order to expose corruption and open doors for others. Very few other Senators even blink at claiming their Senatorial privilege. Kaitlyn and, interestingly, Merkot are two of the only who use it sparingly. Walter’s arrival has added a third member to this “humility bloc,” and Jeremy’s willingness to stand in line shows he’s likely to be a fourth.
As was glimpsed at the checkpoint, however, the claim of privilege does not sit well with many people. The feelings expressed openly about “The Cracks” in Riverside are quietly voiced in many settlements.
Kaitlyn shows a flicker of annoyance when Walter excuses himself from their conversation. She was not annoyed at Walter, whom she has come to believe is a genuine ally. Rather, she doesn’t trust Jeremy, or his connection with Sheilak, and is frustrated so much of her hopes reside in seeing him descend to join the ranks of power.
Satal has put a huge amount of her reputation on the line by openly supporting Walter and bringing his mysterious apprentice to the Senate. She wants Jeremy to succeed, but she also wants him to know to whom he is indebted, and how great that debt is.
She’s not entirely cruel, though. Making Jeremy even more nervous is actually part of the plan. Were he to appear too comfortable, her enemies would seem him as a threat who needed to be cancelled out. Making him appear timid also makes Jeremy less politically attractive.
Politics is an awful game.
Also, May the 4th be with you.