I have read the first 51 pages of "Transit to Scorpio" and already feel
compelled to report some observations. First-off, I decided to go with the Tim Kirk
illustrated version, but with the author listed as Prescot on the spine. Inside on the
title page, Alan Burt Akers (not to be confused with James Bert Akers), is listed as the
author. I see that this is also true of "Fliers of Antares". In my collection,
it is not until "A Life for Kregen", that "by Dray Prescot as told to Alan
Burt Akers" is listed there.
The cover Art on "Transit" by Tim Kirk is my personal favorite in the saga. What
a magnificent Rapa! The interior art is not nearly as effective as the cover. The
scorpion looks good as it is uncluttered. Not so true of Aphrasoe and the charging
Clansmen. The illustrations of the Chulik and Zenicce are extremely well done and have
effectively captured the essence of their respective scenes. On second thought, the
interior was not so bad after all. It's just that the Rapa is so damn well drawn!
During the introduction we see that Dray Prescot records his story on cassette for Dan
Fraser, who gives them to Geoffrey Dean, who brings them to Alan Burt Akers for
publication. On page 9 Akers talks of omitting much (customs and traditions) from the
tale. I wonder why he took that upon himself, even if acting in the role of editor. He
(Akers) says the last tape ends in mid-sentence. Off the top of my head, I don't know in
which book the "tapes from Africa end. Never mind, I just checked and they end on
page 46 of "Swordships of Scorpio". Prescot wants these tapes published in the
hope that "anyone who may be able to shed some light on their extraordinary contents
will come forward" (page 9). Does he refer to agents of the Savanti, Everoinye, or
As I began to read "Transit to Scorpio", it became clear to me that while Kregen
clearly molded Prescot in numerous ways, so much of the man he is was evident during his
initial years on Earth. One of Dray's philosophical views is that "creatures (human
or animal), act according to their lights or nature". He continues this thread with
" it is not in MY nature to let anyone or anything best me without a struggle. I
allow it is in your (giant scorpion) nature to kill me, therefore you must allow it in
mine to prevent you. And if necessary, to kill you to protect myself" (page 24). His
initial comment on lights and natures was a comment on the savages about to torture him,
in Africa (page 18).
On Earth we are aware of Prescot's hatred (page 27) of fish (and later, the Shanks), his
exceptional broad shoulders, and the fact that "he and death had become a companion
all too familiar" (page 28). Dray's unwillingness to give up against insurmountable
odds (shipwreck and savages) is also readily apparent on Earth. His antipathy to slavery
is slightly suspect when he mentions being"tempted by the Triangle Trade" (pages
16 & 17). True, he never did participate, but to be even tempted ...
Prescot's love of steeds (thanks to his father), will stand him in good stead among the
Clansmen of Segethes in particular, and in Paz in general. While on Earth Prescot feels
that the star Antares "seemed to glow down with a force and fire of hypnotic
power" (page 15). Of course and naturally, Scorpio is his sign.
As I said, Dray is naturally under the sign of Scorpio and it is a scorpion that kills
his father and indirectly, his mother. So what would be more natural than for him to face
a giant of that species on his advent to Kregen ? The fact that the one that killed his
father was from India, comes into play later in the saga ...
The question as to the reality of that scorpion is never answered in a satisfactory
fashion. There is no scent, it disappears more rapidly than it should when it flings
itself off the leaf raft, it is not a blow up of an Earthly variety (internal skeleton and
such), and while Maspero assures Prescot that the giant scorpion was indeed real, he has
his doubts and voices them occasionally in future books.
Upon his "transit", Dray finds himself adrift on the River Aph. For some reason
I am minded of Gully's travels on Mars.I also realized for the first time, that the
scorpion through itself off the leaf-raft as Prescot advanced on it. I had always thought
he heaved it overboard. Well, I guess that's one of the benefits to re-reads. In one of
the few times that I favor Barsoom over Kregen, the means of getting to Mars seemed much
better written that Dray's to Kregen. The manner of John Carter's breaking his Earthly
bounds was an incredible feat of writing. As I said, one of the few times ... On the Aph,
Prescot is naked and weaponless (as he will find himself again and again). "He would
have suspected weakness" otherwise. How often he expounds that feeling ! The air of
Kregen is fresh and sweet. He thinks that every time he returns there, from Earth.
And just how do the Savanti know of Earth (and other inhabited planets) ? That they do is
noted on pages 20 & 45. I realize their advanced state of development, but still ...
Also, how old are the Savanti as a race and individually ? With a thousand years per
baptism in the Pool of Vanti, well you do the math. I wonder how their age compares with
the Star Lords ?
Possible mistake on top of page 50. The term "calling coup" is used. Should it
"counting coup" ? Isn't that when the Plain Indians got close enough to touch
(but not kill) their foe ?
We meet Dray's first Kregan, Maspero. He says he is called "The Tutor", not
"a tutor". Does that put him one step above the other tutors ? And he calls
Prescot Dray, without first becoming his friend. And Dray allows it !
A pill that affects ones genetic make-up allows Prescot to understand the languages of Paz
and Schan. However, Maspero mentions there is universal language of Kregan (Kregish), but
in fact, it is the language of Paz only.
Fliers (vollers) are first mentioned on page 50, used to remove captured graints from the
environs of Aphrasoe to beyond the mountain passes. We see the River Zelph and it's color
is plum. This is the river which rises from the Pool of Vanti where Dray is baptized and
thought by all present, to surely be a chosen one. Why him more than the other candidates
? His new appearance is said to indicate this.
The first mention of paper mills and the mystery of the distribution of it's paper starts
on page 46. Prescot dwells on this for a long time. Speaking of the Pool of Vanti, that is
Prescot's first time underground on Kregen. But not the last (see "Fortune" and
"Mazes" in particular.
The emissaries of the Savanti and Everoinye are seen throughout the book ( dove and large
bird of prey). The exact nature of this bird is unknown. This raptor, eagle, or hawk is of
no Earthly species. And how did the Star Lords know enough to monitor (via raptor) the
River Aph, for Prescot ?
Another future thing that is commented frequently on is the lack of smiling by Prescot and
his love of the yellow cherry-like fruit, palines.
Page 51 shows the voller that the maimed and blindfolded Delia is in, crashing near
Aphrasoe.and Dray leaping to defend her from a charging graint. Accompanying here are 4
dead scarlet-roped Todalpheme. Can anyone offer a good reason on how they died ? Or why ?
This is one mystery that sticks in my craw!
Delia lands in Ba-Domek, near the city of Aphrasoe, much to the disturbance of the
Savanti. Though a princess of a powerful nation (Vallia), Delia was not
"called". She didn't fit into the plans of the savants of Aphrasoe. While not
said specifically, I believe that Ba-Domek (see "Savage Scorpio") must be one of
the 9 Islands of Kregen. Mehtza is definitely one. That leaves 7 ... and they must be at
least the size of Australia (page 149). I guess that Vallia and Pandahem qualify.There are
seven continents of which I know the following : Segesthes, Turismond, Havilfar, Loh, and
Gah (in Schan). The configuration of the groupings in Schan is unknown, but there must be
two more continents there. The city of Marlimor is mentioned on page 58, but I don't
recall ever seeing it on any maps or mentioned again. Another geographic comment regards
spices from Askinard (page 82). Again, where is that ? While the population of Aphrasoe is
not stated, Prescot does say that there numbers are pitifully few (page 59). I wonder if
their advanced technology could hold off a massive Shank invasion ? And there are 7 moons
of which the largest is "The Maid With the Many Smiles" and the closer ones have
appreciable motion (page 136).
Some other "firsts" (as there must be, in the first book of a series) are :
diffs (beastmen) Fristles, Ochs, Rapas, and Chuliks. We even see the first Rapa get his
beak shorn off (I always felt bad for them when battling Prescot). The threat of being
thrown nude into the Rapa court is used. We never hear of a Fristle or Kataki court. That
is a very erotic vision of Delia, being used and passed around by Rapas. I'm glad it never
actually happened ! Though one must wonder how she manages to evade rape even when
captured numerous times by lusty rogues. She has been fondled ...
Other firsts : graints, leems, zorcas, voves (and half-voves), non-usage of shields,
scarlet breechcloth (page 143), and vollers (airboat or flier). Dray rides in one for the
first time (page 143), on his way to rescue Delia in Zenicce. Plus the great term
"rast ! ". Ranks right up with "yetch ! ".
Realizing that the Savanti would probably not cure Delia's deformity (caused by a fall
from a zorca, which her father then killed), Prescot takes it upon himself to do so. His
testing (mental), had not been going well also. He knew he was in love with Delia. Her
outrageous auburn tints, full lips, and the fact that she is often nude, are all valid
reasons for dray's malady <G>. He even leaped 10 feat in the air to defend her from
the savage attack of a graint. Ten feet ! Think about that. During and shortly after his
exploits in her defense, Delia 3 times calls out "jikai" to Dray, with 3
different meanings : warrior, kill, and great deed. Curiously, this word does not register
with him, even after swallowing the genetic altering pill that allows Dray to understand
all the languages of Kregen.
First "remberee" on page 53. "Happy swinging" had been learned first.
In Aphrasoe, Dray never got to learn the true "mission" of the Savanti
(involving apims and diffs), but does learn somewhat of the Star Lord or Everoinye (page
57). The raptor or Gdoinye is the messenger and spy of these powerful beings. I wonder how
the Savanti know of them (they do). Delia sees both the Savanti dove and the Gdoinye.
Curious, not many do ...
I had not realized that Prescot actually worked in the paper mills of Aphrasoe (page 56).
Considering his interest in the "mystery" of the distribution of Savanti paper,
I'm surprised he doesn't dwell more on that topic. I'm curious as to how far afield this
paper does travel.
More firsts mentioned in "Transit to Scorpio" : The baths of nine (which Dray
entered before his first audience with Princess Natema and Delia's she-ling pelt, obtained
for her by Prescot on the plains of Segesthes (page 151).
I was surprised that Maspero was not suspicious of Dray's intentions, when he took Delia
for a row and picnic. Instead he made for the River Zelpph and the Pool of Vanti. Then
came his first banishment from Kregen. I wonder how the second baptism for Prescot
affected him, aside from the obvious immediate feelings. Perhaps he was the only man to
bathe in those milky waters more than once per thousand years. At any rate, on page 62
Prescot calls Delia just that, Delia. Not of Delphond or the Blue Mountains. She accepts
this after initial anger.
And what is the creature Vanti ? How old is it and how did it gain it's mysterious powers
? Did the primitive Savanti discover it when they retreated from Paz to Ba-Domek, and thus
rename themselves ?
So Dray is banished from paradise, Aphrasoe and has never returned (as of # 41). He did of
course return to the source of the River Zelph, but not the Swinging City itself.While on
Earth, Prescot obtains a pet scorpion, in the hopes that it might help form a psychic link
with the powers that be, on Kregen. It is the Star Lords that retrieve him from exile and
bring him back to Kregen, to do their bidding.Despite several years on Earth, it is only
moments to Delia since they were separated by Vanti. Now I know Dray was rightfully sent
home to Earth, but why wasn't Delia sent packing to Delphond ? Instead she is being chased
(naked again), by Fristles on the plains of Segesthes. Again, the Everoinye utilize a time
warp when they meet again in Zenicce.
The supposedly mythological diff, "Talu" is mentioned on page 115. Dray says
mythological "as I then thought". After 41 books we still haven't seen one of
these 8 armed diffs. The terms apims and diffs are not in use yet. So the Rapas shriek
"human" perish and "human" offal.
The word "blagskite" is used on page 86 and I couldn't find it in my dictionary.
It is obviously not a term of endearment and was used during the initial meeting (not
audience) between Natema and Prescot.
Back to Princess Natema. I guess her thighs were a fraction heavy, an infinitesimal
fraction too thick, for Dray's taste. Those sound like my kind of thighs . I'll take
Prescot's throw-aways, any day ! Her father is the current Kodifex of Zenicce, or Emperor
(page 112). I disagree with that comparison. One city (several enclaves), does not an
empire make. Since The Houses are ruled by Princes or Lords, I allow that the Kodifex
could be construed as a king, but not an emperor.
I was personally fascinated by the 3 rings Natema wears (page 104). The precious stones
were ruby, emerald, and sapphire, all among my favorites. Prescot uses a Tarl Cabot-like
phrase to Natema, after she has him beaten, during the course of her attempted seduction
" You would make an interesting slave" (page 116). While rescuing the naughty
princess from the doomed slave revolt, Dray whispers " Nijni will not be
pleased" (page 123). "You idiot" she retorts when Dray explains about the
soiled gloves. This was perhaps the funniest moment in the book. It certainly struck my
After his abortive rescue attempt of Delia from the Fristles, Dray meets Hap Loder and
takes "obi" from him, ultimately becoming the Vovedeer and Zorcander of the
clans Felschraung and Longuelm. The former title denotes the leader of two tribes of
Clansmen, the latter, 3 or more (which do come, thanks to Hap Loder). During his 5 year
reign, Prescot believes Delia dead, as the Fristle party was wiped out. This sort of
despair occurs again in "Warrior of Scorpio" and reading of it is such a downer.
While on the plains, in addition to Hap Loder, Dray's right hand men are : Jiktar Rov
Kovno, Jiktar Ark Atvar and Loku. All are instrumental in the ensuing escape from Zenicce
and in holding Prescot's power for him during his absences. In addition, I was surprised
when Hap greeted Dray with "lahal" instead of "llahal" (page 70). It
was their first meeting and were about to do battle. Of course Nath the Thief (page 93)
helps in the escape (of the Clansmen) and becomes an honorary member.
I was a bit surprised when Delia fled from Prescot after they initially meet in Zenicce. I
know he looked a popinjay, but still ... I did like the term "aureoled her hair"
on page 114. It conjured up certain images ... After the escape from the enclave of House
Esztercari with Delia and Gloag, they make their way to the arch foe of that House, Eward.
They meet Wanek, it's Lord . His wife is never named but it is she who first mentions
"Strombor", the old House.
It appears that Gloag is a diff as he is "scarcely human" (page 108). The race
of Mehtzas is rather confusing in this regard. There were 2 others with Gloag, but they
perished in the slave revolt.
Prescot shows an affinity for scarlet even before Great-Aunt Shusha appoints him as
Lord of Strombor. They had met (page 154) when Dray saved her and Prince Varden, from
enemy clansmen. When Delia makes her entrance (to the saved caravan), it is spectacular !
I can just imagine the white ling furs swinging in time to her lithe body and her long
lissome legs. Shortly thereafter, Prescot asks his usual question and Great-Aunt Shusha
says she has heard of The Savanti and their city of Aphrasoe, but can't remember when, it
was so deep in her past. To the best of my knowledge, this thread is never continued. Drat
Delia mentions that airboats (vollers) are not manufactured in her land and thus we know
she is not from Havilfar. The seeds of the cycle of the same name are laid here. It is not
until the end that Delia reveals that Delphond is an estate willed to her by her
grandmother and that likewise, the Blue Mountains are in the Island Empire of Vallia. I
wonder if the lords of Zennice are aware that vollers are manufactured in the subcontinent
of Balintol, to the south ?
Some more Kregan firsts : A "bur" which equals 40 minutes, the
"bokkertu" or legal arrangement, usually for a wedding, Vallia itself (page
174), dopa (fierce alcoholic beverage) and Dray's refusal to apologize, except to Delia
(page 162). I'm not so sure this is a good thing. I consider it a character flaw.
Lastly, the mention of "pack mastadons" (page 167). I don't remember ever seeing
these creatures again. Does anyone else ?
The mystery of Savanti paper distribution is addressed again (pages 167 & 168).
Part of it is, how does the paper leave Ba-Domek and arrive in Port Pauros by (whose)
ships. I don't think this thread is ever resolved.
I double checked the definition of "Vovedeer" and it means ruling 4 or more
clans. His clansmen are definitely taking liberty in calling him that. It isn't until
Dray's 13 year banishment on Earth that Hap Loder takes obi from a third tribe. Still one
I learned yet another word from Ken, and this one was in my dictionary. It is
"anodyne", a soothing agent. I'm sure most of you knew that, but I did not.
I find it almost too convenient that when the House of Strombor fell, it's survivors made
way to Valka (not yet specified) and to the clan of Felschraung (pages 158 & 172).
Naturally, those are 2 areas of Prescot's power (or will be).
While guests of Wenek in the House Eward, Dray and Delia peruse a globe of Kregen (page
159), and it shows Schan, even if vaguely. I'd be curious to know where the knowledge as
to the continental configurations came from. Some very brave explorers indeed ! And Delia
teaches Prescot to fly then too (page 159). She is a superb pilot if not a warrior, yet.
I think it significant that the caravan master, Xoltemb of Xuntal, sees the Gdoinye (page
169). Usuallo, only those favored of the Star Lords do so. Yet, I don't think this worthy
ever reappears in the saga.
I am a little confused by the "porcelain jug" scene (pages 127, 172 and 179). I
don't recall Prescot putting the sword inside it at all. It must have happened
One of the most chilling scenes is when Princess Natema, naked and in chains, realizes her
fate. The Ewards have destroyed the House of Esztercari and all she knew of. Personally I
can't envision what that must feel like (particularly from a woman's viewpoint, to be
naked and helpless in front of hundreds of your foes). She finally loses it (thanks to the
cruelty of Prescot) and screams (page 181). I can actually feel as well as hear it. I
suppose Dray wanted her to be fully grateful to Varden when he eventually makes his move,
and that she lose her feeling of superiority totally, before finally regaining her life
and dignity with Varden. The manner in which her sobs of despair subside with the
attentions of Varden, warmed my heart which had just been wretched by her scream.
After this victory, Dray is made the Lord of Strombor (what exact rank of nobility or
royalty is that ? Lord Farris too). It looks like Great-Aunt Shusha and Gloag will rule in
Prescot's absence. After the Ewards and allies ( the Houses of Reinman & Wicken) break
up the wedding of Delia to Prince Pracek of Ponthieu. There, in the stronghold of his
enemies, Prescot claims Delia as his own and wedding plans are made. Alas, the Everoinye
see fit to send Dray back to Earth. But he would return, he would return, to his Delia of
the Blue Mountains ...
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