Meet Richard Tyberius:

So since this is my signature log entry as captain—I like how that sounds—of my ship, let me formally introduce myself: my full name is Prince Richard Fitzgerald Tyberius, prince of the Tyberian Empire and heir to the throne. Technically, I am prince of the province of Allsophoria on my home planet of Alexandria, but my family has been the leading authority for quite some time, out of the three houses. My dad, the King, will be happy to tell you Alexandria is the most beautiful planet ever to be seen. But he is trying to promote tourism on our world.

Richard Tyberius, as ‘captain’ of his new (to him) ship, introduces himself in log entries that will recur at the beginning of each chapter. In this chapter, he explains his little adventure he is preparing to embark upon:

I am planning to surround up a few of my friends from high school who are still on Earth. I know it has been a few years, but I have been able to maintain contact with a lot of them since then, and I even managed to locate a couple I had lost contact with.

As a result of his log entries, you are given insight into his life and his people, in a way that would otherwise be difficult.  In case you’re not familiar with the book, he is not from Earth. He did live briefly on Earth.  And one of first things you may notice with Richard is that he’s not very old:

I just got out of Allsophoria Officer University … on summer break, in part because, being royalty, I am not yet required to go to university.

How old is he? You can read the novel to find the exact answer (Book plug!).  But, given this unique perspective (a prince, leader of his world, with a seemingly unlimited freedom of movement), it would be dangerous to assume he sees and knows all.  Or, anything, really.  As I mentioned in the previous blog (The Three Houses), there are times Richard clearly does not.

Consider this example.  Here is an exchange between Richard and one of his friends.  Moving from Earth to space takes place at a facility referred to as an ‘Interstellar Transit Center,’ or ‘Transit site.’  Richard refers to it as a spaceport, since he is flying a spaceship there, and this is his port of call.  His friend makes an observation about his chosen landing site:

Joe shakes his head. “I bet you’re the first person to come to this particular port in years.”
Richard looks at Joe in amazement. “What? You mean this is not the only spaceport in Iraq?”
“Of course not! There’s thousands of them around the world, and at least a half dozen of them here. You could have landed at the one closer to Baghdad,” Joe remarks. “This one’s out in the middle of nowhere!”

Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it?

Richard can only offer you a little of what is happening in the story.  Where he is most helpful is understanding the various places you will briefly visit at the beginning of the story.  Also, he offers insight into the dynamics of the Tyberian government, and its relationship with Earth.

In case you’re wondering, the people and government of Earth is in the story.  However, what we will see is not how Earth sees the Tyberian Empire, but how others (specifically, the Tyberian Empire) see Earth.

Here is one observation Richard shares:

But as if my life was not fun enough, my dad, the king, has informed me we will be meeting with members of the Pact, who are representing a bunch of planets that can barely defend themselves from anybody. Yes, my best friend is from a Pact world, but he is probably the smartest human there is. And they did not offer employment to him. So, I have reservations regarding their judgement of how serious a matter can be, when they cannot observe the obvious intellect and talent in Joseph Pike. Of course, they probably want us to assist them with something they cannot do against somebody who is not much of a threat to anyone except them. Oh well, I guess the universe does not circumnavigate myself after all.

Richard is making a casual observation with regards another character, Joseph Pike (We’ll discuss him a little later).  We likely could conclude he is showing a bias favoring Joseph, since they are friends.  As you read the book, draw your own conclusions on what Richard has observed, and how you would react.

I would also like to point out another matter some of Richard’s comments may already reveal.  Let’s consider one more exchange, to make this point more clear:

Richard notices Joe is staring at him. “What? What did I say?”
He takes a long noisy slurp of his shake. “I hope you didn’t say all of that to her.” The bartender quickly brings another float.
Richard quickly shakes his hands and his head. “Now, pause your horses! I was being polite and nice about it.” He folds his arms. “And did not discuss the separate rooms issue with her. She had rescinded my invitation by then.”

Think about what Richard has said.  Not so much over the matter which he defends himself, but his word choice.

Idiom:  an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (such as no, it wasn’t me) or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (such as “ride herd on” for “supervise”)

-Merriam-Webster Dictionary

This is what Richard is striving for.  Since he received part of his education on Earth, he has heard them, and you may likely discern where on Earth he may have received his education, and therefore learned them.  Or, attempted to.

When I was writing his character, I originally thought he should use none of them correctly.  As in, every idiom he would use would have an inaccuracy variance of ‘ok, yeah, I think I understand …’ to ‘What!?!!’  But, it is interesting how difficult it can be to write not using idioms correctly, or changing them without making them impossible to understand. But, it is his struggle.

The book starts out as a friendly outing, as Richard stated, and it would seem the goal was simply an adventure of their own making.  But as this brief passage makes clear, all will not go to plan, and it won’t take long for this to happen:

Well, here I am, first captain of the new flagship for the Tyberian Empire.

In case you’re wondering, his first ship was not the new flagship for the Tyberian Empire.  It was more … humble, we’ll say.  How did this happen, among other changes, in less than a week?

You can learn more about Richard and his adjusted adventure in the book, including getting to know his new wife (this is among the other changes).  In a few weeks we will discuss the princess.  But first, we need to examine a concept that her character introduces in the book, and a human condition that inspired it for me.

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