This is the first novella in novella collection Borders of Infinity which is situated between the novels Warrior’s Apprentice and the Vor Game. In addition to this one, the collection includes also “Labyrinth”, “Borders of Infinity” and also a very short story that ties the three other stories together.

In “the Mountains of Mourning” Miles is staying with his parents in their country estate. He encounters a distraught young country woman who has come to beg her Count for justice. The gate guard doesn’t want to let her but Miles intervenes. The woman, Harra Csurik, tells that her child was born with a hare-lip and a hole in the roof of her mouth. According to old customs the baby would have been killed at birth by the mother but the new generations are struggling to put such customs behind them. However, Harra’s baby was killed and Harra is convinced that her husband has done it.

The Count thinks that it’s time for Miles to get know the district he’s going to govern some day and so the Count sends Miles to the small village in the Silvy Vale to find out the truth. Miles, armsman Pym, doctor Dea, and Harra ride the Count’s horses there. The leader of the small community, called the Speaker, is reluctant to investigate the matter but he has to do what Miles says. The other villagers are downright hostile to Miles, especially Harra’s husband’s family who seem to be convinced that Miles has come to kill him.

However, all things are not as they seem and nobody is left unchanged by this murder investigation.

The writing is very intense; the characters are convincing and the dilemma is real instead of easy solved if people would just talk to each other. It also illuminates the differences inside Barrayaran society. On the one hand, there are the elite and the military which get pretty much everything they need. On the other hand, there are the people of Silvy Vale who still kill their defective children because they think that they can’t feed the kids when the next winter comes around. This divide is in place because the government chooses very clearly on whom and where they want to spend their money, a choice which, alas, is still very clearly done also in the real world today.

The story is available for free at the Baen Free Library.

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