One of the major reasons I have always liked Daybreak is because of the strong rebuilding theme. A great deal of apocalyptic fiction dwells on the destruction and the complete hopelessness of the situation the characters find themselves in. I find this to be extremely unpleasant, which is why I avoid stories that involve “no win” situations. (In my more depressive moods, I usually state that this is because no-win situations are too much like “real life.”)
Once more returning to the argument with the gentleman concerning my intense dislike for Earth Abides, I was told I had failed to understand the underlying point of the book, which apparently involved how incredibly impossibly hard it would be to restore civilization. I was solemnly enjoined to re-read the book twenty years from now when presumably I would be a little smarter than I was, and therefore better able to understand the deep meaningfulness of not being able to restore civilization. Or something like that.
With Daybreak, the underlying message is “we can rebuild, and we should rebuild, but we also do not want to make the same mistakes the previous civilization made.” This is a lot more interesting to me than, “building a civilization is hard. It is hard and no one understands.” Chapter Thirteen: Ring of Fire
So, after the Plainsman chief completely dismisses anything Arskane says he turns his attention to Fors. He immediately does not believe Fors story about having crossed through the wasteland and wants to know who he is and where he’s from. Fors identifies himself as being from the mountain clans. The chief wants to know whether Fors is a Star Man and Fors responds in the negative while insisting his story is true. (This is a smart move since we know that Jarl is looking for him. Impersonating a Star Man would probably get him into even more trouble than stealing his father’s gear and notes will.)
Since Fors has pretty much admitted to being an outcast, the Chief and his advisors are automatically inclined not to listen to him. Fors decides that now would be a good opportunity to play the hospitality card, which if accepted as valid would give him some more diplomatic leverage. The Chief chooses to abide by the hospitality custom even though he does not want to.
Arskane and Fors are now guests! It is much easier to communicate when you are having a conversation instead of an interrogation. We learn that the Plains People are most likely descended from military personnel, much the way Arskane’s people were. The Chief and his advisors are very surprised to learn that the Plains People and Arskane’s tribe have symbols in common! The advisors shows Fors and Arskane some old records and maps and they talk about the past and about how there are very few young men among the Plains People who have an interest or understanding of the past.
During the course of the conversation, Arskane is able to make a pitch to the Plains People about permitting his tribe to settle. He points out that his people are not hunters–that they are farmers and all they want is land for their farms and sheep. (A place with good clay deposits would also be pretty sweet.)
The general response from the Plains People is that they are really not comfortable with strangers and just do not get staying rooted to one place. (On the other hand, it seems that they do get the idea of trade with skilled artisans and farmers.)
Fors brings up some of the things he learned about the activity of the Beast Things. The Chief wants to know if the Beast Things have built and army, but Fors can’t answer yes or no on that subject. He can say that there has been increased activity and it is clear that the Beast Things are making excursions beyond their usual territory. Their conversation is interrupted by a prairie fire. Arskane and Fors use this as an opportunity to escape.
Chapter Fourteen: Arrow’s Flight
Fors and Arskane make a run for the river. From the river, they end up in a lake. Somewhere in between they nearly get drowned because all of the animals are also headed for the river to get away from the fire. The plan is still “try to find Arskane’s tribe,” though since the tribe is no longer signaling, this will probably prove extremely difficult.
Arskane and Fors do some talking. Arskane feels that there is some agency at work telling him that despite the certainty of war between his people and the Plains People that there may still be the possibility of peace. Even though he was pretty copacetic with the idea of war previously, he really, really wants to have his tribe and the Plains People working together in an alliance of some kind. Fors of course agrees.
They do some more travelling and come across a tragedy. A clan group from Arskane’s tribe had apparently stopped to go berrying when they had been attacked by Beast Things. They also discover that a Star man from Fors tribe had met with the family and had aided them against the Beast Things. Some more investigation reveals that the Beast Things were most likely responsible for the prairie fire. They are about to head off when someone fires an arrow at them.