1. What one seeks at audition that’s out of consideration. APART (i.e ‘a part’) Seemingly simple, the definition emerges unexpectedly from the latter end - ‘out of consideration’.
12. Source of arachis oil that’s half ingested by three body parts. EARTH-CHESTNUT (th(at) in ear, chest, nut) By contrast, in a similarly constructed clue, one has the expectation that ‘body parts’ might be the definition, but no, the solution is one of several nuts yielding arachis oil. ‘Nut’ is, of course, an informal term for the head.
13. Increasingly piquant jelly, not the first that is added to recipe. SPICIER ((a)spic + i.e. + r) Yet a third ‘that is’ clue, and again, as in 12, that phrase serves a function in the subsidiary indication.
17. Page accompanying chief magistrate in trial formerly? PREEVE (p + reeve1) The first of two clues (with 17 down) in which an unchecked letter could lead to a similar solution, but one not supported by the subsidiary indication. Here, the alternative is PRIEVE, listed under PRIEF, and also meaning ‘proof’ (q.v.). However, RIEVE , listed under REAVE does not mean ‘chief magistrate’ as is required by the subsidiary. REEVE1 is the key.
21. Delicious drink getting warm maybe, with bits of cinnamon thrown in. NECTAR (c, t in near, &lit) The embedded ‘maybe’ in this clue, and the listed definition ‘any delicious drink’ allows an &lit reading here. ‘Getting warm’ as indicating ‘near’ is a very nice feature.
23. What signet ring has, showing Peruvian king on reverse side. INCAVO (Inca + vo) One feature of note here is the reference to a monarch to indicate a national, employing the poetic device of referring to the monarch in this way. ‘vo’ is the standard abbreviation of ‘verso’ (q.v.).
29. It’s hard and unyielding being thrown into river - firm but fair. RHADAMANTHINE (h + adamant in Rhine) The reference in this clue is to Rhadamanthus, a son of Zeus who judged the dead, and who presumably meted out such punishments as suggested here.
30. Walk around second half of winter, shivering? Just so. ATREMBLE (anag. of (win)ter in amble) A fine example of a definition plucked from a word having a function in the cryptic part of the clue, i.e ‘shivering’. An &lit? Just, no.
1. Second to last among top achievers requiring ligature. AESC (aces, ‘c’ moved to last place) Actually a three letter word, rendered here as four, with the first two standing for ‘æ’, the ligature suggested as the solution. Æsc (q.v.), meaning ‘ash’ (tree), was the name used for the rune used to represent it.
2. Product of Fleet Street gravitas may be found on desk. PAPERWEIGHT (paper + weight) One from the shallow end of Azed’s vast pool.
7. Jack’s place in literature, I’m sure. REIMS (hidden) The reference is to a poem by R. H. Barham: ‘The Jackdaw of Rheims’ (q.v). One of many definitions listed for ‘jack’ is ‘a jackdaw’.
14. Fork come upon? One yields to one half of road therein. CROTCH (ro(ad) for a in catch) The first (with 20 down) of two clues featuring substitutions. ‘Catch’ is defined in the clue as ‘come upon’, in the sense ‘to meet by chance’, but the phrase is subtly disguised in the surface by its passive relation to ‘fork’.
17. Piper with length of time half surrendered for stringed instrument. PANDURA (Pan + dura(tion)) The unchecked fifth letter allows an unwary solver to guess at ‘pandora’ under which heading the solution is listed in Chambers. Further variants of both word and instrument are shown at the entry for ‘bandore’.
20. Full of disquiet, one displaces confusion at opening of pen. ANGSTY (an for pi3 in pigsty) A suitably messy clue. One is not convinced by ‘displaces confusion’ in the surface. The solution is an awkward, informal adjective formed from a word which is properly used in English as a technical term in psychoanalysis.
25. An autocrat, this short person creates fizz. CHAM1 (i.e. Cham(pers)) This is one of Azed’s specialties, and a type of clue that causes confusion and some irritation among solvers, especially those new to his puzzles. The solution (‘this’) plus ‘pers’ (an abbreviation of ‘person’) gives ‘Champers’. Azed usually flags solutions listed as obsolete by some means or other, but has not done so here.
26. Maybe canned beer’s last one from multiple delivery. TRIN ((bee)r in tin) The solution, meaning a triplet, is defined here as ‘one from multiple delivery’. In the surface, one imagines a full can of beer, perhaps past its sell-by date, found in the rubbish.
27. Hopper lining of lead. FLEA (hidden) As ‘hidden’ clues go, this is one of the best. The definition is justified in Chambers as ‘a hopping or leaping animal’ under the headword ‘hop1’.
Across: 5. STRATOSE (anag.) 16. MEMORISE (Rome (rev.) in mise 18. SCOTER (0 in anag.) 19. SCELERATE (i.e. s-cele(b)rate) 24. DIARCHIC (raid (rev.) + chic) 28. COSTREL (cost + rel(ay)) 31. YENTA (n in yet + a). Down: 3. ARID (i.e " 'arried ") 4. THIEVE (h + i.e. in anag.) 6. THRENETICAL (The competition word) 8. ASBO (i.e. a s-B.O. &lit.) 9. ON-SITE (I in anag.) 10. SUBSERVIENT (e in anag.) 11. ETAERIO (anag. + io) 15. DECTRA (anag.) 19. SCALAR (a + L in scar; s.v. scala) 22. RHOMB (rh + o' + MB).