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The Nameless Ones are a definite force in the novel. What did you think of them as characters?
What did you think of them as gods?
Both as characters and gods they are pretty subtle. Are they a force, or are they a culture? Or, put another way, are they a force in the same way that a culture is a force?
They never individuate but always act as a group - if you like, there seems not to be such a thing as "An Old One", only the group together. They remind me a bit of the chthonic gods you get in many ancient systems of thought - a very archaic group of restless and powerful entities largely supplanted by the more personable later deities but always having to be kept in check. They don't have personality as such, only very primal intentions and moods. The chapter title "The Anger of the Dark" captures this well, I think
I don't think of them as "characters" at all, but rather a force of nature that needs appeasing. It could be that the gods are actual gods, or it could be a human projection of personification onto a natural phenomenon. And that's fine: why should "gods" be just people with superpowers?
But we only see the Nameless Ones as things that are appeased and controlled. We don't get a sense of what they would do otherwise, or how the priests at the Tombs use those abilities to get influence in the wider world (and why that failed by the time of the God-Kings).
I'd have to agree with the idea of them as forces more than characters. Although they "want" things, its more that they have appetites rather than goals.
Which gives me an idea to post over on the Gaming discussion thread.
I agree with the point that they're primal forces rather than personalities. Part of their nature is fear- embodied as fear of the dark and enclosed spaces, which is part of the logic of the tombs. And they're never clearly defined, but definitely present. This is for me effective- they really do scare me.