Claw of the Conciliator, chapters 26 to 28

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Severian finds Dorcas, Dr. Talos, Baldanders, and Jolenta, having been seperated from them after Baldanders' attack. Dr. Talos makes sure Severian is paid for his part in the play, fearful that he has powerful friends. Baldanders refuses to be alone with Severian so he can attempt to heal him with the Claw. Baldanders and Dr.Talos wish to depart alone, and they beat and threaten to kill Jolenta, who wants to go with them. Severian, Dorcas, and Jolenta take the road to Thrax.

Severian is then tempted by an undine, a giant who lives in the water, and hints are made of connections to Baldanders, He comes back when Dorcas calls him- Jolenta was bitten by a blood bat.

One thought really here: Dorcas. She's more alive than before, and acting as Severian's conscience. For example, without her, he'd have freely abandoned Jolenta.

Comments

  • 1
    I found several interesting things here. First, Baldanders. It is suggested that he is linked to the undine, as @dr_mitch mentioned. But also that he is Talos's _master_ rather than any other relationship. And finally that odd exchange "the doctor... 'he will regenerate '... Dorcas murmured 'heal,you mean?'" I don't suppose any of us thinks that we have seen the last of Talos and Baldanders!

    And it was good to see some life and action from Dorcas. I admired her jealousy in relation to Jolenta, wanting to make sure the latter knew that she and Severian were making love. (Yes, I am aware it's a form of voyeurism, but also, I think, a refreshing sign of determination on her part).
  • 2

    It's nice to see that Severian's reputation is affecting how others treat him, in that Baldanders suspected that Severian wanted to kill Baldanders despite Severian's protestations.

    The whole meeting with the undine smacked of being a coincidence too far. The undine just happened to be trapped at this specific sandbar just as Severian was in the area? Someone set this up, and I don't know who.

    Talos's cruelty towards Jolenta seemed rather out of character. And it seems that Jolenta is quite literally falling apart as a result of not being pampered.

    Finally, Severian's emotions towards women continue to be all over the shop. The guy has the emotional maturity of a 13 year old in a harem. At the same time, he may confess to loving just about every woman he meets, but he seems to do just about nothing that's good or kind for them.

  • 2

    @NeilNjae said:
    Talos's cruelty towards Jolenta seemed rather out of character. And it seems that Jolenta is quite literally falling apart as a result of not being pampered.

    He made her, he can destroy her.

    Finally, Severian's emotions towards women continue to be all over the shop. The guy has the emotional maturity of a 13 year old in a harem. At the same time, he may confess to loving just about every woman he meets, but he seems to do just about nothing that's good or kind for them.

    He is awful.

  • 1

    I see the encounter with this servant, or maiden, of Abaia as a test, not a coincidence.

    I said, “Once before I dreamed of you.” Dimly, I could see her naked body in the water, immense and gleaming.

    “We watched the giant, and so found you. Alas, we lost sight of you too soon, when you and he separated. You believed then that you were hated, and did not know how much you were loved. The seas of the whole world shook with our mourning for you, and the waves wept salt tears and threw themselves despairing upon the rocks.”

    “And what is it you want of me?”

    “Only your love. Only your love.”

    Her right hand came to the surface as she spoke, and floated there like a raft of five white logs. Here, truly, was the hand of the ogre, whose fingertip held the map of his domain.

    “Am I not fair? Where have you beheld skin clearer than mine, or redder lips?”

    “You are breathtaking,” I said truthfully. “But may I ask why you were observing Baldanders when I met him? And why you were not observing me, though it seems you wished to?”

    “We watch the giant because he grows. In that he is like us, and like our father-husband, Abaia. Eventually he must come to the water, when the land can bear him no longer. But you may come now, if you will. You will breathe — by our gift — as easily as you breathe the thin, weak wind here, and whenever you wish you shall return to the land and take up your crown. This river Cephissus flows to Gyoll, and Gyoll to the peaceful sea. There you may ride dolphin-back through current-swept fields of coral and pearl. My sisters and I will show you the forgotten cities built of old, where a hundred trapped generations of your kin bred and died when they had been forgotten by you above.”

    “I have no crown to take up,” I said. “You mistake me for someone else.”

    “All of us will be yours there, in the red and white parks where the lionfish school.”

    As the undine spoke, she slowly lifted her chin, allowing her head to fall back until the whole plane of face lay at an equal depth, and only just submerged. Her white throat followed, and crimson-tipped breasts broke the surface, so that little lapping waves caressed their sides. A thousand bubbles sparkled in the water. In the space of a few breaths she lay at full length upon the current, forty cubits at least from alabaster feet to twining hair.

    No one who reads this, perhaps, will understand how I could be drawn to so monstrous a thing; yet I wanted to believe her, to go with her, as a drowning man wants to gasp air. If I had fully credited her promises, I would have plunged into the pool at that moment, forgetting everything else.

    “You have a crown, though you know not of it yet. Do you think that we, who swim in so many waters — even between the stars — are confined to a single instant? We have seen what you will become, and what you have been. Only yesterday you lay in the hollow of my palm, and I lifted you above the clotted weed lest you die in Gyoll, saving you for this moment.”

    “Give me the power to breathe water,” I said, “and let me test it on the other side of the sandbar. If I find you have told the truth, I will go with you.” I watched those huge lips part. I cannot say how loudly she spoke in the river that I should hear her where I stood in air; but again fish leaped at her words.

    “It is not so easily done as that. You must come with me, trusting, though it is only a moment. Come.”

    She extended her hand toward me, and at the same moment I heard Dorcas’s agonized voice crying for help.

    I turned to run to her. Yet if the undine had waited, I think I might have turned back.

  • 1

    @clash_bowley said:
    [Severian] is awful.

    Yes, he's just incredibly full of himself with just about no empathy for anyone else. A massively unsympathetic character.

    @Apocryphal said:
    I see the encounter with this servant, or maiden, of Abaia as a test, not a coincidence.

    It's clear that the undine wanted to meet Severian. The "coinincidence" part was that she was trapped at the exact time and place that Severian was passing. That's the part I was referring to.

  • 2

    @NeilNjae said:

    @clash_bowley said:
    [Severian] is awful.

    Yes, he's just incredibly full of himself with just about no empathy for anyone else. A massively unsympathetic character.

    If this wasn't a slow read, I would have ditched this book long ago. I cannot sympathize on any level with this guy. He isn't even an asshole. Assholes are useful.

    @Apocryphal said:
    I see the encounter with this servant, or maiden, of Abaia as a test, not a coincidence.

    It's clear that the undine wanted to meet Severian. The "coinincidence" part was that she was trapped at the exact time and place that Severian was passing. That's the part I was referring to.

    I think what @Apocryphal means is that the undine came there specifically to meet Severian. She was not trapped there. I agree. It's another 'fulfilling the prophecy' move to show how Severian is Fate's darling.

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