Sword of the Lictor, chapters 28 to 31

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Severian reaches a village on the shore of a lake and uses intimidation to get a good meal. It's drugged. Severian is taken on a boat to a castle at the centre of the lake inhabitated by a giant, who is giving gifts and demanding tribute. The people living on floating islands on the lake suffer for that.

Severian wins free when the islanders attack the boat, along with the islander slave who served him dinner. They make love. Severian agrees to lead the islanders to attack the castle. Part of the reason is that they have the Claw of the Conciliator, sent to them while he was drugged.

Comments

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    And some thoughts and points to call out here:

    Severian now says the person he was when younger is no more. He's a gestalt of Severian and Thecla.

    Severian boasting to the reader about how many women he's made love to. He's not grown that much.

    The explosive spheres (made of Caesium or something else on that line of the periodic table, more reactive than Sodium) seem like a foolish weapon to take on a boat.

  • 2

    Quite an interesting reference to Babylonian myth in this section in the figure of Oannes - a greek version of the name of one of the Mesopotamian seven sages or Apkallu - perhaps the one nick-named 'Adapa' ('wise') who was said to have 'finished the plans for heaven and earth'. The Seven Sages were half-man, half-fish and were sent to earth by the gods to teach humans about the trappings of civilization.

    In this book, Oannes appears as a sea monster. This is quite different than the Adapa we know from myth:

    Adapa and the South Wind
    Adapa was the wisest of the Apkallu priests of the temple of Ea in Eridu. He was gifted with wisdom beyond that of other mortals, and came to learn the many incantations of Ea. One day, while fishing on the Lower Sea, his boat was capsized by a strong gust of the South Wind, so he cast an incantation to break her wing, and the South Wind ceased to blow. When the Great God Anu noticed the South Wind was no longer blowing, he summoned Adapa to come to heaven and explain himself.

    Ea advised Adapa to befriend the gods Dumuzi and Ningišzida, who guard the gates to heaven, and to refuse any food that is offered to him lest it kill him. Adapa donned mourning garments, then told Dumuzi and Ningišzida that he was mourning their departure from the world. Impressed, they agreed to speak on his behalf. He was offered the food and drink of eternal life, but because of Ea's advice, he refused.

    When he finally met Anu, Anu asked why he did not consume the food or drink, which would have granted him immortality, and Adapa told him that Ea had advised him not to. Anu laughed, and sent Adapa back to earth to live out the rest of his mortal life.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apkallu

    And here's another bit of book club trivia - the name Oannes comes to us from a Chaldean priest of the god Marduk who lived during the time the Greeks ruled Babylon. His name was Berossus, and he was one of the characters we met in Egypt when we read The Bronze God of Rhodes.

  • 1
    I'm really enjoying this book right now :smiley:

    I think this section integrates in a very interesting way with Typhon, the link being made by the net. Typhon tried to snare Severian with a magical/psychic net and failed... the hetman used a regular one made of fibre and succeeded. He's still very vulnerable to simple tricks, however defended he might be in other realms.

    Quite fascinating that he now regards original Severian as no more, and that he now consists of a real fusion of Severian and Thecla, male and female. Which takes us back again to the Autarch being referred to as the androgyne, and the ancient interpretation of Genesis that the first human was both man and woman, divided only subsequently.

    Cool trick to blow the boat up!

    It was difficult to stop at this section's end, and I am looking forward to the prospective trial of the castle in this week's exciting episode... though experience of Gene Wolfe so far suggests that a direct assault will not be the chosen approach...
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    @dr_mitch said:
    Severian now says the person he was when younger is no more. He's a gestalt of Severian and Thecla.

    That was interesting, and how he doesn't seem to regret the passing of the old Severian. But he doesn't describe it as growth, just a change in his makeup. But what to make of the juxtaposition of his transformation with the transformation of the women from courtiers to courtesans? Which does Severian see himself as?

    Severian boasting to the reader about how many women he's made love to. He's not grown that much.

    And do I detect an element of wish-fulfilment over how easily he gets laid? There are already the various oblique references to Severian's impressive stature and great strength. The guy's an over-muscled freak!

    Another thing was Severian's motivation in trying to retrieve the Claw. I don't believe his waffle about understanding the sublime interconnectedness of all worship. I think he's just trying to reclaim the power for himself, and is quite willing for a whole bunch of lake people to die so he can get it.

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    edited October 7

    @NeilNjae said:

    @dr_mitch said:
    Severian now says the person he was when younger is no more. He's a gestalt of Severian and Thecla.

    That was interesting, and how he doesn't seem to regret the passing of the old Severian. But he doesn't describe it as growth, just a change in his makeup. But what to make of the juxtaposition of his transformation with the transformation of the women from courtiers to courtesans? Which does Severian see himself as?

    The fairest of all?

    And do I detect an element of wish-fulfilment over how easily he gets laid? There are already the various oblique references to Severian's impressive stature and great strength. The guy's an over-muscled freak!

    If he weren't such an asshole I would think him a Marty Stu.

    Another thing was Severian's motivation in trying to retrieve the Claw. I don't believe his waffle about understanding the sublime interconnectedness of all worship. I think he's just trying to reclaim the power for himself, and is quite willing for a whole bunch of lake people to die so he can get it.

    >
    Bing! Solipsistic Narcissism for the win! :wink:

  • 1

    I do think Severian has an inflated self-image. I don't think it's author wish-fulfilment (which is the impression I get from Conan, and which completely turned me off).

  • 2

    @dr_mitch said:
    I do think Severian has an inflated self-image. I don't think it's author wish-fulfilment (which is the impression I get from Conan, and which completely turned me off).

    Neither do I. :smiley:

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    @clash_bowley said:
    Nothing anyone would be particularly interested in. A board game, an RPG, and another album. The usual crap.

    I imagine this secretly belongs in the other thread that @dr_mitch started... some kindly admin might move it?

  • 1

    I deleted it! Thanks, Richard!

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