Sword of the Lictor, final chapters

The fight comes. Baldanders sinks to the bottom of the lake. Terminus Est is destroyed. Severian finds the Claw of the Conciliator, separated from the gem that was its casing.

We don't have a break before book 4 so we'll get to it next week.


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    I can't resist it... this is the end for Terminus Est :smiley:

    But it was a good way to go.

    Other things I noticed:
    Even now, Baldanders might not be dead...

    Severian explicitly notes that he has confronted challenges from all four elements "facing dangers from fire and the depths of Urth, from water and now from air".

    Given the clue, I looked back to find the dream Severian mentioned, prefiguring the fight between him and Baldanders - it's in chapter 15 of the first book and is well worth rereading. It is referenced multiple times through book 2 as well as here, so is clearly a key piece of information.

    Severian's meditation on the unsheathed Claw is, I suspect, a turning point in his personal story, and the account is reminiscent of mystic experiences the world over, Christian as well as Buddhist or Taoist (and no doubt others I am less acquainted with).
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    I find I don't have much to say about these chapters, but glad to have the tip about going back to the dream.

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    I'm still not overly sure why Severian decided to kill Baldanders. Was it just as petty as because Baldanders threw the Claw away?

    And there's the aside on different approaches to the truth of reality, and whether they're incompatible. Not too sure what that means, except perhaps setting up that the Claw is the item that allows someone to synthesise these different approaches and achieve true enlightenment (or something).

    It's interesting to see why the Claw was named as it was: I was always somewhat mystified why a glowing crystal was called a claw.

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    Apropos of nothing to do with the final chapters, I discovered by chance that Star Trek DS9 and Voyager used Autarch of rulers, typically imperialistic and unpleasant (see https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Autarch). Given the dates these were written compared to The Book of the New Sun I suppose they are nods to Gene Wolfe rather than independent discovery of the term.

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    I think the end of Terminus Est is interesting. Severian was almost as attached to it as the Claw, albeit somewhat ironically and with more self-awareness. It was more than just having a handy weapon or tool to practice his "trade", and now gone without him mourning for it. He's grown.
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    Terminus Est is a Beheaders sword and his last tie to the Torturers, so I suppose it had to go if we’re to believe he has changed.
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    @Apocryphal said:
    Terminus Est is a Beheaders sword and his last tie to the Torturers, so I suppose it had to go if we’re to believe he has changed.

    He's still wearing his cloak, which is more of an icon of his guild. But it's still an astute observation that he's moving on from his development, and losing the tokens that defined it.

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    I predict the cloak will also go before long. I have to admit though that although I have no designs upon an executioner's sword I'd dearly love a cloak that's blacker than black.
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    Something white flashed between us, then there was a bone-tipped spear thrust into one huge arm, like an **ylespil's **quill in the neck of a bull. p.196

    Ylespil: Obsolete word for a Hedgehog

    Whatever had occurred, the mace was gone, and I held in my hands only the sword's hilt, from which protruded less than a cubit of shattered metal. The hydragyrum that had laboured so long in the darkness there ran from it now in silver tears. p.198

    Hydragyrum: literally 'liquid silver' in Latin, i.e. mercury. I believe we had this before when the sword was first introduced - it had a mercury core to give weight to the swing.

    Just as summer-killed meat draws flies, so the court draws spurious sages, philosophists, and acosmists who remain there as long as their purses and their wits will maintain them... Thecla was attracted, as I think young women often are, to their lectures on theogeny, thodicy, and the like, and I recall one particularly in which a phoebad put forward as an ultimate truth the ancient sophistry of the existence of the three Adonai, that of the city (or of the people), that of the poets, and that of the philosophers. p.198

    Philosophists: One who pretends to be a philosopher.
    Acosmists: One who denies the existence of the universe, or of a universe as distinct from God.
    Thodicy: A misspelling of Theodicy, which is the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil. Theogeny, by contrast, usually refers specifically to Hesiod's poem, but in general terms is a family tree or classification of the origin of gods.
    Phoebad: A priestess of Phoebus (Apollo).
    Adonai: Another name for the Supreme Being, from the Old Testament.

    ...It shone, a claw as long as the last joint of my smallest finger, cruelly hooked and needle-pointed, the reality of that dark core at the heart of the gem, which must have been no more than a container for it, a lipsanotheca, or pyx.

    Lipsanotheca: A reliquary - the word 'lipsana' meaning 'relics'.
    Pyx: 1. The box or vessel in which the reserved Eucharist or Host is kept. 2. A box or chest at a mint, in which specimen coins are deposited and reserved for trial by weight and assay. Also called pyx chest.

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