Shadow of the Torturer chapters one to four.



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    Thank you! As standard practice can someone remember to post the "next" link at the end of each previous week?

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    Good idea. I'll try to remember to do that next time, and hope someone else does the times I forget.
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    Its pretty hard to predict when the last post will be.
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    > @Apocryphal said:
    > Its pretty hard to predict when the last post will be.

    Queue bugle music stage left...
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    Good point. Let me rephrase. As standard practice can someone remember to post the "next" link in the previous week thread each Wednesday or whenever that thread goes up. LOL.

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    Or, do it like the first one, put up an announcement in the original post.

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    @Ray_Otus are you still not seeing the most recent posts on top? @rossum any advice?
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    • Great read so far. I enjoyed the unfolding of the story in these first four chapters. It allows the reader to experience the setting first and does a great job of developing that setting in the mind's eye. It is very immersive and at some points confusing but within a few pages or by the end of the chapter there is usually some clarity provided in the narration by Severian.

    • I like the blend of overt fantasy and shrouded/mysterious - sci-fi / tech that exists from the general mention that "Naturally the Autarch could get here by a flier in an instant if he wanted to." I now want to know what a "flier" is. There was also this passage which referenced flying ships: "I caught my breath; stamped on the reverse was just such a flying ship as I had seen in the arms above the door of my secret mausoleum." There is also reference to guns: "Near the very top is the gun room, whose remaining pieces we of the guild are charged with serving should the Citadel suffer attack." So there are way more than pikes, swords, pole arms, etc..

    • I also researched the bear reference of "lick into shape" because it also had me very curious and found the following: 'Lick into shape' sprang from the belief held in medieval Europe that bear cubs were born shapeless and had to be made into ursine form by their mother's licking. This belief is recorded in a translation of Guillaume de Deguileville's The Pylgremage of the Sowle. The fact that we have a printed recorded of this expression is something of a close call as de Deguileville's text was one of the very first books printed, by William Caxton, around 1480. Caxton's print suggests that the translation was made in 1413.
      "Beres ben brought forthe al fowle and transformyd and after that by lyckynge of the fader and the moder they ben brought in to theyr kyndely shap."
      [Bears are born misshapen and are subsequently formed into their natural shape by the licking of their father and mother.] -

    • The description of how they gain new members into Severian's guild ranks was indeed brutal, I agree with @Ray_Otus on that one! First they are from the pregnant women of who they torture so no member of the guild knows their lineage and then when pregnant woman is cut open If male and breaths it is welcome in the ranks and if a female are rendered to the witches. Vicious! This is very Melnibonéan in nature and for that matter so is the depiction of the torturers and their clients too. WOW.

    • I really like this last bit of philosophy "We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges ..."

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    @Aonghais_MacInnes said:
    [...] This is very Melnibonéan in nature [...]

    Good comparison. A very decadent society to be sure.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    @Ray_Otus are you still not seeing the most recent posts on top? @rossum any advice?

    It's not about that so much as notifications. I only get notifications on threads I've actually participated in. So here's how Wednesday goes. I first have to assume a new post went up, then I have to remember how to find it. For whatever reason, navigating there is not easy for me. And none of the quick views that I know of show recently updated forum threads on top. (Maybe that's what you meant instead of new posts on top?)

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    OK. I just found the path again. Slow Reads in left column, then the Book of the New Sun, then the right week. Not really that difficult. I just don't get a ping to remind me to go look.

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    > @Ray_Otus said:
    > OK. I just found the path again. Slow Reads in left column, then the Book of the New Sun, then the right week. Not really that difficult. I just don't get a ping to remind me to go look.

    I think that if you find the right part of account settings (notifications?) then you can check a box to get such pings. But the problem is when someone sets up a new category, eg a new monthly book - then you don't get notified unless you explicitly go and check the new checkbox. There doesn't seem to be a way to configure so you get notified of all new posts regardless of category, so it needs regular checking in settings that you have the current list.
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    Indeed. It would be cool if you could set your notifications further up the 'tree.'

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    I’ll set up a news thread when I’m back that people can follow. It won’t cover every new thread, though.

    I’m my feed using Chrome on IPhone I see all the threads in order of frequency. Threads with new content (invluding those I haven’t seen before) have a white background, and all others a grey background. New content in threads I have posted in also get a New tag in yellow.

    I don’t get the white vs grey background on my PC though.
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    edited April 2019


    As though an amschaspand (p.12) had touched them with his radiant wand, the fog swirled and parted to let a beam of green moonlight fall.

    In Zoroastrianism, Amesha Spenta (Avestan: Aməša Spəṇta) is a class of divine entities literally means "Immortal (which is) holy." Later Middle Persian variations of the term include the contraction 'Ameshaspand' as well as the specifically Zoroastrian 'Mahraspand' and 'Amahraspand'. Significantly more common than the non-specific meaning of Amesha Spenta (see below) is a restrictive use of the term to refer to the great six "divine sparks" of Ahura Mazda.

    As if a dove had momentarily commanded an Arctother (p.13), the woman took the shining pistol from the man's hand...

    Arctotherium is quite simply, the largest bear ever discovered and by default, a contender for the largest carnivorous land mammal ever to live.

    But the armigers and optimates (p.16) favoured the highest slopes, near the citadel wall.

    Armiger: a person entitled to heraldic arms.
    Optimates: The Optimates (/ˈɒptəmɪts/; Latin: optimates, "best ones", singular optimas; also known as boni, "good men") were a conservative political faction in the late Roman Republic. In general, the Optimates favored the nobiles and opposed the ascension of novi homines into Roman politics.

    The decades of a saros (p.17) would not be long enough for me to write all they meant to the ragged apprentice boy I was.

    Saros: a period of approximately 223 synodic months (approximately 6585.3211 days, or 18 years, 11 days, 8 hours), that can be used to predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon.

    I sometimes think the reason the guild has endured so long is that it serves as a focus for the hatred of the people, drawing it from the Autarch, the exultants, and the army, and even in some degree from the pale cacogens (p.19) who sometimes visit Urth from the farther stars.

    1. A morbid, monstrous, or pathological growth or product; an abnormality in structure; a monstrosity. (wiktionary)
    2. A woman who has made herself unsociable (urban dictionary)

    No real violence was done to us, and once or twice, when it was known that some tyrannical wildgrave (p.19) or venal burgess had been delivered to the mery of the guild, we received shouted suggestions as to his disposal...

    Wildgrave: A waldgrave, or head forest keeper.

    At the place where we swam, Gyoll had lost its natural banks hundreds of years ago. Here it was a two-chain-wide expanse of blue nenuphars (p.19) penned between walls of stone.

    Nenuphar: A water lily, especially the European white water lily (Nymphaea alba) or the yellow water lily (Nuphar lutea).

    The coin was a gold chrisos, (p.24) and I closed my hand once more, fearing that I had only mistaken a brass orichalk, and waited until I found my courage again. It was the first time I had ever touches a piece of gold. Orichalks I had seen in some plenty., and I had even possessed a few of my own. Silver asimi I had glimpsed once or twice.

    Chrisos meaning 'golden', and orichalc meaning a type of brass rich in zinc, a yellowish metal. Asimi is from greek for silver.

    His duties take him to other parts of the Citadel - to the soldiers in the barbican, where where he learns that the military apprentices have drums and trumpets and ophicleides (p.25) and boots and sometimes gilded cuirasses; to the Bear Tower, where he sees boys no older than himself learning to handle wonderful fighting animals of all kinds, mastiffs with heads as large as a lion's, diatrymae taller than a man, with beaks sheathed in steel...

    Ophicleide: an obsolete bass brass instrument with keys, used in bands in the 19th century but superseded by the tuba.
    Diatryma: a big-beaked prehistoric bird in the genus Gastornis, larger than the ostrich, believed to have become extinct 15- to 25-million years ago due to a vast climate change.

    Statues of beasts stood with their backs to the four walls of the court, eyes turned to watch the canted dial: hulking barylambdas; (p.33) arctothers, the monarchs of bears; glyptodons, smilodons with fangs like glaives.

    Barylambda: In life, Barylambda probably resembled a large tapir, with a small head and long, well-developed tail and bear-like legs. The length was about 2.5 meters with a weight around 650 kg, about the size of a pony. Barylambda was large even for a pantodont, sheer size probably protecting it from contemporary carnivores.

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    edited April 2019

    @Ray_Otus said:
    I thought this passage was particularly lyrical (referencing his encounter with Triskele).

    "There are encounters that change nothing. Urth turns her aged face to the sun and he beams upon her snows; they scintillate and coruscate until each little point of ice hanging from the swelling sides of the towers seems the Claw of the Conciliator, the most precious of gems. Then everyone except the wisest believes that the snow must melt and give way to a protracted summer beyond summer.

    Nothing of the sort occurs. The paradise endures for a watch or two, then shadows blue as watered milk lengthen on the snow, which shifts and dances under the spur of an east wind. Night comes, and all is at it was."

    Here a reference to snows - Urth is a cold place. each point of ice seems like the Claw of the Conciliator (a gem, and also the name of book 2 in the series).

    A triskele is a symbol with tri-symmetry, sometimes represented as three running legs. Triskele, the dog in the story, is a 3-legged dog (missing it's fourth). I once knew someone who claimed that their relative had designed the triskele flag of the Isle of Man:

    "Here," Master Palaemon began in his driest tone, "we have something outside of the routine judicial punishment and well illustrative of modern technique. The client was put to the question last night - perhaps some of you heard her.

    Wolfe acomplishes a fair amount of ick with relatively little gore. I admire that.

    Note also the use of charms in chapter 3. For the charm to be really effective one had to walk around the spot at midnight carrying a corpse-candle.

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    The saros period (getting on for 18 1/2 years) is very important for understanding the relationship between sun and moon (ie not just eclipses), and is implicitly built in to most ancient stone circles. It turns up there by way of indicating the most northerly and southerly points of rise of the full moon, which swing to and fro in a fairly complex way over the saros cycle.

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    Are we building the Annotated New Sun here? I feel like we are. This is some pure gold shit right here. :)

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    Thanks @Apocryphal
    I love the Lexicon. I've been mostly estimating the meanings of the unusual and repurposed words (or in a couple of cases I know them). My success rate is about 50%.
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