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Quiss and the other innocents of Mordant

 
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Cord Hurn
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:18 pm    Post subject: Quiss and the other innocents of Mordant Reply with quote

In the "Strongest Female Character" thread, I voted for Quiss and made a promise that I'd dedicate a thread to her one day in this post. Well, when I thought about it recently, I decided that Quiss as a character was just too peripheral to the plot to merit a thread all by herself, so I've instead made it "Quiss and the other innocents of Mordant".

What I like about the traveling that Terisa and Geraden do through Mordant's countryside in A Man Rides Through is that we see the people who can suffer from the devastating effects of rampant destructive Imagery, and this raises the emotional stakes of what Terisa, Geraden, et al, are trying to do in saving Mordant. So, I'd like to provide quotes along with a bit of commentary to show how valuable and admirable many of the people of Mordant are, and how descriptions of them show how important it is that they be saved from the villainous plotting of Eremis, Gilbur, and Vagel.

Quiss is one of the best-detailed characters in the story, so I'll start with her.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In A Man Rides Through Chapter 32 was wrote:
She [Terisa] shrugged: the blanket was enough. Grateful for its warmth, she asked, "What did you figure out about Nyle?" She dreaded everything she would have to say about Nyle.

Without meeting her gaze, he [Geraden] squatted to his packs and began pulling out foodskins, a jug, some fruit. His tone was harsh as he replied, "Falling in love with Elega and letting her talk him into betraying Mordant for Prince Kragen. That was bad enough, but it sort of makes sense. Quiss--that's Tholden''s wife--she says Nyle has been unhappy enough to do something like that for years. Not everybody agrees with her"--he grimaced--"but I do. The Domne does.["]


Quiss is one of those sensitive, insightful people representing wholesome values that I presume Mordant is packed with, underscoring how important it is that Mordant be preserved from the murderous and destructive effects of unchecked Imagery. I'll get back to more of these quotes in a short while.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Chapter 32 of A Man Rides Through was wrote:
With a crisp accuracy entirely unlike the eager, accident-prone manner she remembered, he repacked his supplies, then watered the horses and saddled them. "Take the bay," he said, indicating one of the mounts. "Quiss had her trained to carry pregnant women. Quiss has been pregnant a lot. I think Tholden wants to have seven sons, too." His tone seemed gentler when he talked about such things, but that impression may have been created by what he was saying rather than by the way he said it.

_____________________________________

"Anyway, you'll meet Tholden's wife Quiss. And their children. She'll make you comfortable in Houseldon, or die trying.["]

_____________________________________

There was a woman on the porch. A line of rope ran from the one end of the porch to the other, and over it hung a large rug, rag-woven from scraps of wool. The woman held a short flail in one hand, and the air around her was dim with dust: apparently, she had been beating the rug. Terisa was immediately struck by her corn silk hair and sky blue eyes, by the flush of exertion on her cheeks and the strength in her hands. She had the bosom of an Earth Mother and the shoulders of a stonemason, and she propped her fists on her hips to greet Geraden as if she weren't entirely ready to let him enter the house.

A child only a little bigger than a toddler peered from behind her skirts, then ducked into hiding.

"You took long enough," she said in a voice that directly contradicted the severity of her manner. "Da's been fretting."

"Quiss," he replied like a man who had forgotten how to laugh and didn't want to get angry, "this is Terisa. The lady Terisa of Morgan. She's an arch-Imager." He seemed to fear that Quiss wouldn't take his companion seriously enough. "After Vagel, she's the most powerful Imager in the country.

Quiss raised her blue eyes to Terisa's face. She didn't smile, but her gaze felt as friendly as sunshine. all at once, Terisa forgot to be self-conscious.

"She's also cold and tired, and probably hungry," Quiss pronounced, "and she isn't used to horses. What are you waiting for? Bring her in."

Terisa smiled helplessly.

Geraden reached up for her hand. His eyes gave away nothing: he was too iron to be dented by Quiss' manner. Terisa included him with her smile, then lost it because she suddenly began to ache for the Geraden who would have chuckled happily at Tholden's wife. When he didn't respons, either to her smile or to her sadness, she took a deep breath for courage and let him help her off the bay.

Her legs began to shake as soon as her feet hit the ground--a consequence of her unfamiliarity with horseback riding--but after she took a step or two the trembling eased. Geraden might have wanted to withdraw his hand, but she didn't give him the chance; she clung to him as she went up the steps onto the porch.

Still without smiling, Quiss unexpectedly took hold of Terisa's shoulders and gave her a quick hug, a kiss. "Welcome, Terisa of Morgan," she said. "I don't know anything about Imagery--but I know Geraden. You are very welcome here."

Terisa had no reply. An awkward moment passed while she groped for a way to explain how glad she was to be here. Then the child hiding behind Quiss' skirts broke the silence.

"Ma, the lady don't smell good."

Quiss started to turn. "'Doesn't,' Ruesha. Not 'don't.' And that's no way to talk to a lady."

Geraden was faster, however. "Imp!" he barked. "Come here. I'm going to paddle your behind until you can't walk for a week."

Squealing with an obvious lack of fright, the child sprinted into the house. Geraden followed, thundering his boots on the floorboards as he pretended to run.

This time Quiss did smile, half in apology, half in pleasure. "Ruesha says what she thinks," she said, "like too many of her uncles." Then she wrinkled her nose humorously. "But it's true, you know. You don't smell good. They must have treated you pretty badly after Geraden got away."

Terisa was smiling herself; a small trill of music ran around her heart. There was hope for Geraden yet. Perhaps just for a second, he had been surprised out of his defeat. She sounded incongruously happy as she replied, "They put me in the dungeon."

Quiss' eyes resumed their sky blue sobriety. "A dungeon they haven't cleaned for decades, apparently." The bare idea affronted her. "Come. I'll introduce you to the Domne. Then we can go get you a bath. And some clean clothes. That will give his father a chance to try to make sense out of Geraden."

With one strong arm wrapped companionably around Terisa's shoulders, Quiss steered her into the house.


I feel it is worth noting that the people who have been suffering the most from the evil effects of mirrors are the decent solid folk just like Quiss and her daughter Ruesha; people who have no desire to harm anybody. Thinking about the values the people of Houseldon represent steadies Geraden; thinking about the threats they may have to face almost immobilizes him, at least emotionally.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Chapter 44 of A Man Rides Through was wrote:
Geraden had to struggle for a couple of minutes, but eventually he reached the conclusion she hadn't been able to articulate. "King Joyse," he said slowly, "persuaded you he was right to abandon us.You think he went after Torrent--after Queen Madin. When somebody he loves is in danger, he forgets all about Mordant--all about his plans for saving his kingdom. Not because he doesn't care about Mordant, but because he can't help caring about her."

Terisa's spirit lifted. "He isn't an idealist, not really. If anyone here is an idealist, it's Havelock. King Joyse didn't creat Mordant or the Congery out of an abstract set of beliefs. He did it because people he knew and cared about were being hurt in the wars--hurt by Imagery. He wanted to save the world, a world made up of individual farmers and merchants and children who couldn't defend themselves.["]


This says it best!
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Chapter 44 of A Man Rides Through was wrote:
And around the inner walls of the castle, around Orison's benighted inward face, the guards who would travel on foot were gathering in squads and platoons; ordinary individuals uprooted from their lives in order to endure a forced march for three days so that they could be hurled against an army which outnumbered them nearly four-to-one. And for what? Well, Terisa knew the answer to that. So that men like Master Eremis and High King Festten wouldn't have their way with the innocent of Mordant. To say such things, however, she had to believe what the Congery and the guard, what she and Geraden were doing might work.

Failure meant annihilation. For all these people.


Why are the story's heroes going through all the hardships they endure? So that men like Master Eremis and High King Festten wouldn't have their way with the innocent of Mordant. That's why I think it's so great that Stephen R. Donaldson went to the extra trouble of detailing characters like Quiss (and the Domne, and Tholden, and the Fayle, all of whom I will discuss in this thread in the future). SRD makes the struggles of Terisa & Geraden and their allies more engaging for me, when I can clearly see who and what they are fighting for.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Quiss took her past a door that stood slightly ajar. As they crossed the opening, a plaintive voice cried out, "Quiss! In the name of decency!" The tone of the appeal was both lugubrious and funny. "I'm dying."

"And about time, too," muttered Quiss without stopping--or letting Terisa pause.

"Who was that?" Terisa asked in surprise.

Then she was surprised even further to see Quiss' entire face turn red.

"Stead. One of the sons Da seems to value so highly. He hasn't had a woman since a tinker broke his collarbone, and he wants me to bed him. As soon as he learns you're here, he'll get the same idea about you.

"Take my advice," Quiss continued primly. "Have nothing to do with him. He's the only one of the Domne's sons who has no sense at all. Personally, I won't even let the serving girls go in his room. A groom and one of the shearers are taking care of him."

Terisa made no effort to keep from laughing. "What does he think he can do--with a broken collarbone?"

Quiss stopped in the hall and gave Terisa the full force of her bright blue eyes. Softly, she said, "You must not have much experience with men. It isn't what he thinks he can do. It's what he thinks you can do."

Her expression, however. suggested that she wasn't listening to herself--that her own thoughts had gone in a different direction. She had become grave, almost somber; perplexity knotted her brows. "Before yesterday," she murmured, "none of us knew you existed. Then Geraden arrived out of nowhere, breathing fire about a possible attack and at the same time acting like all the heart and hope had been beaten out of him. He said he left a woman behind who was probably being tortured because she was his friend. Now that I see you, it seems astonishing how little he actually told us about you.

"He never mentioned that you could have any man you wanted."


Quiss adheres to a code of fidelity that Stead with all his presumable charms cannot break. And she is often thinking of the problems of others, of Geraden's suffering, even when she obviously has so much responsibility herself. She is one of the strongest characters in Mordant, though she isn't royalty and has no talent for Imagery.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The (sub)forum lives! Nice thread, Cord Hurn.

There's not a lot about her in the books. But maybe we can still deduce a bit more about her character. Typecasting her as one of the 'ordinary' people that make Mordant (Domne) something worth protecting is true enough. But the Domne already embodies that facet amply. What makes Quiss Quiss?

First, the name. It's a soft name. There's definitely 'Kiss' in it. Maybe 'Queen' as well? Or 'Quintessential'? Just as Tholden encompass 'Fold them' (in his arms) and 'Hold them' (ie Eremis translations, back)

Also, Quiss is not just another woman of Domne. She married the heir of the Domne. She was enough woman to fulfill Tholden's ambitions of a large family, a caring mother for their children and a partner in the fulfillment of his dreams. And she wanted to do those things herself or else she wouldn't marry Tholden. She's sure of herself. She's strong. I'd venture she wanted to take care of the Care of Domne and partake in the creation of its future herself to some extent. Or were taken in by Tholden's dreams. Tholden is a bit comical and ineffective. She's the stronger one in their marriage.

We also know she's a good motherץ Not only that, she's also a good caregiver to Tholden's father in his old age. And Geraden in his youth, after his mother died. She has a big heart.

Quote:
There was a woman on the porch. A line of rope ran from the one end of the porch to the other, and over it hung a large rug, rag-woven from scraps of wool. The woman held a short flail in one hand, and the air around her was dim with dust: apparently, she had been beating the rug. Terisa was immediately struck by her corn silk hair and sky blue eyes, by the flush of exertion on her cheeks and the strength in her hands. She had the bosom of an Earth Mother and the shoulders of a stonemason, and she propped her fists on her hips to greet Geraden as if she weren't entirely ready to let him enter the house.


Strong, well-muscled and beautiful. This is not a flower on the wall like Joyce daughters. This is not an oversexed slut like Saddith. She combines both womanly beauty and a worker's strength.

-----

Now after reading your last quote, I have a theory.

Quiss doesn't value her lecherous brother in law, Stead, very highly. It sounds like it's a point of contention between her and her husband's family.

The official story is that a tinker broke his collarbone. A random enough story beyond illustrating his character. What if the truth is that Quiss broke his collarbone after he tried to aggressively seduce her one too many times?

And here:
Quote:
Her expression, however. suggested that she wasn't listening to herself--that her own thoughts had gone in a different direction. She had become grave, almost somber; perplexity knotted her brows. "Before yesterday," she murmured, "none of us knew you existed. Then Geraden arrived out of nowhere, breathing fire about a possible attack and at the same time acting like all the heart and hope had been beaten out of him. He said he left a woman behind who was probably being tortured because she was his friend. Now that I see you, it seems astonishing how little he actually told us about you.

"He never mentioned that you could have any man you wanted."


Is she worried Terisa was in danger of rape before she escaped? Quiss is not an innocent like that ultra-shy wife of Geraden's shy brother. She has the courage to confront the ugliness in the world head-on and headbutt it in the face.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL I like it.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Rosie the Riveter" springs to mind...
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