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The Power That Preserves: Chapters 1 & 2
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Foamfollower1013
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Be true, Unbeliever -
Answer the call.
Life is the Giver:
Death ends all.
The promise is truth,
And banes disperse
With promise kept:
But soul's deep curse
On broken faith
And faithless thrall,
For doom of darkness
Covers all.
Be true, Unbeliever -
Answer the call.
Be true.


Quote:
The sight of the Unbeliever's suffering shocked Mhoram. Covenant was starving, he desperately needed rest, he had a deep and seriously untended wound on his forehead. His whole body was bruised and battered as if he had been stoned, and one side of his mouth was caked with ugly blood. But as bad as his physical injuries were, they paled beside his psychic distress. Appalled resistance oozed from him like the sweat of pain, and a fierce fire of will held him unincarnate. As he fought the completion of his summoning, he reminded Mhoram forcefully of dukkha, the poor Waynhim upon which Lord Foul had practiced so many torments with the Illearth Stone. He resisted as if the Lords were coercing him into a vat of acid and virulent horror.

"Covenant!" Mhoram groaned. "Oh, Covenant." In his fatigue, he feared that he would not be able to hold back his weeping. "You are in hell. Your world is a hell."


Quote:
"No one may be compelled to fight the Despiser. He is resisted willingly, or not at all. Unbeliever, I release you. You turn from us to save life in your own world. We will not be undone by such motives. And if darkness should fall upon us, still the beauty of the Land endures. If we are a dream - and you the dreamer - then the Land is imperishable, for you will not forget.

"Be not afraid, ur-Lord Thomas Covenant. Go in Peace."


---------------------

Hey, everyone! My quotes and I are back! Wave Very Happy

That first chapter of TPTP always makes me roll my eyes at Covenant in exasperated affection. He gets back from the Land, freaks out and trashes his living room, then lurches around in the woods for a few days without eating or sleeping or fixing his forehead. Only Covenant. Rolling Eyes

And as for the second chapter: Mhoram is truly cool. Cool

~Foamy~
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Foamfollower1013 wrote:
That first chapter of TPTP always makes me roll my eyes at Covenant in exasperated affection. He gets back from the Land, freaks out and trashes his living room, then lurches around in the woods for a few days without eating or sleeping or fixing his forehead. Only Covenant. Rolling Eyes
LOL Well put!

Foamfollower1013 wrote:
And as for the second chapter: Mhoram is truly cool. Cool
Well, maybe in a god-like sort of way.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2003 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
You turn from us to save life in your own world. We will not be undone by such motives.
I need to say more about this.

The obvious meaning is, "We will not lose this war because you need to save a little girl's life."

But that's not the end of it. As I said, that's the obvious meaning. The entire quote is:
Quote:
"No one may be compelled to fight the Despiser. He is resisted willingly, or not at all. Unbeliever, I release you. You turn from us to save life in your own world. We will not be undone by such motives. And if darkness should fall upon us, still the beauty of the Land endures. If we are a dream - and you the dreamer - then the Land is imperishable, for you will not forget.

"Be not afraid, ur-Lord Thomas Covenant. Go in Peace."
The rest of Mhoram's words reveal what many consider to be the more important meaning. By undone, he means betray ourselves. He is saying, "Your decision will not make me into what I hate. I will not take your freedom to choose away from you. How then could you tell me from the Despiser? I release you. Even if it means the end of all of us and the Land, we will have died true. But we will not become Despisers, and live at your expense."
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm beginning a serious re-read of this book and just concentrating on chapter 1 right now. I still say: This has got to be one of THE most heartwrenching/heartbreaking chapters in the ENTIRE Chornicles. The two new things that primarily stand out in my mind, and this may sound weird is a.) The strange similarity to Shelley's Frankenstien--abhored by the townsfolk--misunderstood--little girl in the woods--lurking about like a ghoul at the edges of backyards. b.) The powerful orations and descriptions of the evangelists Rev. Sam and Brother Matthew=Spoiler:
I said to myself "Wow! If these two appear as somewhat similar characters in the Land in the Final Chrons I think I will soil myself."
almost Mice and Men juxtapositions, in a strange way.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reading along with you, danlo. I missed out on the dissection of the 1st Chronicles the first time around, so I'm making up for it.

I completely agree: this 1st chapter is very heartbreaking to read. For me, TPTP remains the darkest of all the Covenant books (so far), and this chapter is one of the reasons why. As caamora said in her summary, "If ever there was a time when TC would have committed suicide, this is it. He is at his lowest point."

It's a vivid picture of a man losing his grip on...everything. His wife, who couldn't get any answer from him on the phone. His lawyer, who couldn't get an answer from him on the phone that made any sense. His own living room he trashes. His hut behind Haven Farm trashed by vandals. Everything about his neatly ordered existence is reduced to chaos and madness.

The "normal" cliche we (the outside view) might say about a man losing touch with reality is that he's retreating into his own comfortable fantasy world. But Covenant is someone who finds no comfort in either existence -- being an unloved leper of the real world who feels he has betrayed those who had shown him love in the fantasy world. He has to face the horror of an ugly leper's death via his wounds and/or the horror of what he has done to Elena through his actions/inaction. Who "never even existed." Yeah, I'd go crazy too. Covenant's "Unbelief" might as well be a defense against both the real world and the "unreal" one, to deny the emotional pain that both worlds inflict on him.

The tent revival scene is powerful, and all SRD had to do, you might say, was let the Bible do most of the talking, via the preachers. Personally, I have not read the Bible from cover to cover, but it's clear from excerpts that I've read (from TPTP and elsewhere) that it contains very effective, commanding prose. The Bible's words have conviction, making it easy to connect to people's hearts and minds. The problem, as SRD illustrates with the three dubious revivalists, is that it's also easy for con men to use the powerful spell of the Bible's words to take advantage of people's willing hearts and minds.

It's interesting that there are three preachers leading this revival. They're like three real-world Ravers in priestly wardrobe, causing mischief, spreading messages of doom, etc. While they couldn't actually possess people here, the preachers still held their audience captive all the same. They even had Covenant in their grip, if only briefly, and only because he was in such an emotionally fragile state. However, these Raving preachers aren't interested in Covenant. Maybe in his money, but certainly not his soul. His being thrown out by big Brother Logan is like an exile from paradise, but this is a false paradise for the misguided. Covenant can't do anything for these people. The real paradise - the Land - awaits to be redeemed somehow by him, but right now Covenant's in no shape to do anything for the people of the Land either.

I almost wish SRD would explore the real world a bit longer. Unlike other readers who've said they tended to skip past the chapters in the real world in their haste to get to the Land, I actually find these chapters very compelling. The way that SRD portrays the prejudice and cruelty of this world is one of the strengths of the Chronicles.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matrixman makes a very good observation-

Quote:
[The tent revival scene is powerful, and all SRD had to do, you might say, was let the Bible do most of the talking, via the preachers. Personally, I have not read the Bible from cover to cover, but it's clear from excerpts that I've read (from TPTP and elsewhere) that it contains very effective, commanding prose. The Bible's words have conviction, making it easy to connect to people's hearts and minds. The problem, as SRD illustrates with the three dubious revivalists, is that it's also easy for con men to use the powerful spell of the Bible's words to take advantage of people's willing hearts and minds.
It's interesting that there are three preachers leading this revival. They're like three real-world Ravers in priestly wardrobe, causing mischief, spreading messages of doom, etc. While they couldn't actually possess people here, the preachers still held their audience captive all the same. They even had Covenant in their grip, if only briefly, and only because he was in such an emotionally fragile state. However, these Raving preachers aren't interested in Covenant. Maybe in his money, but certainly not his soul. His being thrown out by big Brother Logan is like an exile from paradise, but this is a false paradise for the misguided. Covenant can't do anything for these people. The real paradise - the Land - awaits to be redeemed somehow by him, but right now Covenant's in no shape to do anything for the people of the Land either.


It seems that even if God wrote the the Bible like say Fundamentalists say, there ARE people STILL missusing it. If it IS true then it's THOSE people that are the most doomed.
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am completely blown away by these first two chapters. I do not remember them being so powerful and sorrowful. They have torn my chest open so wide that I still feel the pain, and (sadistically?) am craving more. I suppose that I have been pretty lonely for some time now, and reading always has a more powerful impact when what I read mirrors what I am experiencing outside of the reading.

I don't have the book handy right now, but there was a line that spoke of Covenant whimpering with need while he was lurking around in the dark behind the houses. The whimpering: that line penetrated me, I could feel his need acutely. And it was so sad how he was trapped in darkness, held at bay by the brightness of the lights. You can't get much closer to hell and loneliness than that.

And then, just when you think it can't get any worse, he bites into that roll. Oh god, I wanted so badly to not read that part, but I had to.

I don't think I have ever yearned to reach out and comfort, to hold, to console a fictional character like this before. His need was so tremendous that my nerves are still raw with the suffering.

But it didn't stop at the first chapter. I got to slip into the Land, just to find more loneliness and hopelessness. I could feel the fear and the cold within Revelstone. And poor Mhoram, so isolated from his peers.

Damn, I wish I had better mastery of this language, so that I could do more justice to these feelings raging inside of me. I want to cry out my sorrow. Maybe I need a caamora.

And the best part of all was the very end of chapter two. After all the pain, hopelessness, fear, suffering, loss . . . Mhoram places his hand upon the krill, and the gem flickers with a blue spark. Finally the reader is rewarded with the teeniest, tiniest, slightest faint whisper of hope, so microscopic, it almost isn't even there. But it IS there, and it suffices. That slim ray of hope is full of the promise of Mhoram's awesome sleeping power.
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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 2:38 am    Post subject: Re: The Power That Preserves: Chapters 1 & 2 Reply with quote

caamora wrote:
He flees into the woods and finds himself on the outskirts of town, unable to deny his need for people. He is lonely and desperate, crying to himself "Help. Help me!" He moves in between the houses, searching for one, any one, which might offer him some faint possibility of consolation. My heart bleeds for Covenant in this part! He is so lost and lonely and unable to find sympathy.

During the next few days, TC decides to fast as he has done before. I think he uses this as a kind of settling move to get him re-focused on his reality (like how he shaves with a straight razor and his half-hand). He also denies himself sleep.
Interesting Juxaposition, I never noticed before. He's so lost, desperate, looking for some way to get through the day. He makes bargains with himself to stop eating, and deny himself sleep and other pleasure, like a Bloodguard Vow, and then he gets back to the Land and finds the Bloodguard have broken/rescinded their Vow, and he's decided it's time to end Foul.

This is even more poignant when you consider the Marrow Meld sculpture of Covenant/Bannor, which leads you to think of Covenant's breaking of Bannor and the Bloodguard, when he whittled the name of the 7th Ward out of Bannor.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, as others have already stated on this thread, Thomas Covenant is in a very sad state in TPTP chapter 1.

Quote:
Nevertheless, he fell into the same fey mood every evening. In the gloom of twilight, his need for people became unendurable; it drew him spitting and gnashing his teeth to the outer darkness beyond the home lights of the town. Night after night he tried to drive himself to the door of a home, any home. But he could not raise his courage high enough to accost the lights. People within a stone's throw of him remained as unattainable as if they occupied another world. Each night he was thrown back for companionship on the unrelieved aspect of his own weakness--and on the throbbing ache which filled his skull as the infection in his forehead grew.

Elena had died because of him. She was his daughter, and he had loved her. Yet he had trapped her into death.

She had never even existed.

He could find no answer to it.


The Land has become real for Covenant because his guilt over what he has done there is real for him. He desperately needs human contact in our world to counteract that feeling that his acts in the Land are consequential, and can't get that contact, night after night. (And when he does get contact at the revival meeting, it doesn't work well out for him. Well, I guess it gets him to eat again.) It is indeed a heart-wrenching opening chapter for TPTP.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mhoram's own dilemma in chapter 2 is as emotionally compelling for me as is Covenant's dilemma in chapter 1.

Quote:
He could taste in his own mouth the desperation which had led High Lord Kevin to Kiril Threndor and the Ritual of Desecration. Power was dreadful and treacherous. When it was not great enough to accomplish its wielder
's desires, it turned against the hands which held it. High Lord Elena's fate only repeated the lesson of Kevin Landwaster; he had possessed far more power than the new Lords could evr hope for, now that the Staff of Law was gone; and all his might had achieved nothing but his own ineluctable despair and the ruin of the Land. Mhoram feared to share that danger by revealing his secret. He was appalled to think he was in such peril himself.

Yet this withholding of knowledge ran against every grain of his character. He believed intensely that the refusal to share knowledge demeaned both the denier and the denied. By keeping the secret to himself, he prevented Callindrill and Amatin and Trevor and Loerya and every Lorewarden or student of the Staff from finding within themselves the strength to refuse Desecration; he placed himself falsely in the position of a judge who had weighed them and found them wanting. For this reason ten years ago he had argued passionately against the Council's decision to withhold from Hile Troy the knowledge of Elena's parentage. That decision had lessoned Troy's control over his own fate. Yet how could he, Mhoram, bear the responsibility of sharing his secret if that sharing led to the Land's destruction? Better that the evil should be done by the Despiser than by a Lord.


Tough call for Mhoram, all right. But I respect him more from this passage knowing here that he wanted to be open with Hile Troy all along. That he is contradicting himself now shows where his decision should go.
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