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Fatal Revenant Part 1, Chapter 8 - The Stuff of Legends

 
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 7:38 pm    Post subject: Fatal Revenant Part 1, Chapter 8 - The Stuff of Legends Reply with quote

Well, I would have been seeing Yes tonight at Red Rocks... talk about being "In the Presence Of" my legends.

I tried to keep this shorter, but there's just so much here...

OK... Linden has convinced Berek's scouts to allow her to enter the camp. Already one of the things different about this scene, 10,000 years in the past (!! imagine 10K years ago on our Earth!) is a subtle difference in the speech of the riders, in the way their names don't flow off the tongue with quite the same grace as the people in the "future." Although things don't change in the Land like they do here, it's as if SRD has painted the picture with subtle differences so we do get that this is a LONG time in the past, a time before Earthpower.

The chapter title left me with such anticipation... during their journey towards the camp, it was kind of abstract... going to Berek's camp... but suddenly, we're going to be in the presence of Berek! Is this really happening?!

Leaving her companions behind, she races to the camp. When warriors attempt to stop her, she dismounts, drops the power from the Staff, and says simply "either cut me down or let me pass." They allow her to the tents. Everyone is wounded, even the healthiest have injuries, the healers are ill themselves. And although most have not yet awakened to health-sense,

Quote:
yet she caught only hints of hopelessness or despair. Berek's people were sustained by their deep belief in him... his spirit preserved his people when every other resource had failed.

Whoever and whatever he is, this man is an inspiring leader.

Linden enters the tent, and is overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people on the edge of death, people kept alive only "by the strength of their desire not to fail their Lord." She sets right to work, healing the first physician to come near her with her fire, then turning to the nearest wounded at her feet. I found it interesting that she doesn't even try to explain herself first; surely these people will only see fire and threat. But the first healer intervenes. I can feel these people's confusion as they see, but can not see, what she does. Having gained their support, she begins what seems like an endless task.

Quote:
With her Staff, she had the capacity fo fill the entire tent with vivifying flame... But she was too human to function in that way. She had to see what she strove to heal; needed to focus her attention on each individual wound and illness. In her hands, an undefined broadside of Earthpower might do more harm than good.

I'm not sure what to make of this. It makes perfect sense, and surely is the proper way to proceed... yet it seems to be hinting at parallels with wild magic. We've seen Linden heal Stave w/ wild magic, as surgically precise as she is here. Yet at least for her, even Earthpower must be "directed."

After some length of time, Lord Berek comes to the tent.

Quote:
Involuntarily, she stopped; stared. She had not expected to encounter a man who seemed more compelling, more crucial, than the injuries and deaths of his warriors.

...he was haunted by death; that loss and despair had been carved into the bedrock of his nature... the sheer depth of his bereavements had taught him a desperate compassion... he grieved for his foes as much as for his own forces; when he slew them he did so as if he were weeping.

Wow. I can feel that too.

(So at some level, Covenant's stories about Berek and despair do contain truth... and we see now why we were subjected to that drunken rant about Berek earlier in the book, to prepare us for this chapter.)

Quote:
Like wild magic, her voice was hidden from her; but she searched until she found it.

Her voice is like that which destroys peace; destroys what has been; in this time, she cannot be distinguished from the Arch of Time. Her first words completely change the direction of Berek's life (again). "You see different things now." He has not known what the changes in his perceptions mean; with one sentence she has altered his reality by confirming something she shouldn't be able to know. But he is a true leader; his questions can wait until his people are healed. She explains hurtloam. He calls forth one of his aides: Hand Damelon.

Most of the stories we've ever heard about the Old Lords focus on either Berek or Kevin. Damelon (and Loric) are sort of 'afterthoughts' (though obviously held in high regard) compared to the 2. Yet, here is the Giantfriend, as a young man. I wish we could have seen more of him.

I also love the terminology SRD uses in his books: Hearthrall, Haft, Swordmain, Apt, Adept, Castellan... and now another, a Hand.

Quote:
She did not think about ripples or time...

Oh yea, how is this NOT going to affect the future? Linden must be caught up in the moment; how can so much suffering still leave room for other thoughts. Yet, the ripple danger is always there. Still things are going well, Linden is finally feeling that between her work and the hurtloam; all of the people newly awakening to their healthsense; she has turned the tide. Unfortunately...

Quote:
Hellfire! Get your hands off me, you overgrown oaf!

Smile Ya just knew it had to happen. Wink

And Linden sees immediately that the Warhaft, Inbull, is a traitor. He has hit both Jeremiah and Covenant, and TC stumbles near Berek, who catches him... and acts as if he's been burned... and TC doesn't disappear.

WHAT??!!!?

As Linden rushes towards them, the Theomach stops her "in a grip as compulsory as manacles." Interesting use of the word just there; just a little reminder... The Theomach seems to shift them into a "hiatus between moments." (Makes me think of the Star Treks where everyone else appears to have stopped moving). Interestingly, he says "I desire only to aid Lord Berek." And then, to explain why Covenant hasn't vanished, "The force within Lord Berek has not yet fully awakened. And he whom you name Covenant is more hardy than he has encouraged you to believe." Hmm. Almost everything out of his mouth is interesting... especially, "By my true name, which is known to you..." WHAT??!!!? And what all can this guy do?

The Theomach interrupts the debate between Berek and TC, and positions himself to begin winning Berek to his cause, whatever that may be. Before the scene ends, Linden tries to comfort her son, is rebuffed, and wonders again at all of Covenant's warnings about touching her or using power. Why hasn't he disappeared? What's going on here?

-------

Interestingly, this next section feels like it comes right out of Mordant's Need. Probably it's just the similarities of being in a battle tent, and the references to "My Lady Linden" but I kept expecting Kragen, Joyse, or Elega to enter at any moment Smile

Linden wonders how Berek can even aid her party's journey. This is not exactly a well-stocked war party. And, she wonders at all that has just happened; how can she be sure to not risk the Arch in this encounter?

And I think to myself: NOW we truly get to interact with Berek Halfhand!

First, we see he is a wise leader: not blinded by his power, nor by his newly awakened perceptions. In the name of his Purpose, he is willing to allow Inbull's betrayal, though he loathes doing so, in order to use it against his foes. The need of the Land, and of his oath, is larger than himself. Though it's not said in so many words, this man feels: the ends justify the means.

Again, the Theomach intercedes: "For your many needs, you must speak to me." That takes some chutzpah! He then explains that he is a seeker of knowledge, a warrior of considerable prowess, and a teacher. And what turns out to be another hint: "If the Theomach were able to step between moments, he could strike as often as he wished without being seen or opposed." In a reversal of the previous chapter, where the Theomach seemed to be mocking Covenant's claims, here TC repeatedly mocks the Theomach's explanations of his purpose to Berek. What's going on here? Fortunately Berek is smart enough to ask the same questions. Though he is sorely in need, he refuses to compromise just because someone is offering to help. He must know what he is agreeing to.

TC decides to go pick a fight w/ Inbull. Good. I'm getting really tired of him. And I still have no feelings or pity for Jeremiah. And as Theo says, now he can speak more freely... he tells Berek of his own tale upon Gravin Threndor, with a slight twist -- the "tale" as it has been told is at once an oversimplification, and an over-aggrandization, of the real events... which Theo claims to tell. Berek's reaction shows the accuracy of the Theomach's knowledge. He was given words, which he spoke, but has since forgotten. How can this stranger know of such things?

Quote:
The Words were Seven, and they are these. The first is melenkurion, which signifies bastion or source. The second is abatha...

Holy $&!# !!!! He's about to tell us the *meaning* of the Seven Words. I had to just stop and breathe at this point... ... ... OK. We've discussed them many times over in other threads. With this new knowledge, I try them out while sitting here on the balcony. Nothing happens Sad

btw, this is when I became convinced that will the Theomach has his own purposes, but he is not a servant of Despite. No such being could speak the Words.

Berek is convinced. Almost. "If these Seven Words will bind me, I must know that to which I will be bound." Though he has already spoken the Words, is already bound, and stands by his Oath, he still requires conscious knowledge of what he is committing to.

(This is an interesting contrast to the Oath of the Haruchai, thousands of years later. I don't remember the quotes but it was explained like "we did not realize the power in the words we spoke. the earthpower replied and bound us to our Oath." Oops.)

The Theomach replies: "Life. Growth. Enhancement."

No more spiritual words can be spoken. But the next couple of paragraphs are beautiful.

Quote:
Neither I nor anyone may grasp the mind of this world's Creator. The needs and desires of that which is eternal surpass finite comprehension... The Earth and the Land are a dwelling-place where life may discover the highest in itself, or the lowest, according to its desires and choices.

...

I want it to be true. So do you. Isn't that what matters? Isn't it the only thing that matters?

My favorite quote from the entire chronicles used to be "I trust that Despite is not the sum of life." Windy Cape

Berek accepts the Theomach's aid. Then he dismisses him, to speak w/ Linden alone. I love this line: "Yet my wisdom is my own. If I prove unwise, as I have often done, it will be through no fault of yours." I am my own man.
Quote:
As she faltered, however, he grew stronger. His bravery was founded on the needs of the people around him. He had come so far and accomplished so much, not because the Fire-Lions had responded to his desperation, but simply because he could not turn away from the plight of his people and his Queen. He was full of grief and understood despair: therefore he rejected both fear and defeat.

As will Mhoram later. Berek's true power is not founded on something magical, or on thinking he is superior to that around him. He is an ordinary man, who has found something to care about deeply.

Berek speaks of how songs will be sung of her... she begs him not to. Though he cannot understand, he accepts. Thank god! What would've happened if he'd refused; if he'd been unwilling to forgo honoring her? Yet he will not be turned from the questions he has. He is able to sense her powers, and the contradiction they present. He can sense her ring. She tells him what they are, but says no more. Fortunately for her, he chooses not to press her.

And after all this, she thinks to herself that he is the legend here, not herself. That she is not equal to him. Whether this is true humility in the service of greater things, or lack of self-confidence in the same way she feels so much "less than" her memories of Covenant, is another paradox.

Sun-Sage, though none will sing of the deeds you have wrought this night, though will they fade amidst the eternal mists of time's evanescence, you too are the Stuff of Legends.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have hit on some excellent points Relayer. A fun read is your dissect.
Yes, 10,000 years...hhooo weee..Definitely feels like we are at the beginning of things " Chronicles". And with that..we are also at Linden being her talent, fulfilling her potential...and yet as you point out.." she begins what seems like an endless task. " To me, the horror of that tent scene is an endless task. SRD goes back 10, 000 years in the Land..but just go back 10, 000 years in human history,,as one put it ,," The history of mankind is of endless war with intermittent outbreaks of peace."..This chapter has Linden and us receiving some subtle hints..as in, Linden, you can spend all your days healing every one else,,endless task,,,but what of You?,,what of healing,, making Your Self right?..

...yea, Life Growth Enhancement..the very elements Linden has been void of in her " real" life... So, there is this directional shift started here in this chapter..Healing the endless parade of dieing and wounded just gets you totally exhausted and frustrated because you are Human. Make yourself rite, be your Leader,,The 7 Words are the Surreal Self..the True answer to Lindens quest,, the Truth of the Most Surreal Question,, Who Am I?..Bereck is to win the war because he learns to Live the 7 words..be the 7 words. Not "do" the words,, but "be" the words.Theomach is to be his Muse. As you say,,no such despite.

" I am my own man"..YES!! now if Linden would only ....

and what does Berek immediately do,, in the midst of utter horror, death and dieing. the putrid and sick, and the traitors,, this common man,, this humble leader that will not be defeated by fear and despair..?..He speaks of Songs will be sung for her...The Surreal Poet in us all.

But as you point out,,she still hasn't got it quite rite. Feeling " less than",, Berek is the Legend here...No Linden, thats not it.!...Its not in comparing your self to others..its about creating Your own Legends..

Thanks Relayer...Yea.. this chapter IS really Happening!
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reylayer Excellent Dissection you are correct there is lots happening in this chapter and alot to digest Very Happy . Of course the greatest part is the interreaction between Linden and Berek he treats her like she is a God.Linden does come across strongly as she is a doctor and natural healer so she is in her element and knows what to do(heal the sick and dying) of course The Theomach is delighted with her cause now he has access to Berek due to his assocation with Linden.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This chapter is one of those "I have to pinch myself" moments as a reader. We're meeting Berek Halfhand? And on top of that, his son Damelon? This is so wild. Brings me back to what danlo reported SRD saying in 2003 about the Last Chronicles: that "we will go back...before the Old Lords...the whole history of the Land will become relevant to the present."

If this is the only time that we meet Berek in the Last Chronicles, then this chapter will be talked about for a long time by fans. It will be interesting to see if SRD will have us meet Damelon again when he has matured into his High Lordship. Here, Damelon is barely out of his youth - like Liand, though far more experienced. Duchess of Malfi commented that perhaps this was a kind of subtle dig at the Masters - that even very young men and women can learn to be extraordinary, if given opportunities? I wonder what great age Damelon will live to. Berek himself will no doubt live beyond whatever the normal mortal lifespan is in the Land, due to the Earthpower latent in him. According to established canon, the coming of the Unhomed Giants to the Land occurred during Damelon's reign. That event seems so far ahead in the future, and yet already here he is in the flesh. So he has many, many years left in him.

I'm glad that SRD has fleshed out (as much as he is willing to) the details of Berek's ongoing battle with the remnants of the King/Raver's army. Clearly, SRD feels it's important to let us know that it wasn't just a cakewalk for Berek after the summoning of the Fire-Lions. The Legend of Berek Halfhand, as told by Atiaran in LFB, gave the impression that victory was a foregone conclusion for Berek after the Fire-Lions. But the "real" story is obviously messier. Instead of a grand march to victory, it's a dirty slugfest all the way to the finish line. There is still much chaos, suffering and death (and treachery in the form of Warhaft Inbull) to be endured before Berek can claim victory for his Queen and the Land. (And just where is the Queen? Is she still alive at this point in the war? Did she witness the Fire-Lions? Or is Berek fighting the great fight in memory of the Queen?)

The other thing about this chapter that totally captivated me was, of course, Linden's healing of Berek's wounded with the Staff of Law. Her Staff. It belongs to her, more than it did to Sunder and Hollian (even though they wrought great healing with it), and more than it does to Anele (though his purpose is still a mystery). The new Staff is utterly an instrument of Linden's will. What a great and selfless deed she has done. Once again, Linden the Healer has risen to the occasion.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fine job, Relayer. You touched on many of the things that caught my eye. ( But not all of them. Wink )

I can't help but think that this chapter practically wrote itself. I mean: Berek's in a war, and Linden's a healer looking for an "in" with him. Put them together: out comes M*A*S*H.

Exclamation
Relayer wrote:
Sun-Sage, though none will sing of the deeds you have wrought this night, though will they fade amidst the eternal mists of time's evanescence, you too are the Stuff of Legends.

Oh, I certainly agree! This chapter was named after her, too. Sure, Berek is a legend to us. But in this chapter, Linden becomes a legend to the people of the Land. Her actions will echo down the corridors of time.

Exclamation But wait! you say. Her actions can't echo down the corridors of time. The Arch will be destroyed!

Then you have to remember: Forget the risk. Anything worth saving won't be destroyed by choices like that.

Linden rushes into those tents without the Theomach there to guide her. She saves peoples lives -- people who otherwise would have died. Surely THAT is going to change some history!

But everything is fine. Nothing bad results. The Arch, it seems, is not going to be destroyed by choices like that.

Donaldson is telling us that our heroes cannot be afraid to act. They needn't strangle their own compassion out of fear to do the wrong thing. Its more important, in this morality play of a universe, to be true to yourself than to make the correct choice at every turn.
Quote:

She did not think about ripples or time. She thought about lives that would have been lost, men and women who still needed care; and she was not afraid.

And so Linden can sometimes do exactly the right thing without even knowing it.

Exclamation The first time I read this chapter, I was just too filled with trepidation to really notice many of it's fine qualities. Trepidation, because Donaldson was playing with fire. But I wrote about that elsewhere, and I won't fill up this dissection with those issues.

One of the things I really enjoyed this time was Linden's very dramatic, exciting entrance. The whole shut up or people will die approach. And
Quote:
In response, she summoned fire like a shout from the end of the Staff and kicked awkwardly at her mount's sides, trying to compel more speed. Her display made the men and women racing for their mounts hesitate.

And
Quote:
Shouting, "In Lord Berek's name!" she mentally stamped one heel of her Staff against the frozen ground. With Earthpower and Law, she sent a concussion like the tremor of an earthquake rolling under the hooves of the advancing horses.

What is on Linden's mind? Why does she enter this camp without displaying the slightest of subtlety?

It's clear that Linden doesn't want to confront Berek until she commands a position of strength. She wants to prove she's an ally before Berek can get a chance to flex his distrust at this stranger appearing out of nowhere between battles. She's in a hurry, I can only surmise because the longer they're in Berek's camp, the more risk to the Arch.

And, as I said above, healing is her "in". Berek's in a war, she's a healer, it practically writes itself.

Does it work? Sure. It was exactly the right thing yet again. Even Covenant remarks: "I don't believe it. Here she is, completely lost, with no idea what's at stake - and total strangers still do what she wants."

Question For the Why Didn't You Just Say So files:

thetic fire: "Thetic" can mean dogmatic, or relating to a thesis, or, obscurely, it means positive. So: A positive, as in non-harmful, fire.

Glimmermere's lacustrine roborant: "Lacustrine" means "from a lake". And a roborant is a tonic, of course. So: Glimmermere's lake-water tonic.

Exclamation
Relayer wrote:
I also love the terminology SRD uses in his books: Hearthrall, Haft, Swordmain, Apt, Adept, Castellan... and now another, a Hand.

Hand sounds omenous. Too much like Halfhand. And, obliquely, it reminds me of the Humbled.

Question
Relayer wrote:
The Theomach seems to shift them into a "hiatus between moments." (Makes me think of the Star Treks where everyone else appears to have stopped moving).

Insequent. Their name suggests that they have a power over time. Donaldson provides hints like these:
Quote:
the Theomach had lifted her partway into a different reality, shifted her slightly out of sequence with her surroundings;

Insequent ... out of sequence ... out of time's sequence.

Question
Relayer wrote:
and TC stumbles near Berek, who catches him... and acts as if he's been burned... and TC doesn't disappear.

WHAT??!!!?

Indeed. We have a new clue. Covenant is not snapped back. And Berek is burned. It doesn't take a whole lot here to realize that Covenant's real reason he prevents Linden's contact might be that Linden would be burned.

And that would mean ... ?!?!

Exclamation
Quote:
Turning to Linden, he gestured toward the opening behind Inbull. "My lady, will you accompany me?"

"We will, Hand," the Theomach answered for her. His manner suggested a smile of satisfaction. "Accepting your courtesy, we hope to honor you in return."

OH COME ON!

Okay. The Theomach is the source of the Seven Words. Linden discovered hurtloam and gave the Lords their dedication to healing. Everywhere we turn, the traditions of the Land's past are found to originate with time travelers.

... okay, I said I wouldn't, but I found this new one.

"Accepting a gift honors the giver," the people of the Land say. And it turns out that this, too, is a tradition started by the Theomach.
Cussing

Exclamation
Relayer wrote:
Holy $&!# !!!! He's about to tell us the *meaning* of the Seven Words. I had to just stop and breathe at this point... With this new knowledge, I try them out while sitting here on the balcony. Nothing happens

Smile

The only thing worth adding about this scene is that the Theomach was clearly telling Linden the Seven Words at the same time he was telling Berek.
Quote:
They had been given to her as well-

Very clever. He has found a way to help Linden that doesn't violate his complex restrictions. And I cannot help but notice that the Theomach sent Covenant and Jeremiah away before doing so. So he's trying to sneak his help around those two, too!
Quote:
Then, unexpectedly, he turned to Linden. She could not see his expression through his bindings. Nevertheless she received the clear impression that he sought to sway her as much as to convince Berek.

"Aloud," he said distinctly, "the Seven Words are spoken thus. Melenkurion abatha. Duroc minas mill. Harad khabaal."

The Theomach was practically winking at Linden when he said the Seven.

Exclamation
Relayer wrote:
Berek accepts the Theomach's aid. Then he dismisses him, to speak w/ Linden alone. I love this line: "Yet my wisdom is my own. If I prove unwise, as I have often done, it will be through no fault of yours." I am my own man.

Yeah. One of those lines you always wish a real leader would say; alas, honesty and humility such as this are only found in stories.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Relayer wrote:
The chapter title left me with such anticipation... during their journey towards the camp, it was kind of abstract... going to Berek's camp... but suddenly, we're going to be in the presence of Berek! Is this really happening?!


Excellent point. I kept wondering: how is Donaldson going to handle this? But he doesn’t give you much time to wonder. He throws Linden into this situation with a frantic, but natural pace. His skill as a story teller takes off in this chapter. This is where I felt like he was really having fun, and not struggling to convey a multiplicity of subtle plot points and character motivations. He just lets the story happen. Beautiful. This chapter shows Linden’s worth. Her decisions and actions simply flow out of her organically, without thought. How she handles obstacle after obstacle is just brilliant writing.

During all this healing, I kept thinking, “How is this not altering history?” But if the Theomach was originally the one to introduce hurtloam at this point, everything would have turned out virtually the same. Perhaps that’s how the Theomach originally intended to win his way into Berek’s trust, before the opportunity of Linden presented itself.

Donaldson handles an encounter with one of the Land’s past icons with expert grace and ease. Every word I read felt perfect. This wasn’t a writer mining his past success with a pale imitation. This was a writer at the top of his game elucidating and expanding upon his previous work. Magnificent.

Lurch wrote:
Definitely feels like we are at the beginning of things " Chronicles".
Absolutely. There was no better time for Donaldson to revisit. This was the beginning of everything important in the Chronicles. And it’s important not merely because magic is starting to stir, but because people are opening their eyes . . . becoming aware of the paradox of hope and despair.

Wayfriend wrote:
I can't help but think that this chapter practically wrote itself. I mean: Berek's in a war, and Linden's a healer looking for an "in" with him.
Yes, exactly. That’s what I was trying to say above; it really feels natural and effortless.

Wayfriend wrote:
What is on Linden's mind? Why does she enter this camp without displaying the slightest of subtlety?

It's clear that Linden doesn't want to confront Berek until she commands a position of strength. She wants to prove she's an ally before Berek can get a chance to flex his distrust at this stranger appearing out of nowhere between battles. She's in a hurry, I can only surmise because the longer they're in Berek's camp, the more risk to the Arch. .


Maybe you're being rhetorical here, because I thought you answered your own questions. I think she was merely trusting herself, as TC and Theo have repeatedly told her to do. I think she is going into pure “Linden” mode, without question. She is a healer, this is what she does. I don’t think she was calculating anything beyond how to help as many people as possible, damn the consequences. Let the Theomach deal with ripples.

As you said yourself:
Wayfriend wrote:
She did not think about ripples or time. She thought about lives that would have been lost, men and women who still needed care; and she was not afraid.

And so Linden can sometimes do exactly the right thing without even knowing it. .


And here:
Wayfriend wrote:
And, as I said above, healing is her "in". Berek's in a war, she's a healer, it practically writes itself.
That’s how I read it. I don’t think we need to consider any other calculation on her part.

When I read “thetic fire,” I immediately thought of Edmund Husserl’s usage of this term in phenomenology.

Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy wrote:
“. . . the existence-belief is an indispensable part of the perceptual phenomenon: such experiences are essentially thetic, i.e., there can be no such thing as a perceptual experience without “belief-character” (cf. 5th Logical Investigation, sec. 23)”
This means there is an essential component that is present in all perceptual awareness of the world, and that is one of positing existence, of assuming existence of that which is perceived.

Thus the “thetic fire” of the Staff is Earthpower directed by her will, bringing into existence her intentions, making them real. Contrasted with the White Gold—the fact that Linden has a hard time accessing it and enacting her will through it—I believe this is the connotation SRD intended. The Staff is the instrument through which she posits reality, through which she brings her beliefs into being.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/husserl/

The Hand reminded me of GRR Martin’s Hand of the King.

On the “munificence of creation.”
Quote:
“Yet I deem that the Earth, and within it the Land, were formed as a habitation where living beings may gaze upon wonderment and terror, and seek to emulate or refuse them. The Earth and the Land are a dwelling-place where life may discover the highest in itself, or the lowest, according to its desires and choices.”

I think that’s Donaldson’s world-view in a nutshell. The closest he gets to religion. The highest possible good of this world isn’t something spiritual or supernatural. It is simple: life, growth, enhancement. Those things are within our power, not merely the stuff of legends.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayfriend wrote
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Its more important, in this morality play of a universe, to be true to yourself than to make the correct choice at every turn.


Right on the money, especially in the conflicted world of 21st Century Earth.

I also love this chapter. It redeems many of the risks of introducing time travel to the story - a topic discussed at length elsewhere on the Watch.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2015 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This chapter's kind of scary, with all the risks of the Arch being toppled through temporal paradoxes gone awry. Yet it works out very well, and I'm so very pleased that we get to meet Berek Halfhand and see him as a real person, not simply as a gilded legend. LOVE this chapter, and have wanted to see more of the Old Lords for the longest time (besides Kevin Landwaster; I was getting rather tired of seeing him)!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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When Berek entered, he came like a man wreathed in storms. Indignant lightnings flickered in the depths of his eyes, and his expression was a thunderhead. Linden might have flinched if she had believed, even for an instant, that his ire was directed at her; or at Jeremiah and Covenant. But she grasped instinctively that he would not have been so unguarded if any of his guests had angered him.

"What have you done about Inbull, my lord?" she asked without thinking. "He's betraying you. You must know that?"

The Theomach stiffened, but did not speak. Instead he dabbed at Jeremiah's eye as if he had heard nothing to alarm him.

Berek took a moment to compose himself. He poured wine into a flagon, drank a bit of it, grimaced ruefully. When he faced Linden's question, he had set aside his personal storm.

"The Warhaft has betrayed us. He betrays us still. Therefore he is of use.

"It is well that you did not accuse him in his presence. He believes himself unsuspected. Rather I have encouraged him to consider that he is secretly valued for his harshness. This night, I have strengthened his misapprehension." The memory brought back Berek's anger and disgust, although he did not unleash them. "He has contrived a means to communicate with the commander of our foes. Warmark Vettalor is a man with whom I am well familiar. We served together before my Queen broke with her King. I know his method of thought. Through Inbull, I am able to supply the Warmark with lies"--Berek snarled the words--"which he will credit. While the Warhaft's falseness remains unexposed, I hold an advantage which Vettalor does not suspect.

"I loathe such deceit," the first Halfhand admitted bitterly. "But my forces do not suffice to defeat Vettalor's. And I have no source of supply apart from the battlegrounds where I prevail, and the food which I scavenge from needy villages, while Vettalor retreats ever nearer to the wealth of Doriendor Corishev. It would be false service to my Queen, and to my warriors, and to my oath, if I declined the benefits of Inbull's treachery."

Which explained his ire and disgust, Linden mused. It explained why despair clung to him in spite of his salvation by Fire-Lions and his subsequent victories. By his severe standards, he bartered away his self-respect to purchase victory.

The Old Lords were all about despair. It gave them some of their greatest victories.


I really enjoyed seeing the more conflicted, human Berek. wrestling with his conscience as in this passage, as opposed to the god-like Berek of legend who seemed to never be inflicted with self-doubt. I feel we get to be part of a privileged meeting with the real person, and that makes reading this chapter such a joy for me.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I doubt that I can effectively explain it, but there's something immensely gratifying about witnessing two harshly self-judging but well-meaning souls coming to peace with what they can do and with who they are through mutual admiration and respect. I hope that makes sense.

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Berek regarded her somberly. In his gaze, she could almost trace the contention between his visceral impulse to trust her and his necessary concerns for his people, his Queen, his oath. Then she saw his expression soften, felt the tension in his shoulders relax; and she knew before he spoke that she had gained what she needed most from him.

"My lady Linden," he said with wry regret, "these matters surpass me. I lack the lore to comprehend them. But a trek of two hundred leagues in this winter--That I am able to grasp. It will be cruel to you, bereft as you are of food, or horses, or adequate raiment.

"To the extent that my own impoverishment permits, I will supply all that you require"--he held up his hand to forstall any response--"and count myself humbled because I cannot equal your largesse. The knowledge of hurtloam alone is incomparable bounty, yet you have given more, far more. If you are thus generous in all of your dealings, you will need no songs or tales of mine to honor you, for you will be fabled wherever you are known."

Linden wanted to protest, No, my lord. You're the legend here. I'm not like that. But his unanticipated gentleness left her mute. She was too close to tears to find her voice.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Relayer wrote:
Sun-Sage, though none will sing of the deeds you have wrought this night, though will they fade amidst the eternal mists of time's evanescence, you too are the Stuff of Legends.


wayfriend wrote:
Oh, I certainly agree! This chapter was named after her, too. Sure, Berek is a legend to us. But in this chapter, Linden becomes a legend to the people of the Land. Her actions will echo down the corridors of time.


These thoughts are definitely worth following up, so I will.

Linden Avery as The Stuff of Legends:

Quote:
Trust yourself.

As if she had forgotten her own mortality, she thrust the stiff fabric of the opening aside and strode into the tent.

She hardly noticed that on one had entered behind her.

The tent was supported by four heavy poles, each more than twice her height. And the interior was illuminated by oil lamps, at least a score of them. Nevertheless she could scarcely descry the far wall. The whole place was full of smoke, a heavy brume so thick and pungent that her eyes watered instantly and she began to cough before she had taken two steps across the dirt floor.

God damn it, she might have shouted, are you trying to suffocate them? Almost at once, however, her senses came into focus, and she saw and smelled and felt that the rank fug arose from burning herbs. It was a febrifuge of some kind, intended to combat fever. In addition, it had a degree of virtue against infection. Beyond question, it hurt the lungs of the wounded. But most of them had grown accustomed to it, or were too weak to cough. And it kept some of them alive.

They lay on the iron ground in long rows, protected from the cold only by thin straw pallets padded with blankets. But the blankets had been fouled by months or seasons of blood and pus and sputum, urine and feces; they were caked and crusted with disease. Still coughing, Linden discerned pneumonia and dysentery rampant about her, exacerbating the bitter throng of wounds and a host of other illnesses.

Then she understood that the true horror of this war was not that so many people were dying, but rather that so many still clung to life. Death would have been kinder--The men and women who served as Berek's physicians had wrought miracles against impossible odds.

There were three of them in the tent, two men and a woman: three to care for twenty or thirty times that many wounded and dying. As one of them came toward her, she saw that he wore a thick grey robe nearly as vile as the blankets. A length of rope cinched his waist, and rom it hung several pouches of herbs--his only medicines--as well as a short heavy sword and a crude saw which he obviously, too obviously, used for amputations. He trembled with fatigue as he approached, a heavy burden of sleep deprivation. Rheum dulled his gaze, and the weak flat sound of his cough told Linden as clearly as bloodwork that he had contracted pneumonia.

Nevertheless he did his best to accost her. "Begone," he wheezed irritably. "This is no place for you, stranger, madwoman. I will summon--"

Linden silenced him with a sharp gesture. Before he could protest, she drew flame blooming from her Staff.

She had spent ten years without percipience and Earthpower, restricted to the surface of life. During that time, she had lost much of her familiarity with the Land's gifts. But in recent days, she had made repeated use of the Staff. Unaware of what would be required of her, she had nonetheless trained her nerves and sharpened her perceptions for this crisis, this multitude of pain. To that extent, at least, she was ready.

Carefully she sent out sheets of yellow fire, immaculate as sunshine, and wrapped them like a cocoon around the physician.

She knew exactly what he needed: she felt it in her own blood and bone. Swift as instinct, she found his tiredness, his illness, his unremitting exposure to infection, and she swept them away.

She barely heard the other two physicians yell in alarm. From their perspective, their comrade must have appeared to blaze like an auto-da-fe. And she paid no heed to the answering shouts from outside the tent. When warriors burst past the tent flaps behind her, she ignored them. Her concentration admitted no intrusion.

The physician's heart had time to beat twice or thrice while she worked. Then she released him from fire. The emotional and spiritual toll of his labors she could not heal, but she left him physically whole: staggering with surprise, and exalted by relief and wellness.

At once, Linden turned away and dropped to her knees beside the nearest of the wounded.

This warrior was a woman, and Linden knew that she was not yet dying. She might linger for several days, excruciated by fever and infection. The sword-cut which had split her breastplate and opened her ribs was not necessarily fatal. With cleanliness and rest, it might heal on its own. But her left foot had been amputated above the ankle and there her real danger lay. Her shin suppurated with infection and anguish. slivers of bone protruded from the mass of pus and maggots where one of the physicians had attempted to save her life.

She was far from being the most needy warrior here. She was simply the nearest. For that reason, Linden had chosen her.

The other physicians still called for help. Linden heard quick steps at her back; swords drawn. No one here could comprehend what she was doing. They saw only fire and were afraid. She needed to show them what her actions meant before a blade bit her back.

Hurrying, she closed her eyes; refined her attention; swathed the wounded woman in Earthpower. With flame, she burned away infection and maggots, cleansed poisons, excised and sealed necrotic tissues, knit together shards of bone. And she caused no pain: the bright efficacy of the Staff was as soothing as Glimmermere's lacustrine roborant.

Near her, the physician yelled frantically, "Halt!" She felt him leap to intercept the stroke of a sword. "Do not!" His voice became a roar as he found his strength. "Heaven and Earth, are you blind? She has mended me!"

There must have been whetted iron mere inches from her neck; but Linden allowed nothing to interrupt her as she assailed the fallen woman's injuries.

When she was done, she quenched the Staff and raised her head.

The rumpled hood of her cloak touched the edge of a sword. "What madness is this?" demanded one of the warriors behind her, a man. "She has set flame to a woman who might have lived, and you wish her spared?"

"Unclose your eyes," retorted the physician. "Behold what she has done. It is not harm.

"By my life," he added more softly, in wonder, "I had forgotten that there was once a time when I was not ill."

The healed woman tried to lift her head from the pallet. "What--?" she asked weakly. "What has become of my pain? Why am I not in pain?"

Daring Berek's people to cut at her now, Linden braced herself on the Staff and rose to her feet. She felt their astonishment; their reluctance to credit what they saw and heard. They had so little experience of the Land's true life-- They could not imagine its implications.

However, the physician did not leave the warriors to reach their own conclusions. Suddenly resolute, he commanded, "Begone!" as he had tried to command Linden. "This lady"--he could hardly find words for his amazement--"will do no hurt. Mayhap she will work great good, if she is not hindered. Depart, that I may beseech her aid."

Flapping both arms, he gestured in dismissal until the men and women behind Linden complied. Then he turned to her while his fellow healers hastened among the rows toward him.

"My lady," he began, flustered by healing and hope, "I comprehend naught here. Such fire-- It is beyond--

"But"--he seemed to grasp himself roughly with both hands--"I do not require comprehension, and must not delay. Will you grant us further flame? We are badly surpassed. The need is too great to be numbered. Our simples and implements redeem few. Most perish." The rheum in his eyes had become tears. "I will prostrate myself, if that will sway you--"

He began to sink to his knees.

Still Linden did not falter. The tent had become an emergency room, and she was a surgeon. Grabbing quickly at the man's arm, she said, "Of course I'll help. That's why I'm here. But I need you to do triage for me." When he frowned at the unfamiliar word, she explained, "I should treat the worst cases first, but I don't know who they are. You'll have to tell me." Guide me. The sheer scale of the suffering around her confused her perceptions. "And get me some drinking water."

She would need more than the Staff could provide to sustain her during the ordeal ahead.

The man's mouth formed the word "cases" in silent confusion. Nevertheless he grasped her meaning. "Then commence with the fifth in this row," he replied, nodding to Linden's left. He seemed ready to obey her smallest word. "Palla and Jevin will direct you further." Plainly he meant his fellow physicians. "I am Vertorn. I will command wine from the guards to refresh you."

Good enough, Linden thought. She had to get to work. Pausing only to say, "I'm Linden. Don't be afraid of anything you see," she strode toward the path Vertorn had suggested.

When she saw how badly the man there had been slashed and pierced, she might have quailed, overwhelmed by the scale of her dilemma. He looked like he had been hung up like a dummy and used for weapons practice. His life was little more than a wisp of breath in the back of his throat. With her Staff, she had the capacity to fill the entire tent with vivifying flame. The iron-shod wood was constrained only by her own limitations. But she was too human to function in that way. She had to see what she strove to heal; needed to focus her attention on each individual wound and illness. I her hands, an undefined broadside of Earthpower might do more harm than good. She could only struggle to save one patient at a time, treat one need at a time, as she had always done.

And they were so many--

But during the single heartbeat when her courage might have broken, she felt a woman immediately behind her slop into death. After that, she did not hesitate. Unfurling the Staff's sever and kindly puissance like an oriflamme, she began her chosen task.

She had called herself a healer. Now she set about justifying her name.


It's the healing test of her life, and she passes with flying colors because she doesn't pause to doubt herself. If that wasn't Covenant whispering to her to embrace self-trust at the time she entered the Land, then by now it's obvious it sure as heck was somebody who knew what he was talking about!

[Edit: After re-reading this chapter, I've finally decided to go all-in, and have joined Linden's Army at last.]
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linden Avery meeting The Stuff of Legends:

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She must have been closer to the opening of the tent than she realized. When Vertorn stepped aside, bowing his deference, she behld Berek Halfland for the first time.

Involuntarily she stopped; stared. She had not expected to encounter a man who seemed more compelling, more crucial, than the injuries and deaths of his warriors.

There was Earthpower in him, that was obvious: as potent as Anele's inheritance, but closer to the surface, more readily accessible. However, his numinous energy was not what caused him to stand out from his escort of warriors as if he were somehow more real than they, more significant and substantial.

Nor did his vividness, his particular intensity, arise from his physical presence. He was little more than half a head taller than Linden: a stocky man, broad of shoulder and girth; prematurely bald, with deep eyes, a short-cropped beard the color of old iron, and a nose that had been dented by a blow. His hands looked as heavy as truncheons, and they had seen hard use in spite of the loss of two of his fingers; the same two which had been amputated from Covenant. The slashed and battered condition of his cuirass and vambraces proclaimed that he did not remain aloof from battle. He was a powerful man, familiar with fighting for his life. Yet that also did not account for his obvious dominance, his air of unmistakable authority. Most of the men and women in his escort were muscular and injured, marked by an interminable series of fierce engagements.

No, it was his emotional aura that made him seem more distinct, more necessary, than the people with him. Covenant had said, He's charismatic as all hell, but Linden saw more. With her full senses, she discerned that he was haunted by death; that loss and despair had been carved into the bedrock of his nature. And the sheer depth of his bereavements had taught him a desperate compassion. She loathed war, but her abhorrence lacked the intimacy of his, the hideously prolonged exposure to that which rent his heart. Now he grieved for his foes as much as for his own forces. When he slew them, he did so as if he were weeping; as if his strokes were sobs. He fought--and fought endlessly, season after season, battle upon battle--only because the darkness which drove his enemies left him no choice. And because he had given his oath to the Land.

He would have questions for her. He would demand answers. And Linden could not imagine arguing with such a man, or attempting to persuade him. When Vertorn announced with a bow, "My lord Berek, here is my lady Linden," she did not respond. Nothing that she could say would raise her to the stature of the man who had created the first Staff of Law and founded the Council of Lords.

Yet Berek bowed to her as though her muteness were eloquence, and his gratitude enfolded her like an embrace. "My lady," he said in a voice made gruff by incessant shouting, "your coming is a great benison, a boon beyond our conception. Already you have wrought miracles among us. Yet even a sightless man may behold your weariness. Will you not rest? With your consent, I will provide food and safety, and such small comforts as we possess, and will count myself glad to do so."


Berek is humanized enough that we feel we are getting to meet him and know him, just like Linden is, and yet this description manages to keep Berek's legendary status intact, we still feel great respect for Berek. Wow, this chapter is just so well done in its execution! Thumbs Up
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FYI, in The Power That Preserves, Dead Berek was described simply as "a dominating man with hot prophetic eyes and one halfhand".
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
FYI, in The Power That Preserves, Dead Berek was described simply as "a dominating man with hot prophetic eyes and one halfhand".


Well, no wonder I feel that Berek is so convincingly fleshed-out this time around! Reading Shocked Very Happy
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