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AATE, Part 2 Chapter 3: ...Whatever the cost
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:06 am    Post subject: AATE, Part 2 Chapter 3: ...Whatever the cost Reply with quote

Against all things ending
Part 2 Chapter 3
-Whatever the cost


And so we reach a pivotal point in the Last Chronicles. In many ways the whole of the Last Chronicles so far have been building towards this particular point, Linden’s opportunity to fully rescue (and maybe restore) Jeremiah. Having physically recovered Jeremiah from the Lost Deep, now, finally, Linden has the chance to attempt to release him (physically and mentally) from the Croyel, when, importantly, unimpeded by Kevin’s Dirt.

And what a fine 34 page Chapter it is (in my opinion). I hope I have managed to share some of my enthusiasm. I very much like the pacing of it throughout – the gradual build up to Linden’s attempt to separate Croyel and Jeremiah, the slow pacing of her early self-controlled exploration, the break down of that self-control rushing into an onslaught of Earthpower, a brief hiatus then more onslaught, before the final clashing denouement involving multiple powers at play (very Donaldson) and at which point Linden is a mere helpless bystander to Liand’s demise – but I’m very much getting ahead of myself. So with apologies for its length (I got carried away), here we go…..

Are you sitting comfortably?

So we start with the Giants, frustrated by the brevity of the discussions at the end of “Trying to Start Again”, moving away to hold their own Giantclave. And right away, we are reminded of Linden’s state of mind: “she trusted their hearts more than she trusted her own”. Liand and Pahni’s show of solidarity is something that “she valued but did not want” and Stave’s faith in her “relied too heavily on strengths which she did not possess”. Her inner state is one of self-doubt and she is trying to distance herself from her companions so that she might be able to bear her own weaknesses more easily. A perfectly normal human reaction.

She means to rest and sleep before attempting to release Jeremiah, but “unresolved concerns still crawled along her nerves”. She takes Stave to one-side to ask for more details about how they escaped from the caverns under Mount Doom. “Escape has a price. I learned that a long time ago” she starts, harking back to the mental harm inflicted on her by the deaths of her parents (and the manner of their deaths). At this time, faced by the test to come, her inner demons are very near the surface.

Stave explains how the company came to escape SWMNBN, including the “sacrifice” of Elena. Typically, she recognises Covenant’s responsibility (perhaps indirect) in the torment of Elena’s spirit and does not blame him and yet she is quick to recognise her own (even more indirect) role in refusing Elena’s spirit the comfort it sought in Andelain (and does blame herself). In many ways, Linden and Covenant haven’t moved on from the people they were back in the Second Chronicles, in this respect at least.

After further discussion as to how Covenant persuaded Esmer to leave in the caverns, Linden barks a complaint that I can certainly empathise with: “Just once, I want to meet someone who calls a spade a damn shovel”. Stave points out that the Demondim-spawn do so, and Linden recognises that the Humbled do too – though they are reticent and suspicious as they “stood on ground that shifted under them like quicksand”. Linden asks about their current intentions.

An interlude on the Haruchai

Stave explains that the whole raison d’etre of the Masters is to prevent another Desecration. The hearts of the bloodguard were “hardened… in ways they do not discern” by their contact with the Vizard and Kevin’s desecration. And later by the perversion of their service when Korik etc become servants of Lord Foul and the use made of them by the Clave. That “for us shame and grief have become more terrible than any other fate”. It is not failure per so that is a problem for the Masters.

Quote:
“If the Land is crushed under the heel of corruption, the Masters will not fault themselves. They will give of their utmost and will bear the cost without shame or sorrow.”


Failure, where they are outgunned, is no shame. However, “if they permit some new Desecration when prevention lies within their power, their loss will efface all meaning from their lives”. They have taken it upon themselves to protect the Land from another Desecration above any other consideration. But they do not see that the reason is largely selfish – to protect themselves from any further stain (as they would see it) on their character. They are dogmatic and deaf to any other course – they would prefer to prevent the use of Earthpower entirely in order to forestall a further Desecration, even though Earthpower might be used to fight Corruption… the “softness” that used to reside in them and that led to their response to Kevin’s generosity in the Vow has long gone.

And rather unhelpfully, Stave points out that the greatest desire of the Humbled is “to bereave you of your powers so that you will not haunt them with images of another Desecration”. (Thanks, Stave!) Nevertheless, in bringing Covenant among them, the Humbled are caught in a contradiction since Covenant has commanded their fidelity to Linden. Hence “they must refuse him and grieve, or they must accept you and be shamed. Either choice is intolerable”. Yet Stave predicts that they will withhold their opposition from Linden and “trust in [Covenant] to answer their contradiction”. This should comfort her, but in fact it just reminds her that she doesn’t value herself, she is small… “And she carried a burden of anger and darkness too heavy to set down”. (OK, OK, we know she’s seriously in need of therapy – or at least a bit of a sit down and a nice cup of tea!) And yet, when Stave explains that he was “resurrected to myself” through the Ranyhyn’s horserite, Linden’s weeps.

Quote:
Perhaps her bedrock of despair was not as unyielding as she had feared.


(A brief mention of a pet annoyance here – the Humbled are referred to as maimed to resemble Covenant. But that is not the case – they were maimed to resemble Korik etc so that they would never fall into that trap again. Ok that is indirectly to resemble Covenant as Lord Foul maimed Korik etc to resemble Covenant, but it seems to me an important distinction…).

Now or never


Linden sleeps awhile and when she wakes, gone midnight, the time has come to make the attempt to free Jeremiah. But first she gets some (rather unhelpful) advice from Covenant and Stave.

Covenant wants her to understand that he’ll support anything she does, but he warns her that “wild magic is like a beacon”. If she uses it “any number of our enemies will know where we are”. He claims he isn’t trying to advise her what to do or what not to do but he wants to make sure she is fully aware of the dangers of wild magic: “Caesures aren’t the only bad thing that can happen when somebody uses white gold.” Cryptic – or prescient? Does the inkling of a memory from his time as the Timewarden still reside within him?

But one can certainly sympathise with Linden’s reaction – the last thing she needs is more warnings as to what might go wrong. “She could not afford to be even more afraid.” Linden’s answer is something of a leap of logic: “So Kastenessen knows where Joan is.” (Kastenessen has acted through Anele so far, not directly in response to white gold. Perhaps Donaldson is just putting Kastenessen in the back of our minds for what is to come.)

Covenant starts to deny that is what he meant, but he doesn’t want to get into an argument at this time and so simply finishes, “I trust you”. However, rather than bolstering Linden, this just ensures that her temporarily repressed hurt at his seeming rejection boils over and she retorts: “You keep saying that, but I don’t know what it means. You told me not to touch you!” I’m sure a therapist would approve that she is starting to get this resentment out in the open rather than letting it fester…

(As a Chapter, it is a relatively rare one in AATE in which both Linden and Covenant are present (and in the present) for pretty much the whole of the Chapter. Ironically, however, the nature of their situation and Linden’s focus on releasing Jeremiah mean that, although there is the opportunity for them to interrelate, in fact there is very little discourse between them – Covenant realising that Linden needs to be left essentially to focus on what she needs to do.)

Next it’s Stave’s turn to issue unhelpful warnings when she least needs them. He informs her that the Ardent had said that Linden’s “need for death is great” and that her “fate is writ in water”. He explains that, since this was all so unclear, that he had sought to spare her added alarm. “But now?” Linden asks him, not unreasonably! Why burden her now, when she least needs further burdens. The answer, coming from Stave, is quite a shock:

Quote:
“I fear for you. Should you fail, the outcome will be heinous to you”.


At least Stave has the grace to recognise the impotency of what he is doing:

Quote:
“In this matter, I now perceive that I resemble the Unbeliever. I seek both to assure you of my place at your side and to caution you against every form of peril”.


Linden, Stave, Galt and Jeremiah are now heading up out of the canyon onto higher ground – the initial reason was not to awaken those who were still sleeping unnecessarily – but gradually everyone seems to follow – and one is left wondering, given Covenant’s warning about wild magic, whether doing what she’s got to do atop a hill is really the most sensible choice…
Nevertheless, mentally she rallies, calling on her training as a physician to put the panic at bay and recognise her strengths as augmented in the Land. Her confidence that she can succeed grows as she climbs the ridge. She recognises that Liand is now accompanying her with his orcrest. Prophetically:

Quote:
Linden wanted to send him away. She intended to spare him. For Jeremiah’s sake, she did not.


“Do your worst”

After a brief review of her options and what might go right – or wrong – Linden finally “cast herself into the core of Jeremiah’s mind”…. and finds herself in a place like a graveyard at dusk. And in the greyness she perceives the mounds of untended graves in all directions as far as her senses can reach.

She realises that she is in “an incarnation of her son’s mind, a reification of his imprisonment made corporeal by health-sense and Earthpower”. The graves are Jeremiah’s thoughts, buried for self-protection against the Croyel’s mastery, which is represented by a “tangling web of magicks”, “warm and malign” all around and above the graveyard. She extends her healthsense to pluck at this web – unpicking the Croyel’s hold over Jeremiah strand by strand, much in the way that she unpicked the Hazard, is her Plan A - and is answered immediately by a blast of lurid light that strikes a nearby grave – and like a scene from a black and white horror movie, something stirs, the ground “moils”. It is a naked Jeremiah that forces itself up from the grave to cast a fully conscious look at Linden and beseeches her to help him. At this point, Linden understands that Jeremiah does not yet belong to Lord Foul and this giddy realisation makes her momentarily consider raising all those myriad of thoughts and drawing them into herself to preserve them from the Croyel. The runes on the Staff of Law seem to answer her – but as a confirmation or a warning? But, but “would her son thank her for replacing one form of possession for another”?

(And now the pacing of this Chapter changes abruptly. Sentences and descriptions erupt and burst in a torrent of perfectly honed poetic language – note the shortening of the sentences, their terseness, the exaggerated use of punctuation – this writing is perfection on a page in places.)

As she raises Earthpower from the Staff, it is not the normal blue cornflower but “sheets and gouts of utter blackness” – “the runes demanded rememberance”. And she is transported back to the Horserite in ROTE and the stark warning that the Ranyhyn had given her – “her own inherited capacity for Desecration” and that possessing Jeremiah was not the answer.

Quote:
Yet the visions of the horserite were unutterably cruel; for when she reached out to Covenant and Jeremiah, trying to restore them with herself, the Worm of the World's End squirmed from Covenant's mouth, and her son's dear face seemed to break open and become vile, bitter as Despite.


The Ranyhyn had shown her that possessing Jeremiah (or maybe something much less than possession) would lead to him belonging to the Despiser. “If with fire and need she breathed life into every one of Jeremiah’s uncounted corpses and gathered them into herself, she would commit a crime for which there was no possible exculpation”.

This realisation is a blow to her – she desperately wants to save Jeremiah and the thought that she is capable of doing so but that if she acts on that capacity she will endanger Jeremiah’s soul is a cruel, cruel trap – no wonder “Earthpower had become Despair”.

But she is Linden Avery the Chosen, the Sunsage, the Stuff of Legends, SHE IS NOT DONE. She can still wield Earthpower, black though it may be, directly against the Croyel’s tangled web that controls Jeremiah.

But as soon as she tries, she knows that it cannot be – at least not from within the lair of his controlling magicks. Her attempts merely elicit more blasts from that web, which detonate more of the graves, releasing more of Jeremiah’s protected thoughts to rise and dissipate away, but not before he warns her to stop and that “[t]his is what Lord Foul wants”. Provoking the Croyel will merely break down Jeremiah’s defences and lead him to damnation.

A knife of argent

But still she is not broken. With the help of Liand’s Sunstone, she absquatulates from Jeremiah’s mind and back to herself atop the ridge, amongst her friends standing aghast at the curling black flames. The runes on the Staff remain “elucidated” and the pain in her hands stand as a reminder of Caerroil Wildwood’s “admonition”.

But this is no retreat – urgently she casts aside the Staff and puts on the white gold ring from around her neck – she intends to blast the Croyel with wild magic. “And if her efforts announced her to Kastenessen – or to Joan – she did not care. Jeremiah’s straits outweighed every other fear.” The ring answers immediately with a gout of flame too powerful to use which “seemed to efface the night”. But she is confident now that she can tame and master wild magic and she is placated by the thought that she is not the true wielder (cue debate on whether it is Foul or Linden…) and so need not fear “true havoc”.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Giants decide this is the signal to join the party on the ridgetop bearing Anele in the stone armour…

Linden now forges and hones the wild magic into a precise killing spike to pierce the Croyel’s brain. “Her whole heart was concentrated on fury and white gold; on energies… pure enough to savage the Croyel’s brain”. In this, she is magnificent and dangerous in equal measure.

Quote:
And the blood in her veins was rage.


When her weapon is ready she steps forwards - extending racecar and percipience towards Jeremiah to gauge his condition - to threaten the Croyel and offer it a final chance to let Jeremiah go - or die. She sees the fear in its eyes and briefly considers that she will indeed succeed – but then realises that (as before) the Croyel’s fear is focused not on her and her “knife of argent” but rather on Liand standing behind her and his Sunstone…

And in the momentary respite that this gives the Croyel, it unleashes a sustained barrage of violence within Jeremiah’s brain, obliterating the self-protection the boy has built for himself. until Linden withdraws her threat… because the Croyel fears Liand and orcrest more than it feared her.

“I wish I could spare you…”

So spake the Timewarden to Liand through Anele on the banks of Glimmermere in Chapter 4 of FR. And now is time for explication.
A momentary hiatus in the action sees the company focus sympathy on Linden’s failure, but she has no time for this. She could bear her own failure provided Liand did not fail. With Anele making fatally unregarded plucking motions towards Liand, “the first true Stonedowner in millennia” steps forward to give the kind of address only possible in Fantasy novels: poignant, elegent, heartfelt, unselfish. To her credit, Linden bites back her desire to send Liand to test his strength until he himself has stated his intent and asked her leave to attempt the release of her son.

Hiatus over, the consequences of Linden’s use of white gold erupt in the arrival of a sickening caesure. There is no more time for debate, Linden shoves Liand forward to deal with the Croyel, while she tackles the caesure. But Pahni seeks to intervene, beseeching Liand to desist: “Leave this hazard to those who are not so loved.”

And now, on the very point of his demise, Liand emerges as a fully independent character, as worthy of as poignant a short speech as any in the Chronicles:

Quote:
“Fear for me my love. I fear for myself. Yet in Linden Avery’s company, and in your embrace, and in orcrest, I have found myself when I had not known that I was lost. If I do not give of my utmost here, I will become less than my aspiration. I will prove unworthy of the gifts that I have discovered in you.”

“But if you are slain….!” Pahni moaned.

“If I am slain,” he replied so tenderly that Linden’s heart lurched, “you will remain to serve the Land, and the Ranyhyn, and the Ringwielder as you must. My love will abide with you. Grief is strength. The use that you will make of it vindicates me.”


I’m welling up, I confess – and then, as another caesure boils into view, comes the jarring contrast of Covenant’s response - “Soon would be good. Now would be better!” – which certainly pricks that particularly bubble of Fantasy grandiloquence!

And so Liand steps forwards, bearing his sunstone before him “like a small sun, challenging the night” to meet his destiny. Linden’s attention is torn between caesures and Liand, when a third caesure strikes the very hilltop upon which the company is gathered. Her companions are scattered and Linden finally acts to put out this latest caesure, aided by the runes (again) - but Stormpast Galesend has staggered, tripped and sent Anele tumbling from the safety of the stone armour onto the bare crumbling dirt…

Possessed by Kastenessen, Anele sweeps Giantish obstacles aside “with gestures like shrieks of lava”. Cruel with intent, he bears down on Liand, slapping away Stave’s ineffectual intervention. Liand raises the sunstone to Jeremiah’s forehead, unaware of the threat. Galt, holding the Krill to the Croyel’s throat, is rendered immobile with indecision. And Kastenessen fills poor Liand’s skull with lava. “In a spray of blood and bones and tissue, Liand’s head was torn apart.”

Quote:
Gushing blood, Liand slumped to his knees; leaned forward until he rested like an act of contrition against Jeremiah’s legs.


Too late, Stormpast Galesend rushes in to sweep up Anele - just as Anele catches the falling sunstone and Kastenessen seeks to destroy it - rolling as she does to remove his contact with the ground and so preserving the sunstone in the now inert Anele’s hands. Darkness – and the end of this Chapter - come crashing down “like the sealing of a sepulchre”.

Quote:
“When your deeds have come to doom, remember that he is the hope of the Land.”


Extra, extra…


Just to muse on a few of the points in this Chapter a little further:

• Kevin is a warning against the dangers of taking on an impossible burden of responsibility. But in this Chapter we see that the alternative, accepting the help of others, is not risk free. In fact the consequences of accepting Liand’s help and his resulting death, are more likely to turn Linden towards Kevin’s methods and his consequent despair.

• I do find the issue of possession a little difficult. Clearly, when Linden tried to possess and so forcible stop TC acting in WGW, that was an act of possession that was not capable of exculpation. But, what she briefly considers doing for poor Jeremiah is quite another thing.

Quote:
But would her son thank her for replacing one form of possession with another? Even if she only violated the integrity of his deepest self in order to rescue him?


She considers taking and protecting his thoughts/incarnations and “possessing” them to protect them, out of love. So I find the judgment here that “she would commit a crime for which there was no possible exculpation” somewhat harsh to say the least. Aren’t we elsewhere given to understand that evil cannot benefit from something done with pure intentions – “we will not be undone by such motives” to quote Mhoram. Yes, it may well be the wrong thing to do – the Ranyhyn have warned her from this course of action - but to equate it to other instances of possession (such as Ravers) seems to go too far. Personally I like to see things as more nuanced than is suggested by equating these two types of possession.

•The fall of poor Liand. Well, we were all forewarned that something nasty was due to happen to him (“I wish I could spare you”) – but the shock is that his life appears to have been sacrified for nought. If he had achieved his purpose with the sunstone and in doing so had died an heroic death, then c’est la vie (or c’est la mort). But to die in such circumstances – after we had invested two and a half chunky volumes to his growth and development into the first true Stonedowner for many centuries. Surely he deserved better than this.

(Don’t get me wrong here. I’m merely expressing surprise at the fact that SRD wrote Liand out in this way. I’m not complaining or saying he shouldn’t have done so. Hellfire, I loved the almost visceral shock of reading Liand’s downfall – it’s utter surprise and sickening gruesomeness.)

Moreover, as recently as Chapter 10, Covenant insisted that Liand is important, and must be saved. ““Linden.” Covenant’s voice was a mere husk of sound. His pain ached in her arms. “Help Liand. We need him.” He was too weak and damaged to move. Nevertheless he seemed to push her away from him. “We need him.”” How do we review this now? Liand has died before he could achieve anything? The suggestion that he was vital to the saving of the Land has been shown to be false. It may be that the Sunstone that Liand was wielding is vital – but not Liand himself. He is dead and gone… unless. There are a couple of possibilities here – we may possibly see Liand again as one of the Dead where he could play a vital role? Or more likely, his death may be important in its effect on Pahni and may lead her to perform a role even more vital for the saving of the Land. There is some support here in Liand’s pre-death self-elegy (there must be a word for a speech given in this situation but I can’t find it!), “If I am slain… Grief is strength. The use that you will make of it vindicates me.” (Note the strange present tense of “vindicates” here – almost as if it has already happened!)

• Re the black flames: as others have already pointed out before me, green tends to be the colour of evil in the Chronicles (eg illearth stone), rather than black. Black, it seems to me, may be more associated with danger rather than evil per se – compare TC's black wild magic as he storms Revelstone in WGW.

Quote:
Black fire; black poison; black ruin. The flame raging from his ring should have been as pure and argent as the metal from which it sprang, but it was not, was not. It was an abyss that yawned around him, a gulf striding through the air and the ground and the Keep to consume them, swallow the world and leave no trace. ... Swiftly it became as huge as the hillside, hungry for ruin.


TC's magic was black because it was tainted by the influence of Lord Foul's venom - Linden's fire is black perhaps because it is tainted by her increasing level of anger, rage and despair. (Though there is a hint perhaps that the Runes play a role in turning the flames black too.)
There is danger in this rage. It is likely to lead to uncontrolled use of the powers that she holds. She is not there yet, she still manages to pull herself back from the brink. And Wildwood’s runes appear to be helping her somewhat in maintaining a measure of control. But she is close to the edge, close to the abyss. In her anger and rage, she is in danger of allowing the powers she possesses to consume her and those that she loves.

• Stave getting personal: whilst discussing the Humbled’s situation following her resurrection of Covenant, Stave says, “For this reason, Linden, if for no other, they will withhold their opposition from you.” Linden? Not Chosen? I haven’t been able to verify if this is the first place in the Last Chronicles that Stave refers to Linden by her Christian name, but either way its significant. So what does it signify? Well, it seems that it indicates a much more complex relationship between Stave and Linden. Up until now she has been “Chosen” – Stave refers to her, and behaves to her, as if she stood for something defined and specific. It is a question of serving the “Chosen”. Now, however, that relationship is growing into something more complex – where Stave can move beyond service.

It also signifies a growth in Stave’s emotional development, of course. He is moving beyond mere stone, bedrock, granite certainties.

Perhaps it is also true that, in some respects, he recognises that Linden requires treatment as a human being rather than the all powerful “Chosen”. She needs to be treated as an equal, rather than as the leader. The responsibility is too much for her.

• Those bleeding runes: In FR it appears that the purpose of the runes on the Staff were somehow to enhance Linden’s power to resurrect TC. But now we see that they appear to have other functions as well. As Linden prepares to release a blast of Earthpower strong enough to dislodge the Croyel’s entangling magicks, the runes burn her metaphysical flesh, reminding her of her promises to Caerroil Wildwood. By the end of the section, it is fairly clear that the burning of the runes was meant to bring her back to her senses – they were “Carroil Wildwood’s admonition”. So the runes are somehow attuned to the use of Earthpower? Somehow the runes react to its use – was it the fact that Linden was on the point of unleashing Earthpower “whatever the cost” that made them burn ie the way in which they were being used? Or was it the specific use – the fact that the use of Earthpower against the Croyel would merely lead to Jeremiah’s demise – that the runes reacted to? If the latter, we are presumably to conclude that the use of the Staff to resurrect Covenant was not so costly as to lead to Wildwood’s admonition (despite it rousing the Worm).

But how does this tie into Linden’s promise to Caerroil Wildwood to seek an answer to his question: “Must it transpire that beauty and truth shall pass utterly when we are gone?”

• The fear of the Croyel when faced by imminent immolation in wild magic: I do find it hard to comprehend why the Croyel would, when faced by a killing spike of wild magic, still be in more fear of Liand…. There can surely be no doubt that Linden is capable of exterminating the Croyel with a blast of wild magic.

Spoiler:
Now I understand the general set up. The Croyel is essentially has an insurance policy to prevent it being killed by the fact that Linden can’t kill it without also killing Jeremiah. That is the Croyel’s safeguard. And, as we discover, orcrest is capable of overcoming that particular form of protection in that it destroys the Croyel whilst protecting Jeremiah from harm. So, the Croyel’s fear of the orcrest in general and it’s attempts to kill Liand first in the Lost Deep etc are perfectly explicable. However, faced with the real possibility of imminent extinction at Linden’s hands, it seems unnatural for the Croyel, at this very point, to turn its focus to the orcrest. Whether it faces extinction (along with Jeremiah) from white gold or from the sunstone (with Jeremiah surviving) is rather academic at this point surely!


OK, so we are not entirely sure at this point that that Linden is totally committed to killing the Croyel whatever the consequences, but it seems a fair possibility. Perhaps the answer is that the Croyel deliberately seeks to distract her by portraying its fear of Liand so acutely that she desists and gives Liand the chance to act – thereby granting the Croyel a brief but (as we discover) precious moment of respite.

• The graveyard metaphor: not to complain, but I didn't personally find the metaphor of Jeremiah's mind as a graveyard entirely appropriate. I'm not saying I could do any better(!), but somehow I found it just a bit too concrete in that respect . The general atmosphere of dark and mist yes, the entangling web of the Croyel's magick yes, but the specificity of the "untended graves" and Jeremiah's appearance from them was just a little too specific somehow for my imagination.

• The title: its one of only two Chapters with a hyphen in the title – the other is Chapter 1 of Part 2, “Those who endure-”. I’m not really sure why only these two chapters deserve hyphens? Many of the others could equally be hyphenated, I would have thought - and Donaldson doesn't tend to do things for random reasons. (After Unwisdom, By Evil Means, She who must not.) Anyway, the unwritten missing words would presumably be “Attempts must be made – whatever the cost”. The cost is the death of Liand. The question is, can Linden bear her responsibility (as she is bound to see it) for Liand’s death.

SRD Thesaurus

And finally, this Chapter is a bit of a goldmine for lovers of SRD’s dictionary. Linden’s sojourn into Jeremiah’s mind in particular offers SRD the opportunity to display his affinity with arcane and obscure language. So we have: sequacious; sepulchre; crepuscular; reification; reimmured; writhen; thetic; febrile; scry - to mention but a few.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done Barnetto! As I was reading your dissection I was transported back to the land and all that was occurring.

I was not surprised that Linden was not able to rescue Jeremiah from the Croyel by herself. Linden continues to find out that having all the power doesn't necessarily mean that you can fix everything. In the Second Chrons she seemed to think many times.. if only I had the ring, I would ... and now she has it and finds that the powerful are powerless.

Liand... I kind of knew he was going to die at some point (especially after the comment from TC about not being able to spare him) but like you, I wondered.... if he is so important then why did his death seem so meaningless. I'm betting that if we were to ask SRD he would say.. RAFO.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really good post, Barnetto!

to your points for discussion:

- Linden was warned to let others pay the consequences for helping intend of trying to protect them for a long time. If I remember right, we were always warned here would be consequences this way, too? I wonder what the overall significance of this point that you bring up is? SRD isn't talking about it a lot for no reason. Does it tie in with the assertion from TC that the sacrifices were needed?

- I thought the same thing on this possession bit. it seemed like a tempest in a teacup. But, is this SRD thinking this through Linden or is this just Linden being over-analytical and self-depricating at all points? Since the horses warned her on this a little, too, it must be a bigger thought, but I guess I don't understand why yet.

- Liand's death seemed a little anti-climatic to me too. It was well done, but I was left wondering what the big build up was for? And then, given TC insisted how important he is earlier, if he understood consciously that this would happen and manipulated Liand into this a little bit by leading him on and telling him to find the sunstone.

As you say, there is that speech that hints that his death, however meaningless in that he didn't accomplish anything with his dying moments, is valuable for what it is to other people later.

I've mentioned before, but TC really seems to be puppeteering with these characters. He has governed most of what they have done till now by placing whispers in ears, or however Foul said he was doing exactly the same thing. foul had Kastenessen, Roger, sandgorggies, skurj, et al as his puppets and TC seems to have Liden and crowd as his, at least from my point of view. The Masters have their surquedry (thanks, SRD) and I think it is a parallel to TCs and both may have to come to face that later.

- Black flames. That theory sounds as good as any. I hadn't put much thought into it since colors changed before and everything was okay in the end. I thought it was pretty much as you say.

- Stave's personal approach. In the previous chapter, it was brought out that the relation between Stave and the Ramen had changed to that of a personal one instead of a formal one with old enmity. I believe it was credited to Linden bringing them together. Pahni called Stave by his name instead of Master or however she calls him previously. I think Stave and the whole inner circle of Linden's Army have grown a lot due to her influence (like the Ardent was saying about her bringing people together was her power).

Stave is the first of the Haruchai that I like as a character. I briefly thought about Stave and Linden getting together as a couple, but he may have a wife still and, even if he doesn't, maybe he's still a little too severe for her. But, with this softening up, maybe they can still make a good couple! Certainly, he's better match for her than TC!

- Runes. I think they are tied to the promise and we will see their true purpose later.
Spoiler:
Someone speculated who the lurker is and I think it's a brilliant leap and that the runes will come in to the full intentioned use then.


- Fear of the Croyel. I don't have any answer than what you said. Maybe it just was more scared of the or crest than the other threat as it felt it had better odds vs. the other one since maybe Linden backs down or something.

- Graveyard metaphor. I had the same reaction.

- Who was it that made the speech originally about attempts must be made? I've already forgotten! Was it Liand? If so, then it is appropriate. If not then I don't know.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What an excellent dissection, Barnetto. Well thought out and well written.

Now I am hard pressed to contribute anything - you seem to have thought all the thoughts that I have, and got them down first.

As for the title ... it seems like Donaldson's latest habit is to take a phrase from his prose elsewhere and cast it as a chapter title. But I can't find "whatever the cost" anywhere else in the text. However, the text of AATE is profoundly concerned with "cost": I would spare you the cost ... The cost of what she had done ... she meant to bear as much of the cost as her flesh could endure.

Put it together with the next chapter title: Whatever the cost, Attempts must be made. Sounds dire, but dedicated. Or, using hyphens as a clue, bookend it with the earlier chapter title: Those Who Endure— —Whatever the Cost. More omenous yet.

Are there the usual multiple references? Liand, obviously. But what else?

Also, I thought it interesting to point out that, when they head off to bed in this chapter, it is the end of a day that began in Andelain, and the company had not slept since battling the skurj. If I reckon correctly, it's been a looong day!

The graveyard ... I didn't warm to it immediately, but I find it compelling now. It's not a death theme, it's about being buried alive. Connotations include: being trapped; being hidden or inaccessible; being unable to thrive. All fitting.

As for the runes on the Staff being of use here: I am not surprised. Runes represent lore. Wildwood imbued the staff with his knowledge and experience and learning. It increases ones control of Earthpower. This could certainly be helpful in any number of ways.

The sudden blackness in Linden's Earthpower is rather shocking. I always miss exactly when it starts. It starts when she is in Jeremiah's mind.

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
She had made a promise to Caerroil Wildwood on Gallows Howe. He did not mean to let her forget it. Her unfurled fire had become visible; but it did not shed yellow light or smell of cornflowers. Instead it spread sheets and gouts of utter blackness through the caliginous air. In her hands, the runes demanded remembrance, and even Earthpower had become despair.

Is this the blackness of her heart? Is this the blackness of the Staff? The parallels with Covenant's wild magic turning black are too pronounced to be ignored. Is the blackness an interference of the croyel?

Covenant said that, when she awoke, she would be different. Since, she refound her capacity to cry. The hardness appears to have passed. But a blackness remains.

However, lets not forget the significance of the blackness and the runes being together on the Staff. In this passage, they are also together in Lindens thoughts and deeds. Blackness and runes both come into play as Linden works. And Wildwood respected the blackness when he added the runes. No, I don't know what it means, except that anger is passion and passion is power but passion must be channeled and thats what the runes do.

And then Linden weilds wild magic. But she dismisses it in short order, changing her plans. Too late. It is indisputable that raising the wild magic with the ring sent a flash communication to their enemies. Here come the caesures. Here comes Kastenessen. Probably the croyel knew they were coming, and felt reassured.

Well, Covenant did warn her that this would happen. Maybe he had even foreseen it would happen. And, possibly, knew that it had needed to happen. Still, he attempted to warn Linden. Not to change her course, but to prepare her for the eventuality. He's still trying to spare her.

And Liand ... what a shock. What a hard thing to read.

His death, now, does seem purposeless. I share all the thoughts you have, Barnetto, about how it might have purpose. I would only add: (1) Liand and Pahni seem remarkably like Sunder and Hollian in too many ways to be coincidental; I would look for similarities but also for foils. (2) It seems to me that Covenant (or, fairer, the Timewarden) wanted Liand saved so that he could die at just this time in just this way; if so, that's another very harsh "cost" so that he, or Linden, or maybe hope, could "endure".

Another thing that strikes me is Liand's omenous words, already remarked upon: "My love will abide with you. Grief is strength. The use that you will make of it vindicates me." Knowing about the relationship between passion and power that so much of the Chronicles is concerned with, I find the phrase "Grief is power to be far more than just a platitude.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Another thing that strikes me is Liand's omenous words, already remarked upon: "My love will abide with you. Grief is strength. The use that you will make of it vindicates me." Knowing about the relationship between passion and power that so much of the Chronicles is concerned with, I find the phrase "Grief is power to be far more than just a platitude.


Wasn't the book Covenant wrote in the interim between series one and series two called Guilt is Power or so?

Interesting thoughts on the blackness. I'd forgotten Wildwood had acknowledged and respected her blackness.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
What an excellent dissection, Barnetto. Well thought out and well written.


Many thanks, Wayfriend. Very much appreciated indeed.

wayfriend wrote:
Also, I thought it interesting to point out that, when they head off to bed in this chapter, it is the end of a day that began in Andelain, and the company had not slept since battling the skurj. If I reckon correctly, it's been a looong day!


I almost commented on the timeline too - but then decided I'd included too much already and did a bit of self-editing! But yes, if AATE started in Andelain on night one, then the trip to the Lost Dark and return from there appears to have only taken half a day and the rest of that day has only just transpired. Indeed, if you ignore Linden's sojourn into Berek's past (which appears to have taken about a week and a half in present time?), then something like only four days have passed since the start of Runes, I think!

wayfriend wrote:
However, lets not forget the significance of the blackness and the runes being together on the Staff. In this passage, they are also together in Lindens thoughts and deeds. Blackness and runes both come into play as Linden works. And Wildwood respected the blackness when he added the runes. No, I don't know what it means, except that anger is passion and passion is power but passion must be channeled and thats what the runes do.


Very interesting. Of course, Wildwood himself during the course of the first Chronicles was known for his savagery. As the guardian of Garroting Deep, he was known for his intolerance of any incursion in the forest. If anyone in the Chronicles would appreciate the hardness of heart and singleness of purpose that Linden had, it would be Wildwood. On that basis, I would imagine that he would not only tolerate the blackness, he may well positively appreciate it.

wayfriend wrote:
Another thing that strikes me is Liand's omenous words, already remarked upon: "My love will abide with you. Grief is strength. The use that you will make of it vindicates me." Knowing about the relationship between passion and power that so much of the Chronicles is concerned with, I find the phrase "Grief is power to be far more than just a platitude.


Completely agree, Wayfriend. I am particularly looking forward to how this is going to play out with Pahni in the remainder of the books. The Ramen are traditionally so raw of temperament, so quick to take offence etc, that for her to be able to channel such grief positively is going to be a hell of a test!
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barnetto wrote:

I almost commented on the timeline too - but then decided I'd included too much already and did a bit of self-editing! But yes, if AATE started in Andelain on night one, then the trip to the Lost Dark and return from there appears to have only taken half a day and the rest of that day has only just transpired. Indeed, if you ignore Linden's sojourn into Berek's past (which appears to have taken about a week and a half in present time?), then something like only four days have passed since the start of Runes, I think!

Has it really?? I hadn't counted at all. But, didn't Linden sleep for a few days in Revelstone after she returned from the past? When she had that dream of the ambulance? Even so, that's still a short time.

How long have the companions been together without Linden? I can't remember how long she was missing and they had to get to know each other better. If the timeline is really that short, some of the relationships don't make so much sense.

One thing I did notice as a style change is that there was more of a time compression in the new series- people stand around talking intensely more and more happens without interludes of time passing. but, I didn't realise it was quite this compressed.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have the books with me so I may be wrong, but I thought that when Linden gets back from her sojourn with Roger/Croyel that her companions say that she'd been away for about 10 (maybe 14?) days. I did specifically exclude that period in suggesting that in "present time" something like only four or five days appear to have past. Everything that happens is certainly incredibly compressed (apart from that sojourn!)

You may be right about Linden recuperating when she got back from the sojourn, but I seem to remember that she was told pretty much straight away that the Harrow was waiting for her and she didn't delay too long in meeting him?
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would be interesting to make a timeline. Now I'm curious!
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did try and sit down at one stage and do that for AATE at least (well, I was on the tube) to try and tell where everyone was at contiguous times Spoiler:
ie I was trying to work out how the happenings on the separate travels of TC and Linden related


I think that it started on night 1 in Andelain, then night 2 was the subject of this Chapter, there are a further two nights on the road (3 and 4) and then it finishes at dawn following night 5 (again with the disclaimer that I don't have the books with me!) So I think that only four and a bit days have passed since the Worm was woken...

Spoiler:
Actually I think Jerry's awakening occurs about a half day before the Tsunami at the end of TC's section.


I think I've spoilered enough for the purposes of this dissection but apologies if I should have spoilered more - please tell me and I'll spoiler more of it!
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the trip from Revelstone to Andelain took a week or so. And the time with the Giants included days without sleep, which makes it confusing. However, I think from Crossing the Soulsease river where they met the Harrow to "now" was one night and one day. Which is surprising when you realize it.

(Fixed my earlier post to say Liand where I had meant to. Thanks, Sav.)
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ananda, the book Covenant wrote was called "Or I Will Sell My Soul for Guilt." Always stuck with me as such a powerful title.

Great dissection, Barnetto, will be back to do it justice when I have more time!
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Against All Things Ending was wrote:
Through his teeth, Covenant rasped, "Soon would be good. Now would be better."

Soon would be good. Now would be better. Sound familiar, anyone?

It's Nick Succurso's catch phrase.
In The Gap was wrote:
"All right, assholes," Nick announced cheerfully. "On the bridge. Right away would be good. Right now would be better. It's time for orders."


Did anyone wonder why it's turning up here? Did Donaldson forget he used this expression before? Is it an homage? Is it supposed to be a common expression that anyone would use? Is Covenant becoming, not the Creator or Lord Foul, but Nick Succorso?
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was on my short list of questions to ask last June at Elohimfest, but the Q&A ended just as I reached the front of the line.

Frustrating, but it had to end at some point, or we would collectively still be sitting in that restaurant listening to SRD answer our questions...and keeping him from working on TLD.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whatever else it is, it is certainly the most jarring juxtaposition of conversational styles I've come across in these books.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the Gradual Interview was wrote:
Jeffrey Goode: Covenant: "Soon would be good. Now would be better." Whoa, did the Timewarden just channel a paraphrased Nick Succorso? :)
    Who knows? Covenant *was* part of the Arch of Time, after all. Maybe that gave him access to different realities as well as different times.

    (03/10/2011)

Yeesh.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I kind of feel like an outsider, as I don't have the long history and references, as well as common lingo that you all share (what is RAFO?). But for what it is worth, it was my impression that the Croyel is not just an animal construct that feeds on life-force, but has not only self-preservation, but also purpose in it (and an evil one at that). By which, it is not a pet that protects its master a la the Voldemort's snake in Potter; rather it has alligned itself with Lord Foul. My guess would be that Foul allows it to do what it likes to do, and encourages it, especially in the role of Jeremiah's torment. It seems to enjoy the psychic pain it causes in watching Linden Squirm.

Thus, it doesn't fear the krill (which could kill it) nor Law or White Gold's power (which could also kill it) because it would result in Jeremiah's death as well. Thus, as you say, its insurance policy will be the extasy it gets feeding off the psychological horror of watching Linden force herself to kill her son.

The orcrest, on the other hand, seems to offer something different; a sort of order by which the croyel's grip on Jeremiah would be broken. This would be horrific to it, as not only would it lose its power to horrify those whose psychic energy is feeding it (for once free of Jeremiah, the Croyel's death would be swift and joyful to our band of heroes), but losing out and also knowing that Lord Foul would know that it had failed, as Jeremiah would be lost and alive, not lost and dead and the agreement which aligned these two evil entities together (look at the despair we can cause if you feed of the Chosen's Child and force her to live with you attached to her loved one, it is a small price to pay for such a reward) brought to ruin.

As to the Black power from the White Gold, perhaps this is part of the odd juxtaposition that SRD has always enjoyed and is more about the growth of the two into what they are to become: Covenent (who will Save or Damn the Earth--who finds victory in surrender, winning by giving Foul what he wanted...) and Avery accepting her own place in the cosmos.

An excellent review of the chapter!
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't feel like an outsider, Doc. We got no entrance exams. Just keep at it and keep at it until one day someone calls you an old-timer - that's it.

RAFO is "Read and Find Out". Donaldson likes to use that acronym when he doesn't want to give out a spoiler for an upcoming book.

The "outside explanation" of the black power is, of course, that Donaldson always adds a certain amount of dark side to his protagonists so that we can't assume a happy ending. Of course, there always is. But he wants to earn it, which means that failure has to be a plausible and even imminent possibility. So he seeds his stories with tangible reasons to doubt the main characters.

I think in that regard he has succeeded with Linden. Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, WF. And you know me well enough to know that feeling an outsider won't keep me from chiming in. And thanks for the explanation...makes more sense than "Respighi alwasy floats ostinatos" or somesuch thing from my usual life...

Yeah, I have to admit, I was not a huge fan of the first two chronicles. I had read them because someone suggested I should when I was younger. I had even re-read them and I kept tryng to find reasons to like them but just didn't get it. I almost didn't start reading the final set, but it was Donaldson's explanation of "What had gone on before" that drew me in.

Not being surrounded by true fans of the Land, I walked away from them intrigued by the scenery, but not giving a rip for most of the characters (the ginants being perhaps the only major exception). But in hearing what he was trying to get me to get, I have decided that since I will be getting a kindle fire for Christmas, I will see if they become available in electronic format,m and if not, then there are commentaries I can download as I slog around with the paperback versions I bought 20 years ago (you'd think he'd be happy to sell me something new...). Especially in light of Donaldson's revelations. In Jr/Sr high, I apparently couldn't get over a Rapist Hero...not that I'm pro-rapist now, of course, but with the understanding of the desires of the writer (and years of experiencing life's tragedies), I am sure I will get more out of it.

And, of course, being in the company of those who are willing to discuss them Smile

I agree, Linden is a big-ol Mess...and yet she must succeed.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many thanks for taking the time to read the review and chiming in, DoctorGamgee.

On the wider point, I've always been drawn to anti-heroes (which says a lot about me, I guess) and personally I prefer the relative tightness and sparity of the original Chronciles - I found going back to them after a twenty year break quite a revelation - which was also enormously assisted by joining up to the Watch.
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