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Atiaran
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:51 pm    Post subject: Atiaran Reply with quote

In re-reading the 1st Chrons I am deeply impressed with Atiaran as a character.

For many, being told that you must undertake a dangerous journey of almost 1,000 miles on foot with a man you barely met, leaving your loved ones behind and unsure of returning alive, would be more than enough to put us on a knife-edge. But to find out at the beginning of the journey that this man has raped your only daughter... Wow.

I have a 16 year-old daughter. I have never been a killer, but if someone raped her, it would give me great satisfaction to carve him into pieces with my kitchen knife. Yet Atiaran puts her personal desires for revenge aside because she so strongly believes in Covenant's mission to Revelstone. She nobly defers justice to what the Lords choose to do with him after he has delivered her message.

But even bigger than that is her choice to accompany a person who has done an atrocity his first 24 hours in the Land; but whom she cannot see to know his intentions toward her; every night she must have fallen asleep shaking with fear of what he might do to her. And yet she makes sure he has a blanket, and food, etc., and her conversation with him is terse, but free from vituperation.

As they traverse the hills at the edge of the South Plains the smell of wrongness-- of evil-- overtakes them.

Quote:
"It is murder," Atiaran replied flatly, and quickened her pace to pull away from him. Do not ask me to forget, her back seemed to say, and he stumped fuming after it.

She seems to imply that the murder could very well be hers. And yet she carries on. Melenkurion Abatha! No wonder she moved so fast, it must have taken every personal resource she had not to run away from him. In fact, maybe she was partly doing that. It didn't take health-sense, surely, to see how he labored to keep up with him. She could have left him behind and carried his message (which he had already disclosed) herself to Revelstone. Maybe she was almost hoping something would happen to him... then she could keep her Oath...

I am just blown away by Atiaran on this read-through.

Of course, it changed after Soaring Woodhelven. Which reveals that a lot of her anger toward him (justified as the rape made it) was based in her own self-doubts. The Woodhelvennins' acceptance of him, the test of the lomillialor, and the news that their path would take them to the Banas Nimoram redeemed her choices.

But her anger (both at Covenant and herself) was renewed by the ur-viles' desecration of the Celebration, and she would not forgive him for not killing her.

EDIT: What makes Atiaran so real is the psychology whereby we deflect our anger, fear, or hatred to other, less direct issues. Atiaran projected her own, very justified sense of injury and rage to the desecration of the Wraiths' dance. Perhaps that seemed more righteous, more justifiable to her, than her fury over Lena's rape, and the accumulated stress of her fears for herself (which are never mentioned but as a woman, I can speak for what she must surely have been wrestling with). Or perhaps it was "safer" to rage about that than about her own issues.

In any case, SRD does what he does best and leaves us completely unresolved, with Atiaran rushing off alone back to Andelain to find what healing she may on her way back to Mithil Stonedown. And we have the distinct feeling that bill will come due some day (which it does, with a vengeance).
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Atiaran Reply with quote

deer of the dawn wrote:
But even bigger than that is her choice to accompany a person who has done an atrocity his first 24 hours in the Land; but whom she cannot see to know his intentions toward her; every night she must have fallen asleep shaking with fear of what he might do to her. And yet she makes sure he has a blanket, and food, etc., and her conversation with him is terse, but free from vituperation.

This helps explain for me why she was so terse with him... in spite of the fact that she was determined to keep peace with him, provide for basic needs, and lead him safely.
It would probably be harder to maintain a longer conversation without it being "free from vituperation" as you say.

Quote:
She could have left him behind and carried his message (which he had already disclosed) herself to Revelstone. Maybe she was almost hoping something would happen to him... then she could keep her Oath...

That's a good point... a way to keep the rule in practice, but certainly not the spirit.
It would make sense though; you'd expect there to be a certain measure of desperation in this whole expedition. Sad

Quote:
Of course, it changed after Soaring Woodhelven. Which reveals that a lot of her anger toward him (justified as the rape made it) was based in her own self-doubts. The Woodhelvennins' acceptance of him, the test of the lomillialor, and the news that their path would take them to the Banas Nimoram redeemed her choices.


I'd thought a lot about her own self-doubts... in some ways when she's introduced, even though there's that "complexity / complex self-doubt," I saw her as a wise, substantial person - someone who'd seen "how bad it was" and survived the test...
someone who'd wrestled with her failings and fallings... and come out barely victorious...
that line about her and her body appearing to live "on the basis of an old and difficult truce."

But, then, in the form of Covenant and his actions.. there comes a challenge beyond all the other ones. Rolling Eyes

D'oh... what's the Banas Nimoram?

Quote:
But her anger (both at Covenant and herself) was renewed by the ur-viles' desecration of the Celebration, and she would not forgive him for not killing her.

EDIT: What makes Atiaran so real is the psychology whereby we deflect our anger, fear, or hatred to other, less direct issues. Atiaran projected her own, very justified sense of injury and rage to the desecration of the Wraiths' dance. Perhaps that seemed more righteous, more justifiable to her, than her fury over Lena's rape, and the accumulated stress of her fears for herself (which are never mentioned but as a woman, I can speak for what she must surely have been wrestling with). Or perhaps it was "safer" to rage about that than about her own issues.


This... this makes sense; really good conclusions.

I may have to go back and read... her not forgiving him for not killing her I don't think I remember..
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What keeps Atiaran from being an utterly formidible charater is that she's a stand-in for everyone in the Land. Her responses to Covenant are meant to be exemplary of anyone else in the Land. Thereby demonstrating the moral framework in which Covenant finds himself - they are literally willing to forgive him anything.

Yes, because of her daughter, her position in the drama is certainly different than anyone elses would be. She suffers more horror from Covenant's acts than anyone else, maybe even Lena.

But her response is constrained by her need to be the Land's representative to the reader. She has to be the ultimate forgiving soul. Because the real story is about Covenant experiencing this kind of forgiveness. And about the Land, in its entirity, offering it. The degree to which she forgives is only to underscore this relationship between the people and Covenant. On other occassions, when Prothall or Mhoram or anyone else forgives Covenant, it all follows in the vein Atiaran established, and so is not surprising, or questioned, or mysterious.

The most Donaldson allows Atiaran to be her own person is to leave Covenant when she has the chance.

Triock is the exceptional character in the rape drama. He's the one driven outside the normal bounds of his society. He is flawed; he is therefore interesting. Atiaran can only be the perfect shining example.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't say I agree with you, WF. Trell suffered greatly from Covenant's acts. He had to stand silently while Elena chose Covenant. He twice injured his first love, stone. His act of near immolation drove him insane. We still see the depth of his injuries when we see his spirit in Andelain in TWL.

I don't think Atiaran ever came anywhere near to forgiving Covenant. She destroyed herself trying to bring Covenant back to the Land so she could punish him.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay. I have admit to speaking hastilly, and you called me on it. She didn't forgive Covenant in her heart, certainly. But she, and the other people in the Land, refrained from punishing him for what he did, or even hold him accountable. He was forgiven in the sense of a forgiven crime: there was no demand for retribution. That's what I was trying to say.

Trell's another great example of a character. His response to Covenant is poignant and tragic. He could not match Atiaran, certainly not after Atiaran passed away. His dilemmas led directly to Mhoram's learning the secret of power, although it costs him everything. Very significant.

Did Atiaran want retribution when she attempted to summon Covenant? Elena said, "But whether she wanted you for the Land, or for herself, I do not know. She was a torn woman, and it is in my heart that both hungers warred in her to the last."

Covenant believed that Atiaran wanted him punished by the Council, but this could have been projecting. It's what he imagined she would want.

But Atiaran didn't act against Covenant in any way. She kept her Oath. This gives her an integrity by which every other person in the Land is measured.

But it doesn't make her a significant character. It's her lot to suffer and be seen suffering, and to display the integrity which is the Land's integrity. But Donaldson doesn't ever really let her act on her suffering. What amount she does, she does between books. Trell is the one who's suffering comes back to move the story forward.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But it doesn't make her a significant character. It's her lot to suffer and be seen suffering, and to display the integrity which is the Land's integrity.
Her significance in part is that of all the people we meet in the Land she is one of the easiest to relate to (whether we like her or not). I don't at all agree that she is the "perfect, shining example"-- certainly not in the way Mhoram is, or the Woodhelvennin woman who serves Covenant and dies nameless. She is a human example. Through her we deal with our shock at Lena's rape and are able to set vindication aside to play out later in the story.

Linna, the Banas Nimoram is the Wraith's dance in Andelain. And she demands that Covenant strike her down on the banks of the Soulsease, which of course he declines to do. She comes closest to violating her Oath when right after that she flings her knife into the ground at his feet.

wayfriend wrote:
What keeps Atiaran from being an utterly formidible charater is that she's a stand-in for everyone in the Land. Her responses to Covenant are meant to be exemplary of anyone else in the Land. Thereby demonstrating the moral framework in which Covenant finds himself - they are literally willing to forgive him anything.
Good point-- but I wouldn't say her responses represent everyone else, but they do express the range of possible responses to him. Revulsion, rage, respect, pity, friendship. And she does NOT forgive him for what happens to the wraiths-- I don't think she really forgave him for Lena, either; she just learned to subvert her personal feelings for the sake of the Land.

And the Bloodguard do not forgive under any circumstances, and along the line Covenant offended them plenty. They also subjected their personal feelings for the greater good-- but the did not forgive.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a thought-provoking thread, and I'm going to bump it up so that it can get some more attention. Exclamation
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

Cord Hurn wrote:
This is a thought-provoking thread, and I'm going to bump it up so that it can get some more attention. Exclamation


Good call.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:17 am    Post subject: Re: Atiaran Reply with quote

Thank you, Wosbald! I find Deer's topic on this character to be thoughtful and interesting, and I hope to contribute more to this thread in the not-too-distant future.

deer of the dawn wrote:
In re-reading the 1st Chrons I am deeply impressed with Atiaran as a character.

For many, being told that you must undertake a dangerous journey of almost 1,000 miles on foot with a man you barely met, leaving your loved ones behind and unsure of returning alive, would be more than enough to put us on a knife-edge. But to find out at the beginning of the journey that this man has raped your only daughter... Wow.

I have a 16 year-old daughter. I have never been a killer, but if someone raped her, it would give me great satisfaction to carve him into pieces with my kitchen knife. Yet Atiaran puts her personal desires for revenge aside because she so strongly believes in Covenant's mission to Revelstone. She nobly defers justice to what the Lords choose to do with him after he has delivered her message.

But even bigger than that is her choice to accompany a person who has done an atrocity his first 24 hours in the Land; but whom she cannot see to know his intentions toward her; every night she must have fallen asleep shaking with fear of what he might do to her. And yet she makes sure he has a blanket, and food, etc., and her conversation with him is terse, but free from vituperation.


For certain, it's all Atiaran can do to rest and allow for human needs, as she's in as much of a hurry as she can manage to deliver Covenant and get him out of her life altogether (and hoping Covenant will be punished by the Lords, of course):

In Lord Foul's Bane Chapter 9 was wrote:
His [Covenant's] last sight before his eyes fell shut was of Atiaran, sitting enshadowed on the far side of the graveling pot, her face set relentlessly toward the north.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

deer of the dawn wrote:
But her anger (both at Covenant and herself) was renewed by the ur-viles' desecration of the Celebration, and she would not forgive him for not killing her.


Yeah, I think that was the deciding factor in making Atiaran see no hope in Covenant, the fact that he couldn't protect the Wraiths. She had seen him stop Drool's violent influence on the storm, so she can't accept that he didn't know how to effectively combat the ur-viles. She probably figured he was perversely withholding his power to allow the attack on the Wraiths to succeed (a conclusion made easier for her, no doubt, from what TC had done to her daughter).

In Lord Foul's Bane Chapter 10 was wrote:
He wanted to weep himself, but in his long struggle with the misery of being a leper he had forgotten how, and now he could only keep on walking. He was aware as Atiaran regained control of herself and pulled away from him that she accused him of something. Throughout the sleepless night of their northward trek, he could do nothing about it.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another way to look at it is that Atiaran is an example of forbearance. Despite her desire for retribution, she remains true to the Land and fulfills her duty as she best understands it.

The quote from Elena (quoted above) about both hungers warring within her (for herself or for the Land), is essentially the same conflict that Covenant faces (as Linna pointed out).

All of the characters in TCOTCTU seem to tend toward extremes, but unlike the rigid stubborness of the Bloodguard, or the less-comlex devotion of the Lords, Atiaran exemplified the struggle Covenant faced throughout his entire journey - give in, or be true. It made the narrative complexity of establishing and maintaining Covenant's perspective of unbelief more accessible by giving an unambiguous example of how torn someone can be between two uncompromising positions.

Incidentally, or not so, it also provides Covenant with basis for caring for the Land when he's otherwise just a visitor. It was not just health or greenery that appealed, but the people, their plight, and their dedication to something far larger than themselves that both tugged at his heart, and tempted his soul. It was also the desctruction of this that made TWL and the second chronicles overall so compelling.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Concerning Atiaran, I'm struck by the fact that she was already conflicted and tormented before Thomas Covenant came into her life, though of course learning of TC's crime against her daughter after she had agreed to guide him to the Lords increased the conflict and torment to self-destructive levels for her.

In Chapter 6 of Lord Fouls Bane was wrote:
He found that another woman had joined Lena. As he returned, he heard Lena say, "He says he knows nothing of us." Then the other woman looked at him, and guessed immediately that she was Atiaran. The leaf pattern of the shoulders of her long brown robe seemed to be a kind of family emblem; he did not need such hints to see the long familiarity in the way the older woman touched Lena's shoulder, or the similarities in their posture. But where Lena was fresh and slim of line, full of unbroken newness, Atiaran appeared complex, almost self-contradictory. Her soft surface, her full figure, she carried as if it were a hindrance to the hard strength of experience within her, as if she lived with her body on the basis of an old and difficult truce. And her face bore the signs of that truce; her forehead seemed prematurely lined and her deep spacious eyes appeared to open inward on a weary battleground of doubts and uneasy reconciliations. Looking at her over the stone table, Covenant received a double impression of a frowning concern--the result of knowing and fearing more than other people realized--and an absent beauty that would rekindle in her face if only she would smile.



DocTox wrote:
Another way to look at it is that Atiaran is an example of forbearance. Despite her desire for retribution, she remains true to the Land and fulfills her duty as she best understands it.


I find I can agree to this with no reservation at all.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Chapter 6 of Lord Foul's Bane was wrote:
After a brief hesitation, the older woman touched her heart and raised her hand toward Covenant as Trell had done. "Hail, guest, and welcome. I am Atiaran Trell-mate. I have spoken with Trell, and with Lena my daughter--you need no introduction to me, Thomas Covenant. Be comfortable in our home."

Remembering his manners--and his new determination--Covenant responded, "I'm honored."

Atiaran bowed slightly. "Accepting that which is offered honors the giver. And courtesy is always welcome." Then she seemed to hesitate again, uncertain of how to proceed. Covenant watched the return of old conflicts to her eyes, thinking that gaze would have an extraordinary power if it were not so inward. But she reached her decision soon, and said, "It is not the custom of our people to worry a guest with hard questions before eating. But the food is not ready"--she glanced at Lena--"and you are strange to me, Thomas Covenant, strange and disquieting. I would talk with you if I may, while Lena prepares what food we have. You seem to bear a need that should not wait."

Covenant shrugged noncommittally. He felt a twinge of anxiety at the thought of her questions, and braced himself to try to answer them without losing his new balance.

In the pause, Lena began moving around the room. She went to the shelves to get plates and bowls for the table, and prepared some dishes on a slab of stone heated from underneath by a tray of graveling. She turned her eyes toward Covenant often as she moved, but he did not always notice. Atiaran compelled his attention.

At first, she murmured uncertainly, "I hardly know where to begin. It has been so long, and I learned so little of what the Lords know. But what I have must be enough. No one here can take my place." She straightened her shoulders. "May I see your hands?"

Remembering Lena's initial reaction to him, Covenant held up his right hand.

Atiaran moved around the table until she was close enough to touch him, but did not. Instead, she searched his face. "Halfhand. It is as Trell said. And some say that Berek Earthfriend, Heartthew and Lord-Fatherer, will return to the Land when there is need. Do you know these things?"

Covenant answered gruffly, "No."

Still looking into his face, Atiaran said, "Your other hand?"

Puzzled, he raised his left. She dropped her eyes to it.

When she saw it, she gasped, then bit her lip and stepped back. For an instant, she seemed inexplicably terrified. But she mastered herself, and asked with only a low tremble in her voice, "What metal is that ring?"

"What? This?" Her reaction startled Covenant, and in his surprise he gaped at a complicated memory of Joan saying, With this ring I thee wed, and the old ocher-robed beggar replying, Be true, be true. Darkness threatened him. He heard himself answer as if he were someone else, someone who had nothing to do with leprosy and divorce, "It's white gold."

Atiaran groaned, clamped her hands over her temples as if she were in pain. But again she brought herself under control, and a bleak courage came into her eyes. "I alone," she said, "I alone in Mithil Stonedown know the meaning of this. Even Trell has not this knowledge. And I know too little. Answer, Thomas Covenant--is it true?"

I should've thrown it away, he muttered bitterly. A leper's got no right to be sentimental.


From the first time I met her in this scene, I found myself feeling that Atiaran seemed more real to me than anyone we have met in the Land so far, for her complex personality reminded me of people I've known in life. Drool Rockworm, Lord Foul, Lena, and Trell, at this point in the story seemed to have simple personalities compared to Atiaran:

Her soft surface, her full figure, she carried as if it were a hindrance to the hard strength of experience within her, as if she lived with her body on the basis of an old and difficult truce. And her face bore the signs of that truce; her forehead seemed prematurely lined and her deep spacious eyes appeared to open inward on a weary battleground of doubts and uneasy reconciliations.

Covenant watched the return of old conflicts to her eyes, thinking that gaze would have an extraordinary power if it were not so inward.

But again she brought herself under control, and a bleak courage came into her eyes.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Atiaran Reply with quote

Cord Hurn wrote:
Thank you, Wosbald! I find Deer's topic on this character to be thoughtful and interesting, and I hope to contribute more to this thread in the not-too-distant future.

deer of the dawn wrote:
In re-reading the 1st Chrons I am deeply impressed with Atiaran as a character.

For many, being told that you must undertake a dangerous journey of almost 1,000 miles on foot with a man you barely met, leaving your loved ones behind and unsure of returning alive, would be more than enough to put us on a knife-edge. But to find out at the beginning of the journey that this man has raped your only daughter... Wow.

I have a 16 year-old daughter. I have never been a killer, but if someone raped her, it would give me great satisfaction to carve him into pieces with my kitchen knife. Yet Atiaran puts her personal desires for revenge aside because she so strongly believes in Covenant's mission to Revelstone. She nobly defers justice to what the Lords choose to do with him after he has delivered her message.

But even bigger than that is her choice to accompany a person who has done an atrocity his first 24 hours in the Land; but whom she cannot see to know his intentions toward her; every night she must have fallen asleep shaking with fear of what he might do to her. And yet she makes sure he has a blanket, and food, etc., and her conversation with him is terse, but free from vituperation.


For certain, it's all Atiaran can do to rest and allow for human needs, as she's in as much of a hurry as she can manage to deliver Covenant and get him out of her life altogether (and hoping Covenant will be punished by the Lords, of course):

In Lord Foul's Bane Chapter 9 was wrote:
His [Covenant's] last sight before his eyes fell shut was of Atiaran, sitting enshadowed on the far side of the graveling pot, her face set relentlessly toward the north.


I've commented on this before on a different thread, but Atiaran's self-sacrificing forbearance would probably have had the effect of strengthening Covenant's Unbelief. Covenant was waking up each morning of the trek through sparsely populated or unpopulated wild country to find that Atiaran hadn't taken the opportunity to slip a knife between his ribs while he was asleep, in spite of her grievances with him. For the reasons deer of the dawn has outlined, this would have seemed unbelievable to someone from our world.
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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Chapter 8 of Lord Foul's Bane was wrote:
His shoulders bunched to strangle the thought. Through locked teeth, he breathed to himself, I've got to go to the Council.

When he had steadied himself, he asked grimly, "What did the elders say?"

"There was little for them to say," she replied in a flat voice. "I told them what I know of you--and of the Land's peril. They agreed that I must guide you to Lord's Keep. For that purpose I have come to you now. See"--she indicated two packs lying near her feet--"I am ready> Trell my husband has given me his blessing. It grieves me to go without giving my love to Lena my daughter, but time is urgent. You have not told me all your message, but I sense that from this day forward each delay is hazardous. The elders will give thought to the defense of the plains. We must go."

Covenant met her eyes, and this time he understood the sad determination in them. She was afraid, and did not believe that she would live to return to her family. He felt a sudden pity for her. Without fully comprehending what he said, he tried to reassure her. "Things aren't as bad as they might be. A Cavewight has found the Staff of Law, and I gather he doesn't really know how to use it. Somehow, the Lords have got to get it away from him."

But his attempt miscarried. Atiaran stiffened and said, "Then the life of the Land is in our speed. Alas that we cannot go to the Ranyhyn for help. But the Ramen have little countenance for the affairs of the Land, and no Ranyhyn has been ridden, save by Lord or Bloodguard, since the age began. We must walk, Thomas Covenant, and Revelstone is three hundred long leagues distant. Is your clothing dry? We must be on our way."

Covenant was ready; he had to get away from this place. He gathered himself to his feet and said, "Fine. Let's go."

However, the look that Atiaran gave him as he stood held something unresolved. In a low voice as if she were mortifying herself, she said, "Do you trust me to guide you, Thomas Covenant? You do not know me. I failed in the Loresraat."

Her tone seemed to imply not that she was undependable, but that he had the right to judge her. But he was in no position to judge anyone. "I trust you," he rasped. "Why not? You said yourself--" He faltered, then forged ahead. "You said yourself that I come to save or damn the Land."

"True," she returned simply. "But you do not have the stink of a servant of the Grey Slayer. My heart tells me it is the fate of the Land to put faith in you, for good or ill."


I felt automatic tension when first reading this passage, because Atiaran is already tormented about her past failure, and you know what Covenant did to her daughter is going to hurt her so much worse when she finds out.

On some level, Covenant seems to be burying from memory what he did the previous night to Atiaran's daughter--yet retains enough awareness of it to want to get out of the area as soon as possible. But he was in no position to judge anyone. Absolutely true!
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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Chapter 8 of Lord Foul's Bane was wrote:
After a time, he urged her to continue. "Can you tell me about the Loresraat?"

The bitter vehemence of her reply surprised him. "Do you remind me that I am of all people the least worthy to talk of these matters? You, Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever and white gold wielder--do you reproach me?"

He could only stare dumbly at her, unable to fathom the years of struggling that filled her spacious eyes.

"I do not need your reminders."

But a moment later she faced forward again, her expression set to meet the north. "Now you reproach me indeed," she said. "I am too easily hurt that the whole world knows what I know so well myself. Like a guilty woman, I fail to believe the innocence of others. Please pardon me--you should receive better treatment than this,"


What an ironic passage.
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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Chapter 8 of Lord Foul's Bane was wrote:
"In my years at the Loresraat, the High Lord was Variol Tamarnatha-mate son of Pentil. But he was old, even for a Lord, and the Lords live longer than other folk--and our Stonedown has had no news of Revelstone or Loresraat for many years. I do not know who leads the Council now."

Without thinking, Covenant said, "Prothall son of Dwillian."

"Ah!" Atiaran gasped. "He knows me. As a Lorewarden he taught me the first prayers. He will remember that I failed, and will not trust my mission." She shook her head in pain. Then, after a moment's reflection, she added, "And you have known this. You know all. Why do you seek to shame the rudeness of my knowledge? That is not kind."

"Hellfire!" Covenant snapped. Her reproach made him suddenly angry. "Everybody in this whole business, you and"--but he could not bring himself to say Lena's name--"and everyone keeps accusing me of being some sort of closet expert. I tell you, I don't know one dame thing about this unless someone explains it to me. I'm not your bloody Berek."

Atiaran gave him a look full of skepticism--the fruit of long, harsh self-doubt--and he felt an answering urge to prove himself in some way. He stopped, pulled himself erect against weight of his pack. "This is the message of Lord Foul the Despiser: 'Say to the Council of Lords, and to High Lord Prothall son of Dwillian, the the uttermost limit of their span of days upon the Land is seven times seven years from this present time. Before the end of those days are numbered, I will have the command of life and death in my hand.'"

Abruptly he caught himself. His words seemed to beat down the file like ravens, and he felt a hot leper's shame in his cheeks, as though he had defiled the day. For an instant, complete stillness surrounded him--the birds were as silent as if they been stricken out of the sky, and the stream appeared motionless. In the noon heat, his flesh was slick with sweat.

For that instant, Atiaran gaped aghast at him. Then she cried, "Melenkurion abatha! Do not speak it until you must! I cannot preserve us from such ills."

The silence shuddered, passed; the stream began chattering again, and a bird swooped by overhead. Covenant wiped his forehead with an unsteady hand. "Then stop treating me as if I'm something I'm not."

"How can I?" she responded heavily. "You are closed to me, Thomas Covenant. I do not see you."

She used the word see, as if it meant something he did not understand. "What do you mean, you don't see me?" he demanded sourly. "I'm standing right in front of you."

"You are closed to me," she repeated. "I do not know whether you are well or ill."

He blinked at her uncertainly, then realized that she had unwittingly given him the chance to tell her about his leprosy. He took the opportunity; he was angry enough for the job now. Putting aside his incomprehension, he grated, "Ill, of course. I'm a leper."

At this, Atiaran groaned as if he had just confessed to a crime. "Then woe to the Land, for you have the wild magic and can undo us all."

"Will you cut that out?" Brandishing his left fist, he gritted, "It's just a ring. To remind me of everything I have to live without. It's got no more--wild magic--than a rock."

"The Earth is the source of all power," whispered Atiaran.


His words seemed to beat down the file like ravens, and he felt a hot leper's shame in his cheeks, as though he had defiled the day. I like the wordplay involving "file" and "defiled". It's not something I have noticed, before.

Covenant's anger at being seen falsely as knowledgeable of the Land's situation actually makes it possible for him to admit to his leprosy, which he previously would have felt uncomfortable doing. But it feels more uncomfortable for him to accept the powerful image that Atiaran (and Lena, previously) have of him being powerful, heroic and wise. So he can discuss his leprosy if it gives him a chance to lower expectations of what he knows and what he can do. This is another moment of irony, as Atiaran is about to have her expectations of Covenant lowered considerably without an verbal persuasion from TC: Triock arrives to inform Atiaran of her daughter's rape.

"It's got no more--wild magic--than a rock."
Covenant fails to be persuasive here, forgetting that in this world stone has already been shown to have power that can be tapped and directed.
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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Then the truly uncomfortable moment arrives, when Atiaran knows Covenant raped her daughter. I had this eerie, somewhat nauseous fascination with reading on to see what would happen to Covenant as a result of his violent act.

In Lord Foul's Bane Chapter 8 was wrote:
Slowly, Atiaran raised her head and spread her arms, as if opening her breast to an impaling thrust from the sky. Her face was covered in pain, and her eyes were dark craters of grief, looking inward on her compromised humanity. "Trell, help me," she breathed weakly. Then her voice gathered strength, and her anguish seemed to make the air about her ache. "Alas! Alas for the young in the world! Why is the burden of hating ill so hard to bear? Ah, Lena my daughter! I see what you have done. I understand. It is a brave deed, worthy of praise and pride! Forgive me that I cannot be with you in this trial."

But after a while, her gaze swung outward again. She climbed unsteadily to her feet, and stood swaying for a moment before she rasped hoarsely, "Loyalty is due. I forbid your vengenance."

"Does he go unpunished?" protested Triock.

"There is peril in the Land," she answered. "Let the Lords punish him." A taste of blood sharpened her voice. "They will know what to think of a stranger who attacks the innocent." Then her weakness returned. "The matter is beyond me. Triock, remember your Oath." She gripped her shoulders, knotted her fingers in the leaf pattern of her robe as if to hold her sorrow down.

Triock turned toward Covenant. There was something broken in the young man's face--a shattered or wasted capacity for contentment, joy. He snarled with the force of an anathema, "I know you, Unbeliever. We will meet again." Then abruptly he began moving away. He accelerated until he was sprinting, beating out his reproaches on the hard floor of the file. In a moment, he reached a place where the west wall sloped away, and then he was out of sight, gone frome the cut into the hills.

"Impossible," Covenant murmured. "Can't happen. Nerves don't regenerate." But his fingers hurt as if they were being crushed with pain. Apparently, nerves did regenerate in the Land. He wanted to scream against the darkness and the terror, but he seemed to have lost all control of his throat, voice, self.

As if from a distance make great by abhorrence or pity, Atiaran said, "You have made of my heart a wilderland."

"Nerves don't regenerate." Covenant's throat clenched as if he were gagging, but he could not scream. "They don't."

"Does that make you free?" she demanded softly, bitterly. "Does that justify your crime?"

"Crime?" He heard the word like a knife thrust through the beating wings. "Crime?" His blood ran from the cuts as if he were a normal man, but the flow was decreasing steadily. With a sudden convulsion, he caught hold of himself, cried out miserably, "I'm in pain!"

The sound of his wail jolted him, knocked the swirling darkness back a step. Pain! The impossibility bridged a gap for him. Pain was for healthy people, people whose nerves were alive.

Can't happen. Of course it can't. That proves it--proves this is all a dream.

All at once, he felt an acute desire to weep. But he was a leper, and had spent too much time learning to dam such emotional channels. Lepers could not afford grief. Trembling feverishly, he plunged his cut hand into the stream.

"Pain is pain," Atiaran grated. "What is your pain to me? You have done a black deed, Unbeliever--violent and cruel, without commitment or sharing. You have given me a pain that no blood or time will wash clean. And Lena my daughter--! Ah, I pray that the Lords will punish--punish!"

The running water was chill and clear. After a moment, his fingers began to sting in the cold, and an ache spread up through his knuckles to his wrist. Red plumed away from his cuts down the stream, but the cold water soon stopped his bleeding. As he watched the current rinse clean his injury, his grief and fear turned to anger. Because Atiaran was his only companion, he growled at her, "Why should I go? None of this matters--I don't give a damn about your precious Land."

"By the Seven!" Atiaran's hard tone seemed to chisel words out of the air. "You will go to Revelstone if I must drag you each step of the way."

He lifted his hand to examine it. Triock's knife had sliced him as neatly as a razor; there were no jagged edges to conceal dirt or roughen the healing. But the cut had reached bone in his middle two fingers, and blood still seeped from them. He stood up. For the first time since he had been attacked, he looked at Atiaran.

She stood a few paces from him, with her hands clenched together at her heart as if its pulsing hurt her. She glared at him abominably, and her face was taut with intimations of fierce, rough strength. He could see that she was prepared to fight him to Revelstone if necessary. She shamed him, aggravated his ire. Belligerently, he waved his injury at her. "I need a bandage."

For an instant, her gaze intensified as if she were about to hurl herself at him. But then she mastered herself, swallowed her pride. She went over to her pack, opened it, and took out a strip of white cloth, which she tore at an appropriate length as she returned to Covanant. Holding his hand carefully, she inspected the cut, nodded her approval of its condition, then bound the soft fabric firmly around his fingers. "I have no hurtloam," she said, "and cannot be take the time to search for it. But the cut looks well, and will heal cleanly."

When she was done, she went back to her pack. Swinging it onto her shoulders, she said, "Come. We have lost time." Without a glance at Covenant, she set off down the file.


Only in the context of Covenant being seen as a prophesied figure of salvation can I understand Atiaran's incredible show of forbearance, especially given Covenant's belligerent and self-concerned attitude toward Atiaran after she has just learned what he has done to Lena. For Covenant, the pain in his fingers makes the Land unreal. For me, Atiaran refusing Triock's request for violence against Covenant makes the Land unreal. And yet, Atiaran is the most realistically-described character in the Land that we have encountered, so far. I can visualize her more vividly than I can Drool, Foul, Lena, Trell, or Triock.
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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 10:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Atiaran Reply with quote

DrPaul wrote:
I've commented on this before on a different thread, but Atiaran's self-sacrificing forbearance would probably have had the effect of strengthening Covenant's Unbelief. Covenant was waking up each morning of the trek through sparsely populated or unpopulated wild country to find that Atiaran hadn't taken the opportunity to slip a knife between his ribs while he was asleep, in spite of her grievances with him. For the reasons deer of the dawn has outlined, this would have seemed unbelievable to someone from our world.


I think you're right, Dr. Paul. Covenant's experience with Atiaran strengthened his Unbelief. And her insistence that he had the power and the knowledge to save the Land strengthened his desire to deny that power, feeling accepting such responsibility was suicidal.
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm struck by both the justness and the unjustness of the way Atiaran treats Covenant. She is fully justified to loathe Covenant for what he did to her daughter, and shows amazing forbearance toward him because he is a prophesied figure of hope. Yet, she believes he already has the knowledge to save the Land and that he is willfully refusing to employ that knowledge, which we know is untrue. This is one of the complications that kept me reading LFB, to see how it would turn out for Covenant and the Land.

In Chapter 11 of Lord Foul's Bane was wrote:
After a time, he said without meaning to speak aloud, "I would have saved them if I could."

"You have the power." Atiaran's voice was dull, inert, as if she were no longer capable of grief or anger.

"What power?" he asked painfully.

"Do you wear the white gold for nothing?"

"It's just a ring. I wear it--I wear it because I'm a leper. I don't know anything about power."

She did not look at him. "I cannot see. You are closed to me."

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