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The One Tree: Vain's arm turns to wood
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:14 am    Post subject: The One Tree: Vain's arm turns to wood Reply with quote

I just finished reading "The One Tree", and had a thought about the events that occurred when Seadreamer touched the One Tree. Here is the passage that gave me an "ah-ha" moment.

"He <Vain> smiled ambiguously as one of the stars struck and burst against his right forearm. Another concussion shocked the caver. Ebony fire spat like excruciation from the Demondim-spawn's flesh. When it ended, his forearm had been changed. From elbow to wrist, the skin and muscle and bone were gone, transformed into rough-barked wood. Deprived of every nerve or ligature, his hand dangled useless from his iron bound <heal from staff of law> wrist."

I apologize if this has been previously discussed; a very quick search did not reveal the topic. But it just hit me (yes, I can be very slow) that this needed to happen to Vain, and Seadreamer knew it. The stars were a defense for the One Tree, provided by the Worm of the Wolds End. My thinking is that part of Vain's creation was to be able to absorb the touch of the stars, and convert that power into wood exactly like the wood from the One Tree - if not actual wood from the one tree.

SPOILER IF YOU HAVE NOT READ "WHITE GOLD WIELDER"
Spoiler:
Since Vain and Findail join to make up the new staff of law, it would seem that it would need to be made from the One Tree. Vain's arm being made from wood of the One Tree sort of makes sense. And, I think Seadreamer knew this. But I think he knew that the tree had to be touched, and that Covenant was too important and could not be lost. So Seadreamer took Covenant's place.

Does any of this make sense? Have other idea's been discussed?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:46 am    Post subject: Re: The One Tree: Vain's arm turns to wood Reply with quote

Stevo wrote:
I just finished reading "The One Tree", and had a thought about the events that occurred when Seadreamer touched the One Tree. Here is the passage that gave me an "ah-ha" moment.

"He <Vain> smiled ambiguously as one of the stars struck and burst against his right forearm. Another concussion shocked the caver. Ebony fire spat like excruciation from the Demondim-spawn's flesh. When it ended, his forearm had been changed. From elbow to wrist, the skin and muscle and bone were gone, transformed into rough-barked wood. Deprived of every nerve or ligature, his hand dangled useless from his iron bound <heal from staff of law> wrist."

I apologize if this has been previously discussed; a very quick search did not reveal the topic. But it just hit me (yes, I can be very slow) that this needed to happen to Vain, and Seadreamer knew it. The stars were a defense for the One Tree, provided by the Worm of the Wolds End. My thinking is that part of Vain's creation was to be able to absorb the touch of the stars, and convert that power into wood exactly like the wood from the One Tree - if not actual wood from the one tree.

SPOILER IF YOU HAVE NOT READ "WHITE GOLD WIELDER"
Spoiler:
Since Vain and Findail join to make up the new staff of law, it would seem that it would need to be made from the One Tree. Vain's arm being made from wood of the One Tree sort of makes sense. And, I think Seadreamer knew this. But I think he knew that the tree had to be touched, and that Covenant was too important and could not be lost. So Seadreamer took Covenant's place.

Does any of this make sense? Have other idea's been discussed?


I think this is bang on the mark. Vain had to be transformed by the One Tree in order that the process of forming a new staff could progress. The Elohim must have wanted a new staff formed (despite Findails protestations) since not only did they appoint him to be the 'yang' to the Ur-viles 'yin' but they also placed the chart of how to get to the One-Tree inside TC's head. (It all must have been part of the Ur-viles intent as well.) I think Seadreamer was aware that were Covenant to touch the tree - especially given his venom enhanced lack of controll - the end result could only be the full waking of the Worm Spoiler:
the gigantic worm of TOT that is which would have sloughed off the 'skin' of the Earth as so much dust and continued his way cruising through the Universe gobbling up stars wholesale, not the puny cousin of the Third Chrons who wanders through the Earth like a maggot in an apple
and the immediate (I say immediate) destruction of the Earth. Does this however explain his (Seadreamers) complete opposition to the Quest. Did his Earthsight not show him the necessity of this voyage in eliciting the above transformation in Vain. Why did he not just enjoy the ride in a deck-chair and then stroll up and touch the tree at the appropriate moment instead of trying to derail the whole enterprise.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And why did the Elohim try to keep Vain? Was Findail "appointed" before Vain escaped and then tried to keep him to avoid his appointing, or was he appointed after Vain's escape because he had escaped?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stevo, don't know if you've ever read this thread by wayfriend (*Spoilers* it's in the Runes forum): Reading Runes: A Tale of Two Cosmologies, but it's to be highly recommended and is very interesting in relation to the One Tree, the Elohim and that mote that hits Vain's arm.

(See also (*Spoilers* it's in the AATE forum) my much less erudite ramblings on the topic Laughing )

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

... but the short answer is:

In the Gradual Interview, Stephen R Donaldson wrote:
I think of the "transformation" of Vain's forearm as the catalyst which makes his later changes possible. After all, how can you possibly have a Staff of Law that doesn't come from the One Tree? Vain carries the true victory of the Quest for the One Tree with him when Covenant, Linden, etc. flee the sinking Isle.
(09/06/2004)

So good work, Stevo.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A quick nit-pick: Caer-Caveral put the map in Covenant's head. The Elohim just released it.

A quick observation: did the Tree "flake" turning Vain's arm into wood remind anyone else of Pitchwife's pitch turning into stone with the addition of a small flake of stone? I think SRD may have foreshadowed the possibility of such magic, or magical processes, with this image.

As for why the Elohim tried to keep Vain, I think they were trying to force Linden into a position of taking possession of Covenant's ring. Now, the question is: would the Sun-sage and Ring Bearer as one person make the Ur-vile's plan unnecessary? I don't see how. It still took Linden with the ring to make the Staff out of Vain/Findail. She didn't have some extra power to heal the Sunbane; she still needed the Staff. So were the Elohim going to release Vain if Linden took the ring? Maybe. He only threatened one Elohim directly (Findail), and they've shown before that they have no problem making one of their own an Appointed. I don't see how he threatened the Elohim otherwise, except that he gave the Quest hope of some hidden purpose beyond their knowledge/plans that may have given Linden an excuse not to possess Covenant and take the ring. As long as there was another option available, she was good at seizing the excuse.

Would things have been different if Linden had taken the ring, and tried to get a branch off the tree instead of Covenant? Would she have had the percipience and the absence of venom to accomplish safely what Berek had also done? Would that have made Vain unnecessary? Was Vain only necessary as long as Covenant had the ring?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Would things have been different if Linden had taken the ring, and tried to get a branch off the tree instead of Covenant? Would she have had the percipience and the absence of venom to accomplish safely what Berek had also done? Would that have made Vain unnecessary? Was Vain only necessary as long as Covenant had the ring?

Interesting questions, Z. (There's good discussion about the One Tree here if you haven't seen it already. Some speculation about the role of the Guardian and also the effect of White Gold on the Worm's rest.)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:

Would things have been different if Linden had taken the ring, and tried to get a branch off the tree instead of Covenant? Would she have had the percipience and the absence of venom to accomplish safely what Berek had also done? Would that have made Vain unnecessary? Was Vain only necessary as long as Covenant had the ring?

I think the answer to all those questions is "yes."
I also think the different results would have been pure horror...cuz the Elo like the Har. are always wrong about everything and for the same reason...purity blinds.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:

Would things have been different if Linden had taken the ring, and tried to get a branch off the tree instead of Covenant? Would she have had the percipience and the absence of venom to accomplish safely what Berek had also done? Would that have made Vain unnecessary? Was Vain only necessary as long as Covenant had the ring?

I think the answer to all those questions is "yes."

If by 'yes' you mean Lord Foul wins, well then sure, okay.

The Sun-bane was Linden's. But only Covenant can defeat Foul. Covenant needed the ring to defeat Foul, and Linden was not ready to have it until she had seen that done.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Vraith wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:

Would things have been different if Linden had taken the ring, and tried to get a branch off the tree instead of Covenant? Would she have had the percipience and the absence of venom to accomplish safely what Berek had also done? Would that have made Vain unnecessary? Was Vain only necessary as long as Covenant had the ring?

I think the answer to all those questions is "yes."

If by 'yes' you mean Lord Foul wins, well then sure, okay.


What part of the rest I said [it would be pure horror] means anything except LF wins, and that's a bad thing?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iolanthe wrote:
And why did the Elohim try to keep Vain? Was Findail "appointed" before Vain escaped and then tried to keep him to avoid his appointing, or was he appointed after Vain's escape because he had escaped?

Findail was appointed before Vain's escape. His appointment was made known from his first introduction (at the Elohmfest (sp?)?).

Zarathustr wrote:

A quick nit-pick: Caer-Caveral put the map in Covenant's head. The Elohim just released it.

Right! I can't remember (but I'll get there soon) but I recall that the reason for putting the map in Covenant's head was so they would seek out the Elohim. They needed the Elohim and Vain for the new Staff of Law ... if not also so that Vain could be the catalyst by going to the Isle of the One Tree.

Zarathustr wrote:

As for why the Elohim tried to keep Vain, I think they were trying to force Linden into a position of taking possession of Covenant's ring. Now, the question is: would the Sun-sage and Ring Bearer as one person make the Ur-vile's plan unnecessary?

I've been asking myself that very same question about the Ur-vile pan being unnecessary. It sounds like there were two possible outcomes where Vain and Findail joining were the first option, and Sun-Sage and Ring bearer in one person being the other option. I don't see how the second option would play out.

ussusimiel wrote:

Stevo, don't know if you've ever read this thread by wayfriend (*Spoilers* it's in the Runes forum): Reading Runes: A Tale of Two Cosmologies, but it's to be highly recommended and is very interesting in relation to the One Tree, the Elohim and that mote that hits Vain's arm.

(See also (*Spoilers* it's in the AATE forum) my much less erudite ramblings on the topic Laughing )

I came across this last night, but have not had a change to even peek. Will be doing that soon.

I have to say, I'm so happy to have found this site and to have found people who are so well versed in all thing Covenant! Thanks to all!
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
wayfriend wrote:
Vraith wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:

Would things have been different if Linden had taken the ring, and tried to get a branch off the tree instead of Covenant? Would she have had the percipience and the absence of venom to accomplish safely what Berek had also done? Would that have made Vain unnecessary? Was Vain only necessary as long as Covenant had the ring?

I think the answer to all those questions is "yes."

If by 'yes' you mean Lord Foul wins, well then sure, okay.


What part of the rest I said [it would be pure horror] means anything except LF wins, and that's a bad thing?
While the Ritual of Desecration was "pure horror," the people of the Land managed to have significant victories against their enemies or their plight before Covenant. I realize this is his Chronicles, so in terms of a character-driven story, he has to defeat Foul. But is that the same as saying Linden couldn't have defeated the Clave and the Sunbane without him? Foul is never really destroyed, just set back. I think there is nothing within the "rules" of the Land that eliminates this possibility. Covenant wouldn't get to have his cool ending, but all the bad stuff that Foul is doing could have still been undone without defeating him personally.

Maybe he would have come back faster, but that's a separate issue. That's not "pure horror." That's just the Last Chronicles a bit sooner.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
That's not "pure horror." That's just the Last Chronicles a bit sooner.

Heh...I admit that is a possible, maybe even likely outcome.
From the outside, though, the condensed timeline in that case makes the "off-stage" changes uglier, and demands either [or both] much more explicit/detailed explanation of changes and much more jarring [for the reader] "suspension of disbelief."

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
wayfriend wrote:
Vraith wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:

Would things have been different if Linden had taken the ring, and tried to get a branch off the tree instead of Covenant? Would she have had the percipience and the absence of venom to accomplish safely what Berek had also done? Would that have made Vain unnecessary? Was Vain only necessary as long as Covenant had the ring?

I think the answer to all those questions is "yes."

If by 'yes' you mean Lord Foul wins, well then sure, okay.


What part of the rest I said [it would be pure horror] means anything except LF wins, and that's a bad thing?

Nothing at all. Sometimes I am agreeing.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The real goal of the Elohim in the 2nd chrons seemed to be to get the ring for themselves. Linden wasn't ready to assume the leadership/savior role. Her assumed incapability to confront Foul and/or the Clave meant that she would be vulnerable to to the Elohim's pressures on her to relinquish control to them.

Covenant was her main support in the Land's world and the geas they put on him denied her that essential support. The beneficent elderly looking Findail was probably supposed to replace him in that role. Or perhaps he was supposed to remind her of her father. There are certain suggestive similarities. Their abilities to transcend time certainly make this a possibility.

Without Vain the Staff of Law was out of reach. A different long-term solution was necessary to uphold Law once Linden disappeared back to her world. Leaving Covenant and his Wild powers under the control of the wise and powerful Elohim Findail was supposed to be it. The geas only left two possibilities: either Linden frees him at great personal sacrifice as she did in the story or she uses her possession powers to control his powers whenever they were in danger.

It couldn't have been a coincidence that after their visit to the ELohim lands they needed to stop at Bhraitherrealm. The Sandgorgons and monster-guards were supposed to show Linden that the only safe solution for everybody was to chain the dangerous an unpredictable Covenant and control him. (is it really a coincidence that Linden does the opposite of this and enables Covenant to free Nom when she takes his geas on herself?)

At the end, after numerous times where she would have controlled him she would have become inured to this necessary evil and would have consented to the necessity of passing control of him to Findail (an example where repressed guilt enabled greater evil)
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woah, woah, bac up here. Putting aside the SRD aftermarket jargon (I hate that he even GAVE post book explanations, personaly), it seems like the Tree is simply a more solid Earthpower. Meaning Findail is basically as good as the Tree, really, for power's sake. I always looked at it as a hint. Linden had the power to accomplish the new Staff, but limited time. The Staff itself helped to hold her long enough to fix the Sunbane. Without, she'd be lost, and the Land un-saved. There's a qoute near the end, I'm afriad I can't get it right now, that says something like "Linden's eyes fell upon Vain's wooden arm, and the heel of the Staff, and his meaning was made clear". Or some such. Which, I think, would explaind Seadreamer's reluctance. Who wants to have to die because some woman is too stupid to get the obvious? Nobody.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the Elohim are raw, unconstrained Earthpower. In other words, not bound by Law. Vain provides structure, but it's not guided structure. The One Tree provides the guidance for that structure - the part that tunes that structure to be in accordance with Law and nature. Remember, the ur-viles aren't "natural", and so neither is Vain. Therefore, Vain alone cannot provide Law. Vain provides, if you will, the capacity to lock Power and Law into an unchanging shape. He is Pure Structure, but just Pure Structure.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sherman Landlearner wrote:
it seems like the Tree is simply a more solid Earthpower. Meaning Findail is basically as good as the Tree, really, for power's sake. I always looked at it as a hint. Linden had the power to accomplish the new Staff,


I thought the same thing. Years later reading (a quote from SRD) that Vain getting struck by one of the "stars" (pure earthpower) was required for the Staff transformation to take place left me scratching my head. I thought it was just a hint. Structure plus earthpower was enough to get it going and Linden fine tuned it, made it almost alive.
I think that part is one of those things that SRD said he thought was obvious and was surprised that so few people got it.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
I think the Elohim are raw, unconstrained Earthpower. In other words, not bound by Law. Vain provides structure, but it's not guided structure. The One Tree provides the guidance for that structure - the part that tunes that structure to be in accordance with Law and nature. Remember, the ur-viles aren't "natural", and so neither is Vain. Therefore, Vain alone cannot provide Law. Vain provides, if you will, the capacity to lock Power and Law into an unchanging shape. He is Pure Structure, but just Pure Structure.
Not bad, I mostly agree, but I have a slightly different way of looking at it ... I don't think Vain is pure structure, I think he's the potential for structure, or the medium that conveys/holds/manifests the structure. I think Pitchwife's pitch is a perfect example of what's going on here (possibly even a foreshadow, which is why Donaldson is surprised people didn't see it coming). In both cases, there is a medium (Vain, pitch) which can only be shaped by beings possessing a certain Lore and power (ur-viles, Pitchwife), which then "crystalizes" into a certain structure once the right kind of a "seeding crystal" (One Tree star, stone flake) is placed within the medium.* In both cases, we have the essential elements of the Land: wood and rock, the two examples of "living," elemental structure in this world. The SoL is a bit more complicated and important than a stone repair, so it also requires a massive infusion of raw Earthpower in the form of Findail, but I bet there's some smaller counterpart of this infusion in Pitchwife's work which he supplies himself with his magical talent for wiving.


*[This is a real phenomenon, btw, forming crystals by seeding a supersaturated medium with a smaller crystal which then transfers its structure to the whole.]
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
... but the short answer is:

In the Gradual Interview, Stephen R Donaldson wrote:
I think of the "transformation" of Vain's forearm as the catalyst which makes his later changes possible. After all, how can you possibly have a Staff of Law that doesn't come from the One Tree? Vain carries the true victory of the Quest for the One Tree with him when Covenant, Linden, etc. flee the sinking Isle.
(09/06/2004)

So good work, Stevo.


Well then, that's one of my objections about The One Tree that's thrown to the wayside. I'd long felt after finishing the Second Chronicles that everything the company goes through in that book after escaping the Elohim was pointless. I see now that isn't the case.
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