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The Vow of the Bloodguard
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spoiler:
I wonder what would happen if we told the masters in the last chronicles that they were all part earthpower... surely their heads would explode?
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spoiler:
...or they would just suppress themselves. Razz

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given Wayfriends pertinant quotes from SRD, I am caused to wonder why some of the Lands denizens qualify for the 'essence' of Earthpower to reside within them and others do not.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:


peter wrote:
The Haruchai are however somehow 'beings of Earthpower' already, in a way that the denizens of the Land [ie Stonedowners, Woodhelvenin and even Ramen to a point] are not.

I have never thought of the Haruchai as beings of Earthpower.Spoiler:
It didn't really arise until the Last Chrons and seemed somehow connected with the whole Masters thing.
Yes, they seemed to recover and heal quickly but in the 1st Chrons I always put that down to the Vow (sealed and sustained by Earthpower). In the 2nd, I put their hardiness down to their harsh mountain existence (call it natural slection if you like!).

Spoiler:
There definitely does seem to be something distinctly different about the way SRD has treated them in the Last Chrons (and that may be another reason why I find the books so off-putting Confused ). It's almost as if their base material has been transmuted in some way. I would never have seen them as any different from ordinary people in the Land, especially since they eschewed lore.
I always saw their incredible strength and resilience as the result of extreme/harsh military discipline (a bit like the Spartans) rather than some extension of Earthpower.

u.
That's always been my impression, as well. It wasn't until the LC that this was somewhat explicit. The newer characterization doesn't necessarily contradict what we'd aleady seen of the Haruchai, but it does suggest a shift in how SRD himself views them. Or maybe this conception of them was there all along, in the back of his mind, and he simply didn't focus on that as a necessary part of the story. However, now:

Spoiler:
...given their role in the LC, it allows an interesting irony to be part of the subtext.


And I don't think it's surprising or out of the ordinary for a writer who has carried an idea around in his head for several decades to evolve in his own conception or understanding of his work. At times it must feel even to him that the idea was "always there," in a similar way the 4 is always "in" 2 + 2, even if never written. Works this large grow almost organically, continuously sprouting and branching almost of their own accord. Tolkien, for instance, talked about how the "tale grew in the telling," and even used the image of a tree (at first just a leaf) to illustrate this organic growth of "sub-creation" (his word for writing fantasy stories).
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter wrote:
Given Wayfriends pertinant quotes from SRD, I am caused to wonder why some of the Lands denizens qualify for the 'essence' of Earthpower to reside within them and others do not.

My impression is that Earthpower is used to explain why beings have magical attributes. Giant's unharmed by fire? Earthpower. Ranyhyn hear their call before it is made? Earthpower. Haruchai utter a Vow which changes their metabolism? Earthpower. Etc.

All these things are natural and "as they should be". Hence they are provided by the very Earth. Hence, Earthpower.

As opposed to, say, ur-viles, which are not of the natural order.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter, I agree with you that the distinctions aren't clear. For instance, Stonedowners and Woodhelvinen are able to do things with stone and wood that are just as magical as things Haruchai or Ranyhyn do. I assume the distinction is one of lore based on learning vs innate talent based on essence. But even in the enactment of lore, one expends himself, so that it's not like wielding an external tool. Healthsense alone (which requires no lore) seems to imply an innate Earthpower within everyone in the Land.

Maybe it's more like a spectrum between power and lore, which each inhabitant possessing more or less of each, but a little of both. Giants obviously have magical properties (withstanding fire) as well as lore (building stone ships, pitch-wifing). I would even count martial arts a kind of "lore." Hand-to-hand combat of Haruchian levels has to be learned, honed, practiced. It's not innate, though it can be empowered by Earthpower to greater levels than normal men could achieve. So even Haruchai could be said to have lore, though only a bare mininum and one very closely related to their innate talents/power.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Didn't Foamfollower help Triok to summon Thomas covenant into the land? Giants seem to have the ability to lend their strength to other people or catalysts which is very interesting considering he's never been to the loresratt or anything like that


Spoiler:
In the last chronicles stave learns to block out the minds of the masters.. would this be considered some type of Lore? somehow he was able to find this skill that the other masters, even the humbled, could not duplicate.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poliwrath wrote:
Didn't Foamfollower help Triok to summon Thomas covenant into the land? Giants seem to have the ability to lend their strength to other people or catalysts which is very interesting considering he's never been to the loresratt or anything like that


Spoiler:
In the last chronicles stave learns to block out the minds of the masters.. would this be considered some type of Lore? somehow he was able to find this skill that the other masters, even the humbled, could not duplicate.


Spoiler:
I think Stave is able to figure out how to do it because he's probably one of the few Haruchai to ever have a reason to block out the rest of his people.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Earthpower definitely seems to play to the particular 'type' of individual concerned in respect of it's expression - but there does seem to be this fundamental difference in the portrayal of the various peoples of the Land in respect of how deeply embeded into their 'charachter type' it is. It begs the question as to what each would be in the total and complete absence of Earthpower. Would the H. still be the H., the Giants the Giants. Am I correct in thinking there was always some fundamental way that Earthpower differed on either side of Landsdrop. I know that the Sunbane ended here for [I think] a connected reason. I always got the impression that the lands around Coercri were less imbued with Earthpower than say Andelain [mind you - every where was less imbued than Andelain!]
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Couple things.

First, Donaldson has said that Earthpower is everywhere, but it's "closer" in the area of The Land. Which is why Foul hangs out there. Which is why all the drama is there.

Second, there is Earthpower, but there is also an individual's power which is derived from their passion and drive and will. This is what Lord Mhoram's Victory is all about, right? Mhoram tapped into that power.

Now, the lore of the Lords can make it hard to decipher what is what. Simply put, some of the things that they do they do with their own power, and some of the things they do they do by inducing Earthpower to do it, which requires some power as well.

In Lord Foul's Bane wrote:
"Ah, enough," Foamfollower sighed abruptly. "In short, it is I who impel this craft." He lifted his hand from the tiller, and immediately the boat began to lose headway. "Or rather it is I who call out the power of the Gildenlode. There is life and power in the Earth - in stone and wood and water and earth. But life in them is somewhat hidden - somewhat slumberous. Both knowledge and strength are needed yes, and potent vital songs - to awaken them." He grasped the tiller again, and the boat moved forward once more.

So although the two forms of power interact, I think it's still fair to say that there are two forms. Personal power, and Earthpower. Giant's and Haruchai have as much of the former as anyone else, but also have a bit of the latter as well. However, their "essential" Earthpower only provides them with being what they are. (I suppose someone could tap into that Earthpower the way that they tap into Gildenlode's Earthpower, but that seems kind of rude! Then again... that's exactly the circumstance that is the Haruchai vow.)
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^ well said.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm ... I agree that there does seem to be two types of power, but couldn't that merely be two different forms of the same power, expressed either subjectively or objectively? In other words, couldn't the "personal" power merely be one's own Earthpower [EP], which one can use to tap into larger, external sources of EP? And Haruchai (for instance) just have more EP than others? Otherwise, we'd have to suppose that the "more EP" in Haruchai is itself different from their own personal power, so that they have two powers. But then which kind do they invoke in their feats of strength, agility, healing, endurance, etc? Only their personal, which then also kicks off a side-reaction of EP? Or both at the same time? Doesn't that seem needlessly complex? Why can't their personal power be EP?

After all, as FF said:

There is life and power in the Earth - in stone and wood and water and earth.

Well, people are made of stone/water/earth (roughly ... matter). Surely FF didn't mean to excplude flesh by enumerating this list of elements. Without a doubt, there's EP in living flesh. So if the EP in flesh is "life and power," then what else could one's personal power be? Life and power part II? Or something else that's not life and power? I don't see how.

Or is it something else that's not "in" Earth? Spiritual power? But wouldn't that imply that EP isn't spiritual, but physical? That would take away EP's transcendental nature, making it like any other physical force, say, magnetism or gravity.

I think that EP is supposed to be a "spiritual-like" force that's in matter, in the Earth. And that's what makes us--living piece of Earth--alive. The fact that it's a type of magic in the Land's world is symbolic of how "magical" life is in our own world, even though it's built on top of physical principles. So Earthpower symbolizes this paradox, of the "spirit" (or life) emerging from the Earth.

Therefore, another type of power would be redundant and unncessary, not to mention that there's little evidence for such a distinction in the text.

Nor do I think this "personal power" could be something unique which Mhoram only tapped into during LM's Victory. Otherwise, what have they been using all along to tap into EP? It couldn't be EP itself, if they're so different from the Haruchai that they have no intrinsic EP. But if they haven't tapped into their personal power until Mhoram's discovery, there's no other option.

[Side note: LM's Victory was about untying the knots which the Oath of Peace had laid upon one's use of EP, putting "artificial" constraints on it. The solution wasn't to tap into a new or secondary power, but instead to distinguish between controlling one's passions vs controlling one's actions. LM could navigate the paradox of passion/control by allowing himself to feel, but controlling his actions, not his emotions. It's not despair that is bad--that's human--but rather what people do with their despair.]

I think it's just easier to conceive of it all as EP, sometimes stronger or weaker, sometimes internal (to you) or external (to you--though internal to something like a Gildenlode tiller).

And then there's wild magic ... which would be a much better candidate for a "personal power" distinct from EP.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great discussion, thanks poliwrath!

Personally, I still see a separation between Earthpower and personal passion. For me, the prowess of the Haruchai is solely down to their physical skill and discipline. They eschew lore, as they state on a number of occasions.

In a battle the Haruchai may seem superhuman, but (especially in military circumstances) a hero is often just someone who is more skillful than everyone else they meet in battle (not necessarily someone who has a special ability, or someone marked out by fate to survive regarless of their skill level). The Haruchai are supremely skilled. (Remember how the Cavewight reacted when it killed one (I can't seem to find his name) at the battle of Soaring Woodhelven.) They do not need any supernatural help to seem exceptional.

For me Earthpower is invoked by the passion of their Vow, which is then manifest in their lack of need for food or sleep. That does feel supernatural/magical, however, nothing in the 1st and 2nd Chrons ever suggested other than that to me. The Giants are a different case because, while they do not pursue lore in the same way as the Lords, they do not eschew it either. Foamfollower can invoke the Earthpower of the gildenlode tiller, but he has to use 'potent vital songs' to do it, he has to use lore.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know if it's the separation between Earthpower and passion rather then it is the separation between Earthpower and creative knowledge. It seems like earthpower is something inherit to all the people of the land, for example:

Spoiler:
Liand in the last chronicles has an affinity with the orcrest stone.


and knowledge or lore is the other side to earthpower:

Spoiler:
such as the insequent. I never got the feel that they use earthpower or even wanted to, yet they are still "magical" beings.



Im getting lost in my own thoughts again.. I hope this post isn't to redundant, was just tryin to get my thinker straight xD[/spoiler]
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All the other points you raise are interesting, but ...

Zarathustra wrote:
Nor do I think this "personal power" could be something unique which Mhoram only tapped into during LM's Victory.

I meant to mean that this was the power that that chapter was about. Not that this is the first time it was used.

Lords had been weilding power all along, of course, it's just that Mhoram had figured out how to pull up more of it when he eschewed the Oath.

But, from Donaldson, it is just "power". Perhaps it is Earthpower, perhaps it isn't.

Zarathustra wrote:
And then there's wild magic ... which would be a much better candidate for a "personal power" distinct from EP.

Absolutely. But I see a Lord's personal power as more akin to Covevant's than to the power bound into wood and stone. The former are both arising from passion and desire and will, while Earthpower is just latently there to be tapped into.

In The One Tree was wrote:
"The power of pitch arises as does any other, from the essence of the adept who wields it. All power is an articulation of its wielder. There is no other source than life - and the desire of that life to express itself. But there must also be a means of articulation. I can say little but that this pitch is my chosen means. Having said that, I have left you scarce wiser than before."

Linden shrugged away his disclaimer. "Then what you're saying," she murmured slowly, "is that the power of wild magic comes from Covenant himself? The ring is just his-his means of articulation?"

He nodded. "I believe that to be sooth. But the means controls intimately the nature of what may be expressed."

Not only does Pitchwife here speak of "a means of articulation", he also discusses the source of power that that means articulates. "The desire of life to express itself." In that, he and Covenant and even the Lords are the same!

Of course, Pitchwife's statements about "all life" seem to imply it is about Earthpower too. The power in all living things. It certainly supports what your saying, too.

Still, I think, there is the power that arises from oneself, and the power that resides in other things but which you can reach out and tap into.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poliwrath, Donaldson speaks of "lore" as another thing entirely than "power". Power is the energy, while lore is the skill needed to use it.

In the Gradual Interview, Stephen R Donaldson wrote:
On that point, it is worth observing that there is a difference between "having lore" and "having power." Lore may give access to power, but it isn't power: it's knowledge that tells you what you can do with your power; or how to accomplish your goals.

(10/15/2004)

Think of their lore as a body of knowledge (but only *a* body of knowledge, not all possible knowledge) about how the world works, and about how to benefit from how the world works.

(06/22/2005)

I'm inclined to say that "lore = knowledge + training + comprehension (which is not at all the same thing as knowledge or training) + passion/energy/commitment.

(02/01/2006)

So I think of lore as being somewhat like "science". Science tells you how to do stuff, and when to do it, and why to do it. But it's not the doing of it. It informs the doing, but it's not the doing.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

10/10 Guys! There's not much I can add before working out which camp I would fall into Earthpower, EP + personal power or [in the H. case at least] just pure bloody 'capableness', and I'm a way from being anywhere close to that. But much food for thought and a very enjoyable exchange.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter, just to add: personal power and Earthpower may not be a qualitative distinction, but rather an arbitrary distiction that describes the source. Power is power. But some power is created from oneself, and some power is found waiting, latent, in inanimate objects. In case this helps. Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm really diggin' the internal/external distinction. I think we can even work wild magic into it.

Consider that wild magic is "graven in every rock, waiting for white gold to release it." (Or something like that ... paraphrase.) That sounds a heck of a lot like FF's description of Earthpower, in Wayfriend's quote. But Mhoram also tells Covenant, "You are the white gold." So wild magic is both an "external" power graven in every rock, but also a personal power of our protagonist. So we already have an example in the text where the same exact power is described in both external ways, and personal ways.

But there's one more internal/external distinction we could make: the Land reality vs Covenant's world. In his essay on epic fantasy, Donaldson has spelled out the symbolic relationship as one of externalizing parts of Covenant's internal psyche in the form of characters or obstacles to confront. If both wild magic and EP are external and internal, and both are "life and power," then perhaps they're the same power in two different forms. EP would be "internal" to the Land's reality, while wild magic is its "external" form, coming from beyond that world. And the only reason EP would be weaker--i.e. unable to break the Arch--is because Covenant is the Creator, and only his "life and power" can break his own Creation.

Another similiarity between EP and wild magic: we're told that wild magic is antithetical to Law. But in a sense, so is EP. Joining Findail and Vain was a paradoxical union of opposites--pure form + formless power. After all, EP can be weilded in ways that are chaotic, destructive, and contrary to Law. It takes Law to wield EP in beneficial ways. And Mhoram's victory was all about navigating the paradox of power + control. So it's the same thematic problem with wild magic, that it can save or damn based on how it's used, either wildly or controlled. The only difference is that wild magic transcends the Law of the the Land's world because it comes from beyond it, external to it, as the power of the Creator himself. But in Covenant's world, our own "life and power" must also be wielded in ways that aren't destructive, and yet not a denial or supression of that power. It's all the same point, from either side of the reality divide.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite interesting to consider Kasreyn in the light of the above - a user of power (Earthpower?) via the 'lore' of theurgy [casting of spells if I am correct] - but not a being of 'personal power' in any sense other than perhaps his intellect and ability. The binding of the Sand Gorgans into their Doom has to be one of the [if not the] greatest demonstrations of power in the first and second Chrons. Also his willingness to subject himself to the abomination of 'Croyal dependancy' in order to preserve his life - pure badness exhibiting power in and of itself!
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