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Just how powerful was Mhoram, really?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:13 pm    Post subject: Just how powerful was Mhoram, really? Reply with quote

Okay, so I have to preface this with saying that Mhoram is easily in my top three favourite characters in the entirity of the chronicles, however, I find myself questioning if perhaps he's been misrepresented as a sort of myth in his own right - like Kevin, "in all his power".

What we know for sure, is that Mhoram studied the first Ward of Kevin's lore at the Loresraat, mastering it to some degree because he became a Lord. But that, as far as I can remember, is all as far as traditional scholastic education.

When Mhoram was in the Loresraat, they only had the first Ward available to them, having not found the second. One might suppose that this was because they just hadn't stumbled upon it, but I for one am inclined to believe that the reason the Lords had failed to discover the second Ward, is that they had not fully understood the first.
Prothall wrote:
"We hold the First Ward in our hands - we read the script, and in much we understand the words - and yet we do not penetrate the secrets."

So when Covenant short-cuts the intended discovery of the second Ward, he gives them knowledge which they weren't ready for, quite possibly ensuring that the Lords never fully master the first Ward. We all know what the Haruchai say about unearned knowledge...

I also don't recall at any point Mhoram going back to the Loresraat to study the second Ward? We can assume that he learned of the discoveries within from the new Lords, or from missives and communications - maybe occasional trips. But nothing like full-time study of the Wards which those students at the Loresraat would have had. I in fact find it unlikely that he studied there again for any truely meaningful length of time.

So at the point of TIW, Mhoram has an incomplete understanding of the first Ward and questionable knowledge of the contents of the second - he certainly hasn't mastered it by any stretch of the imagination, likely most of his understanding of it comes from students and the newer Lords teaching him at Revelstone. Not to mention that he still lacks at least one of the seven words.

This is where the potential myth of Mhoram's power arises - he awakens the Krill. But why does awakening the Krill compare to the amassed knowledge and power granted by careful study and mastery of six of Kevin's Wards? It is entirely possible, that with his limited knowledge of the first and second Wards, a small amount of equivalent knowledge gained on his own and his "secret", he had just enough lore to by-pass the third through sixth Wards for the purpose of activating the Krill.

Keeping in mind that by this point, Thomas Covenant had come to the Land and people were beginning to think differently about things. The paradox of White Gold was clear in Mhoram's mind, having seen it's power and restraint - where as Kevin had not. Clearly something wasn't quite right with Mhoram's use of the Krill, as evidenced by his hand being burned by it - so he was definitely missing something, even if he understood the basics of using it.

So, technically Mhoram unlocked Kevin's "final test" as it were, but was he really ready for it? Can we honestly say that besides his raw ability (which I freely admit was not inconsiderable), with his very limited knowledge of Kevin's Wards that he was even as powerful as Kevin's weakest council member?

Yes, Mhoram lead his council into feats of great power and restoration, but that is in part due to the Staff of Law no longer keeping the Earthpower in check - easier to use, but flawed, self-destructive. Would Mhoram have been able to make any progress at all had the Staff of Law not been destroyed?

Well.. we saw that they did, because they discovered the third Ward... of six.
Thomas Covenant wrote:
"The First and Second Wards." He gestured toward the shining caskets. "The Third Ward? Did they find the Third Ward?"

I don't believe that if Mhoram could truely be compared to Kevin, or Kevin's council, those other three Wards wouldn't have been discovered - even if they weren't studied.

I don't know... this was just bugging me, and I had to get it down on paper, as it were. Thoughts?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So much here.

First of all, in my opinion Mhoram never awakened the krill. Thomas Covenant awakened the krill. Once he does so, the krill responds to his presence in a mysterious way, such that, when he leaves the Land, it is returned to somnolence, but when he returns, it is ignited again. The green gleams in the krill when Elena takes the ring confirm this link. Thereafter, the krill only awakens when Covenant comes to the Land.

How does Covenant awaken the krill? One may simply chalk it up to wild magic. But I think it's more complex. Mhoram and Covenant are both trying to come into their power, but are coming from different directions. Mhoram has the control, but not the passion; Covenant has the passion, but not the control. So: Covenant awakens the krill in a fit of uncontrolled passion. He had Kevin's power for one instant, but it wasn't sought for, and wasn't kept, because the wielder is ignorant of what he is doing. Mhoram, seeking to understand the krill, uses control but never reaches the passion necessary.

But back to Mhoram. Mhoram studied the heck out of that krill, and the Second Ward I presume as well. That's in the text.

In The Illearth War was wrote:
LATE the next evening, Lord Mhoram answered a knock at the door of his private quarters, and found Thomas Covenant standing outside, silhouetted darkly like a figure of distress against the light of the glowing floor. He had an aspect of privation and fatigue, as if he had tasted neither food nor rest since he had gone upland. Mhoram admitted him without question to the bare room, and closed the door while he went to stand before the stone table in the center of the chamber-the table Mhoram had brought from the High Lord's rooms, with the krill of Loric still embedded and burning in it.

Looking at the bunched muscles of Covenant's back, Mhoram offered him food or drink or a bed, but Covenant shrugged them away brusquely, despite his inanition. In a flat and strangely closed tone, he said, "You've been beating your brains out on this thing ever since it started. Don't you ever rest?

I thought you Lords rested down here-in this place." Mhoram crossed the room, and stood opposite his guest. The krill flamed whitely between them. He was uncertain of his ground; he could see the trouble in Covenant's face, but its causes and implications were confused, obscure. Carefully, the Lord said, "Why should I rest? I have no wife, no children. My father and mother were both Lords, and Kevin's Lore is the only craft I have known. And it is difficult to rest from such work."


Anyway, while Mhoram may not have awakened the krill, he certainly grew from a point where he could not touch it while it was woke to where he could wield it against Satansfist. This he certainly gets credit for. And this, of course, is the "secret of power" that he finds in Elena's bust and confirms in the Desecrated Close.

So I don't think it's all as unexplained as you believe. I think Donaldson's story bears up quite nicely on these points.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There were certainly many nuances and specific uses of Kevin's Lore that Mhoram had no inkling of. Things they would have learned after the First Ward. They may have known all of these little things that were contained in the First, but they could not master them, which meant they could not unlock some element, or understand some clue, that would have revealed the location of the Second.

The reason they could not master even the First Ward was that, when they swore the Oath of Peace, they were "forswearing all violent, destructive passions, all human instincts for murder and ravage and contempt". Mhoram came to understand that. At that point, I'll bet that, if he had thought about it, he would have understood everything about the First that had eluded them; said, "Ah! Of COURSE that is where the Second Ward was!"; Etc. But, of course, he was too busy to think about such things.

In regards to power, though, I believe Mhoram was now able to match anyone. He embraced the passions and instincts that they had forsworn. It's certainly possible that, until Mhoram learned the ins and outs of it all, a master could have beat him. Like a skilled fighter beating the stronger opponent. Mhoram didn't face a skilled opponent, though, so his power won the day.

The big difference between Mhoram and Kevin is that Mhoram did not despair. He faced what seems to have been horrifyingly overwhelming odds, and stayed true. Kevin despaired because he could not save the Land. Mhoram did not think he could save the Land, but he would fight for it until he died. Even if the only thing left of the Land was his own love for it. See my signature:
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Mhoram was awesome in so many ways. To mix universes a bit: the Force was strong with that one.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was what disappointed me most about the Last Chronicles.
I was really hoping to see Old and New Lords brought together via a Ceasure and seeing the differences between the two.
The New Lords were so reverent of the Old, it would have been nice to see the Old Lords humbled by the purity of the New Lords type of thing.

At the end, Mhoram was able to channel enough power to shatter his own staff if he wasn't careful.

I think information that was hidden from Oath takers in the 1st or later Wards would have enabled them to craft a staff to handle the power they could summon as they gained better mastery of Earthpower.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Such a great moment! He actually used some of the power he was generating with the staff to hold the staff together, so he could generate and use more power with it than it could withstand on its own!
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mhoram's power, as all power in the Land, was intrinsic to himself. However, the form was influenced by Kevin's Lore, as well as the not inconsiderable Lore the New Lords had discovered and developed for themselves. Although they felt humbled by their inability to grasp all of the concepts expressed in Kevin's Ward(s), this did not stop their striving to improve themselves within the strictures of the Oath - even before that goal was made explicit.

Recall that the New Lords developed the Meld, which was unknown to the Old Lords. (Though my theory is that this is the same capability that Linden came to see as Possession, just applied benignly for communication rather than attempted control.)

In any case, Mhoram did, indeed, waken the Krill independently of Covenant's presence. The combination of his existing combined Lore, and his new insight allowed him to do so. Unfortunately, he was initially reluctant to share this with his fellow Lords, even in the meld, and this distrust weakened him as well as the others. It was only after he released his fear and distrust that he was able to come fully into his own, and take full control of the Krill.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mhoram's was definitely possessed of a great deal of latent 'power' - how powerful was he?

Ravers quailed at his very touch.
With his abilities as seer and oracle he was able to guide the Land's defenders in their resistance against Foul, and indeed seemed to have some measure of insight into Foul's designs.
He was able to both summon and persuade a Forestal to his aid.

But in my opinion his great efficacy against despite arose from his inherent intelligence, compassion and insight.

Ultimately he opted to forsake further study of Kevin's wards and lore in favor of discovering new solutions to the problems the Land would face.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Anyway, while Mhoram may not have awakened the krill, he certainly grew from a point where he could not touch it while it was woke to where he could wield it against Satansfist. This he certainly gets credit for. And this, of course, is the "secret of power" that he finds in Elena's bust and confirms in the Desecrated Close.


After Trell's desecration, Mhoram was able to hold the krill without suffering harm. This makes perfect sense, since he had tapped into his passion to augment his personal power.

However, when fighting Satansfist, and while channeling that passion, Mhoram suffered severe burns on his hands from the krill. This doesn't make sense to me.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that is because he set aside all restraint and unleashed as much power as he could find. It exceeded anything he had done before. And he neither diverted any toward self-protection, nor held anything back out of concern for his well-being.

The krill "was a weapon strong enough to bear any might". Mhoram's body was not.

Hamako's immolation when he defeated the croyel seems like the same kind of thing.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Found the quote:
In The Power that Preserves was written...
Quote:
...Loric's Krill stood like a dead cross - as opaque and fireless as if it had lost all possibility of light. A rage of grief came over Mhoram. With one hand, he grasped the hilt of the silver sword.

A fleeting blue gleam flickered across its gem, then vanished.

"It has no life now," he said dully.


Earlier in the story, it was made clear that no lore in their possession had had ANY impact on the Krill. That Mhoram was able to draw even a flicker from it was a tremendous change, although casually dismissed.

Later in the story, before he shared his secret, this was even brought up as part of their trying to persuade him. (Not digging for precision, but it was words to the effect of "All of us recall how you drew a flicker of life from the Krill".

So, it is clear that his power, and (with his new understanding) the Lore, was there. It was only his firm belief in the Oath which kept him from fully realizing it until he could find within himself the reconciliation that the "power" to desecrate does not carry with it the "obligation" to do so.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beautifully expressed and expounded IS, Wayfriend, dlbp,Tolkien, FF, SleeplessOne and Forestal.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IrrationalSanity wrote:
That Mhoram was able to draw even a flicker from it was a tremendous change, although casually dismissed.

That's a really good find, Irr.

If I consult myself, I would say that I had always interpreted this passage in this way: that for a moment Covenant was not so far away that Mhoram couldn't still create a weak connection ... but then he was too far gone.

It's undeniable, though, that Mhoram is exhibiting a certain amount of power in this act. The "rage of grief" suggests that Mhoram was unconsciously tapping into the power he yet fears to hold. (At this time, he does know the secret.) So I think you are correct to bring this to our attention, and it is important.

For myself, I think it's debatable whether Mhoram had the strength to ignite the krill in his own right, or whether the recent proximity to Covenant was sufficient to tease out one last gleam. Probably both were factors.

But either way, this is a "harbinger" moment, which hints at possibilities to come. Raw emotion producing raw power.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
IrrationalSanity wrote:
That Mhoram was able to draw even a flicker from it was a tremendous change, although casually dismissed.

That's a really good find, Irr.

Thanks!
Quote:

For myself, I think it's debatable whether Mhoram had the strength to ignite the krill in his own right, or whether the recent proximity to Covenant was sufficient to tease out one last gleam. Probably both were factors.

Donaldson's conception of power, though susceptible to "triggering influences" on the wielder, doesn't usually seem to respond well to being "warmed up" by someone else. If anything, it tends to be the opposite - it requires a certain kind of attunement effort to "disengage" the prior user's influence before a new wielder can take over.
For example:Spoiler:
Sunder and the Rukh
or Spoiler:
Terisa and taking over the translation of supplies in Mordant's Need

Quote:
But either way, this is a "harbinger" moment, which hints at possibilities to come. Raw emotion producing raw power.

I agree here.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IrrationalSanity wrote:
Donaldson's conception of power, though susceptible to "triggering influences" on the wielder, doesn't usually seem to respond well to being "warmed up" by someone else.

All I meant by that was that Covenant's recent proximity to the Land left the krill in an almost-but-not-quite state for a brief moment. Mhoram's power was enough to amplify it, but only for a moment. Covenant affected the blade, not the Lord.

My fundamental belief is that Covenant, and only Covenant, ignites the krill. Mhoram's power amplified the weak krill-Covenant connection for a bit while Covenant was moving between worlds. But it could not be sustained for any power when Covenant was all the way gone.

My reasoning for this distinction is simple. In Lord Mhoram's Victory, when he comes into his truest and deepest and strongest power, still Mhoram does not ignite the krill on his own. Donaldson's story is that Covenant's restoration ignites the krill, which gives Mhoram hope, and hope sparks his capacity for power. If Mhoram had been able to ignite it all along on his own, then that kind of makes this part of the story seem pointless, and also readers are left to ask well, why didn't he do it earlier?

But that's me, and how I like to think of it.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
IrrationalSanity wrote:
That Mhoram was able to draw even a flicker from it was a tremendous change, although casually dismissed.

That's a really good find, Irr.


I never got the feeling it was dismissed.
I seem to remember that the Lords were impressed/awed but felt that it wasn't going to help them in any way.

wayfriend wrote:
If I consult myself, I would say that I had always interpreted this passage in this way: that for a moment Covenant was not so far away that Mhoram couldn't still create a weak connection ... but then he was too far gone.


To me, that just minimizes or erases importance of the hidden knowledge that Mhoram had discovered.


wayfriend wrote:
For myself, I think it's debatable whether Mhoram had the strength to ignite the krill in his own right, or whether the recent proximity to Covenant was sufficient to tease out one last gleam. Probably both were factors.


Anyone with the proper (non Oath crippled) lore could have used the Krill.
The chamber that held it opened when the 2nd Ward returned to Revelstone. So it probably didn't even require a elevated mastery of Lore to begin using it.
TC said that it could handle any amount of power that was put into it.
So that's both weak or strong power.

I also never imagined it was "asleep" until TC woke it up.
Maybe the gem blazed blue when Loric wielded his power through it?

I think Covenant "igniting" the Krill went beyond it's past usage by Loric.
TC forced a single blast of pure WM into the gem and the Krill's gem sustained it.
Which is why when Sunder used it to slay the Forestal the Krill was extinguished because the WM within it was used up even though TC was still present in the Land.
Then Linden fired it back up again with another WM charge while bringing TC back.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

High Lord Tolkien wrote:
wayfriend wrote:
IrrationalSanity wrote:
That Mhoram was able to draw even a flicker from it was a tremendous change, although casually dismissed.

That's a really good find, Irr.


I never got the feeling it was dismissed.
I seem to remember that the Lords were impressed/awed but felt that it wasn't going to help them in any way.

That's what I meant. Not that they didn't consider it important - they did, as it was brought up explicitly later in the story. Just that Mhoram considered it "situationally" irrelevant, because he had not (yet) made the second leap of understanding. He could summon the power but didn't know how it could be applied.
Quote:

wayfriend wrote:
If I consult myself, I would say that I had always interpreted this passage in this way: that for a moment Covenant was not so far away that Mhoram couldn't still create a weak connection ... but then he was too far gone.


To me, that just minimizes or erases importance of the hidden knowledge that Mhoram had discovered.

I could build a case for WF's interpretation, though I don't believe it correct.
Quote:

wayfriend wrote:
For myself, I think it's debatable whether Mhoram had the strength to ignite the krill in his own right, or whether the recent proximity to Covenant was sufficient to tease out one last gleam. Probably both were factors.

Anyone with the proper (non Oath crippled) lore could have used the Krill.
The chamber that held it opened when the 2nd Ward returned to Revelstone. So it probably didn't even require a elevated mastery of Lore to begin using it.

TC said that it could handle any amount of power that was put into it.
So that's both weak or strong power.

I'm a bit less convinced of this, but I can also see your point. I'm sure it was effective as an "object", i.e. as a very sharp blade, which may have had a special affinity for deomondim spawn.

On the other hand, it is also pretty clear that we don't know the full nuance of its potential uses. Perhaps it is an artifact like the Staff of Law, for which the Wards likely describe progressively greater capabilities as your understanding of the Lore improves (again, the power is in the wielder - the Lore and tool used only influences the form that power.)
Quote:

I also never imagined it was "asleep" until TC woke it up.
Maybe the gem blazed blue when Loric wielded his power through it?

Amok clearly stated that it was its "awakening" that was his primary signal to appear before the Lords.
Quote:

I think Covenant "igniting" the Krill went beyond it's past usage by Loric.
TC forced a single blast of pure WM into the gem and the Krill's gem sustained it.

Now, perhaps Kevin was foresighted enough to see that such an event would (or at least "could") occur, and make that Amok's trigger, but also Amok clearly stated that not all of the expected conditions of his summons appeared to exist, so I doubt this was the case. He was granted some discretion, but it is clear that he was reluctant to exercise it until he took in the entirety of the Land's need.
Quote:

Which is why when Sunder used it to slay the Forestal the Krill was extinguished because the WM within it was used up even though TC was still present in the Land.
Then Linden fired it back up again with another WM charge while bringing TC back.

It is actually these events that I believe tie into WF's belief that TC himself is the cause of the Krill's light. The point of Sunder's passion could very well coincide with Covenant's "real world" demise. Again, it isn't the theory I subscribe to, but I do see his point.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="IrrationalSanity"]
Amok clearly stated that it was its "awakening" that was his primary signal to appear before the Lords.
[quote]

I forgot all about Amok! Embarassed

But this thread has me geared up to reread the 1st Chronicles again. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will say one thing in favor of the other idea.

When Mhoram tugged a suggestion of a gleam from the krill, it was blue. But Covenant's influence over the krill has consistently described as white.

In The Power That Preserves was wrote:
In its center, the gem of the krill blazed with a pure white fire, as radiant as hope.

The only thing about this that fails to convince me that the krill was awakening to Mhoram's power is that a light described as white when it is bright is often described as blueish when it is faint. So I am not sure that Donaldson intended to convey a significant difference here. But perhaps he did.

But anyway ... Amok had knowledge that only mastery of the Sixth Ward would be sufficient to ignite the krill. Of that we can be pretty certain. This may be a matter of specific lore, or it may be a measure of pure strength, which presumably only the Sixth Ward could impart.

[Returning with followup thoughts]

If Donaldson was showing us that Mhoram was gaining enough power to master the krill on his own, then why is that story line never continued?

If Mhoram was really demonstrating mastery of the krill, then why didn't HE recognize the significance himself? In fact, he was pretty dismissive of that gleam.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
I will say one thing in favor of the other idea.

When Mhoram tugged a suggestion of a gleam from the krill, it was blue. But Covenant's influence over the krill has consistently described as white.

In The Power That Preserves was wrote:
In its center, the gem of the krill blazed with a pure white fire, as radiant as hope.

The only thing about this that fails to convince me that the krill was awakening to Mhoram's power is that a light described as white when it is bright is often described as blueish when it is faint. So I am not sure that Donaldson intended to convey a significant difference here. But perhaps he did.

More like a blue flame grows hot enough appears white, but Covenant's fire is pure argent from the white gold of his ring. The Lore of the New Lords manifests as blue flame.
Quote:

But anyway ... Amok had knowledge that only mastery of the Sixth Ward would be sufficient to ignite the krill. Of that we can be pretty certain. This may be a matter of specific lore, or it may be a measure of pure strength, which presumably only the Sixth Ward could impart.

[Returning with followup thoughts]

If Donaldson was showing us that Mhoram was gaining enough power to master the krill on his own, then why is that story line never continued?

It was.
Quote:

If Mhoram was really demonstrating mastery of the krill, then why didn't HE recognize the significance himself? In fact, he was pretty dismissive of that gleam.

I would less say that Mhoram was "demonstrating" his mastery, than "testing" a theory with regard to his new insight. His dismissal was not born of insignificance. It was born of concern that to actually pursue this lore would inevitably lead toward the very desecration he fought so hard to prevent.
It was only after putting down Trell's desecration that he realized that the full truth - that desecration was not a product of the Lore itself, but the intent of its wielder.
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