From the increasingly drifting "Bakker and Women" thread:
The question this begs though is, why wouldn't Moenghus expect Kellhus to join up with the Holy War to cross the desert? And does he plan to entirely rely on Maithanet to deliver the Inrithi to their doom?
Moenghus/Kian planned for the holy war. They poisoned the wells in the desert and waited until the ordeal was past the point of no return to attack the Inrithi supply ships. Even with Kellhus, this practical use of terrain resulted in reducing their enemy land forces by 2/3 and wiping out their enemy's navy with minimal losses on the Kian side, restricted only to their navy. Presumably the expectation was that they'd be completely wiped out.
Moenghus would have expected Kellhus to cross the steppe, probably by skirting south along the western borders of the Hethanta mountains as Cnaiur said. He'd encounter no desert nor the holy war if he never crossed into the Nansurium.
And yes, he sent Maithanet to control the other side of the war and deliver the inrithi to their doom.
I'm reposting in this thread and posting a bunch of new quotes from TDTCB when these crucial decisions are made. It's a wall of text because I'm not real confident in my own conclusions (suspicious of selection/confirmation bias etc).
Here is my take, Cnaiur wants to go into the Nansurium, but he doesn't really know why. He thinks that the best route is for Kellhus to avoid the empire unless there is a holy war.
The reason to not take the pilgrim route is that Kellhus is too suspiciously Aryan, yet a few pages later, Cnaiur states that the exact same problem exists if they take the Nansur route: Cnaiur is too suspiciously barbarian.
I ask myself, wouldn't it be easier for Kellhus to cause the Kian to overcome suspicions of Kellhus than for Kellhus to convince the Nansur to overcome suspicions of Cnaiur?
My point is that the reasoning for going into Nansur empire is bizarrely contradictory and illogical. The best explanation is that this is what Bakker wants, because that's the story, and the arguments that contradict each other within pages of each other are simply a plot hole.
On the other hand, the reason that Kellhus doesn't see through this plot hole and take the shortest path is because of Serwe. Serwe gives him information about the inrithi people, she's a data dump. She's also the lever by which he can finally manipulate Cnaiur.
But Kellhus is also not himself after encountering Serwe. look at the last extract below. Kellhus leaps to conclusions, when he starts to doubt himself he suddenly cuts himself off-midthought as he drifts into self-doubt/questioning. He cuts himself off midthought from a moment of self-doubt by reassuring himself that he is the fucking awesome chosen one (He would SEIZE the holy war).
Kellhus is flat out TOLD by Cnaiur that Kellhus does not know the origin of his own thoughts, "I believe you think
you need me Dunyain," and Kellhus is CONFUSED by this, he doesn't consider it a possibility that he doesn't know the origins of his own thoughts (as Cnaiur asserts), he only considers it within the context of how Cnaiur is still a mystery to him, he doesn't listen to Cnaiur parroting a Dunyain maxim back to him--which would generate self-doubt, instead his thoughts sidle away.
Within the context of the Aspect Emperor series, it seems that all of Kellhus' erratic, non-Dunyain, self contradictory actions and thoughts--which begin with his witnessing the rape of Serwe--are part of a supernatural/divine/world-conspires/fate intervention where Kellhus is pushed into the non-conditioned path of joining the holy war on the Inrithi side, and he rationalizes this decision after the fact, just as the readers rationalize it after the fact.
Why would they intervene? Good question, in-text we cut away from Kellhus being horrified at not being in control of his own thoughts to several passages that relate the history of Serwe. She's an innocent who has been horribly treated by life and she has prayed for vengeance and justice. It is possible that Kellhus is manipulated by the supernatural because he is being used as an answer to her prayers. Is he an answer to her prayers? Ultimately she's elevated from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high, that's a pretty good answer. By the time the chapter retuns from Serwe's reverie to Kellhus' perspective, he no longer questions that his thoughts are not his own, and he doesn't question the illogical path he is on. He has even spent extensive time in the probability trance and has been unable to see the path working out, but he still doesn't question the path he is on. When he thinks "if this path doesn't work out..." his thoughts abruptly cut off from considering an alternative and go into a self-flattery and reassurance direction of truly staggering proportions.
All this said, I like to take a very contrarian approach to Kellhus. I like to take all the things he says about other people all the tactics he mentions using on other people and apply it back on him as hostilely as I can in order to sort of interrogate whether or not he is committing the same errors he is constantly accusing others of committing. The result of this approach (selection/confirmation biased as it may be) is that Kellhus comes across as extraordinarily deluded, more akin to Conphas (with his delusions of grandeur and belief in his own infallibility and superiority) than Cnaiur or Achamian (with their deeply Dunyain constant questioning and doubt).
Cnaiür had chosen their path carefully. He intended to cross the Hethanta Mountains into the Empire, even though a lone Scylvendi could not expect to live long among the Nansur. It would have been better to avoid the Empire altogether, to travel due south to the headwaters of the River Sempis, which they could have followed directly into Shigek, the northernmost governorate of Kian. From there they simply could have followed the traditional pilgrimage routes to Shimeh. The Fanim were rumoured to be surprisingly tolerant of pilgrims. But if the Inrithi were in fact mounting a Holy War against Kian, this route would have proven disastrous. For Kellhus especially, with his fair hair and pale skin . . .
No. He needed, somehow, to learn more about this Holy War before striking true south, and the nearer they travelled to the Empire, the greater the probability of happening across that intelligence became. If the Inrithi didnt wage Holy War against the Fanim, they could skirt the edges of the Empire and reach Fanim lands unscathed. If they did wage Holy War, however, they would likely be forced to cross the Nansuriuma prospect that Cnaiür dreaded.
Bakker, R. Scott (2008-09-02). The Darkness that Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing) (p. 371). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
Then, with unaccountable certainty, he realized that Kellhus would kill him.
The mountains were looming, and the Steppe swept out behind them. Behind them. The son of Moënghus no longer needed him.
Hell kill me while I sleep.
No. Such a thing could not happen. Not after travelling so far, after enduring so much! He must use the son to find the father. It was the only way!
We must cross the Hethantas, he declared, pretending to survey the desolate yaksh.
Bakker, R. Scott (2008-09-02). The Darkness that Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing) (pp. 374-375). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
He had struck a bargain with the Dûnyain: freedom and safe passage across the Steppe in return for his fathers life. Now, with the Steppe almost behind them, it seemed he had always known the bargain was a sham. How could he not? Was not Kellhus the son of Moënghus?
And why had he decided to cross the mountains? Was it truly to discover whether the Empire was embroiled in a holy war, or was it to draw out the lie he had been chasing?
Bakker, R. Scott (2008-09-02). The Darkness that Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing) (p. 375). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
We cannot continue like this, the Scylvendi called out from behind him.
Hes decided it must be now. Kellhus had been anticipating this moment ever since theyd broken camp hours before.
What do you mean, Scylvendi?
Theres no way two men such as us could cross Fanim lands during a Holy War. We would be gutted as spies long before reaching Shimeh.
But this is why weve crossed the mountains, isnt it? To travel through the Empire instead . . .
No, the Scylvendi said sullenly. We cannot travel through the Empire . . . I brought you here to kill you.
Or, Kellhus replied, still speaking to the vista before him, to be killed by me.
Bakker, R. Scott (2008-09-02). The Darkness that Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing) (pp. 395-396). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
Should he give the man a glimpse, show him just how transparent he was? For days now, ever since Cnaiür had learned the truth of the Holy War from Serwë, he had refused to discuss anything regarding it or his plans. But his intentions had been clear: he had led them into the Hethantas to play for time, the way Kellhus had witnessed others do when they were too weak to surrender their obsessions. Cnaiür needed to continue hunting Moënghus, even when he knew the hunt to be a farce.
Bakker, R. Scott (2008-09-02). The Darkness that Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing) (p. 396). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
If the pilgrim routes to Shimeh were closed, Kellhus had no alternative but to join the gathering Holy War. Yet the prospect of war presented a near insuperable dilemma. Hed spent hours in the probability trance, trying to draft models of war, but he lacked the principles he needed. The variables were too many and too fickle. War . . . Could any circumstance be more capricious? More perilous?
Is this the path youve chosen for me, Father? Is this your test?
Bakker, R. Scott (2008-09-02). The Darkness that Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing) (p. 397). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
I believe you think you need me, Dûnyain. For now.
What do you mean? Kellhus asked, genuinely perplexed. Hes becoming more erratic.
You plan on joining this Holy War. On using it to travel to Shimeh.
I see no other way.
But for all your talk of needing, you forget Im a heathen to the Inrithi, Cnaiür said, little removed from the Fanim they hope to slaughter.
Then youre a heathen no more.
A convert? Cnaiür snorted incredulously.
No. A man whos awakened from his barbarity. A survivor of Kiyuth whos lost faith in the ways of his kinsmen. Remember, like all peoples, the Inrithi think they are the chosen ones, the pinnacle of what it means to be upright men. Lies that flatter are rarely disbelieved.
The extent of his knowledge, Kellhus could see, alarmed the Scylvendi. The man had tried to secure his position by keeping him ignorant of the Three Seas. Kellhus tracked the inferences that animated his scowl, watched him glance at Serwë . . . But there were more pressing matters.
The Nansur will care nothing for such stories, Cnaiür said. Theyll see only the scars upon my arms.
The sources of this resistance eluded Kellhus. Did the man not want to find and kill Moënghus?
How can he still be a mystery to me?
Kellhus nodded, but in a shrugging manner that dismissed even as it acknowledged objections. Serwë says peoples from across the Three Seas gather in the Empire. Well join them and avoid the Nansur.
Perhaps . . . Cnaiür said slowly. If we can make it to Momemn without being challenged. But then he shook his head. No. Scylvendi dont wander. The sight of me will provoke too many questions, too much outrage. You have no inkling of how much they despise us, Dûnyain.
There was no mistaking the despair. Some part of the man, Kellhus realized, had abandoned hope of finding Moënghus. How could he have missed this?
But the more important question was whether the Scylvendi spoke true. Would it be impossible to cross the Empire with Cnaiür? If so, he would have to
No. Everything depended on the domination of circumstance. He would not join the Holy War, he would seize it, wield it as his instrument. But as with any new weapon, he needed instruction, training. And the chances of finding another with as much experience and insight as Cnaiür urs Skiötha were negligible. They call him the most violent of all men.
If the man knew too much, Kellhus did not know enoughat least not yet. Whatever the dangers of crossing the Empire, it was worth the attempt. If the difficulties proved insurmountable, then he would reassess.
When they ask, Kellhus replied, the disaster at Kiyuth will be your explanation. Those few Utemot who survived Ikurei Conphas were overcome by their neighbours. Youll be the last of your tribe. A dispossessed man, driven from his country by woe and misfortune. And who will you be, Dûnyain?
Kellhus had spent many hours wrestling with this question.
Ill be your reason for joining the Holy War. Ill be a prince you encountered travelling south over your lost lands. A prince whos dreamed of Shimeh from the far side of the world. The men of the Three Seas know little of Atrithau, save that it survived their mythic Apocalypse. We shall come to them out of the darkness, Scylvendi. Well be whoever we say we are.
A prince . . . Cnaiür repeated dubiously. From where?
A prince of Atrithau, whom you found travelling the northern wastes.
Though Cnaiür now understood, even appreciated, the path laid for him, Kellhus knew that the debate raged within him still. How much would the man bear to see his fathers death avenged?
The Utemot chieftain wiped a bare forearm across his mouth and nose. He spat blood. A prince of nothing, he said.
Bakker, R. Scott (2008-09-02). The Darkness that Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing) (pp. 401-402). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
Edited by lockesnow, 11 June 2014 - 03:57 PM.