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Happy Ent

BAKKER IX: Warrior-Prophet reread

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I remember WP as the weakest of the three books, so I thought a re-read was in order.

I'm somewhere in the middle now, Skauras has just been defeated on the Sempis, Akka is at the Dreadfort, and Kelly's conditioning is coming undone. He just failed to kill Cnaiür.

"Is this pity, father? — Where did this strange passion come from?"

(Or something like that.) I overlooked most of these hints when I read the book the first time. Kelly is really, really conflicted, something Moe certainly never experienced.

Question: Somewhere in the first 150 pages Kelly has "a revelation". A pinched nipple. A dead wife. Some of these sentences I understand, others not. To me it seemed as if he realises that he has to sacrifice Serwë. The next thing that happens is that he takes Serwë from Cnaiür. (We get that scene from Serwë's POV.) So far, so good. But then he trades her back in order to get Cnaiür to "teach him war". I don't find that development convincing. Cnaiür's lesson is short, and I find it somewhat contrived that these sermons include observations that Kellhus could not have arrived at himself. Especially because Kellhus outgrows Cnaiür during the lesson (just as he outgrows Akka), pointing out Skauras's plan. But Cnaiür's lesson is too short, to self-evident, for containing anything of worth to Kellhus.

We get a Kellhus POV immediately after that where he rationalises his Serwë-trade to us. But I don't like it.

Observation: When Sarcellus-the-skinspy seduces/rapes Serwë as Kellhus, she sees his haloed hands. (Haloed hands abound. Martemus sees them when he believes. Kellhus, as far as we know, doesn't yet see them.) I think this settles an argument and falsifies something I've said before: the haloes are in the mind of the beholder. If you believe Kellhus holy you'll see haloes. Even if you're looking at a skin spy masquerading as Kellhus.

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i. Perhaps Kellhus had a different lesson in mind than that which Cnaiür gave in that particular instance, hence it’s seeming self-evident and objectively worthless. War is beyond the scope of Kellhus' conditioning, and to some extent [at least in the WP] Cnaiür is as well. So why not observe it on a smaller, yet more personal scale? Idle speculation here, but in my opinion Kellhus didn't need to 'learn war' from the most violent of men.

He needed to learn about it.

ii. If I recall the quote correctly, was it Achamian (?) who pondered, 'the best way to break [hurt?] a man is to give him back something broken'? Perhaps you can jog my memory, HE. Subsequent to that, what was Kellhus' rationalization of the Serwë-trade again?

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Kelly is really, really conflicted, something Moe certainly never experienced.

Those nicknames are the bestest thing ever :lol:

The thing with Serwe, he may have "traded" her back but effectively didn't. Which sets up the ending position for Cnaiur.

I also had the impression Cnaiur had been teaching more than just what we saw "on screen" (although most of it is a narrative set up for how some subsequent battles are written).

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See, this is why i always get sad when the Bakker threads die fast. As much as I loved the books on my first and only read, I have so many blanks to fill in. The three-seas.com board is criminally inactive.

Interesting you put WP as your least favorite. I might go with it #1 by a small margin but I was thoroughly entertained all the way through WP.

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I always feel a small pang of loss when they fade. It's like a mustard burp. Momentarily tangy, then forgotten on the wind.

If I was Pat, I'd be offering a signed copy of some cool book whoever can figure out what that metaphor is from. Not Pat though.

Maybe we should try to do some kind of semi-organized reread? [shrugs] Might help keep the momentum going.

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I just finished WP on my first read of the series

Gonna read TTT then? I forget who, I think it was Raidne, but someone was saying they debated not going on after finishing WP. :stunned:

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See, this is why i always get sad when the Bakker threads die fast. As much as I loved the books on my first and only read, I have so many blanks to fill in. The three-seas.com board is criminally inactive.

Interesting you put WP as your least favorite. I might go with it #1 by a small margin but I was thoroughly entertained all the way through WP.

And yet the Goodkind threads keep going like Energizer Bunnies. Crap books = tons of thread material.

I thoroughly enjoyed WP too. I'd definitely be up for a reread of the series.

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The only thing that I have re-read is the prologue to tDTCB and if any of you haven't, I highly recommend it. Knowing what you know about Kellhus after having read the series, you'll see that prologue in a whole new light.

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I don't find that development convincing. Cnaiür's lesson is short, and I find it somewhat contrived that these sermons include observations that Kellhus could not have arrived at himself. Especially because Kellhus outgrows Cnaiür during the lesson (just as he outgrows Akka), pointing out Skauras's plan. But Cnaiür's lesson is too short, to self-evident, for containing anything of worth to Kellhus.

Kellhus' never needs an in depth lesson on anything. His most powerful ability is to draw out deep meaning from trivialities. Knowing nothing of war, all he needs is the very basics in order to logically progress.

We see him do this to Leweth, reading only trivial signs shown by the man to unmask him.

And we all know what happens after Akka's teachings in TTT.

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Kellhus' never needs an in depth lesson on anything. His most powerful ability is to draw out deep meaning from trivialities. Knowing nothing of war, all he needs is the very basics in order to logically progress.

Exactly. "War is...conviction."

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Let me see if I can type some quotes that I find interesting. First up is Kellhus' "revelation" on p. 200 (Chapter nine, last page).

Possible worlds blew through him, fanning and branching into a canopy of glimpses...

Nameless Schoolmen climbing a steep, gravelly beach. A nipple pinched between fingers. A gasping climax. A severed head thrust against the burning sun. Apparitions marching out of morning mist.

A dead wife.

Kellhus exhaled, then breathed deep the bittersweet pinch of cedar, earth, and war.

There was revelation.

Comments: this is not just the probability trance. I think this is a genuine religious experience for Kellhus, which is why he calls it revelation. The dead wife is Serwë, and I could understand that her fate is something Kellhus could predict or speculate on—we later learn that if Kellhus is executed as a false prophet then his wife has to be killed as well (according to the Tusk), and this whole possible future is something that Kellhus could reasonably ponder.

But the other things? Cnaiür holding up Sarcellus's head? The nipple and climax? Is this the scene where Kellhus is seduced by the Old Name as Esmi? Who are the Schoolmen, and what is the beach?

Next thing he does is to take Serwë from Cnaiür. I didn't realise this first time, but it's a really callous scene. We see it from Serwë's POV—she's in her tent and overhears the two men argue—, so we get to read her eternal and helpless gratitude for being free of the barbarian. Of course, now I understand that Kellhus needs her as a wife to sacrifice her, instead of Esmeneth (who is much better breeding stock).

So... is Kellhus being moral here? Is a good deed defined by its proximate effects? Would it have been more decent of Kellhus to leave Serwë in Cnaiür's possession instead of acting on the potential of later sacrificing her? Such and evil book...

(next quotes in separate posts)

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The end of chapter 16 has a Cnaiür POV that I don't understand. Cnaiür has just "won" the battle at the Southern bank of the Sempis. He's going crazy and walks through a "district of revels" in a nearby city, Ammegnotis.

He is approached by what I think is a male prostitute ("His lips looked wanton and feminine, the black hollow of his mouth promising" — to think that I really didn't catch all those hints of Cnaiür really being a faggot the first time I read it), and then flees.

He remembered running as hard as he could, away from the black paths worn through the grasses, away from the yaksh and his father's all-knowing wrath. He found a clutch of sumacs and cleared a hollow in their hidden heart. The wave of green grasses through grey. The smell of earth, of beetles crawling through damp and dark grottoes. The smell of solitude and secrecy, under the sky but sheltered from the wind. He pulled the broken pieces from his belt and spread them in breathless wonder. He reassembled them. She was so sad. And so beautiful. Impossibly beautiful.

Someone. He was forgetting to hate someone.

Question: what "broken pieces" is he talking about? Are these just metaphorical?

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Another passage I'd like to quote.

We have previously talked about the puzzling fact that Bakker makes a woman the most intelligent world-born character in the books, yet on the other hand have members of this very forum who post things like this: (JoannaL just yesterday in this thread.)

His woman characters are one-dimensional stupid not-quite humans only defined by sex.

We're in Shigek, Kellhus has just rewritten the Tusk before Esmi's eyes a few pages before, Akka is still missing. (Her forgiveness for the crime against her daughter still is to come, I think.)

"Have you ever wondered why the Gods hold men higher than women?"

Esmenet shrugged. "We stand in the shadows of men," she replied, "just as men stand in the shadows of the Gods."

"So you think you stand in the shadow of men?"

She smiled. There was no deception with Kellhus, no matter how petty. That was his wonder.

"Some men, yes..."

"But not many?"

She laughed, caught in an honest deceit. "Not many at all," she admitted. Not even, she breathlessly realised, Akka...

Only you.

So not only is Esmi the smartest person alive (outside of Ishüal), she even realises this. Realises it as soon as se understands (through Kellhus's demonstration) that what held her back so far were shackles of convention alone. We have several such scenes, all extremely clear (Kellhus rewrites the Tusk, Esmi confronts Eleäzaras when she is Kellhus' queen). This is pure feminist doctrine. I continue to be baffled by the books' reception among some.

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We have previously talked about the puzzling fact that Bakker makes a woman the most intelligent world-born character in the books, yet on the other hand have members of this very forum who post things like this: (Joanna just yesterday in this thread.)

Esmenet is a great character, and I've never seen anyone argue she isn't. The problem is that Esmenet is the only great female character. I like that Bakker addresses a lot feminist points. I still wish he had had more interesting female characters.

However, I'm not sure what allow you to claim she's the most intelligent character of Erna outside Kellus XD Cnaiur and Conphas are also described as quite intelligent as well in their own way, not to mention Maitaneth(sp?).

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I too have often marveled at the reception the book has garnered with some women, and their ever vigilant white knights. Most cases where women from antiquity held high station or influence were predominantly founded upon fortune of birth. An exception would be a woman who was often brought to mind when reading of Esmi, who though despite the notable quality of her fiber was initially favored by fortune as well.

Theodora of Constantinople.

I would suggest a historical read, to those like Joanna, if they cared to actually do a little research. I picked it up myself a few years ago as a reference for a larger work I've progressively been chipping away at.

'Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity' by Sara Pomeroy.

While its focus rarely strays from the women of classical Hellas [most notably Athenian women] it's startling, even for someone moderately versed with the classical age. Though it could have been more balanced, as noted above there were more than a few historical exceptions, I don't think it would have complimented the overall aim of the author [or Bakker's in this context-- for the same reasons]

As to the rest, if I recall correctly, and that's an emphatic usage of 'if,' the broken pieces Bakker is referring to is Serwë's death mask.

I've noted the passages you quoted from, HE, and will be rereading accordingly to put them in context. I'm hoping I'm familiar enough with the story that I can spot-read for further insight, but Bakker's processes are often frustratingly beyond that. Evil books indeed.

This should be fun.

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As to the rest, if I recall correctly, and that's an emphatic usage of 'if,' the broken pieces Bakker is referring to is Serwë's death mask.

No. She's isn't dead yet.

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In addition to the copmlaints about female characters, another common complaint I hear is about Kellhus' staggering skills, physically but more importantly, intellectually. First of all, yes, this is fiction, but that being said, I love the books because I think Bakker came up with an awesome and plausible explanation for how Kellhus came to be.

The practices of the Dunyain, were any society on this planet ever to practice them, I think would produce some amazingly sharp people. As dominant as Kellhus? Perhaps not quite, but suspend your disbelief just a bit for fantasy. It was an awesome concept that Bakker came up with. Damn, I wish I had the Logos and the Gnosis.

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In addition to the copmlaints about female characters, another common complaint I hear is about Kellhus' staggering skills, physically but more importantly, intellectually. First of all, yes, this is fiction, but that being said, I love the books because I think Bakker came up with an awesome and plausible explanation for how Kellhus came to be.

The practices of the Dunyain, were any society on this planet ever to practice them, I think would produce some amazingly sharp people. As dominant as Kellhus? Perhaps not quite, but suspend your disbelief just a bit for fantasy. It was an awesome concept that Bakker came up with. Damn, I wish I had the Logos and the Gnosis.

There's also a fair amount of modern research into facial expressions. This is an interesting resource. Kind of spooky stuff, but I think it makes Kellhus' ability to read facial expressions much more plausible. The selective breeding bit with the Dunyain always irritated me a bit, but I recognize that Bakker is certainly not advocating it, and even suggests that the Dunyain are likely damned because of the way they treat their less intelligent children.

I just finished my second readthrough of the series, and I noticed in the appendix that there is a Scylvendi belief called "standing on flat ground," or something to that effect, that sounds a lot like the Dunyain idea of the self-moving soul. I'm kinda hoping that perhaps baby Moe will have been exiled, since he isn't actually Kellhus' child, and is thus less valuable to him, and then will achieve flat ground and totally kick Kelly's ass.

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No. She's isn't dead yet.

Puzzling. I'll see if I can track it down this weekend.

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