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Literature / Re: YOU MUST TELL ME ... What else are you reading?
« on: August 12, 2018, 06:32:02 pm »
Re-reading The Etched City (KJ Bishop), and The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart (Jesse Bullington).

So far, both great

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 19
« on: August 10, 2018, 07:49:48 pm »
Serwe POV to start with
But that world was gone, snuffed out forever by Panteruth and his Munuati.  The unreal people and places had swept in cataracts through the narrow circle of her life, and now she walked with men who conferred with Princes, Emperors - even Gods.  Soon, very soon, she would see the magnificent Grandees of Kian arrayed for battle, watch the fluttering banners of the Tusk storm the field.  She could almost see Kellhus in midst of the fracas, glorious and unconquerable, striking down the shadowy Padirajah.
Kellhus would be the violent hero of this unwritten scripture.  She knew this.  With inexplicable certainty, she knew this.

Interesting that Serwe can envisage this, but won't actually see it.  Also, some similarities with Esmenet's POV in the previous chapter.  People from very humble origins, all of a sudden right up there with the great and good.

He spoke to her in Nymbricani, the language of her father.  This was part of the dark shelter they had built between them - the place where the wrathful eyes of the Scylvendi could not see

Again, interesting.  Use of language to create a shelter and to 'blind' a potentially malevolent other.  I'm wondering if this intended to give a pointer in some direction?

"Often", he continued, touching her cheek and brushing her tears into her hair, "when the world denies us over and over, when it punishes us as it's punished you, Serwe, it becomes difficult to understand the meaning.  All our pleas go unanswered.  Our every trust is betrayed.  Our hopes are all crushed.  It seems we mean nothing to the world.  And when we think we mean nothing, we begin to think we are nothing."
A soft crooning wail escaped her.  She wanted to fall forward, to curl herself tighter and tighter until nothing remained...
But I don't see it
"The absence of understanding," Kellhus replied, "is not the same as absence.  You mean something, Serwe.  You are something.  This whole world is steeped in meaning.  Everything, even your suffering, has sacred meaning.  Even your suffering has a crucial role to play."
She touched slack fingers to her neck.  Her face crumpled.
I mean something?
"More than you can imagine," he whispered.

What going on here then?  This whole piece of dialogue feels very significant.  Is there any meaning, or is there none at all?  Is this showing us how Kellhus will manipulate humanity for his own ends, or is he actually telling it like it is (or like he thinks it is)?

Also the implication here (and in the previous Serwe) POV chapter is that Kellhus can actually hear thoughts.  Could be that Serwe is nuts and speaks without realizing, or that she is simply very transparent.  But the suggestion in the subsequent Cnaiur POV, is that he can read Cnaiur's thoughts as well (or maybe just very good at second guessing what Cnaiur will do).

Cnaiur wonders what Kellhus will do with the Holy War

Would he make it his whore?  Like Serwe?

Kelhus 'needs' a nation.
But was this the plan?  Or was it simply another Dunyain lie, another way to pacify, to gull, to enslave?

Has Kellhus come to destroy the Holy Way for his Cishaurim father?
But then why spare Cnaiur?
Does Moenghus still communicate with Kellhus?
He peeks into the tent.
Kellhus turns round - the implication is he knows Cnaiur is watching... and knows what he is thinking.
No wonder Cnaiur is mad.

Achamian cannot remember what he thought, or what route he took in getting back from the palace.  I.e. he didn't see Esmi at all.
He saw his tent, small and alone, mottled and weathered by many seasons, many journeys, and cast in the silent shadow of Xinemus' pavilion.  The Holy War swept beyond it, a great canvas city, matting the distances with the confusion of flaps, guy ropes, pennants, and awnings.

Xinemus has fallen asleep waiting for him.

Tears brimmed at that thought.  He'd never had a home, a place that he could call "mine".  There was no refuge, no sanctuary, for a man such as he.  Only friends, scattered here and there, who for some unaccountable reason loved him and worried about him.

The Consult are revealed
the bitter apparition had bared its knuckled flesh, and the horror of what was and what might be had become the horror of now

But that road was far too easy.  To be frail, to be afflicted with unrequited longing, was simply what it meant to be man.  When had he acquired this penchant to wallow in self-pity?  Where in life's slow accumulation had he come to see himself as the world's victim?  How had he become such a fool?
... He had to act, choose his moment and overcome - overwhelm. He was Drusas Achamian! His song could char legions, tear the earth asunder, pull dragons shrieking from the sky.

But he knows nothing of The Consult's plans, or how the Emperor discovered them.  He has to assume they've infiltrated everywhere - even the Mandate (which of course they have).  Maybe they already rule the Three Seas.  Back to the idea that Maithanet is Consult. 
The Second Apocalypse is here.  It has already begun
Why do the Consult want the Holy War?  Why destroy the Fanim?  Something to do with the Cishaurim?
The obvious connection between the deaths of Geshrunni and Inrau.  Have they got to Esmi?

Final section.  Nansur nobility feasting on their galleys.  Jnan explained.  The Holy War has marched.  The Empire has been humiliated.
Quote long as the brilliant Conphas marched with them, the Emperor might still succeed.  Conphas.  A man like a God.  A true child of Kyraneas, or even Cenei - of the old blood.  How could he fail to make the Holy War his own? "Think of it!" they cried.  "The Old Empire restored!"...

Pretty much spells out what Kellhus will actually do.  I think this confirms that Conphas can be read as a mundane version of Kellhus.

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 18
« on: August 07, 2018, 08:20:28 pm »
Xerius' insecurities and fears are laid bare
...The Empire has been humiliated this day.  I've been humiliated!

"you mean... that during all this time, all these years, he could have killed... killed me?

"The Atrithau Prince", he repeated, shuddering at the recllection of the man's composed expression.  A spy... and with a face that bespoke utter ease.  Such confidence!  And why not, when the Emperor's own Prime Counsel was one of his own?  But no more.  He would visit him with terror soon enough.
"Watch him.  Scrutinize him like no other."
He already scrutinzing you, and he's much better at it

For once it seemed as if though his godlike nephew was perturbed.  The small satisfactions...

Akka brought to the palace by Conphas. 
Momemn after dark - something of a nightmare...  Momemn was labyrinthine by night

And he's about to meet something from his nightmares.

...There was something unnerving about the man's physical perfection...  There was an air about the man - something too self-assured to qualify as arrogance.  Ikurei Conphas, Achamian decided, was possessed either of a terrible strength or a frightening lack.

Should we see this as a comment on Kellhus.

... Achamian had understood just how insignificant the Mandate had become... the Mandate was the besotted fool whose bloated claims became more and more desperate as the night waxed...
they had encountered something beyond the abilities of their own School.. or the mercenary Mysunsai to resolve...
The Gnosis made them rich fools

They're terrified, Achamian realized.  The Ikureis are terrified.
They truly are terrified

Xerius is at least.

Skeaos watched him without fear, blinked the way a child, awakened in the dead of night, might blink

... he wrenched out a toenail.
There was nothing.  No shriek.  Not even a shudder from the old name

Xerius whirled to face his Counsel.  "What are you? he cried.
The old face grinned.  "More, Xerius.  I am more".  It was not Skeaos' voice but something broken, like many voices.

Obviously the Saik are to blame, thinks the paranoid Xerius.  Perhaps with reason, as Conphas earlier tells Akka that nobody trusts the Imperial Saik.

The old face remained passionless, but the eyes glittered with a strange intensity.
"A Mandati, it said...
... And then Xerius felt it, felt the hatred emanating from Skeaos's pale form, as though the old man recognized the Mandate sorceror

Xerius refuses to believe that there is no sorcery present.

..." You see fear... There's no sorcery here.  Either that or there's sorcery of another sort.  One invisible to the Few..."
  Akka then 'explains' it to him

'Skeaos' starts speaking in an inhuman voice.  We hear the name Chigra for the first time.  It begins to pull its chains from the walls, and uses them as deadly weapons.  Two dead.
Akka burns it with sorcerous fire.  But it lives
"You are the first, Chigra," Skeaos wheezed - an ambient, horrifying whisper.  "And you will be the last..."
First and last what?

Its face unfolds and grabs Achamians head.  Conphas decapitates it.

Conphas is portrayed here as a bit more 'sensible' than his uncle.

"He would have lectured us about myths, Conphas.  About the Ancient North and the return of Mog.  They always do".
"After this", Conphas replied, "perhaps we should listen".

Conphas doesn't listen later though does he - in Caraskand?  Caught up in his own self interest.

Xerius jumps to another conclusion - with some reason perhaps.  The Cishaurim are behind it.  Again, self interest.   
There's a quote at the start of the Chapter, that Xerius can see far from the Andiamine Heights, but not far enough.  He and Conphas are both very capable, but can't see (or perhaps feel) the bigger picture.


Esmi has left Sarcellus and is looking for Akka.  We learn she is usually attracted to tall men (Kellhus?  the guard captain from TAE?).

She heads for Xinemus' camp, dreaming of Akka waiting for her

... he'd drop his wine bowl in astonishment.  She'd see his lips mouth her name, his eyes glitter with tears...
...he would not turn her out.  He would wait, as he always did, for the Mandate to call him away.
And he would forgive.  As he always did.

Akka is not there, so she watches from the darkness.

...She stood, she realized, at the very heart of the Holy War, fiery with passion, promise, and sacred purpose.  These men were more than, they were Kahiht, World Souls, locked in the great wheel of great events.  The thought of striding into their midst beckoned hot tears to her eyes.  How could she?  Awkwardly concealing the back of her hand, instantly branded for she was by their far-seeing eyes...
What's this?  A whore Here? You must be joking...
What had she been thinking?  Even if Achamian had been here, she would only have shamed him.

Xin and Kellhus go for a piss.  They joke with each other.  Kellhus seems to stare directly at Esmi.  Are his eyes actually that good?

She sleeps and dreams of a dead tree that roots her to the earth.  Does this have any wider significance?

Sarcellus turns up.  She tells him she's not going back.  He doesn't want her to, anyway.

She thought of the cool kiss of silk against her skin, of roasted meat, steaming and peppered, served with velvet wine.  She thought of that winter in Sumna four years ago, the one following the summer droughts, when she could not even afford flour halved with chalk.  She had grown so skinny that no one would buy her... She had come close.  Very close
An inner whisper, small, snivelling, and infinitely reasonable: Beg his forgiveness.  Don't be a fool" Beg...

Akka arrives, but

He looked through her, beyond her, and continued walking.

he pretended not to see me...
"Why, Akka? Why?  I c-came to s-s-ave you, to t-tell you..."
He hates you  You're nothing more than a dirty whore! A stain on his breeches!
"No!  He loves me!  H-he's th-the only one who's ever tr-truly loved me!"
No one loves you.  No one.
"M-m-my d-daughter... Sh-she loved me!"
Would that she had hated!... Hated and lived!

Whores though
may be oppressed, but... we're never owned

We get right to the bottom of Esmenet's character here.  Intelligence, the attraction of material security, clear desire to be loved, fear of rejection (and the 'certainty' that it will happen), resilience.  We can see why she will leave Akka for Kellhus.  We can see why she will search for Mimara.  We can see why she survives.

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TDTCB Chapter 19
« on: August 05, 2018, 06:53:21 pm »
... even though the skin-spies were exposed relatively early in the course of the Holy War, most believed the Cishaurim rather than the Consult to be responsible.  This is the problem of all great revelations: their significance so often exceeds the frame of our comprehension.  We understand only after, always after.  Not simply when it is too late, but precisely because it is too late.

Final chapter - a week early, but its only a short one. 

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 17
« on: August 05, 2018, 06:47:20 pm »
No thought.
The boy extinguished.  Only a place...
...A place without breath or sound.  A place of sight alone.  A place without before or after... almost ...
...And the place where Kellhus had once existed extended an open hand - the blond hairs like luminous filaments against tanned skin -  and grasped the knife from open space...

It just struck me that topos/ topoi can mean place - for example in topography. 

Is there a relationship between the Dunyain Conditioning and the presence of physical Topoi in Earwa?

Is Kellhus himself a Topoi?

With the exception of Koringhus (who does ultimately completely reject the Dunyain philosophy), all the Dunyain we encounter outside Ishual seem to be major instigators of trauma/ suffering?

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TDTCB Chapter 18
« on: August 05, 2018, 06:36:34 pm »
...and that revelation murdered all that I once did know.  Where once I asked of the God, "Who are you?" now I ask, "Who am I?"

The Emperor, the consensus seems to be, was an excessively suspicious man.  Fear has many forms, but it is never so dangerous as when it is combined with power and perpetual uncertainty.

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 17
« on: August 03, 2018, 07:31:28 pm »
Quote from:  TheCulminatingApe
Deep - and what beautiful prose. 
How does Kellhus know what the back of a beautiful women looks like? Agitations, distractions and passions dying - is this why the Dunyain are spiritually weak?

We've had some serious and long threads devoted to this topic here. And, no one has come up with a clear cut answer. We see later about the Whale Mothers, but are there other DŻnyain women? It would almost seem to be the case, but we never, ever hear about them in the text. That would make one think that they do not exist. I guess it's a matter of what you want to believe. It's certain that the Whale mother don't have a body like that though...

Reckon realistically Bakker didn't have a fixed idea about Dunyain women when TDTCB was written, then overlooked the sentence in question when writing TGO.  It does jar though, when you consider the Whale Mothers

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 17
« on: July 31, 2018, 08:13:04 pm »
All Kellhus POV.

...  In that time, Kellhus had spent long hours in the probability trance, assesing, extrapolating, and reassesing this extraordinary twist of circumstance.  But the Holy War had proven incalculable.  Nothing he'd thus far encountered could compare with sheer number of variables it presented.  Of course the nameless thousands who constituted its bulk were largely irrelevant, significant only in their sum, but the handful of men who were relevant, who ultimately determine the Holy War's fate, had remained inaccessible to him.
This would change in a matter of moments.

Always, Cnaiur bristled at their patronizing tone.  His nostrils even flared.
How much degradation will he bear to see my father dead?

Would Kellhus have been able to manipulate Conphas in the same way that he does Cnaiur?

"The game is never over," Proyas asserted.  "The game is without beginning or end"
Without beginning or end

And then we segue in to the first of a series of flashbacks to Kellhus as a child - all very good pieces of writing.  We are supposed to see a link between the pimped-up meditation process (which by my reckoning must last for at least a week) that enables the Dunyain to 'survive the Labyrinth' and the meeting of the Emperor and the Great Names.  Don't really see it myself.

The Pragma regarded him with utter dispassion.  "Interruption is weakness, young Kellhus.  It arises from the passions and not from the intellect.  From the darkness that comes before."
Not true in my opinion - interruption can be intellectual - or done intelligently.  Also in the immediately preceding dialogue, we learn that the Dunyain still retain knowledge of their founding - what comes before.

The Quandary of Man
"That he is a beast, that his appetites arise from the darkness of his soul, that his world assails him with arbitrary circumstance, and yet he apprehends the Logos."
"Precisely.  And what is the solution to the Quandary of Man?"
"To be utterly free of bestial appetite.  To utterly command the unfolding of circumstance.  To be the perfect instrument of Logos and so obtain the Absolute".

What the Dunyain are all about.  Utter command of the unfolding of circumstance.  Hence why Kellhus fears Moenghus would join the Consult, and why the Mutiliated do - to seal the Outside and remove the Gods from the equation. 
The Tekne would be very attractive to this philosophy - if we are assuming it is what we would call technology - it can be predicted and designed. A link back to the Sarcellus skin-spy using the term 'Architect' to describe the Inchoroi/ Synthese in one of the earlier Chapters.  Architect is (I think) a term for the gnostic demiurge - the insane or evil god of the material world.
Kellhus however encounters the Gnosis, and we must assume develops a different perspective.

We meet the Great Names.  Kellhus (of course) knows them all inside out merely by looking at them.  Except Chepheramunni (and the other Ainoni) whose face is (very conveniently) hidden.  And except the Thunyeri - who do not count because they are 'uncouth, illiterate barbarians' - Proyas showing his prejudice.  Cnaiur is not impressed.

Back to Ishual.  Kellhus discovers it is far more difficult to speak the proposition 'within' rather than out loud.  Correspondence with the Gnostic inutterals?

The sun waxed across the disheveled mountainsides, mottling his periphery with the contrast of dark plummets and bright bald faces.  Kellhus found himself at war.  Inchoate urges reared from nothingness, demanding thought.  Unuttered voices untwined from darkness, demanding thought.  Hissing images railed, pleaded, threatened - all demanding thought.  And through it all:
The Logos is without beginning or end.  The Logos is without beginning or end.  The Logos is without ...
Long afterward he would realise this exercise had demarcated his soul.  The incessant repetition of the Pragma's proposition had pitted him against himself, had shown him the extent to which he was other to himself.  For the first time he could truly see the darkness that had preceded him, and he knew hat before this day, he had never truly been awake...

... As darkness entombed the shrine, the struggle intensified.  By turns, his body became remote to the point of giddiness and near to the point of suffocation.  One moment he would be an apparition, an accident of coiling smoke, so insubstantial it seemed the night breeze might smear him into nothingness.  In another, he would be a bundle of cramped flesh, every sensation sharpened until even the night chill chattered like knives across his skin.  And the proposition became something drunken, something that stumbled and staggered through a nightmarish chorus of agitations, distractions, and frenzied passions.  They howled within him - like something dying.
Then the sun broke from the glacier, and he was dumbstruck by its beauty.  Smouldering orange cresting cold planes of shining snow and ice.  And for a heartbeat the proposition escaped him, and he thought only of the way the glacier reared, curved like the back of a beautiful woman...
The Pragma leapt forward and struck him, his face a rictus of counterfeit rage.  "Repeat the proposition!" he screamed.
Deep - and what beautiful prose. 
How does Kellhus know what the back of a beautiful women looks like? Agitations, distractions and passions dying - is this why the Dunyain are spiritually weak?

Back in Momemn, Kellhus concludes any of the Great Names cold be possessed as easily as Leweth - but all together, they were incalculable.  He makes the specific analogy with the labyrinth and the thousand thousand halls - that he has to pass through and own.  He doubts.

We learn dreams are a serious matter in the Three Seas, and that the Dunyain had discounted their full implications prior to Moenghus' 'sendings'.  Kellhus tells us dreams are a portal where the Outside infiltrates the World,
where what transcended men - be it the future, the distant, the demonic, or the divine - found imperfect impression in the here and now.

Who Dreams? - Achamian and the Mandate - keepers of the Gnosis.

Xerius turns up - just after being unintentionally mocked by a Galeoth.  His is angry to the point of murder.  And Skeaos - there is something wrong with his face - is Moenghus involved?

More from Ishual - again beautifully written.

The debate between the Nansur and the Great Names.  Conphas vs Cnaiur. 
Skeaos has no face - not sorcery.  Only Kellhus can see this.  But Xerius can see him looking.

Final Ishual section.
Cause everywhere, but amid countless minute happenings - diffuse, useless.
Now I understand
Not sure I understand this.  Are we supposed to see human beings the countless minute happenings  - given the clearly intended analogy between what goes on in Ishual and Momemn?

Should Conphas or Cnaiur be trusted?

Cnaiur tells it like it is
"Do not mistake me, Inrithi.  In this much Conphas is right .  You are all staggering drunks to me.  Boys who would play at war when you should kennel with your mothers.  You know nothing of war.  War is dark.  Black as pitch.  It i s not a God.  It does not laugh or weep.  It rewards neither skill or daring.  It is not a trial of souls, not the measure of wills.  Even less is it a tool, a means to some womanish end.  It is merely the place where the iron bones of the earth meet the hollow bones of men and break them.
You have offered me war and I have accepted.  Nothing more.  I will not regret your losses.  I will not bow my head before your funeral pyres.  I will not rejoice at your triumphs.  But I have taken the wager.  I will suffer with you.  I will put Fanim to the sword,and drive their wives and children to the slaughter.  And when I sleep, I will dream of their lamentations and be glad of heart.

In your face, Conan ;D

Some are swayed by Cnaiur's words, but Gotian, the man who makes the decision, remain undecided.  Kellhus speaks the words that convince him.  Xerius has Skeaos taken away, and Kellhus leaves with Cnaiur.

Personally I don't think Kellhus' speech is all that impressive.  To me it's the sort of thing any capable political communicator would do.

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TDTCB Chapter 17
« on: July 29, 2018, 03:35:32 pm »
The event itself was unprecedented: not since the fall of Cenei to the Scylvendi hordes had so many potentates gathered in one place.  But few knew Mankind itself lay in the balance.  And who could guess that a brief exchange of glances, not the Shriah's edict would tip that balance?
But is this not the very enigma of history? When one peers deep enough, one always finds that catastrophe and triumph, the proper objects of the historian's scrutiny, inevitably turn upon the small, the trivial, the nightmarishly accidental.  Wen I reflect overmuch on this fact, I do not fear that we are "drunks at the sacred dance," as Protathis writes, but that there is no dance at all.


The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 16
« on: July 24, 2018, 08:36:09 pm »
Kellhus resembles Celmomas from Akka's dreams.  Proyas has told him about Akka.

The man smiled understandingly - much more than understandingly.  It was unlike any smile Achamian had ever seen.  It seemed to understand him much more than he wanted to be understood
Never before had he met a man quite like Anasurimbor Kellhus
There was his voice...
..had dimension.  It seemed to whisper: There's more that I'm telling... Only listen and see
And there was his face... The man appeared wise, amused, and sorrowful by guileless turns...
And then there were his eyes... that followed Achamian's every word... at the same time they were haunted by a strange reserve... the reserve of a man who dwells in the certainty that it's not his place to judge
"Here you possess privileged knowledge, and yet know one believe you, while I possess nothing, and everyone insists that I have privileged knowledge"
But Achamian could only think, But do you believe me?

Kellhus appears to take Akka and the Mandate mission seriously.  Only Esmenet does this.  Has Proyas told him about the Gnosis, and has he already decided he wants it?  He later confirms this to Cnaiur.

We see all the contradictions of the Mandate in this Chapter.  Mostly they are viewed as cranks - the equivalent of flat earthers.  Achamian has no doubt of the veracity of his dreams, and is in real terror that the No-God may return.  The power of the Mandate is revealed in the Eleazaras POV - if they are in the game, then the Scarlet Spires are no longer the most powerful school in the Three Seas.  Akka (a mere field agent) is powerful enough to prevent Eleazaras attacking the mob.

... The Ancient North was dark to the Mandate.  Inscrutable.  And Atrithau was a lone beacon in that darkness, frail before the long, hoary shadow of Golgotterath.  A single light held against the black heart of the Consult...
... the Mandate knew very little of Atrithau, only what could be gleaned from the traders who managed to survive the great circuit from Atrithau to Galeoth...

Implies Atrithau is more than just another city, but has some greater significance.
What is in Atrithau that would make merchants want to go there.  It is a huge distance from anywhere, even from Sakarus (especially after Bakker changed his maps!).  Why would you go to the risk of spending months crossing the Sranc infested plains?  Either the prices you could charge in Atrithau must be exorbitant, or there must be something unique to buy there.

...Anasurimbor Kellus was a man who moved the souls of those around him...
  He is 'coming before' them

Cnaiur is not impressed by Inrithi jnan. 
How much must he suffer to see vengeance done?

"... see the thousand thousand lights peeking through the leather of night?  This is how we know that a greater sun burns beyond this world.  This is how we know that when it's night it is truly day, and that when it's day, it is truly night.  That is how we know, Nayu, that the World is a lie."
For Scyvlendi, the stars were a reminder: only the People were true

Very gnostic.  I'm not sure how this tallies with the worship of the No-God, who as far as we can tell is there to shut off the World from the 'greater sun' outside, and would effectively make 'the lie' the only truth.  Also the 'World is a lie' - jnan, the delusions of the Nansur and the Scarlet Spires, the false premise of the Holy War, skin-spies...

Cnaiur is quick to realise that Kellhus is playing Akka.

The thought struck Cnaiur that Dunyain monks might be even more inhuman than he had thought.  What if things such as truth and meaning had no meaning for them?  What if all they did was move and move, like something reptilian, snaking through circumstance after circumstance, consuming soul after soul for the sale of consumption alone?  The thought made his scalp prickle
They called themselves students of the Logos, the Shortest Way.  But the shortest way to what?

Echoes of the TGO - where Kellhus meets the most reptilian of the sons, and where he tells Proyas that the world is a granary for human souls. 

Kellhus knows Cnaiur was watching - or has sufficient knowledge of Cnaiur to guess.  The conversation between the two gives strong confirmation that Moenghus must be Cishaurim, and that Kellhus wants the Gnosis from Akka.  Later we get a flashback from Eleazaras, to the assassination of Sasheoka.  There's a reminder from Akka, wondering how Maithanet knew of the war between the two schools.  And from an earlier Chapter, Mallahet, pale as a Norsirai with arms scarred like a Scylvendi.  With hindsight, the clues are all there.

Akka considers informing the Mandate that Kellhus is here.
...What would they do?  How ruthless would they be in the prosecution of their fears?
I gave them Inrau... Must I give them Kellhus too?
Not to mention, he has lost Proyas, his other 'boy'.  Pretty sure Kellhus has sussed out the emotions involved in all this, prioir to asking Akka to teach him.

... But unlike Nautzera and Simas, he had not been gouged of his compassion...
  Sums up Akka.  He cares.

From Xinemus. Kellhus is
"More than a man"

The Scarlet Spires come to meet Akka.  A mob follows, indicating the general contempt for sorcerors.  The Spires think Akka killed Geshrunni and stole his face.
"Someone plays you for a fool, Grandmaster"
Someone plays both of us... But who?

We meet Iyokus for the first time, and learn about chanv.  It sharpen minds and extends lives, but saps pigment, and allegedly saps the will of the soul.  Its source is unknown.

The Spires have lost all their spies in the Thousand Temples.  They now have to have faith in Maithanet, who has offered them vengeance.
...By seizing, Eleazaras realised, he had surrendered.  And now the Scarlet Spires, for the first time in its glorious history, found itself dependent upon the whims of other men
Echoes of Cnaiur's relationship with Kellhus - the hatred and desire for vengeance of one, is simply a mean to an end for another.  Manipulation of emotion.

The spies in the Imperial Precincts remain.  Another faceless corpse was found in Carythusal five years earlier. 
"First we crush the Cishaurim, Iyokus.  In the meantime, make certain that Drusas Achamian is watched"
  Like the Imperials, they struggle to see past their own self-interest.  They cannot conceive that the Mandate mission is true.

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TDTCB Chapter 16
« on: July 22, 2018, 05:42:21 pm »
Those of us who survived will always be bewildered when we recall is arrival.  And not just because he was so different then.  In a strange sense he never changed.  We changed.  If he seems so different to us know, it is because he was the figure that transformed the ground.

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 15
« on: July 18, 2018, 07:52:22 pm »
"...Zealous men often confuse purity with intolerance, particularly when they're young"
Though Achamian suspected matters were a great deal more complicated, he said only, "You've been reading again, haven't you?"

...It's a possibility that saves me, that drives me to continue.  What if? I ask myself.  What if this Holy War is in fact divine, a good in and of itself?

This is what you bring to me?  One of your spies is executed - for spying! - and you suspect that Maithanet - the greatest Shriah in generations! - conspires with the Consult? ...

"and this brings us to the rub, doesn't it Achamian?"
Achamian could only stare in bewilderment.  There was something more, something he was forgetting... When did he become such an old fool?
"Rub?" he managed to ask.  "What rub?"
"The difference between knowing and feeling.  Between knowledge and faith."  Proyas caught his bowl and downed it as though punishing the wine.  "You know, I remember asking you about the God once, many years ago.  Do you remember what you said?"
Achamian shook his head.
"'I've heard many rumours,' you said, 'but I've never met the man.'"
"Anyway," Proyas continued hesitantly, " my point is this: What you said of my God, you must say of your Consult as well.  All you have are rumours, Achamian.  Faith.  You know nothing of what you speak."
"What are you saying?"
His voice hardened. "Faith is the truth of passion, Achamian, and no passion is more true than another.  And that means there's no possibility you could speak that I could consider, no fear you could summon that could be more true than my adoration.  There can be no discourse between us."

Akka is out-argued and out-reasoned by his pupil, his 'boy', who then utterly rejects him.
The whole rationale behind Akka's life is what he dreams every night - he 'knows' they are true because of what they make him feel, but the truth of the dreams cannot be proven to others.  Only those who touch Seswatha's heart can share them - esoteric or secret knowledge - Gnostic.
The conflict between faith and intellect cuts to the heart of what this series is all about.  As is suggested in earlier Chapters and as we are about to see demonstrated by Kellhus, faith can be manipulated by the clever.

We get the dream with 'an Anasurimbor will return at the ending of the world'.  And lo and behold...

A section with Esmenet.
The beautiful blond man seems to be possessed. After they have sex, he comes across as a completely different person.  Yet he spills black seed.  Is he the same being as the one that spilt the black seed in the previous Chapter?  'Sarcellus' does not have black seed, or Esmi would surely flee.  Therefore what are the 'black seed' things?  I think it is later confirmed that they are one of the Inchoroi - although we have learnt anything up to this point that would confirm that.
Are the Consult trying to manipulate Esmi to such a point that she will betray Akka to them - I think this is intimated as such in an earlier chapter?  Or is this just foreshadowing her betrayal of Akka with Kellhus?

Proyas comes across as rather hypocritical.  In a previous Chapter he won't see Akka, but then does.  Then he doesn't ever want to see Akka again, but asks him back within a week.

More on faith, as a follow up to the previous dialogue
"There's faith that knows itself as faith, Proyas, and there's faith that that confuses itself for knowledge.  The first embraces uncertainty, acknowledges the mysteriousness of the God.  It begets compassion and tolerance.  Who can entirely condemn when they're not entirely certain they're in the right?  But the second, Proyas, the second embraces certainty and pays lip service to the God's mystery.  It begets intolerance, hatred, violence..."
Proyas can only respond be quoting scripture, but really he has no answer, and he knows it.

Do the Dunyain embrace uncertainty and mysteriousness?  Pretty sure their whole purpose is to eliminate such things.  Faith is not relevant to them, and hence they have become spiritually weak. 
I'd suggest faith requires hope (or belief), not cold rationality. 

Akka notes that thousands and thousands will die in the Holy War,  maybe Xinemus, his only friend.  A quite tragic piece of foreshadowing.

... Achamian heard Iryssas chiding the Norsirai about his appearance, as though the man were a bond brother rather than a foreigner about to meet his prince...
Kellhus already up to his tricks.

Cnaiur tries to sell Proyas a story that his 'land has repudiated him' he has 'renounced his land' and he has come to sell his expertise to the Holy War.  It is never made clear whether Proyas actually believes this, but irrespective Proyas needs the Scylvendi as a 'surrogate for Conphas'.

Akka shares a look with Kellhus and
... Unaccountably, he thought: Him... The answer lies with him
.  Kellhus can manipulate even by expression.

Akka suggests Cnaiur's real reason for coming south is to get revenge on Conphas.

Proyas asks
..., but why would you come here?  Why would a Scylvendi cross the Empire of all places?  Why would a heathen join a Holy War?"

Then... 'a resonant voice',
a man whose 'bearing was imperious despite the rags clothing him'
'one steeped in a life of absolute authority'
'moderated somehow by hardship and sorrow'
"I am Anasurimbor Kellhus, son of Moenghus,"  the man said in heavily accented Sheyic.  "A prince of the north.  Of Atrithau."

The penny drops.
"A powerful name."
"I cannot speak for my blood."
I do wonder why the name Anasurimbor seems to have little impact on anyone other than Achamian.  I'm pretty sure the tales of the Apocalypse are well known, certainly amongst the nobility.  The arrival of a man with the same family name of the high kings of Kuniuri, should raise eyebrows at the very least.

Akka gets the flash backs to the dream earlier in the Chapter.  Here maybe is the proof that Proyas thought he lacked.

Why is Kellhus here?
"... How could you have known of the Holy War?
Hesitation, as though he were both frightened and unconvinced by what he was about to say.  "Dreams.  Someone sent me dreams"
This cannot be!
"Someone?  Who?"
The man could not answer.
The implication from the final silence is that Kellhus' dreams are of divine origin.  He is manipulating Proyas' faith.  The actual source of the dreams are of course Moenghus - i.e. intellect.

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TDTCB CHapter 15
« on: July 15, 2018, 06:24:00 pm »
Many have condemned thise who joined the Holy War for mercenary reasons, and doubtless, should this humble history find its way into their idle libraries, they will blast me as well.  Admittedly, my reasons for joining the Holy War were mercenary," if by that one means that I joined it in order to procure ends outside of the destruction of the heathen and the reconquest of Shimeh.  But their were a great many mercenaries such as myself, and like myself, they inadvertently furthered the Holy War by killing their share of heathen. The failure of the Holy War had nothing to do with us.
Did I say failure? Perhaps "transformation" would be a better word.

Faith is the truth of passions. Since no passion is more true than another, faith is the truth of nothing.

The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 14
« on: July 10, 2018, 09:00:13 pm »
This Chapter is entirely from Serwe's POV, which I think is the only time in the whole series that this occurs, and therefore is probably of some significance.

Never has she known such a man.  A man who knew her, and yet still loved.
Kellhus loves me.  He's the first to love me
  This is of course not true.  Kellhus doesn't love her.

Serwe has compassion.  She tries to warn the boy, but both Cnaiur and Kellhus go after him, and kill him. 

The whelp warned no one, girl.  What mere boy could escape a Dunyain.
  Certainly not Cnaiur, as we know.

Serwe believes she has forced Kellhus to kill the boy. 
My first sin against you father

She is pregnant and thinks it is Kellhus'.  It is pretty obvious that it is in fact Cnaiur's.  The implication is therefore that Serwe is not altogether sane, which is reinforced when she sees haloes around Kellhus' hands.

She runs away.  Two Kidruhil try to rape her.  Cnaiur turns up and kills one of them.  She kills the other one, and is marked with a swazond by Cnaiur for her trouble. 
He exists only here, a scar upon your arm.  It is the mark of his absence, of all the ways his soul will not move, and of all the acts he will not commit.  A mark of the weight you now bear.

She doesn't understand. 
You are my prize, Serwe.  My tribe.
  No quote sure what to make of this.

We see why Cnaiur has been kept alive.  His understanding of the Kidruhil, and the Nansur lands is invaluable.  But it is clear that Kellhus is in charge.

Serwe's horse dies.  Cnaiur want to leave her, but Kellhus will not.  They are cornered by the Kidruhil, but inexplicably run into the Conriyans instead.

I am the promise...  Our promise.  Our God
What was impossible was that a God might walk now, that a God might fall in love with her...

I think Serwe can be read as a stand in for the worldborn in general, given what follows.  Kellhus can 'see' all her perceived inadequacies, but 'loves' her nonetheless - perhaps in a way that no one else ever has.  It is no great leap to perceive him as divine, especially given his physical prowess (and subsequent sorcerous power).  There is also a contrast with Mimara, who can actually see and forgive with the judging eye - self-interest vs altruism.  Earlier Chapters show Akka as an altruist and the imperials as self-interested.

Why does Kellhus not leave Serwe behind.  Does he keep her to goad Cnaiur?  or for some other reason.  Why does Serwe see haloes.  Is there something deeper going on?

End of Part 4.  All the various plot strands and character arcs are about to come together...

The Almanac: PON Edition / ARC: TDTCB Chapter 14
« on: July 08, 2018, 12:22:04 pm »
Some say men continually war against circumstances, but I say they perpetually flee.  What are the works of men if not a momentary respite, a hiding place soon to be discovered by catastrophe?  Life is endless flight before the hunter we call the world.

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