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Messages - TheCulminatingApe

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB, Chapter 7
« on: May 24, 2018, 08:29:43 pm »
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I've wrought what no man has wrought. Doesn't that make me more than a man?
Conphas could no longer count how many times this breathless thought had beset him, and though he was loath to admit it, he yearned to hear it echoed by others--especially Martemus.

Last chapter we had only a small inkling of Conphas' opinion of his own divinity as seen from CnaiŁr's POV. This chapter, we're not even 2 paragraphs in and we get the whole delusion spelled out for us in all its glory.
Though I wonder why someone with such a high opinion of himself and self-confidence would be "loath to admit it". Maybe some small part of him still realizes believing himself to be a god is delusional - or blasphemous?

He just doesn't want to admit to himself that he needs the good opinions of other people.  The insecurity of arrogance, if you like.

Conphas makes his first mistake this chapter and underestimates Xerius. As we talked about in the chapter 5 discussion, Xerius really isn't as incompetent as most people in and out of universe tend to believe. And we'll see more evidence of his in a while.
Also, SkeaŲs is established as someone who is behind all the "brilliant ploys" in Xerius' court (at least in Conphas' opinion). Doesn't really seem to be the case anymore, but then again, he is probably a skin-spy by this point.

Xerius comes across as lot more in this Chapter, and puts Conphas back in his box a few times.


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Never in his life had Conphas felt anything approaching the elation he'd experienced at the Battle of Kiyuth. Surrounded by his half-panicked staff, he had looked across the undecided battlefield and somehow, unaccountably, had known--known with a certainty that had made his bones feel like iron. I own this place. I am more . . . The feeling had been akin to rapture or religious ecstasy. It had been, he later realized, a revelation, a moment of divine insight into the immeasurable might of his hand.

This is an interesting passage, as it could of course be read as Conphas' usual sense of self-importance and recognition of his own brilliance...but could it be something more? He does mention that he'd never felt anything like that before. Intervention from GilgaŲl (or Ajokli?) perhaps? (Might be too much of a stretch, I know.)

With hindsight, this could be a kind of surrogate Kellhus POV.  Telling what happens when Kellhus 'goes mad', but also pointing out that this is delusional.  There are a lot of correspondences between Conphas' and Kellhus' arcs across the both series IMHO.

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And now, the great triumph he'd so anticipated, the all-important recognition of what he'd wrought, had been overshadowed by greater events. The Holy War had dimmed his glory, had dwarfed even the destruction of the Scylvendi. Men would celebrate him, yes, but the way they celebrated religious festivals in times of famine: listlessly, too preoccupied by the press of events to truly understand what or whom they celebrated.
How could he not hate the Holy War?

Defeating the Scylvendi was an unprecedented accomplishment, to be sure. The timing just didn't work out so well. And you know Conphas just hates it when he's not the centre of attention. (Still, I kind of feel for him. Just a little bit.)
You'd think he would have realised why he had been sent north in the first place.  Whilst Conphas is a brilliant individual, he does seem very self-absorbed and not necessarily good at picking up what's going on around him.

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The Battle of Kiyuth had been but the first step in a larger scheme to wrest the Holy War from Maithanet, and the Holy War was key to his uncle's dream of a Restored Empire. If Kian could be crushed, and if all the old provinces could be reconquered, then Ikurei Xerius III would be remembered not as a warrior-emperor like Xatantius or Triamus but as a great statesman-emperor such as Caphrianas the Younger. This was his dream.

As we learned from his POV in chapter 5, Xerius is quite aware of his strengths and weaknesses when compared to previous emperors (to an extent, anyway). It really wasn't a bad scheme, not at all. Xerius and Conphas really got unlucky with the DŻnyain involvement.
Not really, the Holy War itself is a Dunyain scheme.  Moenghus and Maithanet are playing the Nansur.

To be fair, if Conphas as a child was anything like Kelmomas (I have the feeling he was)
This has got me wondering if Conphas could potentially be an Insertant.  He is of course no God, despite his opinions to the contrary.

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"Whatever wisdom I possess, Grandmother, I owe to you."
Istriya nearly giggled. Flattery, especially from Conphas, had always been her favourite narcotic. "I was a rather harsh tutor, now that I recall."
"The harshest."

More confirmation of Istriya's very important role in shaping Conphas' character.
It does make me wonder exactly how long she has been a skin-spy, though. Surely she wasn't one during his formative years, but you never know... (And yes, I know some of you think she is still the real Istriya at this point. As you've noticed, I don't, and I'm working from the assumption that she isn't).

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Conphas was laughing. "I'm afraid I discovered the pleasures of women at an atrociously young age, Grandmother. I had other tutors to attend."
Istriya was sly--even flirtatious. The whorish crone. "Lessons drawn from the same book, I imagine."
"It all comes down to fucking, doesn't it?"

This was definitely not the sort of thing I'd want to dwell on, but I was curious. Did Istriya manipulate young Conphas sexually the way she did with young Xerius? I've seen people argue for both interpretations, and I used to believe that she hadn't, but this passage does make me wonder. Conphas could be talking about "metaphorical fucking" only when referring to the lessons he got from Istriya, but I don't think the other interpretation can be fully disproven either.

Manipulation via perversion of sexual desire does seem a very Consult thing to do. I'm not saying Istriya has or hasn't been a skin-spy for any long duration - just pointing it out.


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There was something dead inside his nephew. No, more than dead--something smooth. With others, even with his mother--although she too had seemed so remote lately--there was always the exchange of unspoken expectations, of the small, human needs that crotched and braced all conversation, even silences. But with Conphas there were only sheer surfaces. His nephew was never moved by another. Conphas was moved by Conphas, even if at times in mimicry of being moved by others. He was a man for whom everything was a whim. A perfect man.

This is a fair assessment. And people still think Xerius is dumb...this reread has really given me a new perspective when it comes to him. It should also be noted that Xerius' description of Conphas sounds rather...DŻnyain.
Despite the fact that their personalities are nothing alike, I can't help but be reminded of this quote about Thelli:
Quote from: TJE, Chapter 3
Theliopa was a woman with an unearthly hollow where human sentiment should be.
Conphas is no DŻnyain, of course (unless there is some crackpot theory I am unaware of?), but it can't be denied that there are many similarities. MoŽnghus and Kellhus aren't moved by others either (Ajokli interference aside), even when it seems to others that they are. They do think of themselves as having reached a perfect state. And while Conphas' focus is Conphas, there is room for interpretation concerning the Thousandfold Thought and how self-serving MoŽnghus and Kellhus really are, to say the least.

Indeed, more similarities between Conphas and Kellhus.

MoŽnghus was the intermediary between Xerius and Skauras back in chapter 5...could he be behind this? It's entirely plausible it's just as Conphas says, of course, but I wonder.

It certainly shouldn't be ruled out, should it? ;)  Also, Moenghus must surely know that Skeaos is a skin-spy, and therefore that the Consult are involved with Nansur decision making at the highest levels.

You can actually draw some parallels between Istriya and Xerius and MoŽnghus and CnaiŁr. Both Istriya and MoŽnghus were adults manipulating a teenager via both psychological and sexual means for their own gain. Both Xerius and CnaiŁr have deep psychological scars from said manipulation, and are still in denial about aspects of it even as middle-aged men. (There are still many differences between the two cases, of course, I just felt it was worth mentioning.)

Good call :D

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"Like an immense sarcophagus," his mother said. Always, the asp of truth.

Foreshadowing?
The No-God.

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB, Chapter 7
« on: May 24, 2018, 07:56:50 pm »
Quote from:  Theculminatingape
The idea that the Fanim would be happy to agree to let the Holy War get all the way to Shimeh doesn't really make sense.
a pretty damn smart move by Xerius.

Is it smart?  On the assumption that the Holy War suffers a terrible defeat at Shimeh, there are two likely outcomes.  Either the Nansur have been holding back, and then attack and defeat the Fanim, taking Shimeh - to me it is inconceivable that Conphas would not do this. Or, the Fanim destroy the Nansur armies as well, and steamroll all the way to Sumna.  In any case, why would the Fanim give up Shigek and Caraskand to their arch enemies, the infidel Nansur?


The Fanim keep Holy Shimeh
Which they already have, and will be far better able to defend at distance further to the north

and the Nansur restore their empire.
Which the Fanim will just let happen? No way

All the Fanim have to do is fall back and let the Holy War die in the desert, because they have no water.
This does make sense, but then the Holy War will not perish at Shimeh as stated in the Chapter

Again, a pretty damn smart move by Xerius, if not for a DŻnyain.

There's a Dunyain in the room when the deal is done.  It could be inferred that the whole scheme has actually been instigated by Moenghus, so that Kellhus has a better chance of getting to Shimeh.

Also the entire Holy War is a Dunyain plot.  No Dunyain - the whole thing doesn't happen.

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB, Chapter 7
« on: May 23, 2018, 07:24:11 pm »
Parallels between the Anasurimbor and the Ikurei, and the Great Ordeal and the Holy War

Conphas had "known - known with a certainty that had made his bones feel like iron. I own this place.  I am more...  The feeling had been akin to rapture or religious ecstasy.  It had been, he later realized, a moment of divine insight into the immeasurable might of his hand".

With hindsight, this might well be a Kellhus POV.

The HOly War will fail at Shimeh (but actually doesn't) - the Ordeal will fail at Golgotterath (but seemingly not by design, as far as we know).

Xerius and Conphas = Moenghus and Kellhus?  There are obvious similarities between Conphas and Kellhus - the two can be contrasted throughout PON - Conphas does come across almost as a worldborn Dunyain, but of course is no match for the real deal.  In TAE, Kellhus is perhaps what Conphas thinks he is/ should be, but he ends up failing just like Conphas does.
I'm not sure if Xerius = Moenghus stacks up, but both are web weavers, who act from behind the scenes rather than get directly involved in the fighting.

We even get the No-God popping up at the end - Xerius' big black 'sarcophagus'.  A lot more could probably be read into this Chapter with a bit more time and thought.

The idea that the Fanim would be happy to agree to let the Holy War get all the way to Shimeh doesn't really make sense.  And if they were, why spend all that time and effort fighting it before it gets there?  There's shades of the Ordeal going to Golgotterath here as well.

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 6
« on: May 16, 2018, 07:08:01 pm »
That's a great post, ThoughtsOfThelli :)

Also, it's kind of strange that he only has eight wives but close to 40 children. That does round up to about 5 children per wife, which is not implausible in the least, but for some reason I just had the feeling he'd have more wives.

His kids are not necessarily all legitimate?  Does he have slaves and/ or concubines?

MoŽnghus plays SkiŲtha perfectly. Like Conphas, he dares interfere with the sacred and static Scylvendi tradition, and uses that to manipulate them.

It doesn't really scan that if the Scylvendi are as predictable as Conphas says they are that no-one else other than him and Moenghus has been able to get one over on them.  You would think that any Nansur general worth his salt would spend time studying the Scylvendi.

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The Unholy Consult / Re: Influences on TSA
« on: May 16, 2018, 06:51:13 pm »
In some of his early interviews, Bakker used to talk a lot about being inspired by writer called Harold Lamb https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Lamb, and in particular one of his books called Iron Men and Saints.

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The Unholy Consult / Re: Influences on TSA
« on: May 16, 2018, 06:49:14 pm »
Quote from:  ThoughtsofThelli
I see, I haven't read any of her work so I wouldn't know. "Slog" is not that uncommon a term, but since she is a TSA fan it could very well be a reference.

Oh a definite reference, as she asked on rhe Facebook page how we as fans would feel about her using it. All liked the idea. I believe there is a "Slog" in Blood Meridian, though I can't confirm since I haven't read it.

I just finished reading The Court of Broken Knives https://www.amazon.co.uk/Court-Broken-Knives-Empires-Dust/dp/0008204063.  Nothing jumped out at me as being specifically TSA inspired.

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 5
« on: May 13, 2018, 06:10:26 pm »
We learn that human sacrifice is a thing - victims are burnt in the Cmiral when Calmemunis arrives in Momemn.  The Nansur at least also seem to be quite heavily into the reading of omens and astrology.  Fantasy Christendom this is not - despite the analogues to the Pope, the Bible and the Crusades and suggested in Part 1.  Clever and subtle world building - one of the great strengths of PON

To be fair, not everything has to be a 1:1 equivalent between real life cultures/religions/etc. and TSA ones, but yes, there is much more to the Nansur Empire that you'd think on a first read, that's for sure. Passages like this are easily overlooked. And I absolutely agree about the worldbuilding.

I didn't mean that there should be a 1:1 equivalent - that's bad worldbuilding in my opinion.  The way things are set out seems intended to imply that the Inrithi are similar to medieval Christian Europe - i.e. they are 'us', and 'the good guys'.  Things like the passing reference to human sacrifice reminds us that we are mistaken, and probably making assumptions based on our inherent biases.  Hence, my statement about it being both clever and subtle.

There is nothing as yet to imply the presence of skin-spies.  Are the Nansur being manipulated, and by whom?  Skeaos and Cememketri seme to think that the Nansur own, or can posses the Holy War, which is an interesting pointer to later events, in both the delusions of the Ikurei and the fact that someone does indeed end up possessing the Holy War.

I'll disagree on the fact that there is nothing to imply the presence of skin-spies in this chapter - there are quite a few hints that can be used as evidence for both SkeaŲs and Istriya being skin-spies at this point in time.

I take your point.  The hints are less blatant than in Part 1 one though - I imagine deliberately, so that people don't start working too much out ;).

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 5
« on: May 09, 2018, 07:01:18 pm »
I think Xerias appears to be far less than he is, actually. Its kind of a complex thing, but he demands everyone think he is strong, which makes him appear weak and overbearing. In reality though, he proves himself to be extremely shrewd, though the way things are written makes it seem like a double-bluff, making the reader want to prescribe his accomplishments as happenstance and luck.

He's certainly intelligent and perceptive.  That's clear from his POV in this chapter.  He seems pretty insecure, which probably taints our perceptions of him, and we are getting his thoughts rather than other peoples.

The Ikurei (or at least Xerias and Conphas) are extremely strong contenders in Earwa, and knowing what they are up against makes them all the more impressive. If not for the Dunyain, Xerias and Conphas would have come very nearly to completing the first part of the Thousandfold Thought, uniting humanity under one banner and religion. The two of them might actually have done if in less time, given that they didn't have to forcefully conquer and convert the entire world to a new religion, merely half, and both halves were already poised to be on their side.

Not sure about this one.  The Holy War is a Dunyain conditioned event, as we later find out.  Neither Xerius nor Conphas would have been in any position to do anything without Moenghus and Maithanet setting it up, and it would surely have failed without Kellhus.

More generally, I can see alot of parallels between Xerius and Conphas in PON, with Kellhus in TAE.  Men who think they are gods trying to rule the world, and ultimately failing spectacularly at the end.

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 5
« on: May 08, 2018, 07:12:38 pm »
Part 2 of the book = new characters. 
It seems to me there is a contrast between the rather self-serving and self-interested realpolitik of Xerius (and Skauras), and the far more altruistic aims of Achamian and Inrau in the previous section.

We learn that human sacrifice is a thing - victims are burnt in the Cmiral when Calmemunis arrives in Momemn.  The Nansur at least also seem to be quite heavily into the reading of omens and astrology.  Fantasy Christendom this is not - despite the analogues to the Pope, the Bible and the Crusades and suggested in Part 1.  Clever and subtle world building - one of the great strengths of PON

Xerius seems a slightly pathetic figure.  He is addressed as 'god-of-men', and describes himself as "the face of one divine emperor" in order to try and claim the various provinces of Kian for himself.  He is of course not divine, and looks ludicrous given the existence of the Holy War, and religious element in Sumna which we have seen in Part 1.  No-one looks him in the eye and therefore he doesn't know any of them - quite sad.  His own mother very evidently prefers her grandson to her son.  His chief advisors show so little respect that they start bickering amongst themeselves in front of the Kianene envoy.  His imperial intelligence is shown to be lacking when Skauras reveals to him that Maithanet has enlisted the Scarlet Spires.

In this chapter he gets shitted on by what he says are his own birds.  We have of course seen a 'bird' at the end of Part 1, and we know from later in their series that the Consult are very deeply entrenched in the highest levels of the Nansurium.  There is nothing as yet to imply the presence of skin-spies.  Are the Nansur being manipulated, and by whom?  Skeaos and Cememketri seme to think that the Nansur own, or can posses the Holy War, which is an interesting pointer to later events, in both the delusions of the Ikurei and the fact that someone does indeed end up possessing the Holy War.

Xerius as a character, seems to reflect the status of his Empire quite nicely.  The Empire is far less important than its leaders might think, and is under the clear threat of being wiped out by its enemies north and south, with Maithanet as a further factor whose interests are not necessarily aligned with those of the Ikurei.

We learn of the Scylvendi as the People of War - some sort of unvanquishable horde, who will inevitably ride into town and cause havok.  The very fact that Xerius has sent an army north to fight them, seems doomed to failure in the eyes of both Istriya and Skauras.

We also get some reinforcement of what we start to learn in Part 1.  People are shit-scared of the Cishaurim.
And so Mallahet turns up. He is the number two Cishaurim, and it strongly implied that he would be number one if he were of the right ethnicity.  He is described as shockingly pale, and Xerius recollects that he is said have arms scarred like a Scylvendi. 
From various things we learn in subsequent chapters, this is essentially a big flashing sign telling us who Mallahet actually is, and as we know that Maithanet is 'pale as a Norsirai' and arrived from Kian himself, also gives some pointers as to what the new Shriah is all about.  However, as far as I can remember, Mallahet is barely mentioned after this chapter, and hence this clearly very powerful actor falls out of our minds - I know I didn't pick upon on who he was until the in-text reveal.

Closing point from Xerius "everything now hinged on his nephew far to the north".  Who is Conphas and what is he doing?

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 4
« on: May 05, 2018, 08:11:34 pm »
That's a pretty good call.  And seems better than Inrau actually finding info about Maithanet.

Really sorry if I led you to believe something that isn't actually there in the text, like I told H above, I might have been misremembering.

You haven't mislead me and you don't have to apologise for anything. :)

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 4
« on: May 04, 2018, 07:11:25 pm »
I genuinely have never picked up on this before. :(  Whatever he did find, he gave his life to prevent the Consult getting hold of it.

I think that the general consensus is that there was something he found and he's not just thinking of Maithanet likely not being what he seems. Unless I'm having a "Mandela effect" moment here like DoraVee did in the previous chapter...
He certainly did. :(

There isn't any direct implication that he found anything though...it certainly only seems, by what is said, that he arrives at the Temple and make no mention of having been anywhere else.

I think the "final revelation" is that Maithanet, at the very least, is not quite what he seems, which is devesating to Inrau because he had absolute faith in him.  The thing that the Mandate taught him, that he wishes he could forget, is doubt.  What confuses the scene, of course, is the building up on the possibility of Maithanet's Consult allegiance.  So, the scene is deliberately vague to build the idea that the Consult is behind it all.  That is only ratified by the end of the scene with Aurang attempting to interrogate him.  But, we know full well there is no Consult involvement, we know Inrau didn't really know anything more than what he learned from Akka.

Inrau dies to not expose what he knew about Akka.  That's why he repeats "any price" before jumping, earlier he says that what Akka did, in allowing him out of the Mandate was worth "any price."  Dying was his repayment to Akka, knowing that Aurang would get the information out of him somehow if he didn't.

That's a pretty good call.  And seems better than Inrau actually finding info about Maithanet.

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 4
« on: May 03, 2018, 08:06:30 pm »
The head on a pole makes an appearance here, in the form of the goddess Onkis.  What she is the goddess of, we do not learn.  Note the use of the specific phrase "she came before him" - as the place where his thoughts arise

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 4
« on: May 03, 2018, 08:04:15 pm »
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Inrau lowered his face, tried to grimace away his weeping. If only he could forget. If only . . .
The Shriah. But how could it be?
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Please! Let me forget this!
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If he could only have forgotten . . . forgotten what the Mandate had taught him. If he could've done that, then this last heartbreaking revelation would have been meaningless to him. If only Achamian had not come. The price was too high.

Okay, so this is where I am a little confused. I remember it being mentioned in earlier discussions that this points to Inrau having found something incriminating in Maithanet's apartments, right? (The first time I read this, it didn't even register.) I suppose it's not just the fact that Akka and Esmenet have pointed out to him that there is something suspicious going on with Maithanet.

I genuinely have never picked up on this before. :(  Whatever he did find, he gave his life to prevent the Consult getting hold of it.

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTCB Chapter 4
« on: May 02, 2018, 08:04:57 pm »
So, the end of Part One of Book One, which ends with a mini-resolution. The Consult do exist, and they are in Sumna.

Maithanet has some way of knowing that the Cishaurim are at war with the Scarlet Spires.  Of course we know what this is, having read later volumes, but right now there is the suggestion that he could be Consult.  He is "too canny to be what he seems".  Are 'men' being deceived, as per the epigraph?

We also learn that the Psukhe does not leave a mark like other sorcery - Sasheoka could not distinguish "the works of the Cishaurim from the works of the God .  The God, and not Gods - what is the distinction?  We later learn that the Psukhe is driven by emotion rather than intellect (as far as I can remember).

First Esmenet POV - she loves Akka, and we find out why.  He lifts off the 'roof of her life' and "sun and world would come pouring in".  Inrau also loves Akka - loves him enough to "pay any price".  Why?  Akka is a giver.

In joining the Thousand Temples, Inrau has "gained everything.  Faith for knowledge, wisdom for cunning, heart for intellect".  More on the theme of reason versus emotion. Is Inrau manipulated by Akka, or is their relationship less cynical?  The way the text is worded (and previous Akka POV though re. Inrau) would suggest the latter, especially when contrasted with the Holy War and the opinions of the various Mandati (inc. Akka) about Maithanet.

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The Almanac: PON Edition / Re: ARC: TDTDCB Chapter 3
« on: April 29, 2018, 11:53:44 am »
BFK's ARC: TDTCB, Chapter Three
Then, the scene in the tavern with Achamian, Inrau and Sarcellus. TheCulminatingApe thinks that Sarcellus = Consult is strongly hinted here. The hints are very subtle:
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The man [Sarcellus] between them, his face slack with upper-caste arrogance, met Achamian's eyes and nodded.
and
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The white of his elaborate tunic seemed to shrug off every shadow, but for some reason, his face did not. [italics added]
and finally
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Sarcellus smiled, but his large brown eyes remained curiously dead.
Just enough to plant some unease.

I was actually thinking of the bit after Sarcellus beats Akka up, and then whispers to him - something like "how I've longed to do that, pig" - seems over the top for the common or garden meathead, and suggests there is more going on than just Sarcellus being a bully who randomly batters people for a laugh. 
But yes, the stuff about his face and eyes do point skin-spy-wards, given what we later find out

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