The Slog TDTCB - Part Two: The Emperor [Spoilers]

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morkypep

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« Reply #30 on: December 14, 2015, 06:25:08 pm »
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His uncle was like those uncommon drunks who slurred and staggered day after day yet became lethally alert when confronted by danger.

Conphas pretty much nails Xerius character in one sentence. So many times you realize that all of the emperors plans and opinions are based off someone else's (mostly Skeos). Clearly he is an idiot and doesn't know what he is doing, but then he will show a slight sliver of political prowess; like his plan with the Vulgar Holy War.

This is what I find truly interesting about the character. In many other series you will see stupid characters that are unequivocally stupid, with no redeeming moments. People in real life aren't that black and white, which makes this character more realistic. I like him. I wish we got to see more of him in the subsequent novels.

Also I love this scene where Conphas is contemplating murdering Xerius right then and there, and somehow Xerius(Skeos) anticipated this and disguised the Eothic guard as Conphas's soldiers. Awesome reveal. 

morkypep

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« Reply #31 on: December 14, 2015, 06:28:02 pm »
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“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me, and it goes no further. I am your end, your utter obliteration!”

Sometimes I forget how brutal this series can be...

P.S. Cnaiur is awesome !

Wilshire

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« Reply #32 on: December 14, 2015, 06:32:06 pm »
I give him far more credit than this. He came up with many great plans and Skeos , and/or the thing called Skeos, opposed him much of the way. Like his brilliant nephew, he exhibits moments of great brilliance, though his is tainted with more arrogance and the exesses of an emporer. Without the Dunyain machinations, the Ikurei family would have dominated the holy war in spite of the Consult working in direct oposition.



I love that speech. Gave me chills when I read it this time around, and this is my forth read of tdtcb.
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morkypep

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« Reply #33 on: December 14, 2015, 06:51:24 pm »
I give him far more credit than this. He came up with many great plans and Skeos , and/or the thing called Skeos, opposed him much of the way.

What other plans does he come up with on his own ? I guess it was his idea to form a treaty with Shigek. Most of the time you see him accepting his counselors ideas and acting like they are his own, which is like you said, the arrogance of being emperor.

Wilshire

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« Reply #34 on: December 14, 2015, 07:32:47 pm »
Really his whole plan to engineer the defeat of the holy war at shimeh is brilliant. First the bid to desteoy the scylvendi so that they can later not worry about their norther boarder. Then the Indenture, then replcing cophas's guard to prevent assassination. Then the vulgar holy war, forcing Maithanet to accept Conphas and thus the indenture. The deal with Shigek, his deals with other cities along the way to raise his standard before defeat. Then the desert, forcing the war to march without water, weakening them. Then the fleet showing up to crush what remained of the Inrithi at the gates of Shimeh.

The whole plan is utterly brilliant and even despite all that comes after, nearly successful, vying against not only  2 dunyain and a half blood, but also against the consult.

He outsmarted nearly everyone in the game. Yes, his servers help him through specific encounters, but I think he shows far, far more depth than and unwitting simpleton emperor.

Maybe your opinion will change as you read it again. I know I felt like he was hapless on my initial read. But, maybe not. As you say he gets help along the way, and it's hard to say exactly what was or wasn't his own idea.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 07:35:46 pm by Wilshire »
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MSJ

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« Reply #35 on: December 14, 2015, 08:53:39 pm »
Maybe your opinion will change as you read it again. I know I felt like he was hapless on my initial read. But, maybe not. As you say he gets help along the way, and it's hard to say exactly what was or wasn't his own idea.

Right, but does it really matter if it was his idea or not? Nothing goes on without his consent. Also, the replacing of Conphas's soldiers was his idea, and the treachery he engineers with Skauras was all his idea and anything you mentioned post the unmasking of Skeaös. Xerius is brillant, it just takes a reread, or two to notice it.

ETA: welcome morkypep, never feel uncomfortable to voice your opinion, new perspectives are always great to read.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 08:55:31 pm by MSJ »
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

morkypep

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« Reply #36 on: December 15, 2015, 02:16:48 am »
Right, but does it really matter if it was his idea or not? Nothing goes on without his consent. Also, the replacing of Conphas's soldiers was his idea,

Actually, i think the soldier swap might have been Skeos:

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Especially after the farce at the Forum the previous day. Xerius needed only to glimpse at his nephew’s face to know that Skeaös had been right. There had been murder in Conphas’s eyes.

But I think your right, it doesn't really matter who comes up with the ideas, Xerius is still able to recognize a good idea when he hears one. This is why the re-read has been so enjoyable so far. My impression of Xerius going into the re-read was that he was a dimwitted fool. How wrong I was !

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« Reply #37 on: December 16, 2015, 12:23:51 am »
Really his whole plan to engineer the defeat of the holy war at shimeh is brilliant. First the bid to desteoy the scylvendi so that they can later not worry about their norther boarder. Then the Indenture, then replcing cophas's guard to prevent assassination. Then the vulgar holy war, forcing Maithanet to accept Conphas and thus the indenture. The deal with Shigek, his deals with other cities along the way to raise his standard before defeat. Then the desert, forcing the war to march without water, weakening them. Then the fleet showing up to crush what remained of the Inrithi at the gates of Shimeh.

The whole plan is utterly brilliant and even despite all that comes after, nearly successful, vying against not only  2 dunyain and a half blood, but also against the consult.

He outsmarted nearly everyone in the game. Yes, his servers help him through specific encounters, but I think he shows far, far more depth than and unwitting simpleton emperor.

Maybe your opinion will change as you read it again. I know I felt like he was hapless on my initial read. But, maybe not. As you say he gets help along the way, and it's hard to say exactly what was or wasn't his own idea.

This. I really enjoy political fantasy - see, The Grand Design, which I regularly cite as one of the best fantasy titles I've ever read. And "politicking" is nearly absent from the rest of the series (excepting Kelmomas and the awesomeness that is Esmenet confronting Maithanet in WLW), which with TWP becomes a war narrative. The whole Xerius/Maithanet conflict is what makes me love TDTCB so much; not too mention the rest of the stellar going-ons among the cast.

Aside, for my money, I'd bet that Skeaos and Istriya have been skin-spies since before their introduction to the reader. They wouldn't pretend to be more familiar with each other, which would be out of character regardless, because Aurang has barred contact between agents, as when Sarcellus the First is admonished for contacting the skin-spy assigned to watch Achamian in the Holy War's encampment about Momemn so that he can tell Esmenet he used "his sources" to find where Achamian camped. Note, after Conphas has returned and they float on the pleasure barge to see Xerius' new monument, Xerius is annoyed that Skeaos and Istriya agree about wanting him to commit to taking Shimeh - as they don't usually agree with each other otherwise - rather than recognizing the genius of how Xerius' bargain with the heathen restores the historic Empire.
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Wilshire

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« Reply #38 on: December 16, 2015, 07:04:29 pm »
I wasnt a fan of the politicing at all. It really slowed the book down imo. Could have done without much of the emperor section, though it's far more lively on a reread.
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Bolivar

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« Reply #39 on: December 21, 2015, 10:45:58 pm »
Hey guys I wanted to revisit this before we moved on, since the question of Skeaos' replacement led into a pretty big question in my mind.

I definitely think he's been replaced the whole time. The first occurrence where he does something uncharacteristic appears at the end of the first Emperor chapter during the meeting with Mallahet:

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“Impossible!”Skeaös spat.

Xerius whirled to face the  old Counsel, stunned by his audacity.

“What’s this now, Ikurei? You let your dogs howl at your table?”

Xerius knew he should be outraged, but such an outburst from Skeaös was . . . unprecedented.

“But he lies, God-of-Men!” Skeaös cried. “This is a heathen trick, meant to extort concessions—”

What's more important to me is why he slipped and made the outburst. As we know, the Skin Spies endeavor to support the Holy War and Skeaös is no different. The original plan for the Indenture was to stall the early arrivals from marching too soon. Maithanet, knowing the Nansurium was doomed, chose Momemn as the staging ground hoping the Emperor would make such a play. Xerius confirms this to Istriya when she chastises him for antagonizing the Shriah:

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He knows as well as we that these Men of the Tusk are fools, that they think the God himself has ordained the overthrow of the heathen. If I provide Calmemunis with everything he requests, he’d march in a fortnight, certain that he could destroy the Fanim with his paltry household alone. Maithanet will mime outrage, of course, but he’ll secretly applaud what I do, knowing it’ll purchase the Holy War the time it needs to gather. Why else do you think he commanded it gather about Momemn rather than Sumna? Aside from taxing my purse, he knew I would do this.”

The axis of his plot turns on the assumption that eventually, Maithanet must instruct the Great Names to sign the Indenture, as he inevitably needs the Imperial Saik. He reveals this assumption when replying to Skaurus early in the parley:

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But none of this makes Maithanet’s Holy War your instrument. You hold no hammer above us.”

“But I do, Skauras. The Men of the Tusk know nothing of your people—even less than Maithanet. Once they understand they war not only against you but against your Cishaurim, the leaders of the Holy War will sign my Indenture. The Holy War requires a School, and that School happens to be mine.”

Of course, Maithanet has subverted this plan by enlisting the Scarlet Spires. So long as Xerius is kept in the dark, Maithanet reaps the benefit of the Indenture without having to pay for it. It's a brilliant maneuver, until Skaurus leaks the secret to Xerius, prompting the uncharacteristic outburst of the Skin Spy:

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“Even we know more of your accursed Shriah’s plans than you.”

Xerius glanced at Skeaös’s face, saw concern rather than calculation furrow his crinkled features. What was happening?

The way the outburst is described, it sounds like the thing called Skeaös knew about the Scarlet Spires and had been misleading Xerius, to set up the win-win for Maithanet. When the secret is out, Xerius shifts his plot to a darker course, first sacrificing the Vulgar Holy War as an example so Conphas can play the indispensable role originally meant for the Saik, then to eventually betray the Holy War somewhere before Shimeh. This is very much not what the Consult intended, hence the turning point where Skeaös is no longer supporting the plot and is actively trying to talk him out of it.

**********************

I know that was pretty long winded but if you followed this far, this is where the question comes up. Xerius prides himself for finally coming up with something entirely on his own. Which should be a giant red flag for rereaders, as the most powerful tool in the Dunyain's arsenal of manipulation is making someone think that an idea was their own. Xerius never would have shifted his plan if it weren't for Skaurus, and it's very likely that Skaurus'  parley would have never taken place were it not premeditated by Moenghus.

My question is this: why would Moenghus intentionally undermine the Holy War so much? Whether the Vulgar Holy War would have been more of a liability, it was nonetheless half their strength, it was such a loss that the Skin Spies were doing everything they could to prevent it from happening. Not to mention, if the Ikurei plot came to fruition, the Holy War would have been sabotaged before reaching Shimeh. If we didn't know better, it almost seems like Moenghus was working for his own self-preservation, manipulating the Padiraja to cede half his empire so that he and the Cishaurim could survive. Why?

My only guess is that this was calculated to provide Kellhus and Cnaiur opportunities to seize the Holy War - first on the issue of the Indenture, then in thwarting the plot to betray the Holy War in the Carathay or after Caraskand. I'm interested in knowing what you guys think, even if you think I'm reading too much into it!
« Last Edit: December 21, 2015, 10:53:14 pm by Bolivar »

MSJ

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« Reply #40 on: December 21, 2015, 10:56:21 pm »
Great post Bolivar! I like the idea that the Vulgar Holy war was really Moe's plan, nifty. But, as you said, what does that accomplish for Moe's plan? The only thing I could even think of is buying more time for Kellhus and Cnaüir. Great catch on Skeaös, it does seem as if he is already a Skin-Spy there. I thought there was some other hints also before that, I don't have time to look them up.
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

locke

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« Reply #41 on: December 22, 2015, 07:29:24 am »
Bolivar, awesome.  Moenghus would have been aware of a skin spy and would have specifically goaded the skin spy verbally to trigger the outburst.

I've never really questioned that skeos was always a skin spy, Istriya less so, but I always figured skeos for one for long before the events of the novel.

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« Reply #42 on: December 22, 2015, 03:53:59 pm »
Quick question, it may have been addressed somewhere else but if it has I can't recall it. How does Moe recognize skin-spies? I might be mistaken but I thought the explanation for Kellhus recognizing them is more or less that he physically sees them, that they form a simulacrum of a face that is incongruous with everything he has been taught and that difference betrays them. But how does Moe recognize them with his eyes put out? I wouldn't doubt that he knew Skaeos was a skin-spy from espionage and intellect, but can he recognize a new one? Can he perceive the absence of a soul much the way the Few perceive the bruising of the Onta? 

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« Reply #43 on: December 22, 2015, 09:08:32 pm »
I just read this during Kellhus and Moe's exchange. Kellhus tells Moe that Moe found the skin-spy's through discrepancies in the voice. Now, Moe says nothing back so I'm assuming Kellhus guessed right. Who knows though?
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

locke

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« Reply #44 on: December 23, 2015, 12:04:18 am »
Quick question, it may have been addressed somewhere else but if it has I can't recall it. How does Moe recognize skin-spies? I might be mistaken but I thought the explanation for Kellhus recognizing them is more or less that he physically sees them, that they form a simulacrum of a face that is incongruous with everything he has been taught and that difference betrays them. But how does Moe recognize them with his eyes put out? I wouldn't doubt that he knew Skaeos was a skin-spy from espionage and intellect, but can he recognize a new one? Can he perceive the absence of a soul much the way the Few perceive the bruising of the Onta?
Quick answer is that moe didn't blind himself until the encounter with kellhus