[TUC Spoilers]Deus Ex Machina - Implausibilities - Running out of Steam

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panorama

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« on: July 26, 2017, 10:28:03 pm »
This is my first post and I didn't think it would be one where I vented my spleen considering I thought Bakker was one of the greatest writers of fantasy of all time. TUC dispelled that belief.

1) I never thought I would see a Deus Ex Machina (god in the machine) used by Bakker to conclude a book. There was literally a God (No-God) in the Machine (Carapace which was described by the Dunyain as a prostheses for Ark). Notwithstanding the other God that shows up (Ajokli) with no set up.

2) Serwa described the Consult as possessing no more ferocious souls in existence, save her Father. We see Aurang taken out within a couple of paragraphs (Kellhus' battle with Meppa was more fulsome). Aurax seemed like a beaten dog (don't know if he was always like that or just beaten into submission by the Dunyain). Mekeritrig was knocked out instantly by a magic lasso. Shauriatas was written out of the story with a sentence. The conclusion of the book felt like things just ran out of steam. Perhaps if half the book wasn't spent describing sodomy, rape, cannibalism, necrophilia, and general leper licking and other fun acts, there could have been more emphasis placed on a more refined conclusion.

3) Speaking of Shauriatas: he was the Archidemu of the Cunning School, took out Titirga through trickery (the legendary Hero-Mage who was possibly the most powerful sorcerer ever before Kellhus), Cheater of the Gods, figured out a way to penetrate the Artisan's glamour, overall evil genius par excellence, etc. And he didn't even make an appearance because he was taken out off-camera because they were dumb enough to bring, not one, but five Dunyain into their keep.

4) Speaking of the Dunyain, the Consult had a healthy wariness of them considering, you know, everything that Moeghus and Kellhus were able to achieve, being provided with intel by Cnaur, and probably having access to Achamanian's unauthorized biography. Kellhus, when Aurang possessed Esmenet, saw that they FEARED him because he represented something new to their hoary souls. Heck they went through the trouble of finding and destroying Ishual. I find it beyond implausible that they would bring 5 of them to Golgotterath to brainwash them to their side.

5) It also seemed somewhat silly that the Consult, considering how smart they were, couldn't figure out how to activate the No-God. You'd think they would just refer to the last and only time they were able to activate it...you know the time they tossed Nau-Cayuti in, and extrapolate from there. Guess they should have kept better notes.

6) Then there was the question that has been lingering since The Judging Eye - what would Mimara see if she looked at Kellhus with the Judging Eye (seemed that was the whole point of Mimara and Acha's journey). Nope, that didn't happen did it? Conveniently, we get a sentence describing how the Eye just wouldn't open.

7) Then there are things that just seem to break all the rules of this universe with no explanation e.g. Kelmomas apparently able to disrupt or outright banish the Gods from the world, e.g. Yatwer's White-Luck and exorcising Ajokli out of Kellhus by standing in front of him. Right.

8) Then there are the general things that we probably won't ever get an answer for, which leads to the question, why were they even there to begin with, eg. somebody commissioning Kosoter to keep an eye on Acha during the Prelude of the Judging Eye, why the heck was there an eyeball in that Scalper's heart down in the Mansion, etc.

I don't think I'll read the next two books. Time to cut my losses.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 10:10:11 am by H »

ThoughtsOfThelli

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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2017, 11:30:45 pm »
First of all, welcome to the forum. :)

While I still found many things to enjoy in TUC despite the disappointments, I can understand where you're coming from. All the ambiguity in this last book can be quite confusing, especially for people (like myself) who haven't reread the whole series several times. Not sure if that is your situation too.

1) I never thought I would see a Deus Ex Machina (god in the machine) used by Bakker to conclude a book. There was literally a God (No-God) in the Machine (Carapace which was described by the Dunyain as a prostheses for Ark). Notwithstanding the other God that shows up (Ajokli) with no set up.

Well, the return of the No-God had been present as a possibility ever since TDTCB, with the existence of the Mandate, the Celmomian prophecy, etc. Opinions may vary if it was properly foreshadowed throughout the series (particularly in the more recent books), but if you look carefully, it's there. I'm currently rereading the series for the first time and I've already noticed quite a bit of foreshadowing concerning the No-God in PON alone.


2) Serwa described the Consult as possessing no more ferocious souls in existence, save her Father. We see Aurang taken out within a couple of paragraphs (Kellhus' battle with Meppa was more fulsome). Aurax seemed like a beaten dog (don't know if he was always like that or just beaten into submission by the Dunyain). Mekeritrig was knocked out instantly by a magic lasso. Shauriatas was written out of the story with a sentence. The conclusion of the book felt like things just ran out of steam. Perhaps if half the book wasn't spent describing sodomy, rape, cannibalism, necrophilia, and general leper licking and other fun acts, there could have been more emphasis placed on a more refined conclusion.

3) Speaking of Shauriatas: he was the Archidemu of the Cunning School, took out Titirga through trickery (the legendary Hero-Mage who was possibly the most powerful sorcerer ever before Kellhus), Cheater of the Gods, figured out a way to penetrate the Artisan's glamour, overall evil genius par excellence, etc. And he didn't even make an appearance because he was taken out off-camera because they were dumb enough to bring, not one, but five Dunyain into their keep.

4) Speaking of the Dunyain, the Consult had a healthy wariness of them considering, you know, everything that Moeghus and Kellhus were able to achieve, being provided with intel by Cnaur, and probably having access to Achamanian's unauthorized biography. Kellhus, when Aurang possessed Esmenet, saw that they FEARED him because he represented something new to their hoary souls. Heck they went through the trouble of finding and destroying Ishual. I find it beyond implausible that they would bring 5 of them to Golgotterath to brainwash them to their side.

I absolutely agreed right after finishing TUC, but I've had some time to think about it afterwards and it seems fitting to me that the Dnyain took the Consult over. It's still a shame that Shauriatas died offscreen, and that Mekeritrig died so easily, I really think that was a waste of both characters (especially Shauriatas, since Mekeritrig did get that short scene at the beginning of TDTCB). I don't feel so strongly about Aurang because we got to see him as a character plenty of times before this (again, it's a matter of opinion here). Aurax, well, it's not like we knew him prior to TUC - who's to say his current state was just caused by the Dnyain? His mind and personality might have been deteriorating for a long time and there's no evidence to say otherwise.
I believe the reason they ultimately underestimated the Dnyain despite their wariness of Monghus and Kellhus in PON was their pride. They still believed themselves powerful enough to overcome the threat of the Dnyain, and so they didn't completely exterminate them and brought those five as prisoners to Golgotterath. Probably hoping to debase and demean them with torture, rape, etc. to show them (and themselves) that the Dnyain weren't so mighty after all, that no matter what Monghus and Kellhus might have done out in the world, the Consult was still able to deal with the Dnyain. And in that they were undone.
As for the Great Ordeal sinking into depravity further and further: I agree with you, that part of the book should have been shorter. No need to fully remove it, just trim it down a little.


5) It also seemed somewhat silly that the Consult, considering how smart they were, couldn't figure out how to activate the No-God. You'd think they would just refer to the last and only time they were able to activate it...you know the time they tossed Nau-Cayuti in, and extrapolate from there. Guess they should have kept better notes.

I'm still unsure what to think about this. We really doesn't know how exactly the whole process works. It could be much more complicated than it seems, they could have thrown in more people along with Nau-Cayti and weren't able to work out the variables, etc. Even if they did figure it out and what was needed was indeed a person of Anasrimbor blood (and we don't know this for sure), who would they have used after Celmomas died? There was no way they could have known about Ishul, and as far as the rest of the world knew, the Anasrimbor line ended with Ganrelka.
Of course this doesn't justify not trying to get to Monghus/Kellhus after they learned of their existence 2000 years later, but like I said before, we're not sure how it works and I was going on about a speculation here (maybe someone who can explain this better will contribute their thoughts later).


6) Then there was the question that has been lingering since The Judging Eye - what would Mimara see if she looked at Kellhus with the Judging Eye (seemed that was the whole point of Mimara and Acha's journey). Nope, that didn't happen did it? Conveniently, we get a sentence describing how the Eye just wouldn't open.

Mimara has never been able to get the Judging Eye to open when she wants it to, it has always been involuntary since the beginning of TJE. And she ended up not being in close proximity to Kellhus for that long, anyway. When she lived in the Andiamine Heights, she rarely saw him. In TUC, she was taken away by Esmenet when she went into labour. By the time she gave birth Kellhus had already gone into the Ark. And if you remember, she and Achamian spent months travelling with the Skin Eaters and she saw them through the Judging Eye a total of...what, two, maybe three times? It may be convenient, yes, but not that convenient when thinking about it.

7) Then there are things that just seem to break all the rules of this universe with no explanation e.g. Kelmomas apparently able to disrupt or outright banish the Gods from the world, e.g. Yatwer's White-Luck and exorcising Ajokli out of Kellhus by standing in front of him. Right.

Like Mimara, Kelmomas has had his special abilities ever since TJE. It has been theorized in other threads that him becoming the No-God made it so he would always be so in the eyes of the Gods (as time is not linear to them), and therefore invisible (again, there are people who can explain this better than me). It worked with the White-Luck Warrior and Sorweel as well because they were agents of Yatwer.
I don't think he exorcised Ajokli exactly - Ajokli was blind to him, so Kellhus "switched back" to himself to see what was happening, as he couldn't as Ajokli.


8) Then there are the general things that we probably won't ever get an answer for, which leads to the question, why were they even there to begin with, eg. somebody commissioning Kosoter to keep an eye on Acha during the Prelude of the Judging Eye, why the heck was there an eyeball in that Scalper's heart down in the Mansion, etc.

I'm guessing the eye in the scalper's heart was a result of Cil-Aujas being a topos.
It's possible that we will never know if Achamian and Mimara's whole journey was being controlled by Kellhus from the beginning or not, it was one of those things left ambiguous. It could be that way, but it's still unclear why he wanted them to be there (unless you believe the theory that Kellhus was reincarnated as Mimara's baby).
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codebread

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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2017, 11:43:13 pm »
While I agree with you on many points, especially #2 (This one bothers me so much), you're mistaken on a few things. Maybe I can help ease your disappointment.

Notwithstanding the other God that shows up (Ajokli) with no set up.

Ajokli has been pretty involved since TJE. It wasn't very obvious, admittedly, but in retrospect a lot of the story involved him in one way or another.

7) Then there are things that just seem to break all the rules of this universe with no explanation e.g. Kelmomas apparently able to disrupt or outright banish the Gods from the world, e.g. Yatwer's White-Luck and exorcising Ajokli out of Kellhus by standing in front of him. Right.

This is because time works funny in TSA universe. The Gods exist outside of time, which means they don't really see things linearly. Kelmomas becomes the No-God, which means he's always the No-God from the perspective of the Gods. Since the Gods can't see the No-God, it means Kelmomas is invisible to them. Keep in mind this is only from "The Outside looking in" perspective... which is why the White-Luck and Ajokli can see Kelmomas when he stands in front of them physically. (I don't understand how Cnaiur can't see the Carapace though...) (Edit: I should add this is just my theory on it. The Cnaiur thing makes it a bit shaky)

Eh, overall, I agree. It was sloppy in a lot of places. I still enjoyed it a lot, but I was hoping for answers. I didn't receive many.

Lastly...

2) Serwa described the Consult as possessing no more ferocious souls in existence, save her Father. We see Aurang taken out within a couple of paragraphs (Kellhus' battle with Meppa was more fulsome). Aurax seemed like a beaten dog (don't know if he was always like that or just beaten into submission by the Dunyain). Mekeritrig was knocked out instantly by a magic lasso. Shauriatas was written out of the story with a sentence. The conclusion of the book felt like things just ran out of steam. Perhaps if half the book wasn't spent describing sodomy, rape, cannibalism, necrophilia, and general leper licking and other fun acts, there could have been more emphasis placed on a more refined conclusion.

I can't help but vent along with you on this. The story builds up these supremely powerful and evil antagonists, only to get rid of them within the span of a chapter or so. The entire attack on the Ark was underwhelming in my opinion. I really don't like that the main antagonists are the Dunyain now. Ah well.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2017, 11:44:44 pm by codebread »

Crtha

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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2017, 12:04:51 am »
I'm actually getting curious to know what various endings people were anticipating or would have preferred after the fact?
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Wolfdrop

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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2017, 12:17:32 am »
I was so excited to have Ishterebinth on the side of the Ordeal, and it go total War of the Last Alliance. Qya mages fighting alongside Gnostic Sorcerors, one of the Tall charging the Extrinsic Gate and strangling Bashrag.


The Tall don't even get a glossary entry...

Instead they were killed off screen, and like 3 Qya turn up but end up fighting the Mysunsai?

I actually thought Sorweel would become a genuine Believer-King and given his part-Nonman soul lead the Cnuroi contingent of the Ordeal.

I can't help but feeling that so many awesome things were set up but then just fizzled out rather than exploded.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 12:26:36 am by Wolfdrop »

Crtha

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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2017, 12:39:47 am »
After Ishteribinth I had realized just how pathetic the Nonmen had become, but yeah, prior to that I was hoping for a better showing from them too. And no Shauritas was sad.

Definitely dismayed by the way Sorweel went out. With you there.

But I must say, the whole thing seemed destined for a tragic end from the word go. And the return of the No-god was a given for me.

edit: I feel like these types of feelings and minor disappointments are par for the course on anything I read, but some people seem genuinely pissed off that their expectations have been thoroughly overturned. I'm reading a lot about what they didn't like but not a lot of examples of what type of ending they expected overall? e.g. Return of the King type ending, Last Argument of Kings perhaps? Idk.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 01:25:18 am by Crtha »
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2017, 01:18:33 am »
More thoughts tomorrow, my night is pretty used up but welcome to the Second Apocalypse, panorama.
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Dez

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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2017, 03:00:23 am »
I first read the series late last year/early this year and did a reread in anticipation of TUC and i think I came away at least as satisfied with TUC as I was with TTT.

 I really haven't waded into any fan discussions in the lead up so I wasn't really aware of the points of emphasis or prediction. So from my point of view disappointment over things like the nature of the Inchoroi and what we saw of known members of the Consult doesn't really strike me as much of a big deal. What did we ever really get in the narrative of Sheonanra other than that one look of a fragile contrivance? What would Mekeritrig be but a barely competent Eratic? And Aurax and Aurang seem to be the least of their race. To me it seemed perfectly logical that the Dunyain made hash of them, especially since the Dunyain seem to have arrived at the status of the the Inchoroi progenitors independently. To the extent that readers hope for an as yet unrevealed explanation to the great mystery in any narrative, I get why it's disappointing. But I think it's just difficult to deliver on that and it's not really unheard of for an author to make his first mystery also be integral to his last.

Akka's arc continuing to dwell on the nature of the Dunyain read as a built in red herring prior to TUC- what did it matter if they're dead and Kellhus might have abandoned their ways? As it turns out fathoming the Dunyain remained extremely important and will likely remain so since now Bakker has tied any questions about the Inchoroi to their makers and those makers have an analogue in the Dunsult.


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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2017, 07:40:55 am »
1) I never thought I would see a Deus Ex Machina (god in the machine) used by Bakker to conclude a book. There was literally a God (No-God) in the Machine (Carapace which was described by the Dunyain as a prostheses for Ark). Notwithstanding the other God that shows up (Ajokli) with no set up.

As others have said it was in some ways foreshadowed. I think some people will have the same reaction when Euron will become the Big Bad One in "The winds of winter" like "He's arrived mid-series, why is he so important now?". It depends on how deep you read the text, how many online discussions you followed etc.

Crtha

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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2017, 08:42:24 am »
Maybe the Unholy Consult can be likened to the Red Wedding or the Empire Strikes Back?
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Wilshire

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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2017, 10:51:09 am »
[edit]
Bakker specifically address the Dues Ex Machina question in his Reddit AMA
[/edit]


Great summary Dez

What did we ever really get in the narrative of Sheonanra other than that one look of a fragile contrivance?
What would Mekeritrig be but a barely competent Eratic?
And Aurax and Aurang seem to be the least of their race.
To me it seemed perfectly logical that the Dunyain made hash of them, especially since the Dunyain seem to have arrived at the status of the the Inchoroi progenitors independently.
To the extent that readers hope for an as yet unrevealed explanation to the great mystery in any narrative, I get why it's disappointing. But I think it's just difficult to deliver on that and it's not really unheard of for an author to make his first mystery also be integral to his last.

Akka's arc continuing to dwell on the nature of the Dunyain read as a built in red herring prior to TUC- what did it matter if they're dead and Kellhus might have abandoned their ways? As it turns out fathoming the Dunyain remained extremely important and will likely remain so since now Bakker has tied any questions about the Inchoroi to their makers and those makers have an analogue in the Dunsult.


These things, separated out into bulleted points, really demonstrate for me why TUC mirrors TTT and ends the series in exactly the way it was built up to be. To be surprised or disappointed I understand, but if you think about it briefly, this seems a unique, but obvious conclusion to the strange story.

If you could change any of those items, what would it be, and do you think that would really make the story better?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 04:43:02 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.

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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2017, 01:22:17 pm »
Instead they were killed off screen, and like 3 Qya turn up but end up fighting the Mysunsai?

As I admonished Wilshire, the Tall are all still in the Mere. One Tall, arguably the greatest, one who has devoured a thousand thousand swine contemplating Min-Uroikas, Oirunas surfaced from the Deep and triggered Ishterebinth's divided loyalties (which arguably the Lord of Swans et al. won because they did in fact show up to the Ordeal's aid, if that attempt did flounder fantastically).

edit: I feel like these types of feelings and minor disappointments are par for the course on anything I read, but some people seem genuinely pissed off that their expectations have been thoroughly overturned. I'm reading a lot about what they didn't like but not a lot of examples of what type of ending they expected overall? e.g. Return of the King type ending, Last Argument of Kings perhaps? Idk.

+1. Very confused fan here. But then I famously would have accepted TGO as the end of TAE ;).

I first read the series late last year/early this year and did a reread in anticipation of TUC and i think I came away at least as satisfied with TUC as I was with TTT.

For my reading, I'm with you here - still haven't read the canon artifact which I'm probably going to crack today. TUC essentially maps exactly to TTT and TWP (or its latter portion, at least) for me. I'm not really sure how people didn't expect the denouement (albeit in Bakker's now classic elliptical style).

Back to panorama, I'm not sure I can address your opening post better than has already been done. Mileage may vary, as the saying goes.

But I'm still glad you found your way to the forum. There are so many unique and interesting connections to make melding with the strange noosphere that is Second Apocalypse 8).
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 01:24:43 pm by Madness »
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2017, 01:25:06 pm »
Literally the whole point of the Great Ordeal is to destroy the Consult and stop the No-God from being reborn. That the No-God was reborn is not a Deus Ex Machina in my opinon. (Well, it's not in the literary sense at least. In the literally sense, yes.)

I also don't find it hard to believe that the Consult would take Dunyain prisoners. Clearly Kellhus has enormous power and understanding the root of that power would be a tremendous benefit when it comes to defeating him. And what is five prisoners chained up in the basement gonna do? We have all the science and magic in the world at our disposal, and you are worried about a couple of powerless prisoners? Absurd! Well, knowing the Dunyain and with the power of hindsight not so much...

I think there is a reason there was a whole storyline on how people found the existence of "thought-dancers" so hard to believe. The also showed us scenes in the previous books where the Consult underestimates Kellhus and what he is capable of. Hell, as a reader I have been in his head and I still ended underestimating him several times, even though it seemed obvious in hindsight.

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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2017, 01:30:08 pm »
As for Kelmomas affecting the gods, that is explained. He is the No-God, gods can't see him. Gods see the entire timeline, when the timeline changes, the gods change. If you surprise a god, that fundamentally changes that god and Kelmomas always surprises as he is invisible to them.

codebread

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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2017, 01:58:28 pm »
I'm actually getting curious to know what various endings people were anticipating or would have preferred after the fact?

I'm happy with the ending itself. In fact, I would have been pretty disappointed if the No-God hadn't been resurrected by the end. I just didn't really care for the way so much of the story seemed to fizzle out to make way for the twists at the end. Even still, as I was reading it, I was enjoying it. The Dunsult twist was the only part that I didn't much care for, but everything with Ajokli, Kelmomas, Kellhus' fate, etc. I was thoroughly enjoying. I just expected it to make sense in some way by the time the book ended, which it did not. Instead of seeing a climactic conclusion with the antagonists that have been built up for six books, they're killed off-screen or effortlessly and then nothing is explained. With the next series only being a possibility, it's pretty frustrating.