(TUC Spoilers) Thoughts on TUC

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Ciogli

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« on: July 28, 2017, 11:46:59 pm »
I read the book last week and since then I have digesting my thoughts on the book, at first just like with The Great Ordeal I did not know how I felt about the book. The density of all that is learned must be mulled over rather than simply spewing random words about my feelings. I have been struck by the seemingly mixed reaction to the book, I have thinking about why that is. For me it seems that people who have not liked the book have talked like this book was supposed to end things rather than being the cliffhanger ending that the author intended it to be. People have been saying things like why have they been reading the series all these years for this ending,  that it has all been a waste of their time. Like they were not reading because they liked the series but because they have invested so much time and now they want some kind of payoff for their efforts. RSB has said for years that The Unholy Consult is a sort of Gordian knot that would cinch all of Earwa’s plot threads into one thing.  The more that I have thought about the book the more that I have liked it, the more that I am starting to love it in fact and while The White Luck Warrior is my favorite this is a great book. For want of a better metaphor this book and the Aspect-Emperor series in general is the Empire strikes back part of the Second Apocalypse, a trilogy of trilogies. The first part in the Prince of Nothing the good guys prevail initially like Luke destroying the Death Star, but in the second part the bad guys up and deal a mighty blow to the good guys, Luke is maimed and is shattered by the revelation of Darth Vader as his father, Han Solo is captured and sent off, Lando betrays his friends. It is easily the darkest of those movies and this series is simply the second act where the bad guys appear to be triumphant over their enemies. If this was not the simply the end of the second act it would change the series but the ending is still to come.

One complaint I have seen is that the Mimara storyline and the Judging Eye have not meant anything to the story since she did nothing to Kellhuss or gaze on him with it. But I think that this is the wrong way to look at her story, she like everyone else thought the whole world hung upon Kellhuss and now that crutch has been kicked away. As I said this series is interconnected and her story is greater than simply her step father and his plans. In Mimara we saw the ascension of the first true prophet in an at least an age, maybe more if Fane or Sejenus  were not in fact prophets. She travels with the Eye of God within her and she will be pivotal in the next series. She also appears to have given birth to some kind of chosen one or savior since when she looked upon him the Eye went blind, indeed it may be the God of God’s has snuck into this world similar to Ajokli. In fact Akka mentions it in the Great Ordeal that he is in fact walking with the God of God’s when he is walking with her.

Now Esmenet’s story was always the most boring storyline in the Aspect Emperor series, the whole New Empire plot seemed to have no impact upon the wider world. But now it seems crucial to what is going to happen in the overall story arc. It now seems that little old Esmenet is just as important if not even more so than Kellhuss. It was she who gave birth to the newest prophet who will see the world in the time of the resurrected No-God and the grandchild who may be its ultimate savior. She also gave birth to the No-God itself, without her none of these greater events would seem to have happened. It was she who kept Akka in Sumna when he first encountered the Consult, that forced him to flee that place when he was told to follow the holy war by the Mandate, which in turn led him to Proyas and thence Kellhuss and Cnaiur. It was her love and then the snatching away of that love which forced Akka into exile and then her love which prevented his execution, and her stories about him which led Mimara to him thence her pregnancy and her journey to prophethood. And now the No-God itself is her youngest child who is half Dunyain and whose only true love is her, she freed him which led to his eventually becoming the No-God. Maybe being half Dunyain will make it smarter than last time but if that is true than maybe its love for Esmenet might still also come through.

The Moenghus storyline is also not so much about the Aspect-Emperor series but in fact the series that follows, the ultimate act of the Second Apocalypse series. Now you have a man who is in the son of both Kellhuss the aspect emperor and Cnauir the most violent of all men, born of one but raised by the other, finally his love for his Dunyain family is broken but he is still mostly sane and his love for humanity and for his father’s goals of stopping the second apocalypse are still there. Cnauir melded all of the Scylvendi into one during the twenty years he ruled the steppe, it would take a generation for the tribes to mature a generation of fighters and he stamped out all opposition who would challenge his rule and in fact the Scylvendi seem to have come to think of him as a sort of holy figure, a sort of dark inversion of Kellhuss himself. Now Moenghus controls and their terror of his father will see him through at first, but he is a mighty warrior in his own right already and he only need to be cunning and his position will become secure. He is now in control of the most vicious and yet committed army left in the armies of humans, the Scyvendi have been melded into a mighty spear and now they will fight for humanity this time. Moenghus is a descendant  the greatest Scylvendi heroe’s from Uthgai to Cnauir, and he also loves Esmenet as his mother so there will be cooperation with whoever is left in the Kellian Empire.

The journey of Mimara and Akka also had other fruits that have yet to ripen on the vine, the discovery of the descendants of Kellhuss in Ishual will have a wide ranging impact on the story. If the goal of the Dunyain is to breed each generation to the limit of their abilities so with each generation they get closer to the Absolute then it would stand to reason that since Kellhuss was a prodigy among the brethren and Koringhus astounded his teachers and the consensus seems that he was nearest the Absolute by the boy. Then it would stand to reason that the boy is even greater than both his father and his grandfather, the only reason that he was declared defective by the Assessor was because emotion had too much of his soul. Which for the Brethren meant that the Darkness had too much of him and he would be made into a captive in the Unmasking Room for others to study his darkness. Unlike all other Dunyain he was raised by a father who in his own stuttering way loved the boy, in fact he risked his life to bring into the labrynith and then risked more than all others to raise him, what they must have thought as the greatest scion of Ishual succumbed to such a strange darkness as paternal responsibility, but I guess they had their own problems at the time. Now he has been exposed to both the new prophet and a  gnostic sorcerer and he is running around the north, I believe the reason that he was not mentioned in this book was because that he is a seed for the final installments of this sees, a full Dunyain who has not banished all emotion and has even been raised by a father to the exclusion of most other Dunyain practices. It is not known if he is one of the Few, but either way I believe he will come to play a central role in the next series.

Another character that seemed to disappear from the last book was Meppa, the last Cishaurim who was not killed by Kellhuss. He was outside of the city when the quake hit and I doubt that he drowned on a flat plain where he was. Another seed for the next series to grow later on, he can feel the birth of the No-God  and can see the world in ways that no other human could during the last apocalypse. Now unmoored from the Fanim cause by the obvious truth of the second apocalypse, the world will need his ocean of water.

The Nonmen arc was another that was left hanging in the book, were the Quya who came to help the Ordeal the last of the race, or were they simply the fastest of the race who could get to the horns in time to help. Even now the wayward and the Intact will know of the No-God’s rebirth and so will unite to fight against it. The question now is how many of them still survive after the battle within the mountain. Only the Red Ghoul Sujara-Nin died in the attack and since they walk the sky they would presumably be able to outrun the horde if they went south instead of east like the Ordealmen.

Now Zeum like the Scyvendi has been a great unknown during this series, the largest single nation and the only one that has been left intact by the Great Ordeal and the Unification wars. Reading the appendices they were not involved in the last apocalypse, but now I think and Wert has said that RSB has said they will play a big role in the next series. An intact nation that has the arms and the sorcerous might to lead what is left of humanity in the dark days ahead. It will be cool to see the Mbimayu school and any other Zeumi school with their reliance on the Iswazi doctrine in the next series, they had only a single glimpse with Malowebi. Another great spear for humanity with which to fight the coming apocalypse.

Akka has no certain role in the next series, his age makes him likely to die, but he is like I think Cassandra the woman who in greek myth was cursed with always knowing the truth of what would happen but no one would ever believe her. His first appearance in the series is his dream of the disaster at Eleneot and the death of Celmommas, and now his last words in this series are the announcement of the resumption of the second apocalypse. Like with Proyas, in the last book there is the scene where Proyas is a boy who climbs a great tree only to lose his grip and the fall to earth is likely to kill only for Akka to show up and reach out his hand. But the stubborn boy will not take his hand out of spite and pride, saying that he would rather die than accept his help and risk his soul. And the boy drops before Akka’s eyes to the earth, breaking bones but not his head. Only later for him to scale the much greater and much more treacherous tree of Kellhuss and the Thousandfold Thought, Akka tried to save him from his clutches only for Proyas to cast him out in religious zeal thinking himself pious once again. This time he did not plummet ot earth but was cast into the Pit of Hell for all eternity and once again Akka could not save him. None of the Three Seas believed him when he tried to warn them of the apocalypse only for them to believe them when Kellhuss had grasped them, then when he spurned Kellhuss they again did not believe his claims. Even Mimara did not believe him until it was shown to her by the Eye of God within her. Now all the world will believe him when he says the second apocalypse has finally arrived.

I wonder about the identities of the Mutilated, I have always thought that the Anasurimbor’s were the sons of Finwe from the Silmarillion. Kellhuss was Feanor the greatest of all the elves in mind and body, who led the elves in their war against Morgoth and his northern fortress. He was killed by his own hubris and yet bid his children to continue the fight no matter the cost. I think that Maithanet is Fingolfin the second brother and the physically strongest of the brothers, it was said many times that Maitha was strong as a bull. I wondered if there was another brother left in Ishual who would be akin to Finarfin, the one brother who did not leave the Blessed Lands and that hope seemed to be dashed when we learned of the total destruction of Ishual and the Dunyain cult. Now I am not so sure, it would be great if one or mother of the Mutilated was in fact the brother of Kellhuss, and in fact they call him brother many times when they tried to subsume him. It may be what the Dunyain call each other in principle or it may be a clue, or even both. And it has been another contention of mine that Maitha probably has some children hidden in Sumna, it would make sense to have some insurance plans in place and since he was already half Dunyain the genetic bottleneck that his brother experienced would not be there for him, he had his own realm in Sumna as the Shriah and would have plenty of opportunity to prosecute his own plans, or maybe Kellhuss instructed him to spread his seed.

Now I do not think this was perfect, my two biggest complaints about this book were the crossing of the Field Appalling, and the destruction of the old Consult. It was a slog to get through the looming depravity that I could see coming when the Meat ran out, but it went on too long for my tastes. I was like the kid going to disneyland screaming to my parents are we there yet? The prospect of Golgotterath on the horizon and we are dealing with crazed sranc-men frustrated me, but he payoff was so much more the greater when they finally did battle. A naked Cet’ Ingira cursing the Ordealmen as fools was great, I just wish there was so much more of him. In this series I think we get a grand total of four scenes with him and two were at the end of this book. His encounter with Kellhuss outside Sobel, him torturing Seswatha on Dagliash in the beginning of TTT, and the gate scene then him in the Golden Room. That a my biggest disappointment with the book, the lack of the old Consult. They have been made out to be great for so long and then for them to be old destroyed in a flash. The Dunyain takeover was a great twist and the more I think on it will make the stakes o much higher with four Dunyain  being the four angels of the Apocalypse in the next series. But I wanted to see Shae at long last, hear him speak about his motives and why he did what he did for all of these years. See Mekeritrig go full Nonmen erratic sorcerer on his foes and show them why they feared they Consult for so long. It would have been great if he had survived and Shae had simply ceded leadership of the Consult to the Mutilated, the goal was not power but simply to save their eternal souls after all.

I think the biggest defency of this series was the lack of a clear enemy to fight until the very end of the story, the first series had them fighting the Fanim and prosecuting the Holy War, there was an enemy for them to fight. This one the enemy never appeared except in drips and drabs, the world was the enemy and that lacks a certain narrative tension. The tragedy at Irsulor and the battle of the ten yoke legion were highlights because it showed the cunning of the Consult in battle, where up to that point they were simply a dread rumor of. RSB has shown a distinct George Lucas streak to me, I mean that in the sense of creating and showing a cool character and then not doing much with them. The Tall who were introduced in the last book seemed to be a revelation, but we only see a glimpse of two of them and each for barely a moment. Oirunas  who it says he died in the appendix when he walked into the throne of Ish  with multiple chorea strapped to his armor and caused absolute pandemonium, and the Tall who guarded the gate and was killed quickly. Maitha who should have been a more central character to the kids of Kellhuss, from Serwa and Kayutas, to poor old Theli.

In short I think this series ended on a cliffhanger much like television shows, the heroes are at their darkest hours and all seems lost, Frodo is feared dead, Jon Snow has died. People are acting like this was the end of the series and they did not get what they wanted, since I finished the PON I knew there were two more series and the story continues for me. I am firmly along for the ride.

[EDIT Madness: Spaced paragraphs and renamed title.]
« Last Edit: July 29, 2017, 01:48:34 pm by Madness »
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Francis Buck's Crush

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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2017, 11:55:52 pm »
"The first part in the Prince of Nothing the good guys prevail initially like Luke destroying the Death Star" really?  the first trilogy's ending was a sad one for me. I hated Kellhus from the prologue, and Akka was my life's love....
“The thoughts of all men arise from the darkness. If you are the movement of your soul, and the cause of that movement precedes you, then how could you ever call your thoughts your own? How could you be anything other than a slave to the darkness that comes before?”

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CondYoke

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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2017, 01:12:05 am »
"Akka has no certain role in the next series, his age makes him likely to die"

There's a lot in your post cigoli, but I'm not so sure about this one.  If fucking Keith Richards is still alive after decades of heroin addiction, no reason to assume that snorting the ashes of an ancient, immortal hero won't continue to have interesting effects on Akka- as with all of Bakker's gifts to his characters, blessings along with curses. I expect Akka to have quite a bit of life left.  He is the hero.

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2017, 11:38:55 am »
Now Esmenet’s story was always the most boring storyline in the Aspect Emperor series, the whole New Empire plot seemed to have no impact upon the wider world. But now it seems crucial to what is going to happen in the overall story arc. It now seems that little old Esmenet is just as important if not even more so than Kellhuss. It was she who gave birth to the newest prophet who will see the world in the time of the resurrected No-God and the grandchild who may be its ultimate savior. She also gave birth to the No-God itself, without her none of these greater events would seem to have happened. It was she who kept Akka in Sumna when he first encountered the Consult, that forced him to flee that place when he was told to follow the holy war by the Mandate, which in turn led him to Proyas and thence Kellhuss and Cnaiur. It was her love and then the snatching away of that love which forced Akka into exile and then her love which prevented his execution, and her stories about him which led Mimara to him thence her pregnancy and her journey to prophethood. And now the No-God itself is her youngest child who is half Dunyain and whose only true love is her, she freed him which led to his eventually becoming the No-God. Maybe being half Dunyain will make it smarter than last time but if that is true than maybe its love for Esmenet might still also come through.

That's a pretty good call on Esmenet being as if not more important than Kellhus.  I also see her as important because she's the only complete mundane character - a sort of everywoman (or everyperson). She has no magical ability, she's not a great warrior, or part of the nobility.  She's someone from very humble origins

Now you have a man who is in the son of both Kellhuss the aspect emperor and Cnauir the most violent of all men, born of one but raised by the other

he also loves Esmenet as his mother so there will be cooperation with whoever is left in the Kellian Empire.
Another good call re the actual and adoptive parentage.  I'm not there'll be much co-operation with the Empire though.  I reckon the Empire is dead and buried as a political body.

Then it would stand to reason that the boy is even greater than both his father and his grandfather, the only reason that he was declared defective by the Assessor was because emotion had too much of his soul.

Another character that seemed to disappear from the last book was Meppa, the last Cishaurim who was not killed by Kellhuss. He was outside of the city when the quake hit and I doubt that he drowned on a flat plain where he was. Another seed for the next series to grow later on, he can feel the birth of the No-God  and can see the world in ways that no other human could during the last apocalypse. Now unmoored from the Fanim cause by the obvious truth of the second apocalypse, the world will need his ocean of water.
The Psuhke seems to work through emotion, and psuche is Greek for soul.  I think emotion has an important part to play in the whole story, and contrasts with the cold unfeeling logic of Dunyain.

But I wanted to see Shae at long last, hear him speak about his motives and why he did what he did for all of these years. See Mekeritrig go full Nonmen erratic sorcerer on his foes and show them why they feared they Consult for so long. It would have been great if he had survived and Shae had simply ceded leadership of the Consult to the Mutilated, the goal was not power but simply to save their eternal souls after all.
I reckon the Mutilated killed Shae because they couldn't master him in the same way as other beings.  By virtue of what he had become physically, with his soul constantly flitting from one dying body to another, there would be no facial expressions to read and no tone in his voice to pick up on.  He was a circumstance that couldn't be mastered, and hence he died.

I think the biggest defency of this series was the lack of a clear enemy to fight until the very end of the story, the first series had them fighting the Fanim and prosecuting the Holy War, there was an enemy for them to fight. This one the enemy never appeared except in drips and drabs, the world was the enemy and that lacks a certain narrative tension.
Agree
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Hiro

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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2017, 12:05:50 pm »
Great post Ciogli, thanks.

A lot of stuff to ponder. Like what you write about Esmenet, very perceptive.

One thing I noticed is that you describe the possible Scylvendi army as a 'spear' and Zeum as another 'spear', against the No-God and his (its?) forces. Since the Ordeal has just been destroyed without too much trouble, and that was the largest host, sorcerous and non-sorcerous, assembled, I wonder whether we can consider anything left as a serious opposing force. Which is certainly an interesting situation.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2017, 12:54:15 pm by Hiro »
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Woden

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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2017, 12:21:28 pm »
"Akka has no certain role in the next series, his age makes him likely to die"

There's a lot in your post cigoli, but I'm not so sure about this one.  If fucking Keith Richards is still alive after decades of heroin addiction, no reason to assume that snorting the ashes of an ancient, immortal hero won't continue to have interesting effects on Akka- as with all of Bakker's gifts to his characters, blessings along with curses. I expect Akka to have quite a bit of life left.  He is the hero.

I too expect more from Akka, mostly because he don't do nothing of relevance in TUC, as I said before. I am convinced that he will have an important role to play in TNG but who knows, maybe Bakker is too a deceiver.  ;)
« Last Edit: July 29, 2017, 12:26:51 pm by Woden »
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Madness

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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2017, 01:51:11 pm »
Great post, Ciogli.

Yeah... not a lot going for Earwa's humanity right now. As far as I recall, the omnipresent war POVs in TUC describe Kellhus' Ordeal the largest army assembled, ever, by almost double if I recall correctly.

Plus Kellhus' was the only empire in Earwa's history that institutionalized Witches.
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2017, 03:48:52 pm »
Something partially funny, the Middle Norsirai are going to be the first people that will meet the NG....
“The thoughts of all men arise from the darkness. If you are the movement of your soul, and the cause of that movement precedes you, then how could you ever call your thoughts your own? How could you be anything other than a slave to the darkness that comes before?”

- Chronicler of the Chroniclers

TheCulminatingApe

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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2017, 08:43:11 pm »
Oirunas  who it says he died in the appendix when he walked into the throne of Ish  with multiple chorea strapped to his armor and caused absolute pandemonium continues for me. I am firmly along for the ride.

This is not in the appendix of my UK edition.  It just gives a date of death as 4132.
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Seswatha, that's who.

Dunkelheit

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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2017, 09:38:55 pm »
I get why people are mad with the way the Mimara story line went, I was definitely going "Come on! Fucking open you useless piece of shit!" when she stood in front of Kellhus after the death of White Luck 2. But I also love the way Kellhus just dismantled Akkas entire case afterwards, because of course he does. It's Kellhus we are talking about. In the end it was a good ride, and we learned a lot of stuff along the way even if it did really culminate in the big confrontation of Kellhus like expected.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2017, 09:44:19 pm by Dunkelheit »

themerchant

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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2017, 09:40:02 pm »
Oirunas  who it says he died in the appendix when he walked into the throne of Ish  with multiple chorea strapped to his armor and caused absolute pandemonium continues for me. I am firmly along for the ride.

This is not in the appendix of my UK edition.  It just gives a date of death as 4132.

just checked same for me, just some of his history and then the death date.

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« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2017, 02:56:50 pm »
Oirunas  who it says he died in the appendix when he walked into the throne of Ish  with multiple chorea strapped to his armor and caused absolute pandemonium continues for me. I am firmly along for the ride.

This is not in the appendix of my UK edition.  It just gives a date of death as 4132.

just checked same for me, just some of his history and then the death date.

Well, that's some bullshit...

Reminds me of the Neuropath editions missing the killer's italicized POV sections (not a spoiler, one of them fairly obviously opens the book).
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Ciogli

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« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2017, 02:11:13 pm »
Since the Nonmen still have a part to play that may be why we did see who survived inside the Weeping mountain,  Oirunas was the only Tall seen. But there were more in the Holy Deep, and it seems only the Quya made to Golgotterath in time,  maybe the rebirth of the No God will make the erratic themselves like the Inverse Fire made Mek.
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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2017, 02:39:50 pm »
Great post, Ciogli.

Yeah... not a lot going for Earwa's humanity right now. As far as I recall, the omnipresent war POVs in TUC describe Kellhus' Ordeal the largest army assembled, ever, by almost double if I recall correctly.

Plus Kellhus' was the only empire in Earwa's history that institutionalized Witches.


The size of the Ordeal never made sense to me because if you go back to PON the First Holy War was the same size, around 300k. The Ordeal definitely had many more sorcerors however. That is the biggest problem is the death of so many magic users. The cream of the Three Seas military is dead but there are still enough people in Zeum and the Three Seas to assemble big armies.

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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2017, 04:32:53 pm »
Zeum still has all its sorcerers bar Malowebi. And Kellhus himself was impressed by the power and potential of the Iswazi.

Also, the EG states that the Swayal Compact outnumbers the Mandate two to one, yet there don't seem to be that many Nuns actually accompanying the Great Ordeal. Many of the battle scenes don't mention them at all, or only include a handful, far fewer than the number of Schoolmen described. The witches that do appear seem to be mostly older women who had already been illegally practising sorcery before the Manumission. I strongly suspect that there are a lot of half-trained witches back in Orovelai who did not accompany the Great Ordeal.

So I don't think humanity is quite so bereft of sorcerous might as some of you fear.
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