Rereading The Unholy Consult

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Ciogli

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« on: November 24, 2017, 11:54:09 pm »
In preview or the podcast I recently reread TUC, on my first read I tore through it in two days. We had all been waiting for the conclusion tot he story for so long, it was like a favorite meal that I ate far to fast to truly enjoy it. It was much the same after I read the Great Ordeal, I liked but I was not so sure how much, and like that book I would need to reread it to truly appreciate it.

Once again the greatest weakness of this book for me was the crossing of Agongorea and the straits of the cannibal ordeal, it was like a long time friend who gets hooked on heroin, you know how this is going to end but every moment of the descent is agonizing. The moment they spied the horns poking up above the horizon I was like a kid who could see the spires of Disneyland in the distance and from that moment on I wanted Golgotterath. The descent of much loved characters into barbarism unknown before was hard to take, I think the parts removed that dealt with the Mandate would have helped this section, the sight of the Mandati tripping balls and all of them thinking they were Seswatha would have been great. Although the actual cannibal ordeal only lasted about twenty four pages it cast a long shadow across the next hundred pages. I think this section would have felt better balanced with more of Akka and Mimara cut in, this was the first book where there were no dreams to add to our knowledge. I think what made people think the section was so much longer than it really was is that there were no real breaks from the viewpoints. It was not until Kellhus shows up that the narrative starts to change. And the betrayal of Proyas was and still is a mindfuck, he started seeding this betrayal from the beginning of the Ordeal. He had to know crossing Agongorea would be a nightmare no matter the method, if they ate sranc then the Ordeal would be uncontrollable with bloodlust. And if they did not then they would starve and then they would have to turn to cannibalism, Kellhus knew that someone would have to be blamed for the method of crossing the wastes and so he exited stage left before hand and returned after the hard part was done with his hands clean. None asked why he had abandoned them at such a critical time, they were only so happy that he had returned to them in their darkest hour, just like he had planned all along. Something must be eaten.

 But the moment they stand before the Unholy Ark till the end of the book was the greatest battle that I have ever read in fiction, only the trail of dogs through seven cities would even come close. The eerie quite of the place as they stand before it and try to decipher the world curse across its gleaming gold skin, it was like a character in a horror movie who knows they are walking into a haunted house and yet they have no idea what to expect. They boasted to empty air and only the crazed impatience of a sranc ruined the surprise, the arrival of Mekeritrig naked talking shit to these weak mortals was great. Then the dropping of the Ciphrang upon them and the rushed start of the battle. I wish Bakker had talked more about the actual setup of Golgoterath from the start of the books, but maybe he did not have names that he was satisfied with until now. Corrunc and Domathuz which flanked Gweriguh the extrinsic gate was a great and terrible sight, and the fact that the first Ordeal had looked upon the same sight two millennia hence was a great tie between the two. Golgoterath was in fact the fortress at the feet of the Ark and not the Ark itself, the Oblitus and the High Cwol guarding the intrinsic gate, this was truly the height of epic fantasy. But for allthat he showed in this battle it shows that he was a master storyteller because now thinking on it seems that most of the Consults strength was not show here. Only the Upright horn was shown and only two places within that, if the Ark was buried in the ground then the vast majority of it remained unseen, Seswatha and Nau Cayuti seemingly snuck through the underground tunnels into the bowels of the place and did not enter the horn itself to steal the Heron Spear. So the Ark remains a mystery still. For all of the death only 80 Nonmen died, a majority of the sorcerers when they maddeningly rushed the Schools, naked and screaming curses to those long dead. So twenty four of the hundred who attacked still lived and seemingly disappeared afterward, and four other Nonmen died besides, the one killed by the Ciphrang, The Tall killed in the High Cwol before the gate, the spearmen atop the High Horn and lastly Mekeritrig. What happened to those Nonmen who released the Ten Yoke Legion ? Unless they were one and the same as the Quya then they remain largely unaccounted for, all those Viri and Erratics that fled Ishteribinth seem to be missing still. For all of the dragons we have heard of we have only seen two and one of those in the Ark, all those others that might have survived are not seen, and a question I had was how do they breed? Are they clones? Or are they sexual reproducers. During PON Aurang laments to himself of how few skinspies that they have left but in the Golden Room there is a hundred sighted, maybe the Consult have perfected a way to reproduce them in numbers.

The Golden Room scene was a more epic reflection of the scene within the Nonmen mansion in PON, where all truths are laid bare. The truth of the Inchoroi and there obscene mission is spoken aloud, what the Ark and what the No-God in fact were. And the truth of the Goad that they called the Inverse Fire, they simply want to save themselves from the Hells of the Afterlife like any sane being would, it reads so much more satisfying than some dark lord cackling in the background about how evil they are for evils sake. The Inchoroi were like sranc designed to be evil and thus damned for this very mission that they have been on for these ten thousand years of misery and woe. They like all other peoples in this series were simply born upon a certain path and they must simply follow that path till its fiery end. This is as true for Kellhus and the Dunyain as any other, a major complaint I have seen voiced is that Kellhus must succeed for any of the series to make sense, but the ultimate failure of Kellhus and the Ordeal are simply a declarative statement about doubt that has been the through line of the entire series. Kellhus has fooled the reader along with the characters of his inevitability, so when he fails it seems wrong somehow, but he was not ever a God or a prophet, only a man, a wondrous man a but a man none the less. As he said he was the most powerful point that this world had ever seen but he still only possessed two hands and was hemmed in by the darkness the same as everyone else. The pact with the Pit was simply his greatest throw of the number sticks, if he suspected the Consult was controlled by his Dunyain brothers then he would need all the help he could acquire and by any means. The fact that Kelmommas who he spared because of his love for Esmi and thus he directly allowed for the advent of System Resumption. The whore of Fate had to have saved that laugh for all of time, Akka thinks he got fucked by Fate but not in comparison to Kellhus. Kellhus is in some ways a most tragic figure, the greatest and most charismatic figure in history that could literally have any woman or man he wanted and he fell in love with a broken woman who never truly loved him back, only a kind of worship, all the while she still loved the man he had stolen her from. Unrequited love from a man who could not love and for a woman who did not love him back, in some ways Akka got his revenge upon him but could never know. That this love drove him to spare the No-God for which he had worked tirelessly for twenty years was a most cruel and wicked choice of Fate.

In summary after rereading the book without my preconceived notions I now love the book, my main problem is still the crossing but even that is now so bad, just now as interesting to me. Sometime in the future I plan to read the Great Ordeal and TUC back to back as one to see what it should have been like. Some years back on the old three seas board Bakker said the TUC in terms or revelations would be like the stripper throwing her G-string across the room, and some have questioned that, but when he said that the last two books were one and all of the revelations about the No-God, the Inchoroi, the Golden Room, the Inverse Fire, the Dunyain and the Nonmen were all in this one book.

And now for some random thoughts, the glossary was once again a highlight to read, the sheer depth of this creation is jaw dropping, Bakker once said the history of the Ancient North is every bit as layered as the three seas was and we only saw a fraction of that in this glossary. The Bronzemen who had 99 forts scattered throughout the eastern Yimaleti were like bronze age scalpers fighting through high mountain passes instead of deep forests. Bakker said some day he planned to write a book or series of books about the First Apocalypse, the Ancient North seems to be every bit as vibrant as the Threes Seas. But once again the Nonman grabbed my attention, I continue to think a series of books about the Cuno-Inchoroi wars would be spectacular, even during the time leading up to Arkfall, Morimhira abdicating the throne of Siol to his younger brother, the doomed loved of Cujara-Cinmoi's parents and there execution by there father and the eventual ascendancy of Cujara-Cinmoi in the shadow of what was to come for them all. Cujara seems like a real dick, an ancient version of Conphas, he was said to be spectacularly beautiful even for the Nonmen and had skills sorcerously and martial to match his immense pride, a boy genius whose pride spelt his peoples ruin. The rivalries with the other mansions when they were living intact things, mortal beings instead of immortal wrecks. The politics between the nine high mansions and there hatred of the Dark Nonmen of Nihrimsul, the sorcery and skill, all in the shadow of what was to come. They even had female sorcerers called the Quyil, Nil' giccas's mother was said to be one of their greatest. The Tall, which seems to be a condition that came on later in life, in the glossary Oirunas is said to be gifted a magical sword after he started to become Tall, so it would seem this condition only started to show itself during adulthood. The Inchoroi created the Bashrag to contend with the Tall but it seems they were like sranc to them in truth, the Tall that guarded the High Cwol was said to be two cubits taller than all of the bashrag in the canal, and that as far as I have found is three feet taller than creatures that were twice a mans height. And the fact that the Holy Deep was filled with them would seem to bode well for their appearance in the No-God series. The sorcerous artifacts which were missing from this series until this last book would seem to be filled with them since all the contrivers seem to be Nonmen or taught by the Nonmen.

This reread has reinvigorated my love for this series, the possibilities for the future are seemingly endless as of this moment.


MSJ

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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2017, 01:38:43 am »
Excellent post Ciogli!

I have been wanting to do a entire reread of TAE, and will when done with the series in currently working on. Seriously, as I read your post, I am baffled that I haven't reread TUC yet.

One thing I will point out. A long time poster here and at the other site, Lokisnow, has always maintained that Kellhus would be caught unawares by something and fail. He has many posts around here pointing out all of Kellhus's flaws. So, while you think he couldn't lose, the signs were there all along. Makes you appreciate Bakker's writing all the more. Wow. That post truly got me invigurated to reread TUC. Thank you! ;)
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Nemojbatkastle

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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2017, 06:13:22 pm »
Lovely wall of text here, I yearn to reread TUC but am stuck trying to decide if I want to do the Slog of Slogs from the beginning, start again with the second series, or just reread TGO & TUC.

I actually relished the unraveling horror on the Plains of Agongorea, had bigger problems with the big final battle and all it's loose threads going hither and yon. My only real complaint against the book as a whole is that stupid talking dragon and having to hear the word 'cunny' repeated in a fantasy novel more times than I deem necessary.

Ciogli

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« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2017, 10:34:15 pm »
I think a lot of the plot points that were not finalized in this series was because this series was simply the middle volume in a trilogy a trilogies, I have said before that the Aspect-Emperor series is the proverbial cliffhanger volume of the series, where the heroes fall off the edge of a cliff and we hold our breath trying to see if they fell over to their deaths. The dragon was fine for me, some people seem to be struck that a dragon would talk of cunny, but he is a child of the Inchoroi, a species of space faring rape aliens that have created the sranc and bashrag that are aroused by violence of all kinds, and I see no reason that a dragon would be all that different. And it was an insult meant to make her afraid, he even said he tasted Emilidis's cunny before and he was a male, so the words made sense in the setting. It seems strange that people who have read the whole series would be nonplussed by a dragon with a dirty mouth.

False Man

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« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2017, 08:12:04 am »
I think that for some people it caused too much suspension of disbelief.
Here we are in the middle of the most epic battle ever fought and out comes a dragon repeating the word "cunny" with the pleasure of an 8-year old who has just learned a bad word.
It's jarring, even more so if the dragons are not biological monsters but AIs in a robotic body. Imagine The Terminator chasing Sarah Connor while he repeats "cunny cunny cunny"

Wilshire

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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2017, 01:01:53 pm »
Great post, Ciogli. I think a lot of people binged TGO/TUC and lost a lot from that impatience. I'm glad to see that a more careful reading lead to some different opinions :D .
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Dez

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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2017, 03:18:26 am »
I think a lot of the plot points that were not finalized in this series was because this series was simply the middle volume in a trilogy a trilogies, I have said before that the Aspect-Emperor series is the proverbial cliffhanger volume of the series, where the heroes fall off the edge of a cliff and we hold our breath trying to see if they fell over to their deaths.

I agree about the trilogy of trilogies thing. RSB's statements seem to say he's largely starting from scratch, but he's clearly held a lot of threads over to pick up later. I guess I could end up eating my words, but there's a difference between punting something to the next series and just dropping it forever without explanation. Even red herrings require something to signal that they were in fact red herrings. Take Mimara's Chorae. Her leaving it behind tells us it was not intrinsically special since the chances of her seeing it again are nil. But we can still speculate on what the Eye actually did happen to make her mistakenly believe the thing was somehow unique.

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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2017, 05:25:44 pm »
Great post, Ciogli!

My only real complaint against the book as a whole is that stupid talking dragon and having to hear the word 'cunny' repeated in a fantasy novel more times than I deem necessary.

I think that for some people it caused too much suspension of disbelief.
Here we are in the middle of the most epic battle ever fought and out comes a dragon repeating the word "cunny" with the pleasure of an 8-year old who has just learned a bad word.
It's jarring, even more so if the dragons are not biological monsters but AIs in a robotic body. Imagine The Terminator chasing Sarah Connor while he repeats "cunny cunny cunny"

Lol. It really wasn't something that bothered me all too much. There are certainly some interesting thoughts buried therein about the general portrayal historically of Fantasy Dragons being overly concerned with fair virgin maidens. Though, as Ciogli said, Weapon Races will pretty much fuck anything - up to and including the orifices they make in your flesh.

Take Mimara's Chorae. Her leaving it behind tells us it was not intrinsically special since the chances of her seeing it again are nil. But we can still speculate on what the Eye actually did happen to make her mistakenly believe the thing was somehow unique.

Interesting - I don't believe she ever sees Kosoter's Chorae with the Eye but I pretty much took that whole arc with the Chorae, the Judging Eye, and the Wight to be pretty indicative of future importance. For my bet, I'd say that Mimara can probably do what she did in TJE with any given Chorae.
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TLEILAXU

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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2017, 08:03:09 pm »
I think a lot of the plot points that were not finalized in this series was because this series was simply the middle volume in a trilogy a trilogies, I have said before that the Aspect-Emperor series is the proverbial cliffhanger volume of the series, where the heroes fall off the edge of a cliff and we hold our breath trying to see if they fell over to their deaths.

I agree about the trilogy of trilogies thing. RSB's statements seem to say he's largely starting from scratch, but he's clearly held a lot of threads over to pick up later. I guess I could end up eating my words, but there's a difference between punting something to the next series and just dropping it forever without explanation. Even red herrings require something to signal that they were in fact red herrings. Take Mimara's Chorae. Her leaving it behind tells us it was not intrinsically special since the chances of her seeing it again are nil. But we can still speculate on what the Eye actually did happen to make her mistakenly believe the thing was somehow unique.
Actually it's pretty significant IMO. It signifies Mimara leaving behind her fate as a prophetess, abandoning her tear of God to do everything she can to survive System Resumption

Ciogli

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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2017, 10:23:39 pm »
Perhaps the chorae was not special so much as it signalled her revelation and it was she foresweared sorcery, she could do this to any chorae.

MSJ

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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2017, 12:50:54 am »
Quote from:  Ciogli
Pwerhaps the chorae was not special so much as it signalled her revelation and it was she foresweared sorcery, she could do this to any chorae.

+1

My exact feelings. There was nothing special about the chorale, Mimara is/who is special. It could've been any chorale.
“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,

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« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2017, 06:40:17 pm »
Quote from:  Ciogli
Pwerhaps the chorae was not special so much as it signalled her revelation and it was she foresweared sorcery, she could do this to any chorae.

+1

My exact feelings. There was nothing special about the chorale, Mimara is/who is special. It could've been any chorale.

There are pieces throught TAE where she talks about the chorae, but especially when it first happens. I can't recall if she refers to 'the chorae' specifically or Chorae generally as truly tears of god (if you could only see what I see, Akka! - something like that).
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