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News/Announcements / TSA T-Shirt Contest
« on: July 22, 2013, 06:41:23 pm »
I'm getting myself some TSA apparel made (a band tour-style sweater and a circumfix hat) and I'm considering getting a few t-shirts made up in a similar style to the sweater: Who are the Dunyain? written on the front and R. Scott Bakker on the back above The Second Apocalypse Tour and The Brain Brain Tour.

What kind of contest might we run and offer the t-shirts as prizes?

Through the Brain Darkly / The Crux
« on: July 22, 2013, 03:22:12 pm »
The Crux

The first (and only) instance where Bakker mentioned Through the Brain Darkly. He also attempts an offer of brief synopsis describing the various principle notions of BBH (which I yet refuse to call BBT, though I've done so in the past).

The White-Luck Warrior / Weapons of Animata
« on: July 07, 2013, 01:07:50 pm »
lockesnow, Wilshire, and Somnambulist were getting excited about Kellhus killing the Dunyain and enslaving their souls into some dread weapon-machinary a la Great Gate of Wheels.

Nerdanel away ;)...

(Somnambulist, next time don't hesitate :D).

The Forum of Interesting Things / Trollhunter
« on: June 12, 2013, 02:50:46 pm »
Norwegian Mockumentary. Find it. Watch it.

Nuff said.

[It's on Netflix, apparently, for those lucky enough.]

Disciple of the Dog / Disciple Mixtape: Track Two
« on: June 11, 2013, 12:50:10 pm »

Quote from: ”DOTD, p5”

When Jonathan and Amanda Bonjour first came to my office, I assumed it would be yet one more missing kid gig, and I was right. When a couple comes in together, it generally has something to do with either a parent or a kid—usually the latter, but you would be surprised at how many grandmas go off the rails gambling, and how many grandpas climb on the rails—the snorting kind. Especially these days.

And mystery. The child Bonjour is missing. The tone is set and Disciple is rambling to the races.

I honestly think I could quote the entirety of this book; too many great one-offs. However, Disciple spends moments regaling us as to where his Private Dickery is located. Specifically, omitting the scenery:

My kingdom consists of a narrow, thousand-square-foot retail slot strategically situated between a souvlaki stand and a porn shop—so when the air doesn’t reek of charred lamb, it smells like cheap lubricants. My office lies at the back, next to the all-important copy-slash-smoking room. I have my desk positioned so that I can either pretend nobody’s home or, with a simple crane of my neck, glimpse anyone unfortunate enough to wander in. This is precisely what I did when I heard the cowbell on my entrance cough and clunk—apparently it has a crack in it—at precisely 11:48 A.M. on Monday.

Craning his neck, Disciple sees the two Bonjours by his secretary, Kimberly, waiting on the Dick himself.

Quote from: ”DOTD, p6”
Jonathan Bonjour was heavy- set. I would have thought of him as fat, but I have this mindset where I begin flattering people mentally the instant they walk in the door. The well-practised lie always comes off the best. I knew instantly that he was a lawyer simply because his suit fit. Since no two people pack on weight the same way, it’s pretty much impossible for fat guys to find suits that fit off the rack.

Disciple – a cynic, overtly, having seen it all – seems to judge thoughtlessly. He goes on to dress down Mrs. Amanda Bonjour and concludes:

Side by side, the two of them fairly shouted good genes and easy living—a testament to the American Dream.

So of course something tragic had to have happened.

Disciple highlights that he has two routines, “Remington, razor-sharp on the outside but warm and slippery within, or I play Columbo, a mob of yarn tangled about concealed razors” (p6). He opts for Remington and saunters out to introduce himself to the Bonjours and have Kimberly lead them into his office.

Quote from: ”DOTD, p7”
Once in my office, Jonathan Bonjour shook my hand with the inky ease of people who habitually press the flesh … I’ve yet to meet a lawyer who wasn’t a cynic of some description. You spend your life pretending to believe assholes and you’re bound to start seeing shit everywhere you look. Just another hazard of the trade.

I could tell that he recognized something in my eyes as well. Weird, all these little moments that pass between people. For most everybody, they slip into oblivion, but me, I catch them like flies.

Here we have the first experiential indications of Disciple’s hyperthymesia or eidetic memory: the accumulation of trivialities.

Disciple sees much more of a victim in Amanda Bonjour:

When I reached out to shake her hand, she almost flinched, as though instinctively loath to confirm what the greater part of her refused to believe. Everyone knows that touching something makes it real.

Disciple turns the failed handshake into an invitation for the Bonjours to sit and Amanda Bonjour immediately starts crying.

I hate to admit it, but that was the precise moment I decided to charge them my highest rate. Ugly, I know, but the doctor said this whole storytelling thing would be, and I quote, “little more than a self-aggrandizing exercise in futility” unless I’m brutally honest.

Disciple admits to giving something like a fuck but the meat of this is in the narrative; can we count on honesty? Will Disciple’s “honesty” dilute the supposedly exactitude of the simple recounting of memory?

“It’s our daughter, Mr. Manning. She’s missing.”

Even though I expected he would say as much, I found myself slightly winded. I really don’t know why, given that I had heard the words “She’s missing” more times than somebody like you would care to remember. It’s like the planes hitting the World Trade Center: you see it over and over and over, until it carries about as much punch as a movie trailer, and then one night you see it and wham! it steals your breath, and you sweat horror, as though part of your soul had been on that plane, and had only now remembered.

She’s missing…

“What’s her name?” I asked.

“Jennifer,” Mrs. Bonjour said, a wisp of reverence in her tone. She snuffled.

“Jenni,” her husband added. “That’s, ah … what, ah … what everyone calls her.”

Disciple goes on to describe some mild empathy with the Bonjours and missing their daughter.

Quote from: ”DOTD, p8”
The Bonjour house, I knew, was becoming a museum to “last times.”

Disciple asks for a picture and immediately begins some gaze commentary:

Long blond hair, straight enough to summon memories of Marcia Brady. Full lips. Straight teeth. Happiness almost shining in her sparkling blue eyes.

I knew instantly that she hadn’t run away—she was too attractive. Runaways are almost always plain or downright ugly, as intent to escape the damnation of photos like these as to flee the judgment of peers, parents, what have you. Beautiful people generally lack the motive required to stage their own disappearance. On the contrary, beautiful people tend to be about appearances.

I should know.

Disciple voices his opinion about Jennifer not running away and gets the low down on dear Jenni.

Quote from: ”DOTD, p9”
The story they told me sounded like something cribbed from the Biography Channel. Flattering and negativity-free. You see, people always make cases. Always. Rather than simply describe things, they pitch them this way and that. So when the Bonjours said that Jennifer was a curious girl, an overachiever, and so on, they were literally offering evidence of the adequacy of their parenting skills, while at the same time saying, “She wasn’t the kind of girl who …” They wanted me to know that whatever it was that had happened to their precious daughter had precious little to do with them. And when they mentioned her “weakness for musicians,” they were saying that, as perfectly as she had been raised, she exhibited a dispositional vulnerability to untoward influences—so to speak.

If I was surprised when they mentioned the cult, it was because I had expected drugs to be the culprit—simply because they almost always are when beautiful kids take roads not marked in their parents’ road atlas. According to Mrs. Bonjour, she had found Them online as a high school student, first becoming, without the knowledge of Mom and Dad, a “long-distance associate,” then graduating to become a “text messenger” in her first year of college. At some point she began attending weekend retreats, which cut ever more deeply into her visits home, until she dropped out of her nursing program altogether and moved into the Compound—a place just outside a Rust Belt town called Ruddick in southeastern Pennsylvania.

“They call themselves the Framers,” Amanda said.

Disciple follows with some further questions, interjecting future facts about his subsequent Web searches.

Quote from: ”DOTD, p10”
“The leader’s name,” he [Mr. Bonjour] continued, “is Xenophon Baars. He’s a former philosophy professor out of Berkeley, believe it or not …”

There is some requisite back and forth between the Mr. and Mrs. on account of disagreeing about the validity of Baars’ “extreme” claims.

Quote from: ”DOTD, p11
“Exactly. This Baars has convinced his followers that the world is more than five billion years older than it is. And that it’s about to end.”

Disciple spends some moments trying to wipe his face of the inappropriate shit-eating grin, wrestling with the absurdity of Baars’ claims.

I’ve seen more than my fair share of absurdities in my time: Christ, this job throws them at you like rotten fruit at a burlesque gone wrong. Tragedy astounds people no matter what, sure. The big things are just too heavy to be caught in human nets. But life also has a nasty habit of dishing up calamity as the punchline of a joke as well, and with a regularity that’s nothing short of perverse. We keep waiting for something Shakespearean to happen, when most of the world is just an annex to the Jerry Springer show. Squalid. Cheap. Mean-spirited.

So few people die pretty.

Disciple looks over Jennifer’s picture, sees a bill, and is struck by a “chill of sudden conviction dropped through me … The first of many such chills, as it turned out” (p12).

He decides that Jennifer is dead.

Then he goes on to press them about ongoing police investigations or dealings with The System:

Quote from: ”DOTD, p12”
I understood the kinds of limitations that cops faced: the politics, the fatigue individuals were prone to, the constraints of policy and procedure, the ways bureaucratic machinery could generate irrational outcomes.

I’ve worked in factories before. I know the score.

Some more introductory notation concerning the Dead Jennifer mystery:

The story they told was one of a local police chief who meant well but was hopelessly out of his depth when it came to this case. Caleb Nolen, his name was. Chief Caleb Nolen. From what they described, he did everything by the book, and a few things above and beyond. According to the Framers (Nolen had interviewed all twenty-seven of them), Jennifer left the Compound with another cult member named Anson Williams at around 8:30 P.M. to walk into town to a bar called Legends, where the two liked to dance. The walk was a long one, at least two and a half miles, much of it through Ruddick’s largely abandoned industrial park, but apparently the two enjoyed the air, exercise, and the opportunity to talk. They were close friends but not lovers. Witnesses placed the two of them at the bar, dancing and drinking, until approximately 11:30 P.M., when the doorman said Jennifer left muted but not otherwise distraught. According to Anson, she had been nursing a headache most of the evening and finally decided to return home to sleep. He claimed that she agreed to call a cab at his insistence, but the doorman said that she left on foot, headed in the direction of the Framer Compound.

She never arrived.

According to cellphone records, Anson called her twice, once at 12:03 A.M. and again at 12:17 A.M. She didn’t answer. He then called the Compound, asking whether anyone had seen her. When he learned from the doorman that she had walked, he struck out on foot after her, calling her name and searching the verges of the road. Evidently, he feared she had been hit by a passing car. He found nothing. At 1:33 A.M., Xenophon Baars himself called the police department, expressing his concern. At approximately 2 A.M., one of Nolen’s deputies embarked on a cursory search of the route and the surrounding brown lands— apparently the area is mazed with abandoned steel and assembly plants, a creepy place for a young woman to be walking alone, but so familiar to the locals that they thought nothing of it. When she failed to turn up the next morning, the Chief wisely said to hell with procedure and pulled out all the missing-person stops. By mid-afternoon they had some eighty-plus volunteers combing the ruined structures and surrounding ravines. There was no sign of her. None. They tried again the next day, this time with State Police dogs. Again, nothing.

The Bonjours got the call from Nolen’s office that morning, and I could see the catastrophe on their faces as they described it: the little girl they had loved, nurtured, and even suffered on occasion was missing. Gone.

They fell silent after that.

Disciple asks them about media outreach to which Amanda said that one outspoken reporter had told them the media buries stores about missing pretty white girls as “out of fashion” (p14).

This spawns another something of a tiff between the mourning couple and Disciple takes some mental notations concerning the two. They, honestly, thought their daughter lost:

Quote from: ”DOTD, p14”
I glanced at the glossy on my desk, at the dead girl’s almost smiling eyes. I could already see the crime scene photographs, the grisly before and after. Naked. The limbs bent in poses the living would find excruciating. The skin purple-grey-white. That was when I started thinking of her as “Dead Jennifer.”

Sounds horrible, I know. What can I say? I’m a freak.

I shook my head and pinched my eyes. I did what I always do when my thoughts take an errant turn: I asked a question. “How would you characterize your relationship?”

This seems to shake the lady Bonjour and through the course of another quibble reveals to Disciple that Jonathan Bonjour slapped their daughter in their last fight… that Father Bonjour blames himself. Disciple makes a tongue-in-cheek note that he “appreciates honesty” (p15).

Quote from: ”DOTD, p15”
Rates, conditions, and so on are always difficult items to discuss, so you have to be opportunistic, take what chances the ebb and flow of conversation offer. I typically use money talk to doctor breakdowns in the conversation, especially if things become emotionally overwrought.

No small amount of defensiveness and aggression walks into offices like mine. But as soon as you mention money, most of the personal shit just evaporates. I could literally see Mr. and Mrs. Bonjour’s heart rates slow as I discussed the terms. Few things are more dear to the human animal than simplicity, or the appearance of it anyway. And few things are more simple, more apparently superficial, than monetary transactions.

Open the wallet, close the heart—that’s generally the rule.

They agree to Disciple terms without a thought and our PI Dick suffers “that vague and momentary regret that accompanies lost opportunities” (p16). He’s juggling bills after all and these are the easy marks apparently.

Finally, Disciple inquires as to why Mr. Bonjour didn’t go to his firm’s in-house investigators. After some momentary shock – Mr. Bonjour hadn’t said he was a lawyer – they reveal that Amanda Bonjour is the mastermind behind hiring Disciple.

Quote from: ”DOTD, p17”
“No offence, Mr. Manning, but my opinion of your profession is rather … jaded …”

This was like a hooker saying she finds the company of strippers embarrassing. No offence, he says. Fucking lawyers.

They go on to tell Disciple that Mr. Bonjour has been down to Ruddick, Rust Belt and that the people “are more like Disciple.”

After some diminishing conversation, Disciple tells them that time is everything with missing persons and that he will start immediately.

Quote from: ”DOTD, p17”
Then I did what I always do with new clients when I take a job: I gave them a list of things to do. Search her room for anything that might help: an old diary, drug paraphernalia, computer disks, or camera SD cards. Call Nolen to tell him they had hired me, that they expected him to do everything in his power to assist me. The same with Xenophon Baars, taking care to conceal their outrage, of course. “No ego allowed,” I told them, quite oblivious to any irony. “This is not about scoring points.”

You see, the Bonjours had come to me because they were helpless. Sure, they’d contractually engaged my services, but emotionally they’d simply swapped one kind of helplessness for another. Who hasn’t suffered a pang of impotence in the presence of a mechanic, a plumber, or (worst of all) a computer technician? My clients not only leave my office with a professionally legitimated Don’t-worry-about-a-thing lie, they also take home a false feeling of empowerment.

A to-do list.

Makes them happy, and it makes my job easier—sometimes, anyway. Clients have a way of fucking things up.

Disciple makes to walk them our and Mrs. Bonjour knells to tie her shoes.

For whatever reason, after Disciple’s minor social commentary and embarrassment as he peruses his cracked ceiling and faux-rich flooring, there is this singularly haunting quote, which always sticks with me:

Quote from: ”DOTD, p18”
Then I realized that Mrs. Bonjour was crying. She had knelt on one knee to tie the shoe on the opposite foot, then switched to the other and just … hung there, her cheek pressed against her knee. Sunlight cut across her at an angle, casting arthritic shadows of her hands and wrists across the mat.

She trembled like a timid dog at the vet, keened in a baby-small voice. Her words, if there were any, were inaudible.


He fills out his observation with some more future fact, highlighting the experiential immediacy of his memories with what he learns later – how much of the narrative is so coloured, we don’t have the luxury of knowing.

This actually distinguishes an interesting moment. Disciple knows how this story ends yet presents it – or lives it – as revelatory, once again.

Quote from: ”DOTD, p19”
It’s strange, isn’t it, glimpsing the person behind the type. The feeling of inside-out recognition. The lining up of first-person perspectives. The twinge of ghosts moving through each other. You bat an eye and suddenly, somehow, this stranger has become a family member.

I was left with that humbling feeling of having witnessed something heroic …

Or at least something beyond my mangy capabilities.

And there’s the setup!

Detective fiction seems to innately satisfy the constituents of narrative unfolding. It marks an interesting distinction in genre because of a fairly contained and self-reflective history of hallmarks. Yet even in some amateur literature studies of detective fiction, I have a nagging suspicion that Bakker thoroughly subverted even these genre-specific norms.

Disciple of the Dog / Disciple Mixtape: Track One
« on: June 08, 2013, 07:42:46 pm »
So I’ve wanted to do this for awhile. I’m not sure that many of the TSA readership actually followed across genres but I feel Disciple of the Dog is worth breaking down – despite the fact that Bakker allegedly wrote DOTD in three months, listening to 10,000 Days the whole time. Apparently, it is his least literary work; and so begs to be analyzed in its minutia ;).



Meet Disciple Manning, Private Dick extraordinaire.

Quote from: ”DOTD, p1”
For some mysterious reason, maybe genetic, maybe environmental, maybe some combination of the two, I am doubtful and irreverent through and through. Show me a picture of your newborn baby and I’ll ask you if you’re holding it upside down. Tell me you’ve won the lottery and I’ll give you the number of my coke dealer. Show me a flag and I see kinky sheets on a hooker’s bed. I never commit, not to the big things, and certainly not to the little. It’s not that I’m evil or anything, it’s just that, no matter how hard I try, I never think what I should. Where everyone sees a Merge sign, I read Detour.

A true-blue individual—that’s what I am.

Truth is, the only kind of individualism Americans believe in is the one that numbs the sting of name tags, or that makes a trip to the mall an exercise in self-creation.

The consumer kind.

The false kind.

And who knows? Maybe that’s the way it should be.

Ignore the Merge sign long enough, and sooner or later somebody gets killed.

Disciple seems to imply that he, or individualism, will get people killed.

Then onto the most oft quoted passage of the book:

Quote from: ”DOTD, p2”
I’m what you would call a cynic.

This isn’t to be confused with a skeptic. Skeptics don’t believe in anything because they care too much. For them the dignity of truth is perpetually beyond the slovenly reach of humankind. We’re just not qualified.

A cynic, on the other hand, doesn’t believe in anything because he doesn’t care enough. I mean, really, who gives a fuck?


By picking the Detective vehicle (which many think strikes to the heart of narrative) and Disciple’s first-person expression, Bakker allows himself some direct condemnation of the reader: holding those who would share Disciple’s perspective accountable as real-life individuals. Disciple’s autobiography might be fiction but the reader, his audience, is… as real as real can be.

Do we care about Disciple? Do we care about the world we find him in (which seems to mirror ours in so many ways)? Are we cynics or skeptics?

My name is Disciple Manning. A stupid name, I know—pretty much what you would expect from stupid-talking parents. When people ask me my name, I simply say Diss, Diss Manning. When they make funny with their faces, I lie and tell them I was named after my father, Datt Manning. I usually get a laugh out of dat. If I don’t, if I still get the funny stuff, you know, the What-fucking-planet-are-you-from look, then I hit them, hard—unless they happen to be a cop, in which case I just keep kissing ass.

The one thing you need to remember about me is that I don’t forget.



According to the doctors, it’s driving me crazy.

And the concise summation of our character vehicle; we are welded to Disciple’s autobiography, to Sherlock’s perspective, absent dear Watson the chronicler.

And this is why I find myself sitting down and writing. My latest therapist thinks my problem isn’t what I remember so much as how. She’s a big believer in the power of stories. She thinks hammering my more toxic memories into narrative form will give them some kind of psychologically redemptive meaning.

I can’t help but correlate first-person perspective, especially one that is consciously autobiographical, to a direct communication to the reader. Disciple is retelling us his memories. The following are to be events of things, which already happened. Clearly, Disciple hasn’t benefited from “some kind of psychologically redemptive meaning”…

But what are we expected to take from his “stories,” as the readership?

Quote from: ”DOTD, p3”
Sounds foofy, I know. I’ve always thought writing is just what happens when we pursue our genius for justifying our scams for its own sake. But she’s cute, and there’s a wisdom you get after botching as many suicide attempts as I have. Putting pen to paper just doesn’t seem that big a deal after putting knife to skin.
Nothing does, really. Strange knowledge, that.

And Disciple quickly derails the meaning of any of his words – after all, writing to us, across the boundaries of time, space, and fiction beats another failed attempt at the oblivion Disciple seems to seek.

Disciple continues on to suggest that it is the minute, day to day, decisions, the piling and piling of concession, which defines our lives, the stranded sense of continuum that results in our lives as they stand in the Now.

Great quote:

You see, it’s convenience that drives the species, not in any grand sense but in the most squalid way you could possibly imagine. Say your wife starts coming home late on a regular basis, and you get this kind of queasy feeling in your gut, like on some parallel plane of existence you just stepped off the Tilt-A-Whirl. So what do you do? Say nothing. Follow the ruts. Keep your eyes on the habituated prize. Only ten years to go on the mortgage!

It’s these kinds of decisions that define who we are, by and large. The small kind. The lazy kind.

I really love that Tilt-A-Whirl line.

Trust me, dude, I know. I spy on you. I see you all the time.

I’m the archivist of your lesser self—you know, the side of you that calls the shots between official engagements. I’m the bastard who makes your secrets real. Disciple Manning, the sole proprietor of Manning Investigations, based out of Newark, New Jersey.

That’s right. I’m a private detective. A dick. The part-time security guard of the investigative world.

A real winner.

Disciple is implying comparable flerws between the people of his world and the readers...

We shall see...

Disciple of the Dog / Reviews
« on: June 08, 2013, 06:55:28 pm »
I found this awesome piece written by sometimes commentator and philosophic-distiller at TPB, noir-realism, and decided it could start this thread:

R. Scott Bakker: Disciple of the Dog; or, How a Cynic Bites his own Ass

Feel free to add others as I will be doing.

The Almanac: PON Edition / TDTCB, Ch. 16
« on: June 08, 2013, 04:51:45 pm »

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p500”
Those of us who survived will always be bewildered when we recall his arrival. And not just because he was so different then. In a strange sense he never changed. We changed. If he seems so different to us now, it is because he was the figure that transformed the ground.


Interesting meta-narrative here, especially in a re-read. Almost explicitly refers to the readership.

§16.1 – Kellhus Hits The Sorcerous Jackpot

Late Spring, 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk

The sun had just set. The man who called himself Anasurimbor Kellhus sat cross-legged in the light of his fire, outside a pavilion whose canvas slopes had been stitched with black embroidered eagles — a gift from Proyas, Achamian supposed.

Bakker has made a trend of beginning POVs with Pronouns. He seems to toy with this some by inserting “man who called himself.”

Quote from: TDTCB, p501
“You must be Drusas Achamian,” the Prince of Atrithau said.

“Proyas has warned you about me, I see.”

The man smiled understandingly — much more than understandingly. It was unlike any smile Achamian had ever seen. It seemed to understand him much more than he wanted to be understood.

Then the realization struck.

I know this man.

Achamian is first struck by Kellhus’ Dunyain-ness then the corroboration of his identity by the Dreams.

Gathered around Momemn’s grim walls, the Holy War was a sight as astonishing as anything from Achamian’s nightmares of the Old Wars — save, perhaps, for the heartbreaking Battles of Agongorea and the hopeless Siege of Golgotterath.

Some historical notation.

One of my seed will return, Seswatha — an Anasurimbor will return...

As remarkable as the Scylvendi’s arrival had been, it smacked of happenstance. But Prince Anasurimbor Kellhus of Atrithau was a different story. Anasurimbor! Now there was a name. The Anasurimbor Dynasty had been the third and most magnificent dynasty to rule Kuniüri — the bloodline the Mandate had thought snuffed out thousands of years before, if not with the death of Celmomas II on the fields of Eleneot, then certainly with the sack of great Tryse shortly afterward. But not so. The blood of the first great rival of the No-God had somehow been preserved. Impossible.

... at the end of the world.

Achamian recalls the Celmomian Prophecy while offering us historical notation concerning the seeking of the bloodline. Obviously, to find the bloodline, essentially, would be to fulfill the prophecy.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p502”
“Proyas has warned me,” Kellhus said. “He told me that your kind suffers nightmares of my ancestors.”

Achamian feels as if betrayed and Kellhus offers some comedic relief in order to begin dominating Achamian.

I like this man. What if he is who he claims to be?

And then already cognitive dissonance arises between the possibilities of sacrificing a man Achamian likes – like Inrau.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p503”
Never before had he met a man quite like Anasurimbor Kellhus.

There was his voice, which always seemed pitched to the timbre of a promise. At times, Achamian actually found himself straining to listen, not because the man murmured, or because his accent was prohibitive — he displayed a remarkable fluency given his recent arrival — but because his voice had dimension. It seemed to whisper: There’s more that I’m telling you... Only listen and see.

And there was his face, the frank drama of its expression. There was an innocence about it, a brevity of display possessed only by the young — though in no way did it strike Achamian as naive. The man appeared wise, amused, and sorrowful by guileless turns, as though he experienced his passions and the passions of others with a startling immediacy.

And then there were his eyes, shining soft in the firelight, blue like water that makes one thirst. They were eyes that followed Achamian’s every word, as though no amount of attentiveness could do justice to the importance of what he said.

Achamian offers some secondary descriptions (after Serwe’s) on interacting with Kellhus while not knowing what he is.

Achamian quizzes Kellhus on his dreams, which offers Kellhus the perfect opening to forward his domination. He performs a concise twist by which Achamian cannot doubt Kellhus words without first doubting his own Dreams – for Achamian it sometimes seems as if the Dreams are more real than the world he experiences.

For a brief moment, the Prince of Atrithau regarded him paternally, almost sorrowfully, as though Achamian had yet to understand the rules of this encounter.

… Oh, Achamian.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p505”
Their conversation was devoid of the intangible rivalries that hung like an odor, sometimes sweet but mostly sour, about the exchanges of other men. Because of this, their talk possessed the character of a voyage. At times they laughed, and other times they fell silent, stilled by the gravity of their themes. And these moments were like waystations, small shrines by which to orient a greater pilgrimage.

This man, Achamian realized, was not interested in convincing him of anything.

Certainly, there were things he wished to show him, things he hoped to share, but each was offered within the frame of a common understanding: Let us be moved, you and I, by the things themselves. Let us discover each other.

After our indoctrination of Cnaiur’s POV, it’s almost disheartening to see Achamian’s encounter with Kellhus – so thoroughly outmatched as a worldborn with no previous knowledge of the Dunyain.

Achamian offers some more historical notation, specifically:

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p506”
Centuries past, when the Consult still skirmished openly with the Mandate, Atyersus had maintained a mission in Atrithau. But the mission had gone silent centuries ago, shortly before the Consult itself withdrew into obscurity.

And hence Achamian knew he would be utterly captive to the facts as Kellhus portrayed them. He would have no way of knowing whether he spoke truthfully — no way of knowing whether he was a prince of anything at all.

Achamian has a chance here to recognize that he really knows nothing of the validity of Kellhus’ claims: what better reason to doubt?!

And yet, Anasurimbor Kellhus was a man who moved the souls of those around him.

Speaking with him, Achamian found himself arriving at insights he would scarcely have had otherwise, finding answers to curiosities he’d never before dared admit — as though his very soul had been at once quickened and opened. According to the commentaries, the philosopher Ajencis had been such a man. And how could a man like Ajencis lie? It was as though Kellhus were himself a living revelation. An exemplar of Truth.

Achamian found himself trusting him — trusting, despite a thousand years of suspicion.

As the night waxes, there follows an interesting exchange where Kellhus admits to “loving” Serwe and that he “needs her.” He also exhibits that he is laying the foundation of mystery around his person:

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p507”
“I know,” he said at length. “For some reason, she makes more of me than I am... Others do this as well.”

Kellhus continues with an anecdote about some man falling to his knees before the Prince because of dreams.

“Your dream,” Achamian said matter-of-factly. “He thinks that the Gods move you.”

“I assure you, they haven’t moved me otherwise.”

Achamian doubted this and for a moment found himself frightened. Who is this man?

Achamian, a Schoolman, acknowledging the Gods.

Kellhus continues to answer one of Achamian’s previous unvoiced questions after some silence:

“I do believe you, you know,” Kellhus said at last.

Achamian’s heart fluttered, but he said nothing.

“I believe in your School’s mission.”

This leads into Achamian introducing the idea of Esmenet, certainly her effect on Achamian to Kellhus.

They continue talking together and after a time, Kellhus asks if Achamian will consent to teach him about the Three Seas, to which Achamian thoughtlessly agrees.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p508”
Afterward, negotiating the dark canvas alleys leading to his own tent, Achamian experienced a strange euphoria. Though the increments of such things have no measure, he felt subtly transformed by his encounter with Kellhus, as though he’d been shown a much-needed example of something profoundly human. An example of life’s own proper pose.

Achamian falls asleep dreaming the Dreams, of the Celmomian Prophecy anew, and when he awakes he experiences a panic attack concerning the possibility of the No-God’s eminent rise during which Achamian thinks he’s not strong enough to meet the Apocalypse.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p509”
Beyond the canvas of his tent, all seemed airy silence. Innumerable men slumbered, dreaming of terror and glory against the heathen, and they knew nothing of what Achamian feared. They were innocents, like Proyas, filled by the heedless momentum of their faith, thinking that a place, a city called Shimeh, was the very nail about which the fate of the world spun. But the nail, Achamian knew, was to be found in a far darker place, a place far to the north where the earth wept pitch. A place called Golgotterath.

For the first time in many, many years, Achamian prayed.

Interesting, the idea that the prayers of the Damned might be heard.

Achamian feels foolish after and bolsters himself with a few choice rationalizations.  He returns to his map to center himself: in those moments of contemplation, Achamian resigns himself to not discovering Inrau’s fate and adds Anasurimbor Kellhus below The Consult.

§16.2 – Lies & Jnan

Cnaiur walks through the encampment, returning to Proyas’ pavilion. He reminisces on counseling the Conriyan Palantines under Proyas’ command – men who attempt to dominate each other in the war of words but fail by comparison to the master Dunyain:

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p511”
Watching them, Cnaüir had realized they all played an infantile version of the same game the Dünyain played. Words, Moenghus and Kellhus had taught him, could be used hand open or fist closed — as a way to embrace or a way to enslave. For some reason these Inrithi, who had nothing tangible to gain or to lose from one another, all spoke with their fists closed — fatuous claims, false concessions, mocking praise, flattering insults, and an endless train of satiric innuendoes.

Jnan, they called it. A mark of caste and cultivation.

Cnaiur quickly tires of their banter, especially when the Palatines begin directing their fatuous claims towards the Scylvendi. Cnaiur internally questions again how much he will endure for the vengeance against Moenghus.

He wanders looking at the skies and recalls words of his father, Skiotha:

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p513”
“See, Nayu?” he had said, “see the thousand thousand lights peeking through the leather of night? This is how we know that a greater sun burns beyond this world. This is how we know that when it’s night, it is truly day, and that when it’s day, it is truly night. This is how we know, Nayu, that the World is a lie.”

For Scylvendi, the stars were a reminder: only the People were true.

The World is a lie? Truths of Lokung?

Cnaiur wonders what he is doing among the Inrithi and finally what he is doing…

Then he heard the Dünyain’s voice drifting through the dark.

With his eyes pinched shut, he felt a youth once again, standing in the heart of the Utemot encampment, overhearing Moenghus talk to his mother.

Cnaiur continues towards the fire and watches as Achamian and Kellhus finish their conversation.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p514”
But he quickly realized that Kellhus was playing this sorcerer the way he played all the others, battering him with closed fists, beating his soul down paths of his manufacture. Certainly it did not sound like this. Compared with the banter of Proyas and his Palatines, what Kellhus said to the Schoolman possessed a heartbreaking gravity. But it was all a game, one where truths had become chits, where every open hand concealed a fist.

How could one determine the true intent of such a man?

The thought struck Cnaüir that Dünyain monks might be even more inhuman than he had thought. What if things such as truth and meaning had no meaning for them? What if all they did was move and move, like something reptilian, snaking through circumstance after circumstance, consuming soul after soul for the sake of consumption alone? The thought made his scalp prickle.

They called themselves students of the Logos, the Shortest Way. But the shortest way to what?

For the sake of consumption alone…

Cnair feels increasingly troubled by his fears for Serwe and bothered by the dissonance so askew from the concerns of the People, the Scylvendi.

Achamian leaves and Kellhus takes Serwe to bed before reappearing by the fireside.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p514”
“How long were you intending to wait?” he asked in Scylvendi.

Cnaüir pulled himself to his feet, beat the dust from his breeches. “Until the sorcerer was gone.”

Kellhus nodded. “Yes. The People despise witches.”

“What do you want from the man?” he [Cnaiur] asked, spitting into the coals.

“You heard. Instruction.”

Kellhus shocks Cnaiur with information that Cnaiur feels shouldn’t have eluded him: Moenghus summoned Kellhus to Shimeh using dreams, the Cishaurim, the sorcerer-priest of the Fanim dwell in Shimeh, ergo, Moenghus is Cishaurim.

Kellhus needs sorcery, he says, if he is to contend with his father.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p517”
Cnaüir spat. “I know little of the Schools,” he said, “but I do know this: Mandate Schoolmen do not reveal the secrets of their practice — to anyone. If you wish to learn sorcery, you’re wasting your time with that sorcerer.”

He’d spoken as though Moenghus had not been mentioned. The Dünyain, however, did not bother feigning puzzlement. They both stood, he realized, in the same dark place, the same shadowy nowhere beyond the benjuka plate.

“I know,” Kellhus replied. “He told me of the Gnosis.”

Cnaüir kicked dust across the coals, studied the scatter of black over the pitted glow. He began walking to the pavilion.

“Thirty years,” Kellhus called from behind. “Moenghus has dwelt among these men for thirty years. He’ll have great power — more than either of us could hope to overcome. I need more than sorcery, Cnaüir. I need a nation. A nation.”

Cnaüir paused, looked skyward once again. “So it’s to be this Holy War, then, is it?”

“With your help, Scylvendi. With your help.”

Day for night. Night for day. Lies. All lies.

§16.3 – Skeaos the Pig

We join Xerius as he finds out from Skeaos about Proyas’ kutma, the Prince’s hidden benjuka move – finding a Scylvendi who has defeated the Fanim in battle.

Xerius freaks out for some moments before Skeaos reminds the Emperor:

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p518”
B-but this is unlikely to interfere with our divine purpose.” The old Counsel was careful to keep his gaze firmly fixed on the floor. No one may look the Emperor in the eye. This, Xerius thought, was why he truly seemed a God to these fools. What was God but a tyrannical shadow in one’s periphery, the voice that could never fall within one’s field of vision? The voice from nowhere.

Xerius bids Skeaos break Antique Protocol for a moment so he might gage his subordinate:

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p519”
Xerius valued Skeaos far above any other of his preening, lapdog advisers. In Skeaos he found the perfect marriage of subservience and intellect, of deference and insight. But lately he had sensed a pride, an illicit identification of counsel and edict.

Studying the frail form, Xerius felt himself calm — the calm of suspicion. “Have you heard the saying, Skeaos? ‘Cats look down upon Man, and dogs look up, but only pigs dare look Man straight in the eye.’”

“Y-yes, God-of-Men.”

“Pretend that you are a pig, Skeaos.”

What would be in a man’s face when he looked into the countenance of God? Defiance? Terror? What should be in a man’s face? The aged, clean-shaven face slowly turned and lifted, glimpsed the Emperor’s eyes before turning back to the floor.

“You tremble, Skeaos,” Xerius muttered. “That is good.”

§16.4 – Foolish Schoolmen, Faces are for Consult

We rejoin Achamian as he’s relentless brooding over the fulfillment of the Celmomian Prophecy.

No less than seven times had he prepared the Cants of Calling to inform Atyersus of his “discovery.” No less than seven times had he faltered mid-verse, trailing into murmurs.

Achamian is a self-proclaimed sKeptic (with a K) and, as such, knows he does not share the fervour, the conviction, the certainty that Kellhus actually fulfills anything. After all, he’s a man of some thirty years who is named Anasurimbor – if the bloodline survived til him, then an Anasurimbor was always around; the dream, of course, might refer to an Anasurimbor being found by one of the Mandate, specifically.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p520”
I gave them Inrau... Must I give them Kellhus too?

Achamian weighs his dissention and decides that he knows enough… where is your doubt, Achamian?

Before going to the mattresses, Achamian decides to talk things over with Xinemus.

Quote from: ’TDTCB, p521”
“I don’t know what to think,” he said finally.

“Either that or you’re afraid to say what you think.”

Xinemus glared at him. “You spent an entire evening with him. You tell me: have you ever met a man like him?”

“No,” Achamian admitted.

“So what makes him different?”

“He’s... better. Better than most men.”

“Most men? Or do you mean all men?”

Achamian regarded Xinemus narrowly. “He frightens you.”

“Sure. So does the Scylvendi, for that matter.”

“But in a different way... Tell me, Zin, just what do you think Anasurimbor Kellhus is?”

Prophet or prophecy?

“More,” Xinemus said decisively. “More than a man.”

In reading, it almost seems authorial fiat – definitely priming us for the Prophet/Saviour narrative. Why does Achamian, a “renowned Skeptic” and damned sorcerer go from deciding that it is too coincidental for Kellhus to fulfill the Celmomian Prophecy to “he’s a prophet?”

A growing commotion cuts off their breaky and Achamian realizes from a flying banner being beaten through the Men-of-the-Tusk that the Scarlet Spires are here to make his acquaintance:

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p522”
They had both glimpsed it at the same time: a long crimson banner capped by the Ainoni pictogram for Truth and bearing a coiled, three-headed serpent. The symbol of the Scarlet Spires.

Xinemus asks why the Spires are flying their banner and Achamian asks Xinemus to get his Chorae.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p523”
They flew their standard, Achamian realized, for his benefit. They had a choice: either risk inciting a mob or risk startling a Mandate Schoolman. The fact that they thought the latter a greater threat testified to the wretched relations between their two Schools.

Xinemus forms a perimeter of Conriyans to keep the enraged mob at bay and tells Achamian to tell the Spire to leave… immediately.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p524”
The words stung. In all the years Achamian had known Krijates Xinemus, the man had never barked commands at him. The ever-amiable Xinemus had abruptly become the Marshal of Attrempus, a man with a task and numerous men at his disposal. But this, Achamian realized, wasn’t what hurt. The situation, after all, called for decisiveness. What stung was the undertone of anger, the sense that his friend somehow blamed him.

Achamian watches Xinemus bolster and lead his Conriyans. Finally, the palanquin clears the border and the Men-of-the-Tusk unload their disdain for sorcerers in the form of “looted plates, wine bowls, chicken bones, stones, and even the corpse of a cat” (p525).

Finally, the slaves lower their palanquin and out steps:

It was Eleazaras himself. The Grandmaster of the Scarlet Spires and de facto ruler of High Ainon.

Achamian found himself struck dumb by disbelief. The Grandmaster? Here?

They stood in the presence of one of the most powerful men in the Three Seas. Only the Shriah or the Padirajah could claim more power than the Grandmaster of the Scarlet Spires. Blasphemer or not, a man of such power commanded respect, and respect commanded silence.

Eleazaras and Achamian share some witty, jnan prescribed, back and forth.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p526”
The Grandmaster’s lips tightened into a sour line. “Clever man. Clever little man. Tell me, Drusas Achamian, how is it that after all these years you still find yourself in the field, hmm? Did you offend someone? Nautzera, perhaps? Or did you bugger Proyas as a boy? Is that why House Nersei sent you packing those years ago?”

Achamian was speechless. They had researched him, armed themselves with as many painful facts and innuendoes as they could find. And here he’d thought he was watching them!

As the Inrithi hoard starts pushing against the Conriyan links again, Eleazaras asks if they might retire to Xinemus’ pavilion – Achamian replies that it isn’t possible, for Xinemus’ sake.

Achamian asks what Eleazaras wants. They banter – Eleazaras asserting that Achamian took Geshrunni’s face (which we know was taken by a skin-spy watching Achamian) and Achamian admitting to knowing of the Spires “secret” war against the Cishaurim.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p528”
“Me?” He laughed incredulously. “You think I killed Geshrunni?”

The shock had been so total he’d simply blurted these words. Now it was Eleazaras who was startled.

“You do have a facility for lies,” the Grandmaster said after a moment.

“And you for delusion! Geshrunni was the best-placed informant the Mandate has had in a generation. Why would we kill him?”

Eleazaras studied him for a pensive moment, then shook his head ruefully, as though saddened the persistence of hardened liars. “Why is any informant murdered, hmm? In so many ways so many men are more useful dead. But as I mentioned, it was the manner that sparked my admittedly morbid curiosity.”

Scowling, Achamian hunched his shoulders in disbelief. “Someone plays you for a fool, Grandmaster.”

Someone plays both of us... But who?

The Consult, Achamian! First Inrau tries to warn you with his “suicide,” possibly from the Outside, and now someone has taken Geshrunni’s face!

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p529”
“Indeed,” Eleazaras spat in a tone of condemnation and disgust. “Who else collects human faces?”

It’s often been voiced that this will be Bakker’s major retcon – that initially he’d had some thoughts towards the skin-spies needing an actual face to impersonate their marks.

TTT Glossary:

(click to show/hide)

§16.5 – What You Don’t Know, Can End the World!

Eleazaras contemplates his encounter with Achamian. He muses about the wrath of the faithful and leasing a villa outside of Momemn. And he relaxes alone, elite, on his sunlit portico, awaiting his Master of Spies, Iyokus.

Iyokus promptly informs Eleazaras that the Spires have lost their last informant in Sumna, that the Spires are blind to the inner workings of the Thousand Temples, before Eleazaras offers us some biography on Iyokus and chanv in reflection:

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p531”
Iyokus was addicted to chanv, the drug that held a greater part of the Ainoni ruling castes within its clasp — except, and this thought often surprised Eleazaras, for Chepheramunni, the latest puppet they had installed on the Ainoni throne. For those who could afford her sweet bite, chanv sharpened the mind and extended one’s life for periods greater than a hundred years, but it also sapped the body of its pigment and, some said, the soul of its will. Iyokus looked the same now as the day Eleazaras had joined the School as a boy many, many years before. Unlike other addicts, Iyokus refused to use cosmetics to compensate for the deficits of his skin, which was more translucent than the greased linen that the poor used in their windows. Like dark, arthritic worms, veins branched across his features. One could even see the dark in the center of his red eyes when he closed his lids. His fingernails were waxy black from bruising.

Despite the disturbing aesthetics of addiction, Eleazaras himself might have succumbed to the drug’s lure, particularly because of the way it reputedly sharpened the intellect. Perhaps the only aspect of chanv that had prevented him from slipping into that wan and strangely narcissistic love affair — addicts rarely married or produced live children — was the unsettling fact that no one knew its source. For Eleazaras, this was intolerable.

Eleazaras continues to quiz Iyokus on the loss of their spies.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p532”
“What does this mean, Iyokus?” he asked. I’ve delivered the greatest School in the Three Seas to its greatest peril.

“It means we must have faith,” Iyokus said with an air of shoulder-shrugging fatalism. “Faith in this Maithanet.”

“Then we must double our expenditures in Sumna, Iyokus. This is intolerable.”

“I agree. Faith is intolerable.”

Eleazaras returns to reminiscing of the assassination of Sasheoka, former Grandmaster of the Scarlet Spires.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p533”
They’d been meeting in the council chambers deep in the galleries beneath the Scarlet Spires, discussing the possible defection of one of their number to the Mysunsai School. The most sacrosanct chambers of the Scarlet Spires were nested in Wards. One could not step or lean against bare stone without feeling the indent of inscription or the aura of incantations. And yet the assassins had simply flickered into existence.

A strange noise, like the humming flutter of netted birds, and a light, as though a door had been thrown open across the surface of the sun, framing three figures. Three hellish silhouettes.

Shock, chilling bone and paralyzing thought, and then furniture and bodies were blown against the walls. Blinding ribbons of the purest white lashed across the corners of the room. Shrieks. Terror clawing through his bowels.

Sheltered by a hollow between the wall and an overturned table, Eleazaras had crawled through his own blood to die — or so he thought. Some of his peers still survived. He glimpsed the instant that Sasheoka, his predecessor and teacher, crumpled beneath the blinding touch of the assassins. And Iyokus, on his knees, his pale head blackened by blood, swaying behind the shimmering of his Wards, struggling to reinforce them.
Cataracts of light obscured him, and Eleazaras, somehow unnoticed by the intruders, felt the words boil to his lips. He could see them — three men in saffron robes, two crouching, one erect, bathed in the incandescence of their exertions. He saw serene faces with the deep sockets of the blind, and energies wheeling from their foreheads as though through a window to the Outside. A golden phantom reared from Eleazaras’s outstretched hands — a scaled neck, a mighty crest, jaws scissoring open. With a queen’s deliberate grace, the dragon’s head dipped and scourged the Cishaurim with fire. Eleazaras had wept with rage. Their Wards collapsed. Stone cracked. The flesh was swept from their bones. Their agony had been too brief.

Then quiet. Strewn bodies. Sasheoka a sizzling ruin. Iyokus gasping on the floor. Nothing. They had sensed nothing. The onta had only been bruised by their own sorceries. It was as if the Cishaurim had never been. Iyokus stumbling toward him... How could they do this?

The Cishaurim had started their long and secret war. Eleazaras would end it.

Vengeance. This was the gift the Shriah of the Thousand Temples had offered them. The gift of their ancient enemy. A Holy War.

My bold for the first/only specifics of Cishaurim sorcery.

Eleazaras continues to ruminate on making the Spires servants to a Holy War… finally he asks Iyokus of their spies in the Imperial Precincts. Iyokus tells him that they nothing more of the Emperor’s plans for the Holy War, however, that the Exalt-General and Imperial-Nephew Ikurei Conphas received a message from the Fanim after the destruction of the Vulgar Holy War (to which we were privy in a previous Conphas POV).

Eleazaras comments seemingly absentmindedly on Conphas and his intelligence. Iyokus finally asks if he can speak honestly:

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p535”
Emotion pooled in Iyokus’s face as readily as water in a sackcloth, but his apprehension was now plain. “The Scarlet Spires is degraded by all this...” he began uncomfortably. “We’ve become subordinates when our destiny is to rule. Abandon this Holy War, Eli. There’s too much uncertainty. Too many unknowns. We play number-sticks with our very lives.”

You too, Iyokus?

But he said only: “Patience, Iyokus. Knowing is always a matter of patience.”

“Yesterday, Grandmaster, you were almost killed by the very men we’re to march with... If that doesn’t demonstrate the absurdity of our position, then nothing does.”

Eleazaras comments on the riots in the Conriyan encampment, which reminds him of Achamian’s level headed manner and the threat of the Gnosis.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p536”
How he despised the Mandate! All the Schools, even the Imperial Saik, recognized the ascendancy of the Scarlet Spires — save for the Mandate. And why should they when a mere field spy could cow their Grandmaster?

“The incident,” Eleazaras replied, “merely demonstrates something we’ve always known, Iyokus. Our position in the Holy War is precarious, true, but all great designs require great sacrifices. When all this comes to fruition, when Shimeh is smoking ruin and the Cishaurim are extinct, the Mandate will be the only School left that can humble us.” An arcane empire — that would be the wages of his desperate labor.

Iyokus offers some final news concerning another faceless corpse in Carythusal from years ago. The two decide that the Mandate is playing some arcane game beyond being Antiquarian Jesters.

Quote from: ”TDTCB, p537”
Eleazaras nodded. “I agree. The Mandate now plays as we play, Iyokus. That man, Drusas Achamian, left little doubt of that...” Such a gifted liar! Eleazaras had almost believed he knew nothing of Geshrunni’s death.

“If the Mandate is part of the game,” Iyokus said, “everything changes. Do you realize that? We can no longer count ourselves the first School of the Three Seas.”

“First we crush the Cishaurim, Iyokus. In the meantime, make certain that Drusas Achamian is watched.”

The buildup nearing the end of TDTCB has some of my favorite parts of TSA. The wretched relations between the Schools and the Inrithi. The arcane aspirations of the Scarlet Spires. Iyokus and Achamian’s reason. The hidden mechanisms of the Consult. Anasurimbor Kellhus being unleashed on the Men-of-the-Tusk.


News/Announcements / Post Topics
« on: June 06, 2013, 11:51:47 am »
It was brought to my attention twice now that members haven't been able to post.

Sincere apologies. That was in no way intentional - I'm not sure how it happened, and though it bothers me, you should all have been able to post while I was porting and, certainly, now that I'm finished.

The Forum of Interesting Things / The Ghost Army
« on: June 05, 2013, 04:07:37 pm »

Apparently, you could previously watch the full documentary on PBS so likely it's available online somewhere.

Unit of the Allied Forces whose sole purpose is deceiving the Axis powers through guile, deception, theatrics, and illusion.

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