Earwa > The Almanac: PON Edition

TDTCB, Ch. 5

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What Came Before:

--- Quote from: Madness ---Just in case I don't manage to post about my reading today, thought I'd make the topic.

The Emperor...
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What Came Before:

--- Quote from: sologdin ---just a few notes:

--- Quote ---”Good fortune,” Arithmeas, his favorite augur and astrologer, called out.  “Among the lower castes, to be…ah, shat upon by a bird is the case of great celebration.”
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(I.5 at 140). 

--- Quote ---AUGURS. A priestly college of ancient Rome, whose function it was to take the auspices and interpret them.  They were drawn from the upper or patrician class, received a salary, wore a mantle with a violet border, and carried a crook with which they marked out the space on which the auspices were to be taken. After offering a prayer to the gods for right divination, the augurs proceeded to watch the approach or song of birds (the word “auspices” is derived from the Latin for “signs from birds”), the movement of animals, and thunder and lightning.  Signs on the augur’s left or east side were propitious, on the west side the reverse.  Auspices were also taken on important occasions by householders.
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(e. royston pike, encyclopedia of religion and religions (1964) at 37-38).

is bird shit within the jurisdiction of imperial augur?  or is it rather “lower caste” folk belief?  he is flattering, rather than reading the auspices, no?  I can’t tell whether the sign is to the augur’s left or right from the description of the chamber. 

(click to show/hide)we may have more to say about astrology later.  consider for instance the glossary entry for Nail of Heaven: 
--- Quote ---The northern star that, aside from being the brightest star in the night sky (it is sometimes visible in daylight), provides the axis from which all other stars revolve.
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(III at 469).  contrary to being in orbit around the planet on which the story is principally set, it matches the axis of that planet’s rotation.  the planet rotates and the nail does not move with the rest of the night sky.

or, in the much more intriguing alternative, it is the ajencian nail from which the setting hangs--and the planet itself is the center around which all other objects revolve in geocentric orbit:  for, if the universe revolves around the planet, which is set and does not rotate, there will be a stable center of that rotation at the top and the bottom points of the celestial spheres that have no radial motion.  the nail is one such point.  that the nail is also the brightest object in the heavens is quite a coincidence:  1 in a googolplex, maybe?  I suspect that the setting has some astrotheological significances, but this is a damned interesting setting detail, especially with the revelation in “the false sun“ regarding its newness for cunuroi--which makes it something like tycho brahe‘s supernova.  perhaps this is why the inchoroi think that the planet will reward their theology: it is the center of the universe; if they can decenter the universe, then they might seal it.  or something like that?
(click to show/hide)upon further reflection, i must retract my earlier statement that the text lacks allegory.  the inchoroi attempt to decenter (a significant term of art in post-structuralism) the universe, along with their ludic-aesthetic obsession and their designation as the "people of emptiness," makes them into what we might designate bad deconstructionists--they are nihilists-hedonists, caring only for their own erotic satisfaction, the post-structurlaist's "pleasure of the text," and what has been termed jouissance in some of the literature. 

perhaps this association of inchoroi awfulness with certain strands of post-structuralism is RSB's big Fuck You to the "branch derridean compound" about which he has expressed "contempt" on occasion. i will need to determine how his critique of post-structuralism has arisen--if it is rooted in folks like ellis & kimball, then this effort to equate inchoroi religion with academic deconstruction is politically retrograde and philistine, even if it is aesthetically slick and extremely smart.  if not, then not.  we shall see.

--- Quote ---The whole world is every man’s enemy, Xerius.
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(I.5 at 143).  a paraphrase of hobbes:

--- Quote ---So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory.

The first maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third, for reputation. The first use violence, to make themselves masters of other men's persons, wives, children, and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name.

Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man. For war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is peace.

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
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(hobbes, leviathan at XIII).  good stuff.

--- Quote ---In matters of Holy War, an ancient constitution bound the Emperor to the Shriah.  Xerius was obligated to supply the Holy War, on pain of Shrial Censure.
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(I.6 at 144).  so, some law.  fantasy is usually Very Bad at law.  not suggesting it need be otherwise, but we shall see how it works out in RSB.

--- Quote ---Priests, augurs, and philosophers all teach us that what we see is smoke.
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(I.6 at 149).  platonist immaterialism, as laid out in the republic, such as the allegory of the cave.

fun chapter--though it partakes of the standard fantasy convention of presenting the perspective of the ruling class-here, the highest perspective possible in the person of an emperor.  it is something of an easy way for the writer to assemble and present setting-significant developments.  my thoughts on it are inchoate for now--perhaps i’ll use the emperor’s perspectives here to develop a Theory of Ruling Class Perspectives.
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What Came Before:

--- Quote from: Madness ---Momemn

What the Men of the Tusk never understood was that the Nansur and the Kianene were old enemies. When two civilized peoples find themselves at war for centuries, any number of common interests will arise in the midst of their greater antagonism. Ancestral foes share many things: mutual respect, a common history, triumph in stalemate, and a plethora of unspoken truces. The Men of the Tusk were interlopers, an impertinent flood that threatened to wash away the observed channels of a far older enmity.

- DRUSAS ACHAMIAN, Compendium of the First Holy War

Early Summer, 4110 Year-of-the-Tusk, Momemn

§5.1 – Schemes of an Emperor

In Ch. 5, we've moved from the East of the Three Seas in High Ainon, across the Meneanor Sea to Atyersus, Sumna, and now Momemn in the West.

The chapter begins with an introduction of the Emperor of Nansur, Ikurei Xerius III, worried for word from the Imperial-Nephew, Ikurei Conphas. He and his Prime Counsel, Skeaos, spend some moments reflecting before the Prime Counsel turns to address the functionaries around the dais.

Xerius reflects that he really knows few, if any, of those peoples who surround him, as “matching the Emperor’s gaze was forbidden to those without Imperial Blood” (p141).

Skeaos introduces the gallery, telling them that “this will be unlike any audience you’ve ever attended” (p141), before the salvaged Kyranean doors open and the Lord Nersei Calmemunis, Palatine of Kanampurea of the Conriyan contingent of the Holy War enters the Audience Hall. Conriya is the country of Achamian's student Nersei Proyas, who we assume to be related to Calmemunis.

The Emperor reflects on Skeaos' words, having "received innumerable petitioners in his forty-five years, embassies of war and peace from across the Three Seas, but as Skeaos had said, he had never hosted an audience such as this ... The Empire itself” (p142). The Men of the Tusk gather at Momemn and Xerius seeks to commandeer the Holy War to his own ends with "men such as Calmemunis, along with their client barons and knights, [who] would be the keel and rudder of the Holy War" (p143).

The Audience Hall was described at the beginning of §5.1 and Xerius highlights that "For them [Conriyans], I’m darkness framed by sun and sky" (p143). He addresses Calmemunis who reveals that Xerius is involved in war to the north with the Scylvendi, as Calmemunis has been told that "Ikurei Conphas, marches against the Scylvendi" (p145).

Xerius tries to downplay this rumor deflecting their discussion towards the Holy War and the congregating Men of Tusk, though Xerius himself does not seem a believer.

Xerius reveals that Calmemunis is, in fact, Proyas’ cousin, and one who Proyas recently whipped for impiety at the Battle of Paremti (p144-145). Calmemunis fumbles for a response and Xerius wonders as "he often wondered if this was not the true function of jnan: the quick separation of wheat from chaff” (p145).

Xerius has Skeaos bring forth The Indenture (p146), which he explains to Calmemunis: “For generations we’ve battled them in the south … All of what is now called Kian once belonged to my Imperial ancestors, Palatine. Since who I am now, Ikurei Xerius III, is but the face of one divine Emperor, all of what is now called Kian once belonged to me … By marking this Indenture … you swear to return all lands liberated by the Holy War to their rightful possessor” (p147).

Krijates Xinemus, Lord Marshall of Attrempus (p148), Proyas’ childhood sword trainer, speaks up, retorting that Maithanet knows nothing of the Three Seas and Xerius reflects that "the whole Three Seas knows our reputation” (p148) - this having been corroborated in the previous chapter when Achamian suggests to Inrau that the Emperor would attempt to sell Maithanet the Imperial Saik.

Calmemunis and Xerius argue before “something warm and viscous struck his [Xerius'] cheek” (p149). Xerius then showcases a little madness and worry about his plans as he commands his Captain of the Eothic Guard to shoot the birds.

The shafts and dead birds fall around the Conriyan contingent and Xerius descends the steps of the Imperial Dais, procuring a shaft and bird before handing it to Calmemunis.

“Take this … as a token of my esteem” (p150).

§5.2 – Emperor & Empress

The Audience Hall clears out and Xerius talks with Skeaos about what the bird shit portends and his plans - something he appears very jealous about when Skeaos' suggests its shared invention: “Our plan, Skeaos? You mean my plan” (p151), Xerius thinks.

His Augur suggests that the shit was an omen and Xerius immediately adopts the man's thinking. “It was an omen! And a good one at that. He could feel it! Again the Gods have touched me” (p151). More and more the Emperor seems shallow, vain, and paranoid, if not delusional entirely.

They exit the Audience Hall onto an adjoining terrace of the Palace, the Andiamine Heights. Xerius asks his Augur again what the audience with the Conriyan's portends and Arithmeas, the Augur, responds that “The ways of Fate are narrow” (p152).

Xerius’ Mother, Ikurei Istriya, Empress of Nansur, “whose dowry had been the burning of the Imperial Harem” (p153), surprises them on the terrace, having watched the Audience with the Conriyans. She is less than impressed and wonders aloud at Xerius' madness.

Xerius reflects that “he sensed something odd in her manner, something bottled” (p153). He considers that since “now that the two greats horns of his plan has been set in motion” (p153), he might simply be sensing the differences in how those around him perceive their Emperor. The Empress does not support the Indenture, asking Xerius “why do you persist in this nonsense?” (p154).

A guardsmen greets Skeaos as Xerius and the Empress bicker, Istriya, seeming to doubt Xerius' mental mettle more and more as their conversation proceeds. Xerius reflects that “empire was the prize, not the wager” (p155), in his plans.

“In matters of Holy War, an ancient constitution bound the Emperor to the Shriah. Xerius was obligated to supple the Holy War, on pain of Shrial Censure” (p156).

Xerius is convinced Maithanet won't force the Emperor to provision the Men of the Tusk “knowing it’ll purchase the Holy War the time it needs to gather … Aside from taxing my purse, he knew I would do this” (p156). He suspects that Maithanet realized that Xerius would attempt to regain the fallen provinces of the Nansurium.

Finally, it becomes apparent that Istriya is only worried about Conphas, that “this was the Istriya that Xerius knew and despised … obsessed with her progeny, with the fate of House Ikurei” (p158).

“You hope to extort signatures for your Indenture, not because you expect any Men of the Tusk to relinquish their conquests, but because you expect to wage war against them afterward” (p158).

The Empress makes Xerius freak out something fierce, and in doubt, he demands that Skeaos "Tell me you see!" (p160).

“You’ve made a wager, God-of-Men. Only after the number-sticks have been thrown can we know” (p160).

Xerius has the Empress removed, then waylays and interrogates Skeaos and Gaenkelti concerning the Imperial happenings.

“The Fanim have sent an emissary in reply to your request to parlay … A Cishaurim. The Fanim have sent a Cishaurim” (p163).

§5.3 – Cishaurim Parlay

Firstly, couldn’t resist the title here.

We’re introduced to Cememketri, the Grandmaster of his Imperial Saik, in the small courtyard. Xerius is clearly nervous, as he “squeezed his Chorae tight, until it felt his knuckles would burst.”

Skeaos and Cememketri have some back and forth, they don’t like each other much, and the Emperor inquires as to their sorceretic defenses. “There are three of us here, God-of-Men, and twelve crossbowmen, all bearing Chorae” (p163).

Two Eothic Guardsman enter the courtyard, “accompanied by a cowled figure in black-linen robes” (p164).

“Cishaurim … to simply speak the name was to strike terror in the Nansur breast” (p164), Xerius thinks. As his tutors had claimed, “a serpent coiled about the Cishaurim’s neck” (p164).

I find this very interesting as it means the Cishaurim don’t get out much, cross-culturally, even though Kianene has been tolerant to pilgrims before the declaration of the Holy War.

“Do you see the mark of sorcery? … ‘None,’” (p164).

“I am Mallahet … adopted son of Kisma, of the tribe Indara-Kishauri” (p165).

Mallahet seems a pretty big name among the Cishaurim. Xerius has been briefed on Mallahat “as the one whose arms were scarred like a Scylvendi” (p165). Cememketri begins to insistently add that they are all in danger, despite three sorcerers and twelve chorae bowman. “Mallahet is second only to Seokti in the Cishaurim. And only then because their Prophetic Law bars non-Kianene from the position of Heresiarch” (p165).

An interesting distinction between the exercise of sorcery by Achamian or the Synthese from Inrau’s perspective and Xerius’ perception of the Cishaurim’s sorceretic agency: “It seemed the Nail of Heaven flashed from the Cishaurim’s brow … superimposed like a transparent mask over Mallehet’s skull-like visage was the face of another, a grizzled Kianene warrior” (p166).

The sorcery exercised by the Cishaurim produces some kind of communication enabling the disembodied face of Skauras, Sapatishah-Governor of Shigek, to speak to Xerius from afar. We’re not informed whether or not there is a second Cishaurim at Skauras’ location, showcasing Xerius' face.

The two fence verbally for about two pages before things become clear to the reader. Skauras speaks on behalf of Kian, who ultimately deal with Xerius for the reasons Achamian highlights in our epigraph. Xerius is the only “Man of the Tusk” who might actually deal “honestly” with the Cishaurim. The Kianene seem to be almost admitting eventual defeat at this moment.

Then Skauras drops the bomb to stop Xerius from talking shit, when Xerius suggests that “the Holy War needs a School, and that School happens to be mine” (p169). Skauras laughs in his face. “Maithanet has sealed a pact with the Scarlet Spires” (p169).

Xerius always seems to get real serious and clear-minded when someone cuts through his bullshit: “Regardless of who possesses the Holy War, you are doomed” (p170).

The chapter ends with Skauras and Xerius coming to a sort of understanding between them, lost to the reader. However, the point that stands clear in my reading is also the point that Xerius reflects on…

“Everything now hinged on his nephew, far to the north. More than ever” (p170).

Ikurei Conphas, Exalt-General…
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What Came Before:

--- Quote from: Callan S. ---Major spoiler
(click to show/hide)So why are those two skin spies so against the indenture?edit: Yup, hit quote instead of spoiler...
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What Came Before:

--- Quote from: Madness ---Maybe you might have spoilered that rather than quoted, Callan.

(click to show/hide)The Consult want to destroy the Cishaurim... In Shimeh. Xerius cares nothing for the ultimate conquest, he just wants most of the Nansurium's historical provinces back. So he won't go all the way.
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