Questions after reading

originally posted by Catherine Britt

Have been re-reading CothM.

1) Wonder if anyone has any thoughts about Dakar's fey sight on Arithon's and Asandir's being in mirror image?

2) Being wondering about the towers at Ithamon. If the power that binds their structure is the force of each virtue renewed, then Arithon's receipt of grace, his endurance at each challenge, his increasing wisdom etc must be meaningful for ?.

originally posted by Blue

1. Well, I think Dakar's insight, which was pretty rare for him at the time, meant that he recognized that Arithon was just about as powerful as Asandir, AND that they had a lot in common, something Arithon himself could not recognize, considering his upset at being manipulated into accepting the crown at Ithamon, with the coronation at Etarra.

Of course, Janny really puts the poor guy through the wringer, so sometimes it is hard to say exactly WHAT he realizes, early on.

Also, Arithon himself may not have realized his own strength (of character and will) and power at the time, because he was, literally, a young man of 22 who was still growing, in terms of maturity, knowledge, magic, music, AND experience. At this point, the F7 realized that he had a LOT of potential that could complicate their plans for restoring the monarchy, which is why the power of the s'Ffalenn crown jewels was hidden from him.

There are times, while on their travels to Althain and then to Ithamon, when Arithon ACTS like a very young, somewhat immature guy. It is to be expected, as Janny, I think, is allowing us to grow in knowledge with him. Arithon of Traitor's Knot is a much different man than he was on arrival in Athera, in CotM. Makes me drool to wonder how much more he will grow come Stormed Fortress!

2. As for the Towers of Ithamon, there is a lot of room for interpretation, and Janny is being rather coy on the subject. We can speculate anyway, because that's half the fun.

I don't think it is coincidence that the 5 Towers are imbued with the virtues that correspond to the main geas virtues of the human royal lines. (Will have to look that up, it has been a while since I last read CotM).

As long as those virtues were being practiced, in a whole and healthy scheme of things, the Towers thrived, too. However, the Justice Tower fell into ruin when King Marin Eliathe was murdered in his hall by an assassin. A lot of evidence points to the King as being Paravian, and further, that he was assassinated before the arrival of humans. Who did it? Why?

Janny, at the moment, is laughing up her sleeve at us, I think. She just loves a good tease, as we see.

I also wonder if the F7, or possibly even the Paravians will look to Arithon as being the one to make that Tower whole again. Since it is the Justice Tower, could it have something to do with the redemption of Lysaer, and the final resolution of Desh-thiere's Curse?

NOTE: This is speculation only. For all I know, I am a MILLION MILES off base.

originally posted by Matthew

I can only guess the towers were aligned to the different virues during or after the building process. So, they won't repair themselves. I believe they were built by the paravians so even if the wrongs which broke the towers are corrected no-ones around yet to rebuild.

If the king that was murdered was paravian then the fellowship looked for the 5 virtues in people to match the towers. If he was human it might indicate the towers were specifically made for humans as a visible embodiment of those virtues.

Interestingly, after everything that has happened the tower of justice is in the worst state (i think)could this indicate it's the easiest virtue to corrupt?

originally posted by Blue

There are too many who mistake justice for vengeance, which Lysaer's father, and now, thanks to the Curse, Lysaer himself have made.

The old Biblical "eye for an eye" suggests vengeance for the loss of an eye, in that the person who (might have accidentally) put out the eye of another is then himself deprived of an eye.

Of course, with only a little more reading, this is explained to mean that the person who lost the eye is entitled to monetary compensation for the loss, kind of an Old Testament "death or dismemberment" insurance policy. Pirates, too, had this kind of compensation in their articles, at least the ones active in Caribbean waters during the 1600-1700s.

In any case, it might not be that true justice is an easier virtue to corrupt, but it is possible, through ignorance, a curse or deliberate intent, to misconstrue what it truly means.

There is an FAQ somewhere that explains the origins of the s'Ilessid/s'Ffalenn feud back on Dascen Elur. A shipment of grain that was supposed to relieve a famine in Amroth went awry. Due to various shenanigans, of crooked people covering their tracks, the s'Ffalenn employee who had been responsible for the shipment was blamed. Through a further series of misunderstandings and bad timing, the then-King of Amroth invaded Karthan and sowed the fields with salt, to make the Karthish suffer the death and deprivation and hunger of the Amroth controlled area. To this King, this was justice - but it was an overreaction, especially since this condemned an entire NATION to famine.

The s'Ffalenn Kings, unfortunately, were forced to resort to piracy against the s'Ilessid of Amroth and thus, the feud that was responsible for shaping Lysaer and Arithon was born. According to one reference in CotM, this feud was seven generations strong. I wonder, however, if part of the problem with the s'Ffalenn maintaining their end of the feud could have resulted from that quick temper they inherited, along with their compassion/empathy geas from Torbrand s'Ffalenn, the founder of the line.

Both sides were capable of committing terrible atrocities against one another, and neither had any thoughts of possibly turning to s'Ahelas as a neutral party to mediate - there is no mention in that FAQ that any attempt was made, so I am going to presume that none WAS made.

Once started, the feud just fed on itself. The s'Ilessid retaliated strongly against the s'Ffalenn "aggressors" for their "barbarities" and the s'Ffalenn, trapped by their compassion/empathy geas, read and used their enemy's weaknesses against them, making it seem as though the atrocities committed were due to the s'Ffalenn having NO scruples.

In order to stay in power, I am guessing, it is not so much that Justice was corrupted as a true virtue, it was conveniently redefined into something it was never meant to be. The s'Ilessid King could not afford to look "soft on piracy" so the punishments became increasingly harsh against the men and women committing the acts, who were doing so out of sheer desperation.

originally posted by Catherine Britt


I thought the main royal virtues/geas were: justice, farsight, wisdom, temperance and compassion.

The qualities imbued in the towers were: justice, wisdom, grace, compassion, honour/endurance. I suppose I was wondering if Arithon as sanctioned prince was in some way reinforcing those virtues.

Maybe the s'Ilessid king was more concerned with retaliation rather than a proper response to a wrongdoing.

originally posted by Blue

Oops! You are right, Catherine - I really need to pick up the book and look up the references BEFORE I sound off.

Of course, I have that problem in "real life," too - my brain is in park, while my mouth is in overdrive.

Maybe the s'Ilessid king was more concerned with retaliation rather than a proper response to a wrongdoing.

You have a gift for summing things up that I envy! Of course, I am notorious for reading a 10 page short story and writing an 8 page book report on it. You are exactly right, the s'Ilessid King WAS concerned with retaliation, rather than true Justice. To him, what he did, WAS just, not an act of mean spirited revenge that caused a war seven generations long.

Of course, it could also be a convenient misinterpretation of the old "eye for an eye" adage, that served some unknown political agenda. "Our people suffered, now theirs do. THAT'S justice."

If JUSTICE had really been a concern, the s'Ilessid King could easily have sued for monetary compensation, or demanded a replacement of the grain that was lost, gratis, instead of condemning an entire country to starvation.

I'll leave it to Janny to fill in the blanks - maybe there was a compelling reason the King of Amroth did what he did. Perhaps the geas gift was not at its full potency in him, as it was with Lysaer (pre-Curse).

originally posted by Catherine Britt

Blue, it almost feels like the s'Ilessid, s'Ffalenn and the s'Ahelas gifts were not working as well as they should on Dascen Elur with the war going on for so long.

Maybe the gifts were changing in some way due to the resonance of Dascen Elur. Even Arithon and Lysaer ended up with elemental mastery. Am sure as you have said Janny will expound on this somewhere.

originally posted by Blue

That's an interesting thought, that perhaps the different (lesser?) resonance of Dascen Elur could have dilluted or otherwise changed the royal geases (?) somewhat.

I believe in TK, Janny does have an afterword, wherein she does get into the geas gifts and how they might be weaker in some, stronger in others - similar to a river, the gift flows in the family lines, stronger in some individuals than others. The reason, therefore, that Arithon has such a heavy dose of the s'Ffalenn compassion/empathy geas is that he is the only one left. If he had any blood s'Ffalenn relations, that burden would be spread out some.

Maybe there was something about that lesser resonance on Dascen Elur that did corrupt the s'Ilessid gift to an extent. Lysaer, for all that he was, pre-Curse, fully endowed with the Justice geas, was still short sighted and bigoted to the extent that he was willing to kill every last s'Ffalenn in sight, even his own half brother, without giving the benefit of the doubt or the (US/UK/Australian/Canadian) standard of "Innocent until proven guilty", if such standards even exist on Athera or Dascen Elur.

What might have been interesting would have been Lysaer risking his father's wrath to act as Arithon's legal counsel, since they were of equal rank as the respective Crown Princes of Amroth and Karthan.

Now THERE'S an interesting bit of "what if?" that Janny might want to think about one day - Lysaer "Perry Mason" s'Ilessid.

originally posted by Angus

Quote: "Lysaer, for all that he was, pre-Curse, fully endowed with the Justice geas, was still short sighted and bigoted to the extent that he was willing to kill every last s'Ffalenn in sight, even his own half brother, without giving the benefit of the doubt…"

Blue, I recently re-read CotMW, and I do not think he was ready to kill every last s'Ffalenn in sight. In fact, he was quite concerned about Arithon's welfare when he first encountered him. Arithon, in response, provoked Lysaer to extreme anger. Our bard was young, foolish, angry and grieving then. Lysaer reacted to Arithon's prodding, which was Arithon's intent.

Pre-curse Lysaer was not ready to "kill" every s'Ffalenn on sight. In fact, I thought he was a fairly decent person, especially after the bonding struggle of the Red Desert & Mearth, until his freak out at Etarra. That was a Very Bad Day. He was pompous and privileged, and a bit naive, but he was learning. Had the Curse not intervened, he would probably have become King of Tysan.

As a lawyer, I think that Lysaer, pre-curse, would have been an excellent barrister (trial lawyer to you Yanks). He has poise and grace, and an excellent turn of phrase. His in-born sense of justice would help too. Might have made a good judge. Then he got wrecked. Not Perry Mason though. Horace Rumpole. Mason was a hack.

The bad thing about Lysaer is that he could have undone the Curse, and chose not to.

originally posted by Trys


The bad thing about Lysaer is that he could have undone the Curse, and chose not to.

Chose not to or was influenced so heavily he could make no other choice than to 'not to'?

originally posted by Angus

Okay, I plead guilty to over-simplification. But Lysaer was given the opportunity on more than one occasion to admit that he was curse-driven, and to ask for help. He refused. Obviously, the Curse aided his refusal, but his own judgment had a role.

Lysaer cannot escape his share of personal responsibility for his actions, curse-driven though they may be. His own weaknesses contributed to his failure to make any attempt to battle the Curse.

originally posted by DarthJazy

The true question here do you think he can be redeemed?

originally posted by Angus

My faith tells me that anyone can be redeemed, but not in their own strength. They must admit that they are helpless to defeat their burdens, and ask God to take care of them. Then, God gives them the things they need to be redeemed.

If Lysaer comes to that dark place where there is no place else to go but death or redemption, he will be faced with that stark choice. But he must choose to admit his helplessness, or he cannot hope for redemption, and will instead die.

Yes, Lysaer can be redeemed, but it requires him to release all control of everything he has tried to control. He must repent. Otherwise, no redemption. In his case, and in the context of this story, it is likely that the curse must be lifted from him first, at least partially, so that he can see more clearly.

I too find Lysaer a tragic figure. He was so promising in the beginning. Now, he is a homicidal maniac.

originally posted by Catherine Britt

The charge of heartlessness against Lysaer is disputable.

His apparently preferring stance for the larger good of Athera (by getting rid of Arithon) is misguided but perceived by him as prevention of avoidable human suffering.

Therefore, Lysaer must care. It would be difficult to take personal responsibility when his autonomy has been sufficiently compromised both by the possession of the wraith and the curse.

On the odd moments clarity hits him, his autonomy surges and despite his weaknesses he recognises the human suffering caused by his nonautonomous choices.

Maybe when he stands before a life Paravian and his autonomy is restored (like Arithon in Kewar) he may be able to take personal responsibility and seek redemption.

originally posted by Blue

Man oh, man! Do I love a good debate. Direct quotes, word for word from my (finally excavated!!) copy of CotM:

"A few short minutes of madness had nearly brought him to murder, to sacrifice the lives of loyal sailors to end the misery of a criminal."

Really? Does this mean, then, with Arithon dead, that somehow or another the sailors will still die? The only way that can happen is if "Daddie Dearest" s'Ilessid orders the entire company of that ship executed.

Interesting, though that Lysaer's inner mind choice of word for Arithon's death at his hands was "murder" - considering all that Arithon had provoked him with, having some idea of what he was capable of committing with his magics, Lysaer could actually have reported the scene of Arithon's death as a JUSTIFIABLE summary execution, since as a mage of such powerful status, he could not be contained to bring to rightful trial, at least, not by whatever means there were left to Lysaer and the Briane's company, all of whom were untrained.

The only other way the lives of those sailors could possibly have been "sacrificed" would have taken a few IFs: IF Arithon were truly as powerful as it was believed, IF he were actually unscrupulous enough to misuse Grand Conjury this way, IF he were angry or scared enough, IF he knew the spell, THEN there was NO WAY that ANY member of the Briane's crew would have made it to that port where Lysaer was staying, and Lysaer KNEW IT.

"For the first time in his life, Lysaer fully understood his father's deranged hatred of s'Ffalenn; to the last son left living, they were a breed of fiends."

"A breed of fiends" jeez, that almost sounds like a racial/racist slur.

The "real life" military took a lot of flak for training soldiers to kill the enemy by using dehumanization tactics. Instead of issuing the order to an inexperienced soldier, "Go kill that child," which is likely to be disobeyed, that soldier would be told, "Go kill that (insert racial slur here)." Thus, the soldier was killing an enemy, a thing, not a child/person.

How many of the Karthish were killed that way, I wonder? "Kill all Karthies, let Daelion Fatemaster sort 'em out!" could be a motto for the Amroth military.

"Arithon's plight at the hands of the King would be unpleasant and prolonged."

This likewise does not fill me with admiration for any "Justice" on Lysaer's part. He will allow someone to be tortured to death, as seems likely from the above reflection? If THIS is a nice, JUST guy, please don't let me meet up with an unfair, mean one! Whoops! Post Curse, that IS Lysaer

Okay, I do sit the fence, and I will sometimes defend Arithon, and sometimes Lysaer. In this case, however, Lysaer gets my vote for "Biggest jerk in CotM until Pesquil and the grottoes at Tal Quorin."

originally posted by Blue

One last thing, Angus, I'll take your word on who Lysaer could be compared to as a Lawyer - Perry Mason was the most famous one I could recall off the top of my head. I almost put in Vincent LaGuardia Gambini from My Cousin Vinny.

originally posted by Hellcat

Have to disagree with you Blue :wink:


Really? Does this mean, then, with Arithon dead, that somehow or another the sailors will still die? The only way that can happen is if "Daddie Dearest" s'Ilessid orders the entire company of that ship executed.

That's what I believe would have happened and the crew of the Briane clearly believed it too or they would have killed Arithon once they found out who he was. The fact that people (including Lysaer) believed Lysaer's father was capable of this says something about the state of Amroth's government, not Lysaer's sense of justice.

IMHO he did the best risk limitation in that circumstance, how to make sure the least number of people suffered or were killed. He took responsibility (as the person his father would punish least) for Arithon's drugged state meaning the crew of the Brianne DID NOT have to face his father's wrath. And hoping that Arithon would suffer the minimum possible because his drug addicted state would numb the pain.

Lysaer chose the least of many evils, and without a perfect system of COMPASSIONATE justice rather than VENGEFUL justice I don't see how he could have done better.


originally posted by Jo

Ok I don't like Lysaer precurse and def not afterwards but I suppose Arithon was accused of burning all of Amroths fleet with magecraft (although we know he didn't do it on purpose) so I don't suppose Lysaer could let Arithon kill himself because ther would be no justice for the families of those sailors. Then again Arithon was offering to end his life and the feuds but Lysaer rejected that (let the killing continue) and let the King have his vengenace because it could never have been justice. Also Lysaer blamed Arithon for landing in the red desert and tried to do him in on quite a few occasions until he finally realised that maybe Arithon was not like his ancestors. There are a few passages before he was curse riddled where he is jealous of Arithon as well (the Khadrim and in Althain tower). For me it seems that if Lysaer doesn't have power he doesn't know who he or what his purpose is. Think that was why he really struggled in the beginning of curse I think I'm going off on a tangent now not sure what point I'm trying to make.

originally posted by Angus

One thing to which we are all susceptible is to judge people subjectively, based on our experience. For instance, it is easy to judge an American plantation owner of the 1790's as evil, by today's standards of racial equality. However, this kind of judgment is impossible. To American society in the 1790's, particularly in the South, slavery was an acceptable and, to them, necessary way of life. Their whole economy was based on it (the British can take a fair amount of the blame for this too, because they didn't ban it in their empire until the early 1830's). This does not make slavery any less wrong, it just puts it in context.

Moving to WoLaS, to judge Lysaer (pre-Curse) as being vengeful is inappropriate. He had been spoon-fed hate against Karthan and its rulers, the s'Ffalenn, since his birth. And to be fair, the Karthish leaders had done their fair share of evil in the 7 generation dispute. For a guy who had been brought up in that kind of environment, he makes amazingly just choices. Arithon deliberately provoked Lysaer to kill him, and Lysaer stopped himself. He did not give in to generations of hatred, to the provocation, to his subjective reality. He made a choice to stop. I agree with Hellcat, that Lysaer made the best decision he could in the circumstances.

That he came to that conclusion at all is almost beyond belief, given the insane hatred his father bore for s'Ffalenn.

The crucible of the Red Desert and Mearth taught Lysaer a lot about his half-brother, just as it taught Arithon, who, at that time, was certainly no angel. Sorry, but the arrogant little snot deserved a punch in the nose for what he showed Lysaer (wasn't that compassionate!). By the time they came through the West Gate, there was the budding of mutual respect, and even friendship. Arithon did not suffer the same, spoon-fed hatred that Lysaer did, because he did not even meet his father until he was a young man. He was raised as a s'Ahelas in Rauven, away from the fierce dispute between Amroth and Karthan.

Without taking these factors into account, Lysaer cannot be fairly judged the way that you are proposing, Blue. It is too stark, ignores the reality that Lysaer experienced on Dascen Elur, and imposes post-modern morality on a medieval-renaissance era.

Post-Curse, Lysaer is still a homicidal maniac.

Vinny Gambini would have been a good choice, Blue. Can you imagine if Lysaer and Arithon had be caught in Erdane, and Vinny was on hand to defend them? He could have called them the "two yewts". Still, I would rather have had Rumpole of the Bailey, the classic Old Bailey Hack. Best lawyer on television. Period.

originally posted by Kam

I was re-reading CotM and TK yesterday and came across the passage where Lysaer is in the garden at Etarra. Skim it over if you think Lysaer is an arse in CotM.

I'd have to agree with Angus that we're viewing Lysaer on our principles and forgetting his. He was raised in that prejudiced environment and probably was allowed less free thinking than the average bloke cause his daddy's always ranting in his ear.

I actually like Lysaer as a character. He's very human (ironic, innit). In CotM - Etarra, he learns just how narrow his upbringing was. I believe if the curse didn't mess up his priorities, Lysaer would've gone on to be a decent king.

By the avatar state, Lysaer has pretty much dug himself into his own grave. We all say that he needs to admit he did something wrong yadda yadda; but we're not talking about a smashed plate here, he's responsible for the death of thousands. So Lysaer took the easy way out. I'm not saying cowardice is the right way, it's just a very human thing to do.

Being lonely is very human too.

One of the main problems I have with Arithon is that his choices, how he pulls through his trials and everything… well, sometimes it's a bit unbelieveable!

I find I sympathize with Lysaer alot more. He's a delusional fool and he brought it all on himself; but I just don't see how he's gonna get himself out of this one!