[LMB] SP: My thoughts on Penric's Mission (long with spoilers galore)

Jason Long sturmvogel66 at gmail.com
Mon Nov 7 19:13:19 GMT 2016


Cedonia is Byzantine, exactly that combination of Rome and classical Greece
that you described.

On Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 12:37 PM, Matthew George <matt.msg at gmail.com> wrote:

> SPOILERS AHOY!
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> I mean it, lots and lots of spoilers
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> Okay, let's begin.
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> I can't help but notice that "Penric's Mission" contains all the elements
> of a comic book superhero origin.  You have masks, leaping between
> buildings, creeping around in the dead of night, injustices meted out by
> powerful people beyond normal redress, false imprisonment, daring escapes,
> "you're supposed to be dead!", marks left on people's foreheads,
> confronting villains from atop high perches - even the double intitial of
> Adelis Arisaydia.  But the elements are all broken up and rearranged
> between multiple people and situations.
>
> I kept being reminded of the old Zorro radio series (rather than say,
> Batman or Wonder Woman).  Possibly because alternate Greece shares some
> characteristics with fantasy Mexico.
>
> Remarkable that this is possibly the first 5GW story in which no god
> appears or even seems to take any obvious action.  No events in PM
> obviously involve divine intervention.  Desdemona's actions are clearly
> paranormal, but they're not mysterious to the readers or even the
> characters (once they all find out about her) in the same way that the
> gods' actions are.
>
> I suspect there are more limits to a demon's powers than the ability of a
> human body to contain chaos.  You pay for creating an order by expending a
> greater order - an air conditioner cools one room by expelling an even
> greater amount of heat, but you have to look it up to a source of very
> ordered energy for it to do anything at all.  Des' desperate Penric-healing
> must have consumed a very potent source of order indeed to have caused that
> large a landslide.  If demons could just produce order and chaos as needed,
> among other consequences, sorcerers could amp their spells by injuring
> themselves and letting the reordering of the injury generate lots of potent
> chaos to throw at people.
>
> I think she must have been consuming Penric's stored bodily energy.
> Perhaps the energy from the rusted knife (back in "Penric's Demon") was
> used to create so much fire so rapidly.
>
> If Nikys would have been Des' new host, perhaps there are reasons sorcerers
> tend not to marry or have close relationships.
>
> How are all these names pronounced?  Ferex the Greek winged spirit of
> victory, Nike, is pronounced roughly "nai-kee".  So what about Nikys?  I
> think the 'y' tends to indicate a short-i 'ih' sound, like in sit or hip.
> The first i?  It could be the 'ai' diphthong, or the long-i 'ee'.  But that
> second possibility renders her name 'knee-kihs', which while motherly seems
> a little silly.  Especially as the poor woman has absolutely no power to
> kiss it and make it better.  "nai-kihs" seems more suitable.
>
> I laughed out loud at "You're worse than evil - you're inefficient!"
> So gloriously engineer-y.
>
> I recently reread Ursula K. Le Guin's *The Lathe of Heaven*, and was struck
> by both how similar in some elements yet different in subtle style she is
> from Ms. Bujold.  In Bujold books, there may be mysteries and surprises,
> but the world is a very rationalistic one.  We know what events signify,
> and it's ultimately clear how the author is presenting the various events.
> I defy anyone to provide a definitive explanation for how we're supposed to
> interpret (for example) Dr. Haber's catatonia.  When stuff happens to
> Bujoldian characters, we know why in a thematic sense.  So Tepelen-Velka's
> death 'makes sense' - he had a bunch of warnings, and ignored them.  We
> know why he was 'evil', or at least a person whose example we're not
> supposed to follow.  In LoH it's never certain to anyone what's going on or
> even what the nature of reality is.
>
> There's a very definite model of evil - or worse-than-evil - being
> presented, and it's quite clear.  The message is unambiguous, if the
> application is of course difficult and complicated.  As opposed to Le Guin,
> where the message itself tends to be subject to interpretation (there are
> exceptions).
>
> All knowledge may be founded on mystery, ultimately, but that kind of
> uncertainty isn't an element of Bujoldian stories, and I think that's a
> characteristic and defining feature.
>
> Cedonia is most definitely a mix of Roman Empire and ancient Greece; if it
> didn't rise so high as the Rome, its fall is at least taking longer.  I
> found myself thinking of Tolkien again, and his views on imperialism as
> showcased in Faramir.
>
> Matt "why'd they want an empire in the first place?" G.
>
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> spoilers above, don't read up
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