[LMB] Death demon

Lois Bujold lbujold at myinfmail.com
Wed Jul 21 22:13:50 BST 2021


[LMB] Death Demon
Pouncer pouncer at aol.com
Wed Jul 21 19:21:30 BST 2021



The whole MacGuffin of _Assassins_ seems to relate
to the invention of the Death Demon described in
_Curse of Chalion_.  There's no discussion in Pen's
training about death magic or "the" exceptional
Death Demon compared to other demons.  One does
wonder.


LMB:  Having just re-proofread a bunch of Penrics yet again, I note 
there is a brief line about Pen's training on this theological point in 
"The Physicians of Vilnoc":

"…In the cantons and the Weald, wood is abundant and cheap, but people 
still mostly bury.”Des added as a cheery afterthought, “Except in 
certain special cases where burning is required to prevent 
spirit-possession of the corpse.”

Rede looked taken aback.“That’s real?Not a tale?”

“Death magic?Very rare, although dealing with it does fall as the duty 
of the Bastard’s Order, so I was taught about it.Nothing I’d expect here.”


To spell it out: death magic proper, and what Methani was doing, are two 
different things.   Death magic is a divine miracle whereby a dedicated 
special-courier demon is sent by the god to take back the two souls to 
its Master, whether to be boiled down in insta-sundering or otherwise 
preserved under the Bastard's cloak like other souls not specified.  The 
other is the more routine sucking back to the god (and boiling down) of 
a demon otherwise normally loose in the world that has committed 
murder/been used for murder.

In version 1, the courier-demon, such as it is (pretty rudimentary, a 
will-less nonperson/tool), is preserved.  In version 2, the murder 
victim and the demon die; the (former) sorcerer is uninjured.  The 
murder victim's soul stands or falls in the afterlife on its own merits, 
though since already deep in a pit of its own digging (or the miracle 
would not have been granted) its chances of preservation by any god seem 
slim.

(Note also the peculiar spirit-possession of a corpse that was such a 
plot point in /Paladin of Souls/ for another worked example of such a 
spiritual shell game, although not of death magic per se.)

...Kibitzing on these discussions is a lesson for the writer on the 
hazards to clarity of expressionin tight viewpoint, I must say.

Ta, L.


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