[LMB] The Assassins of Thasalon---my thoughts (SPOILERS)

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Tue Jun 1 22:06:26 BST 2021

On Sat, May 29, 2021 at 4:30 AM Eric Oppen <ravenclaweric at gmail.com> wrote:

> This was a really good story, and really developed the World of the Five
> Gods.  I will admit, the technique used by the assassins was one I'd not
> have thought of myself.

I admit to being a little surprised to hear that, since the basic procedure
is one that is implied as far back as Penric first being told about the
prohibition.  The fundamental problem is the same as using magic to induce
an injury that is mortal but not instantly fatal - it avoids the immediate
grasp of the Bastard but still violates Its rule.  Which creates an
immortal, omnipresent, vastly knowledgeable enemy with command of demons
and an unusually potent ability to affect the world of matter (for a divine
being in the 5GW).

Demons aren't sucked back through the door of death automatically, after
all.  Penric's narration about hinted-at medical exceptions demonstrate
that the Bastard can choose whether a demon-induced human death is
considered to break the rule.  Much like the Barrayaran nobility, the
intention of the rule is considered more important than the letter by the
Gods, or at least the Fifth God.  Whether a demon-possessing physician
could get away with killing one patient to save another, or whether the
exception merely covers accidentally killing a patient in an attempt to
treat, isn't fully clear - probably by the intention of the God and the

When the boundary line is ambiguous, a powerful motivation is provided not
to meander near it.  When it's clear, people will go right up to it, and
may be more likely to cross it by accident or intention.  Penric avoids
actions which even suggest how easy it would be to kill, establishing a
powerful inhibition not to push matters over a fog-concealed cliff.

Matt G.

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