[LMB] The Spirit Ring

catherine muir c_muir68 at hotmail.com
Fri Sep 10 21:49:14 BST 2021

Having speedread the whole thing (MUST learn to stop and take part in discussion....) what did strike me is how this has to have been part of the thought process that led to CoC and subsequent work.

To be specific:   In Cordelia’s Honour,  there is a discussion of religion between Ezar and Cordelia along the lines of Theism is really tough and atheism is a comforting religion.    Cordelia’s theism surfaces in throwaway remarks thereafter.

In FF, the specific reference to the Christian parable of the Lost Lamb is used when Leo is deciding to retrieve Tony.  Further references make it clear that the workers in the lab include at least one Buddhist, probably one Hindu, and the main villain seems to worship only his own self-interest.

Explicit religion surfaces in Ethan of Athos.  Here,  Ethan’s religion is the bedrock for all that he does, even although we get very few details (it seems to have grown from a fairly right-wing misreading of a couple of biblical passages ).    The exchange between Ethan and Terrence ending  “You are my brother, of course” is all we really need to know.

In “The Spirit Ring”, for the first time, we have a major figure – Monreale – who is part of an established religion.    A few of his comments ring bells for the later books – e.g.
“the danger of praying is that your prayer may be answered”  and  “Perhaps that was what God wanted me to learn”.    (these may be slightly misquoted).    When I saw these, I thought instantly of Cazaril, Umegat, Penric.

However, the fact that a specifically Roman Catholic background is used for Monreale does somewhat straitjacket Her Ladyship.      I suspect that when she later commented that CoC was an opportunity, for which she had been waiting some time,  to discuss some religious questions, what she meant was that she had found it necessary to make a whole new (obviously, fictional!) religion in order to have that discussion.    And a really interesting discussion it has been throughout all the 5GU books.

Then, having written of a world where gods are immanent,  it is only logical to turn to one where gods are absent – the WGW.  Is religion also absent?  Organised religion, yes – but what save a religious conviction is driving the Lakewalkers?  They certainly seem to feel that corporately they have a Mission, to which their lives and deaths are completely dedicated.   The farmers, by comparison, have farming and the land, and a civil society but no belief system as such.   Morality, yes; religion, no.

I only spotted the through thread of this recently, and have wondered at why I never saw it before.  I think it is because I haven’t read “The Spirit Ring” since well before I first read CoC.
Lois-Bujold mailing list message sent to c_muir68 at hotmail.com
Lois-Bujold at lists.herald.co.uk

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list