[LMB] The souls of demons (was: Penric reread)

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Fri Jun 21 16:58:42 BST 2019


Very early on, in The Curse of Chalion, the demon we first encounter seems
to have absorbed parts of the bear's spirit - but it was quite new and
almost completely inexperienced, and the damage might have been a
consequence of this.  The various demons we find later on are presented as
having ripped parts out of people's souls - but the demons seem to find
this experience extremely painful, and they're forced to it by the
connection to a much more powerful demon.  Later bits of Penric's Passage
indicate that soul-ripping is part of disastrous demonic exits and isn't
normal - but it is possible.  And Penric seems convinced that demons bear
copies - an 'image' - of the souls they exist alongside.

I think we must conclude that whatever Desdemona is, she does not possess a
'soul' and isn't a 'soul' herself.  Human souls can persist within the
normal world for a limited amount of time, although they slowly decay and
are erased.  Demons deprived of adequate hosts are sundered or erased
immediately.  Perhaps not strictly instantaneously, but pretty close to it
relative to humans.

Let's say it takes as long as a full second for an unanchored demon to be
erased, erring on the side of longevity.  It seems that some remnants of a
human soul can persist for quite a long time indeed, even if the 'ghost'
has lost anything resembling a true mind.  Let's say, to be quite
conservative, that it takes a decade for a human soul to be erased.  There
are 315,576,000 seconds in a decade (being reasonably but not excessively
accurate).  So the relative durations differ by a factor of more than three
hundred million.  And frankly, demons seem to be sundered in much less time
than a full second.

This strongly indicates that demons and human souls are profoundly
different in composition.


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