more comments on tPotD (tPotD spoilers)

Mon Mar 10 18:53:59 PST 2003

Some unsystematic comments on The Paths of the Dead:

In Chapter 3, Skinter (aka Ka^na, but I'll go with Sethra [see below]) is
talking to his cousin Habil (interestingly close to "habile"), who looks
very much like his sister, a point Paarfi stresses (I wonder if there was
innuendo about the two of them which Paarfi is preemptively shutting down
- perhaps she survives the coming volumes, or they have children who are
quick to take offense.)  Habil tells him they must expand or collapse;
Skinter mentions Adron's Disaster while "looking around nervously."  It's
interesting that Paarfi describes a Dragonlord as doing something
nervously.  On first reading I didn't really get what I think is the
import of this line, which is that many buildings before the Interregnum
were architecturally unsound and were propped up or at least maintained by
magic.  Presumably rebuilding one's home from scratch at regular 500 year
intervals would be annoying. Another point from this conversation - Habil
says the Empire managed with just one soldier per 1k peasants.  This is
useful in estimating the population of the Empire.

Ro"aanac (with the diaresis or perhaps umlaut on the "o", not the first
"a", interestingly) reminded me of a name somewhere LotR - maybe in the
Hobbit, where there's a raven called Roac, but surely this is random.

On rereading Pel's letter on his encounter with Sethra, which I praised in
December, I find that his description is more accurate than I had at first
thought.  In particular, he writes "She went so far as to insist, using
language that was unmistakable, that she questioned even Your Majesty's
right to the duchy of Ka^na."  This refers to Sethra's calling him
"Skinter", his pre-Interregnum title.  Note also that Sethra uses "well"
three times in five brief addresses to Pel.  I'm tempted to do a
line-by-line expansion of the conversation but it seems sufficiently
clear.  Perhaps others in this list will find as I do some poignancy along
with the humor in this passage - Sethra allows Pel an impatient sliver of
an opportunity to plead his case by using the interrogative in "is our
business concluded?" while Pel expresses both his regret that they are to
be enemies and his respect for her in "To my regret, madam".

In the letter itself I found it interesting that Pel writes "The
Enchantress intends to oppose us" and not "oppose you".  I think this is
extremely familiar on a linguistic level (it should be "oppose Your
Majesty and me" if anything) as well as conceptually, conflating Pel and
Skinter.  I suspect the translator is unfamiliar with courtly language
conventions or Paarfi is telling us something about the depth of Pel's

Does someone understand why the Necromancer, who comes from an entirely
different world (the World of Seven Doors [see Chapter 18, and by the way
are we getting some indicating of seven as a mystic number?  In _Athyra_
Savn browses The Book of Seven Wizards if I remember correctly.]) shows up
in a Dragaeran body?  And are the gods responsible for other worlds?

Pel's conversation with Khaavren in Chapter 13 is rather perplexing, in
particular the bit where Pel looks at Daro to find her looking puzzled. I
thought at first K was exaggerating his decrepitude in order to throw P
off so he (K) could investigate in peace later.  But surely P is too
subtle to be misled, and anyway he just looks at D to confirm K is
acting oddly.

Aerich has some of Athos's inertia - he can't be bothered to go visit
K, absent for such a long time?

I commented on Chapter 19's interesting discussion about the Disaster
in another thread.

- Philip