Sethra Lavode and gene-scans

Sun Dec 4 08:56:39 PST 2005

Davdi Silverrock wrote:

> Some speculative thinking:
> An absolutely crucial point of the "(crossbreed) bastardy" smear
> against Norathar e'Lanya was that at no point would anyone besides the
> conspirators ever perform the gene-scan on her.  Sethra the Younger
> had performed the first gene-scan, the Sorceress in Green (posing as
> an Athyra) performed the second scan before the Dragon council.
> And yet, Sethra Lavode was *there* when they found the infant Norathar
> after K'Laiyer's armies were defeated.  There she was, and there was
> the infant.  Rather than performing the scan herself,  when it was
> quite possible for her to do so, just to be *sure* that there was no
> error... she had her apprentice do it.  Her apprentice, who had found
> the "problem" in the first place, and even if Sethra Lavode didn't
> suspect Sethra the Younger's *motives*, she ought to at least have had
> the slight suspicion of her *competence* to perform this final,
> condemning gene-scan herself.  Or just perform one herself *after*
> Sethra the Younger said, "Yup, she's still definitely a bastard."
> But she didn't.
Of course, any time Sethra is needed to perform a particularly difficult 
task, she's invariably busy doing something else. (Usually involving the 
Jenoine, at least, that's been her excuse in the last few books.) 
Perhaps this was at one of those times that the Jenoine attacked 
Dragaera? (We know that they attacked both The Greater Sea of Chaos and 
the Imperial Palace in incidents that have not yet been revealed in the 

Of course, since she is so preoccupued with the task of defending 
against the Jenoine, it may be that she's just so used to delegating any 
tasks that she doesn't absolutely have to do herself that she just had 
StY do it without thinking about it too much.

> One possibility that occurred to me is that it might be that the
> gene-scan spell requires that the one performing it have a "clean"
> genetic profile, something that might provide yet another hint that
> Sethra Lavode is a cross-breed.
> However, another thought that occurred to me is that some spells -
> particularly ones that involve intimate interaction with another
> living being - are not possible for Sethra Lavode to perform without
> having some very unfortunate side-effects due to her current
> life-state.
> Or, to put it a little more bluntly, Sethra Lavode didn't gene-scan
> baby Norathar because she didn't want for Norathar's life-force to be
> drained into herself.
> After having this notion, I also found myself wondering if Sethra
> Lavode had ever performed any other spells that affect the body
> intimately.  Has she ever healed anyone?  Has she ever revivified
> anyone?  I seem to recall that she has not; whenever anything of that
> nature needed doing, she would leave it to Aliera or Morrolan to
> perform.
> Although perhaps I have misremembered, so I ask the list in case
> anyone can recall a counterexample.
While the only person we've ever SEEN do a revivification is Aliera (and 
even then, only revivifying Morrolan in /Jhereg/ is actually witnessed), 
Vlad does imply that the Necromancer could have done it just as easily 
(and she is undead, as well).

Also, in /Yendi/ when Vlad asks who revivified him, he guesses it might 
have been Sethra, then Aliera tells him it was her--implying that at 
least Vlad thought that Sethra would be capable of doing the spell herself.

None of this is, of course, conclusive in any way. Vlad understands 
revivification about as well as he claims to understand Dragons... That 
is to say, not very well at all.

While I find the idea of Sethra being unwilling to do certain spells due 
to her life-state interesting, I don't think it's a theory I subscribe 
to. Someone with the power of Sethra Lavode (or the Necromancer) 
wouldn't be hog-tied by any petty limitations of that sort--she'd be 
able to do the spell just fine. As I say, my guess is she was just a 
little pre-occupied at the time.