The Magic Box

Davdi Silverrock davdisil at gmail.com
Sat Jan 7 21:12:55 PST 2006

On 1/7/06, Jon Lincicum <lincicum at comcast.net> wrote:
> K Kuhn wrote:
> >
> >How hard would it be to come up with a fake identity that's from an
> >aristocratic House?  On the one hand, you'd think with Dragaeran's long
> >lifespans, they'd know an awful lot of relatives - kinda along the lines
> >of knowing who your second cousins twice removed are, because you've
> >been seeing them at great-great-grandpa's birthday parties, and they're
> >aristocratic and concerned about making sure kids marry only within the
> >House.  So would people get suspicious if they couldn't figure out who
> >someone was related to?

> >On the other hand, Khaavren quite obviously
> >didn't know of all the courtier Tiassa who might be a useful connection
> >if he needed some Tiassa help - and I'd think a Countess would be fairly
> >important.

As a high-ranking member of the Empire, he probably knew of both the
Tiassa Heir and the Tiassa representative to the Empire, which would
certainly suffice for "useful connections".  And if he had though to
ask, I'm sure that someone of his House could well have told him that
one of the Consort's maids-of-honor was a Tiassa, and the Countess of
Whitecrest as well (perhaps the Tiassa representative in particular,
since he was none other than Röaanac, and thus a relative of Daro
through his wife).  But in the years prior to Adron's Disaster,
Khaavren had become reticent, and no doubt he simply neglected to ask.

> >
> It isn't necessary for Paarfi himself, or his house or origins to be an
> invention for Philip's theory to work. He's only really saying that
> Paarfi is being *used* by Sethra, not that he *is* Sethra.

> At the same time, given the size of the Empire, and the relatively low
> technology level and population density, it's not inconceivable that
> someone could pull off a fairly convincing imposter routine. I seem to
> recall Pel doing that sort of thing on a couple of occasions.

But only briefly, and not to anyone (as I recall) that had the
resources to investigate any claims he made as to his identity.

> I mean, it's not like the Empire keeps a DNA database of all its

Hm.  We know they have gene-scanning.  And while we don't know how
extensive the genetic knowledge is of all the Houses, we do know that
the House of the Dragon tracks lineages -- subsets of House Dragon --
very carefully.  Perhaps other Houses (except perhaps for the Jhereg)
do as well, and we've just not seen it?

Although, now that I think about it, Aliera says (in /Yendi/) that a
"complicated illusion spell" could fool a genetic scan, if the one
performing the scan was incompetent.

It may well be that the only reliable way an imposter could exist
would be to pass himself off as being a different member of his own
House, and possibly of the same lineage.

Which is not to argue that Paarfi is an imposter; I'm just musing on
the possibilty of long-term House deceit fooling many people --
including those with the knowledge, power, and skill to perform a
competent genscan --  for an extended length of time.