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POTD I!! 6: The Elder Konstantins in Downbelow Station

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So I don't know if I'll continue this for very long, but I wanted to try a "megathread" where I post some small dump of text every day. I'll try and provide context when necessary and possibly some analysis/commentary as well, and I probably won't quote anything from Fire Emblem (!?!?!?!?!).

I'm going to give the title of the book, the author, some location info (chapter, part, etc), and the page in whatever version I have. Then the page in the topic.

I don't mean to attention whore, but if you peruse this topic and like it you should probably comment so I have some idea if people are enjoying it and if I should continue. You shouldn't feel compelled to comment regularly unless you actually have something to say.

Passage List:

1: The use of names in Rocannon's World in Worlds of Exile and Illusion by Ursula K Leguin, Chapter VII, pgs 89-91. (Pg 1)

2: Post-conversation between Sensei's Wife and the narrator in Kokoro, by Natsume Soseki, pgs 42-44. (Pg 1)

3: Battle scene (Mappo reflecting on Trell VS Nemil) in The Bonehunters, by Steven Erikson, pgs 508-514 (Pg 1)

1.1: Drug Induced Haze in City of Illusions in Worlds of Exile and Illusion, by Ursula K Leguin, chapter 7, pg 323. (Pg 1)

4: The Giving of the Book of Silk in On Blue's Waters, by Gene Wolfe, pg 50 and pgs 102-105 (Pg 1)

5: Funerary Poem by Fisher Kel Tath in The Bonehunters, by Steven Erikson, chapter 13 pg 448-449 (Pg 1)

6: Angelo and Alicia in Downbelow Station, by CJ Cherryh, on http://www.rulit.me/books/downbelow-station-read-171067-38.html (on pgs 38 and 39) (Pg 1)

Passage 1:

Context: In Rocannon's World, a human named Rocannon is stranded on an alien planet. He makes a journey with natives of the planet to locate the base of the enemy faction that killed his compatriots and destroyed his ship. The Fian mentioned in the passage have a certain degree of psychic talents - mindsharing and the like. Kyo, who travels with Rocannon, is the sole survivor of his particular tribe/village.

The Fian come across as super moe IMO.

Spoiler Rating: 3/10: Psychic power matters in this series, and while this passage is one of the earliest examples I can think of, there might be an argument that it is revealing to see this mention without reading the book in proper order.

In the center of the scattered circle of little houses, all stilts and screens and sunny porches, towered five great trees. By these the travelers landed, and the Fiia came to meet them, shy and laughing.

These villagers spoke little of the Common Tongue, and were unused to speaking aloud at all. Yet it was like a homecoming to enter their airy houses, to eat from bowls of polished wood, to take refuge from wilderness and weather for one evening in their blithe hospitality. A strange little people, tangential, gracious, elusive: the Half-People, Kyo had called his own kind. Yet Kyo himself was no longer quite one of them. Though in the fresh clothing they gave him he looked like them, moved and gestured like them, in the group of them he stood out absolutely. Was it because as a stranger he could not freely mindspeak with them, or was it because he had, in his friendship with Rocannon, changed, having become another sort of being, more solitary, more sorrowful, more complete?

They could describe the lay of this land. Across the great range west of their valley was desert, they said; to continue south the travelers should foloow the valley, keeping east of the mountains, a long way, until the range itself turned east. "Can we find passes across?" Mogien asked, and the little people smiled and said, "Surely, surely."

"And beyond the passes do you know what lies?"
"The passes are very high, very cold," said the Fiia, politely.

The travelers stayed two night sin the village to rest, and left with packs filled wtih waybread and dried meat given by the Fiia, who delighted in giving. After two days' flight they came to another village of the little folk, where they were again received with such friendliness that it might have been not a strangers' arrival, but a long-awaited return. As the steeds landed a group of Fian men and women came to meet them, greeting Rocannon, who was first to dismount, "Hail, Olhor!" It startled him, and still puzzled him a little after he thought that the word of course meant "wanderer," which he obviously was. Still, it was Kyo the Fian who had given him the name.
Later, father down the valley after another long, calm day's flight, he said to Kyo, "Among your people, Kyo, did you bear no name of your own?"

"They call me 'herdsman,' or 'younger brother,' or 'runner.' I was quick in our racing."

"But those are nicknames, descriptions - like Olhor or Kiemhrir. You're great namegivers, you Fiia. You greet each comer with a nickname, Starlord, Swordbearer, Sunhaired, Wordmaster - I think the Angyar learned their love of such nicknaming from you. And yet you have no names."
"Starlord, far-traveled, ashen-haired, jewel-bearer," said Kyo, smiling; - "what then is a name."
"Ashen-haired? Have I turned gray? - I'm not sure what a name is. My name given me at birth was Gaverel Rocannon. When I've said that, I've described nothing, yet I've named myself. And when I see a new kind of tree in this land I ask you - or Yahan and Mogien, since you seldom answer - what its name is. It troubles me, until I know its name."
"Well, it is a tree; as I am a Fian; as you are a...what?"
"But there are distinctions, Kyo! At each village here I ask what are those western mountains called, the range that towers over their lives from birth to death, and they say, 'Those are mountains, Olhor.'"

"So they are," said Kyo.

"But there are other mountains - the lower range to the east, along this same valley! How do you know one range from another, one being from another, without names?"
Clasping his knees, the Fian gazed at the sunset peaks burning high in the west. After a while Rocannon realized that he was not going to answer.

I think it's likely that the specificity Rocannon is talking about is carried in the non-verbal tongue of the Fian. I also think it's likely that this passage has some bearing on the title of the book, Rocannon's World, even though said character states that this name doesn't describe anything (there's another passage that gives the specific, in-universe origin of the name, but I think this passage has an author-intended relevance). Even though I don't think Kyo does it with full intention, I think the gap between him and Rocannon due to the lack of telepathic communication is revealed here - fellow Fian take in Kyo's name for Rocannon immediately, and while I don't think Kyo's lack of an answer to Rocannon's answer is a deliberate refusal, I think it's clear that simply being distanced from the Fian hasn't really brought him completely over to the way of the nontelepathic races he travels with either. For the sentence one previous, though, I may just be inclined to read the lack of an answer as a charming lack of focus/interest as opposed to, say, an interest accompanied by an ability to actually comprehend or answer even while seriously considering the question.

"The passes are very high, very cold," is such an adorable way to say "we don't know." That's an example of why I said they're cute.

Edited by Sane Young Dog Man
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This is not pot of the day or porn of the day or potato of the day.

EDIT-Or picture of the day which I guess would actually make some sense in this forum.

EDIT2-This is not poll of the day either, thanks hoshi.

Edited by Sane Young Dog Man
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Passage 2:

Kokoro is basically the story of a friendship between a young student and an aged recluse. The first part of the book depicts the span of their time together, the second the student's feelings of restlessness and disinterest with his family back at home, and the third is a narrative sent by Sensei to the student explaining the history of his early life.

The rest of the context is more substantial spoilers and contained in the spoiler prior to the passage. Spoiler Rating: While the details of Sensei's background isn't teased out until the final portion of the book, I found it very obvious that certain aspects of his past revealed during the first part would have had a major impact on him. However, these are still very important details, and so I'm giving this a 7/10. I'm going to try and avoid something this spoilery in the future, but if I really like a passage I might share it anyway.

Sensei and his wife, who seems to generally be admired as a gracious woman, have a close relationship, but Sensei does suffer from a general malaise. When young, his wife states that he had some "strength" and perhaps some degree of optimism when viewing the world, but now he seems to have a general dislike of the world. Sensei's wife wonders whether she has something to do with this. The student naturally does not really understand this matter either. However, during a conversation between the two while Sensei is out, the wife divulges a suspicion that it has something to do with the death of a close friend of Sensei's that occurred while they were still young (IIRC in school together). I'm not covering the conversation itself, just some concluding paragraphs after it.

I tried, as far as I was able, to comfort Sensei's wife. And it seemed that she was trying to find some comfort in my company. We continued to discuss the death of Sensei's friend and the change in Sensei that followed it. However, I knew too little about the matter to be of much help. Sensei's wife did not seem to know very much about it either, and her uneasiness concerning it amounted to little more than a few grave doubts. Moreover, she was not free to tell me all that she knew. In a sea of uncertainty, then, the comforter and the comforted floated about helplessly.

At about ten o'clock we heard Sensei's footsteps approaching the front gate. Seeming to forget all that we had been talking about, Sensei's wife quickly stood up and rushed out to meet him. I was left behind, as though my presence hd been completely forgotten. I followed Sensei's wife. The maid, who was probably dozing in her room, failed to appear in the front hall to greet her master.

Sensei seemed to be in a rather good mood. But his wife was in even better spirits. I remembered the tears in her eyes and the anxiety in her face, and I could not but notice the quick change in her mood. I did not really doubt her sincerity. But had I been so inclined, I might with some justification have thought that she had been playing on my sympathy during our conversation, as is the way with some women. I was not in a critical frame of mind, however, and I was, if anything, rather relieved to see her so cheerful. There had been no need, I thought to myself, for such concern on my part.

Sensei grinned at me and said, "Thank you for your trouble. So the burglar didn't come after all?" Then he added, "Are you disappointed?"

"Sorry to have caused you so much inconvenience," said Sensei's wife, as I was about to leave. She seemed not to be apologizing for having taken so much of a busy student's time, but rather to be apologizing, in a joking fashion, for the fact that the burglar did not appear. She then gave me the rest of the cakes, wrapped in a piece of paper, to take home. I put them in my pocket and went out into the cold night. I hurried along the winding and almost deserted alleys towards the busier streets.

I have written in great detail of the happenings of that evening because now, I see their significance. But that evening, by the time I had left Sensei's house with the cakes in my pocket, I attached litle importance to the conversation I had with Sensei's wife. After lectures the following day, I went back to my lodgings, as usual, for lunch. On my desk was the package that Sensei's wife had given me. I opened it and, choosing a cake covered with chocolate, I began to eat it. I thought of the couple that had given it to me and decided that they must surely be happy with each other.

Autumn passed uneventfully. I began to take my clothes to Sensei's wife to be mended, and it was then too that I began to be more careful in my dress. She was even kind enough to say that being childless, she welcomed such work as a means of occupying her time.

"This is hand-woven," she said once, pointing to a kimono of mine. "I have never worked on such beautiful material. But it's awfully difficult to sew. I have already broken two needles on it."

But even when she complained thus, there seemed to be no real resentment in her voice.

I think this is a good use of foreshadowing - the reader can clearly see that the matter with sensei's friend is of great importance thanks to a mixture of elements such as the natural focus novels tend to have on key subjects (not actually experiencing the full life the character would, but just being moved to the points the author wants to show us), but the subject moves to the back of the narrator's mind in favor of a more optimistic outlook, encouraged by feelings of warmth with sensei and his wife upon sensei's return. Actually, the thing I find more interesting about this piece is how the wife comes to treat the narrator. My parents have some friends who don't have children, and IMO they are somewhat doting towards me and other younger people who they interact with (as well as, of course, towards their dogs :) ). While sensei is initially cold at times towards the student for reasons I won't elaborate on, unless maybe I come back to Kokoro again, the third part of the book IMO proves that his relationship with the student is truly important to him, especially that the student comes to understand him.

While I don't think sensei's wife needs to be understood by the student (she's seeking for his understanding of sensei as well), I like the way in which she comes to like him as well. I especially like that sensei's wife seems to value his opinion on the reason for sensei's malaise strongly during the conversations (sorry I excluded them), then quickly drops that matter once sensei is home, but still seems to continue to develop her own kind of closeness with and care for the student.

That she admires the students clothing may imply he is more at ease financially than they are. I'm pretty sure this is the case for some other reasons in other parts of the book as well. Also, chocolate covered cake!!!

About the burglar: the reason the student and sensei's wife are conversing at length without sensei is that sensei is out in the evening. A string of burglaries recently occurred in the neighborhood, so they ask the student to stay with sensei's wife.

EDIT-I forgot to mention how much I like the line about floating about helplessly. I wonder if part of the reason sensei's wife rapidly left the conversation is because it had reach its natural terminal point.

Edited by Sane Young Dog Man
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Passage 3:
I don't really need to explain the plot of The Bonehunters at all for the purposes of this passage, because it's pretty self-contained in terms of plot. It's a flashback. Just to introduce the passage itself...basically it's a battle between a legion style army with phalanxes and cavalry vs a group of warrior clans. I'm also not typing any commentary. It has a thematic and comparative place in the book along with (IMO) being a nice passage on its own, but I'm not going to talk about that at all because I'm not introducing the plot of the book at all here.

I copied and pasted for this one. It's pretty long compared to the last two.

Spoiler Rating: Uhh...the passage is a spoiler for the passage itself. I don't think the time period discussed is mentioned at all otherwise in the books. 2/10.

Once, long ago, Mappo Runt had stood with a thousand other Trell warriors. Surmounting the Orstanz Ridge overlooking the Valley of Bayen Eckar, so named for the shallow, stony river that flowed northward to a distant, mythical sea – mythical for the Trell at least, none of whom had ever travelled that far from their homeland steppes and plains. Arrayed on the slope opposite and down on the river's western bank, fifteen hundred paces distant, was the Nemil army, commanded in those days by a muchfeared general, Saylan'mathas.

So many of the Trell had already fallen, not in battle, but to the weakness of life encamped around the trader posts, forts and settlements that now made the borderlands a hazy, ephemeral notion and little more. Mappo himself had fled such a settlement, finding refuge among the stillbelligerent hill clans.

A thousand Trell warriors, facing an army eight times their number. Mace, axe and sword hammering shield-rims, a song of death-promise rising from their throats, a sound like earth-thunder rolling down into the valley where birds flew low and strangely frenzied, as if in terror they had forgotten the sky's sanctuary overhead, instead swooping and between the grey-leaved trees clumped close to the river on both sides, seeming to swarm through thickets and shrubs.

Upon the valley's other side, units of soldiers moved in ever-shifting presentation: units of archers, of slingers, of pike-wielding infantry and the much feared Nemil cataphracts – heavy in armour atop massive horses, roundshields at the ready although their lances remained at rest in stirrup-sockets, as they trooped at the trot to the far wings, making plain their intention to flank once the foot soldiers and Trell warriors were fully engaged in the basin of the valley.

Bayen Eckar, the river, was no barrier, barely knee-deep. The cataphracts would cross unimpeded. Saylan'mathas was visible, mounted with flanking retainers, traversing the distant ridge. Banners streamed above the terrible commander, serpentine in gold-trimmed black silk, like slashes of the Abyss clawing through the air itself. As the train presented along the entire ridge, weapons lifted in salute, yet no cry rose heavenward, for such was not the habit of this man's hand-picked army. That silence was ominous, murderous, frightful.

Down from the Trellish steppes, leading this defiant army of warriors, had come an elder named Trynigarr, to this, his first battle. An elder for whom the honorific was tainted with mockery, for this was one old man whose fount of wisdom and advice seemed long since dried up; an old man who said little. Silent and watchful, is Trynigarr, like a hawk. An observation followed by an ungenerous grin or worse a bark of laughter.

He led now by virtue of sobriety, for the three other elders had all partaken five nights before of Weeping Jegurra cactus, each bead sweated out on a prickly blade by three days of enforced saturation in a mixture of water and The Eight Spices, the latter a shamanistic concoction said to hold the voice and visions of earth-gods; yet this time the brew had gone foul, a detail unnoticed – the trench dug round the cactus bole had inadvertently captured and drowned a venomous spider known as the Antelope, and the addition of its toxic juices had flung the elders into a deep coma. One from which, it turned out, they would never awaken.

Scores of blooded young warriors had been eager to take command, yet the old ways could not be set aside. Indeed, the old ways of the Trell were at the heart of this war itself. And so command had fallen to Trynigarr, so wise he has nothing to say.

The old man stood before the warriors now, on this fated ridge, calm and silent as he studied the enemy presenting one alignment after another, whilst the flanking cavalry – three thousand paces or more distant to north and south – finally wheeled and began the descent to the river. Five units each, each unit a hundred of the superbly disciplined, heavy-armoured soldiers, those soldiers being noble-born, brothers and fathers and sons, wild daughters and savage wives; one and all bound to the lust for blood that was the Nemil way of life. That there were entire families among those units, and that each unit was made up mostly of extended families and led by a captain selected by acclamation from among them, made them the most feared cavalry west of the Jhag Odhan.

As Trynigarr watched the enemy, so Mappo Runt watched his warleader. The elder did nothing.

The cataphracts crossed the river and took up inwardfacing stations, whereupon they waited. On the slope directly opposite, foot-soldiers began the march down, whilst advance skirmishers crossed the river, followed by medium and then heavy infantry, each reinforcing the advance bridgehead on this side of the river.

The Trell warriors were shouting still, throats raw, and something like fear growing in the ever longer intervals of drawn breath and pauses between beats of weapon on shield. Their battle-frenzy was waning, and all that it had succeeded in pushing aside – all the mortal terrors and doubts that anyone sane could not help but feel at the edge of battle – were now returning.

The bridgehead, seeing itself unopposed, fanned out to accommodate the arrival of the army's main body on the east side of the river. As they moved, deer exploded from the cover of the thickets and raced in darts this way and that between the armies.

Century upon century, the Trell ever fought in their wild frenzy. Battle after battle, in circumstances little different from this one, they would have charged by now, gathering speed on the slope, each warrior eager to outpace the others and so claim the usually fatal glory of being the first to close with the hated enemy. The mass would arrive like an avalanche, the Trell making full use of their greater size to crash into and knock down the front lines, to break the phalanx and so begin a day of slaughter.

Sometimes it had succeeded. More often it had failed – oh, the initial impact had often knocked from their feet row upon row of enemy soldiers, had on occasion sent enemy bodies cartwheeling through the air; and once, almost three hundred years ago, one such charge had knocked an entire phalanx on its ass. But the Nemil had learned, and now the units advanced with pikes levelled out. A Trell charge would spit itself on those deadly iron points; the enemy square, trained to greater mobility and accepting backward motion as easily as forward, would simply absorb the collision. And the Trell would break, or die where they stood locked in the fangs of the Nemil pikes.

And so, as the Trell did nothing, still fixed like windplucked scarecrows upon the ridge, Saylan'mathas reappeared on his charger, this time before the river, gaze tilted upward as if to pierce the stolid mind of Trynigarr as he rode across the front of his troops. Clearly, the general was displeased; for now, to engage with the Trell he would have to send his infantry upslope, and such position put them at a disadvantage in meeting the charge that would surely come then. Displeased, Mappo suspected, but not unduly worried. The phalanxes were superbly trained; they could divide and open pathways straight down, into which their pikes could funnel the Trell, driven as the warriors would be by their headlong rush. Still, his flanking cavalry had just lost much of their effectiveness, assuming he left them at their present stations, and now Mappo saw messengers riding out from the general's retinue, one down and the other up the valley's length. The cataphracts would now proceed upslope to take the same ridge the Trell occupied, and move inward. Twin charges would force the Trell to turn their own flanks. Not that such a move would help much, for the warriors knew of no tactic to meet a cavalry charge.

As soon as the cataphracts swung their mounts and began their ascent, Trynigarr gestured, each hand outward. The signal was passed back through the ranks, down to the ridge's backslope, then outward, north and south, to the hidden, outlying masses of Trell warriors, each one positioned virtually opposite the unsuspecting cavalry on the flanks. Those warriors now began moving up towards the ridge – they would reach it well before the cataphracts and their armour-burdened warhorses, but they would not stop on the summit, instead continuing over it, onto the valley slope and at a charge, down into the horse-soldiers. Trell cannot meet a cavalry charge, but they can charge into cavalry, provided the momentum is theirs – as it would be on this day.

Dust and distant sounds of slaughter now, from the baggage camp west of the river, as the fifteen hundred Trell Trynigarr had sent across the Bayen Eckar three days past now descended upon the lightly guarded supply camp.

Messengers swarmed in the valley below, and Mappo saw the general's train halted, horses turning every which way as if to match the confusion of the officers surrounding Saylan'mathas. On the distant flanks, the Trell had appeared, voicing warcries, over the ridge, and were beginning their deadly flow downward into the suddenly confused, churning knot of riders.

Saylan'mathas, who moments earlier had been locked in the mindset of the attacker, found himself shifting stance, his thoughts casting away all notions of delivering slaughter, fixing now on the necessity of defence. He split his army of foot-soldiers, half-legions wheeling out and moving at dog-trot to the far-too-distant flanks, horns keening to alert the cavalry that an avenue of retreat now existed. Elements of light cavalry that had remained on the other side of the river, ready to be cut loose to run down fleeing Trell, the general now sent at a gallop back towards the unseen baggage camp, but their horses had a steep slope to climb first, and before they were halfway up, eight hundred Trell appeared on the crest, wielding their own pikes, these ones half again as long as those used by the Nemil. Taking position with the long weapons settled and angled to match the slope. The light cavalry reached that bristling line uneven and already seeking to flinch back. Spitted horses reared and tumbled downslope, breaking legs of the horses below them. Soldiers spun from their saddles, all advance now gone, and the Trellish line began marching down into the midst of the enemy, delivering death.

The general had halted his centre's advance to the slope, and now reordered it into a four-sided defence, the pikes a glistening, wavering forest, slowly lifting like hackles on some cornered beast.

Motionless, watching for a time, Trynigarr, Wise in Silence, now half-turned his head, gestured in a small wave with his right hand, and the thousand Trell behind him formed into jostling lines, creating avenues through which the columns of Trell archers came.

Archers was a poor description. True, there were some warriors carrying recurved longbows, so stiff that no human could draw them, the arrows overlong and very nearly the mass of javelins, the fletching elongated, stiffened strips of leather. Others, however, held true javelins and weighted atlatls, whilst among them were slingers, including those with sling-poles and two-wheeled carts behind each warrior, loaded down with the large, thin sacks they would fling into the midst of the enemy, sacks that seethed and rippled.

Sixteen hundred archers, then, many of them women, who later joked that they had emptied their yurts for this battle. Moving forward onto the slope, even as the original warriors, now aligned in columns, moved with them.

Down, to meet the heart of the Nemil army.

Trynigarr walked in their midst, suddenly indistinguishable from any other warrior, barring his age. He was done with commanding, for the moment. Each element of his elaborate plan was now engaged, the outcome left to the bravery and ferocity of young warriors and their clanleaders. This gesture of Trynigarr's was in truth the finest expression of confidence and assurance possible. The battle was here, it was now, measured in the rise and fall of weapons. The elder had done what he could to speak to the inherent strengths of the Trell, while deftly emasculating those of the Nemil and their vaunted general. And so, beneath screeching birds and in sight of terrified deer still running and bounding along the valley slopes, the day and its battle gloried in the spilling of blood.

On the west river bank, Nemil archers, arrayed to face both east and west, sent flights of deadly arrows, again and again, the shafts descending to screams and the thuds of wooden shields, until the advancing warriors, cutting down the last of the light cavalry, re-formed beneath the missile fire, then closed at a trot with their pikes, the first touch of which shattered the archers and their meagre guard of skirmishers. The ranks who had faced east, sending arrows over the Nemil square into the Trell marching to close, were now struck from behind, and there was great slaughter.

Trell arrows arced out to land within the phalanx, the heavy shafts punching through shield and armour. Javelins then followed as the Trell moved closer, and the Nemil front ranks grew pocked, porous and jostling as soldiers moved to take the place of the fallen. Trellish throwing axes met them, and, at last, with less than twenty paces between the forces, the pole-slings whirled above the massed Trell, the huge sacks wheeling ever faster, then released, out, sailing over the heads of the front ranks of Nemil, down, striking pike-heads, bursting apart, each spike spilling out hundreds of black scorpions – and thus the women laughed, saying how they had emptied out their yurts for this gift to the hated Nemil.

Small, in the scheme of things, yet, that day, in that moment, it had been one pebble too many in the farmer's field-cart, and the axle had snapped. Screaming panic, all discipline vanishing. Hard, cold claws of the scorpions ... on the neck, slipping down beneath breastplates, the cuffs of gauntlets, down onto the strapped shield arm ... and then the savage, acid sting, puncturing like a fang, the blaze of agony surging outward – it was enough, it was more than enough. The phalanx seemed to explode before Mappo's eyes, figures running, shrieking, writhing in wild dances, weapons and shields flung aside, helms torn off, armour stripped away.

Arrows and javelins tore into the heaving mass, and those that raced free of it now met the waiting maces, axes and swords of the Trell. And Mappo, along with his fellow warriors, all frenzy driven from them, delivered cold death.

The great general, Saylan'mathas, died in that press, trampled underfoot by his own soldiers. Why he had dismounted to meet the Trell advance no-one could explain; his horse had been recovered as it trotted back into the baggage camp, its reins neatly looped about the hinged horn of the saddle, the stirrups flipped over the seat.

The cataphracts, those feared horse-soldiers, born of pure blood, had been slaughtered, as had the half-legions of foot-soldiers who arrived too late to do anything but die amidst flailing, kicking horses and the bawling of the mortally wounded nobles.

The Nemil had looked upon a thousand warriors, and thought those Trell the only ones present. Their spies had failed them twice, first among the hill tribes when rumours of the alliance's break-up had been deliberately let loose to the ever whispering winds; then in the days and nights leading to the battle at Bayen Eckar, when Trynigarr had sent out his clans, each with a specific task, and all in accordance with the site where the battle would take place, for the Trell knew this land, could travel unerring on moonless nights, and could hide virtually unseen amidst the rumples and folds of these valleys during the day.

Trynigarr, the elder who had led his first battle, would come to fight six more, each time throwing back the Nemil invaders, until the treaty was signed yielding all human claim on the Trell steppes and hills, and the old man who so rarely spoke would die drunk in an alley years later, long after the last clan had surrendered, driven from their wildlands by the starvation that came from sustained slaughter of the bhederin herds by Nemil and their half-breed Trellish scouts.

In those last years, Mappo had heard, Trynigarr, his tongue loosened by drink, had talked often, filling the air with slurred, meaningless words and fragmented remembrances. So many words, not one wise, to fill what had once been the wisest of silences.

Edited by Sane Young Dog Man
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I'm going to add in spoiler ratings for each passage. This is a vague approximation of the extent to which I think the passage gives away crucial plot details and such. For instance, the 3rd passage is probably going to score a 1 or a 0. The second passage might score a 5 or a 6.


Because I was reading some fair use stuff and thinking about how big my quotations should be, I'm going to post passage 4 tomorrow, probably sometime around 9:30 AM to 11 AM. It's going to be a short passage about the tests devised for fighter pilots in the US during WWII. I'm gonna be at a hotel Friday and Saturday, but I'll have books with me so expect passages as long as I can get the hotel wireless to work on my laptop.

Tiny passage: Addition to passage 1.

I just picked up the omnibus containing Rocannon's World. It's a good one, and I just polished it off. This is a tiny paragraph with a tiny bit of resonance to the end of passage 1.

Spoiler rating 2/10: it happens a fairly short time after meeting the character described, and gives a description of his condition that becomes rather apparent almost immediately upon meeting the character anyway.

There was a pause. Orry finished sucking on his tube of pariitha and carefully buried it around the roots of a shrub with a long, hanging, flesh-red flowers. Falk waited for his answer and only gradually realized that there was not going to be one. What he had said simply had not penetrated, had not made sense to the boy.

It has an echo of the end of the passage. Should be pretty clear why.

Edited by Sane Young Dog Man
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I Am a Cat!?

i heard that's a good one also... actually, i think i have it in my ebook library. my backlog is huge, i can probably build a house out of it

at least i read a few things in my spare time last year! now i'm working on lolita

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Passage 4:

Context: On Blue's Waters by Gene Wolfe is the beginning of a trilogy called the book of the short sun, following up on a tetralogy, the book of the long sun. I'm going to quote two related passages, both early in the book, and in fact the second passage is where I am right now. The book of the long sun was quite good. I'm not completely sure if this will be good yet, but I think it will be.

Horn, the main character of the book of the long sun, wrote a book called the book of silk with another character in the book which covers the story of the book of the long sun. I'm not sure if it is "actually" the book of the long sun available to readers on planet earth, as the book of the long sun is in 3rd person omniscient and is perhaps too detailed to have been written by Horn in full detail with complete honesty without having fictional elements. However, it is true that nearly every comment that touches upon the content of the book seems to my various recollections of the book of the long sun.

It is common for Wolfe to have explanations of the origins of the book the reader is reading be contained within the books themselves. The book of the new sun and the urth of the new sun are written by severian, the book of the long sun (as I said) may have been written by horn and nettle, and the book of the short sun is written by horn.

All the characters mentioned in the passages were participants in the book of the long sun. A manteion is a place of worship in the setting of the series.

The two passages below are related to the book of silk itself.

Spoiler rating 6/10: You won't find out any earthshaking plot twists, but you'll discover some things about how characters have changed as the books progressed and the author moved from one series to the next. I was tempted to include one more paragraph in the first passage, but I decided that it revealed additional information about the book that, while completely obvious shortly into the book of the short sun, could be withheld without interfering with the reason I'm sharing these passages in the first place.

[Horn is in a boat, narrating various task he is doing] One by one I found them and did them all, and searched diligently for more, and took out the few belongings I had packed, and refolded and repacked them all, except for our book.

ANd settled down to read, searching out Silk's trip to Lake Limna with Chenille and reading about the poster they saw there and how he separated from Chenille, who had drawn his picture in colored chalks as soon as he was gone - all in my wife's neat and almost clerkly hand.

How long and diligently she had labored to produce copy after copy, until she had done six altogether and several persons were clamoring for more, and several others were copying the ones she had produced earlier (and producing with the wildest abandonment both abridgements and annotated editions in which their annotations were not always clearly distinguished, and sometimes were not distinguished at all). Then she - you, my own darling - although she had already labored for the better part of a year to satisfy what must have seemed a mere whim to her (as indeed it sometimes has to me), began, and toiled over, and at last completed the seventh fair copy, which she proudly presented to me.

I have been tempted to leave it at home. Not because I did not love it - I did, and almost certainly loved it too much; no man is so secure in his sanity that he can afford to lavish on a mere inanimate object the passionate affection that every good man at some time feels for another person. Loving it as I did, I had known I was carrying it into deadly danger when I resolved to take it to the Long Sun Whorl and present it to Silk. So it proved; I nearly lost it once, and it did not remain with me long. I can only say that I knew the risk from the beginning, resolved with open eyes to run it, and am very glad I did.

[Horn is about to take his leave of Maytera Marble and Mucor, the two other characters in this passage. Maytera Marble is blind and blue.]"It's still the same dear face, though it pains me to - to have it changed at all. Horn, it's not at all likely that you'll be able to find new eyes for me, or find my husband, either. We both know that. Even so, you can make me happy if you will. WIll you promise to come back here after you have tried? Even if you have no eye to give me, and no word of my husband? And leave me a copy of your book, so that I can hear, sometimes, about Patera Silk and Patera Pike, and the old days at our manteion?"

It was on the tip of my tongue to say that our book would be of no use to her, but it occurred to me that the seamen who came to consult Mucor might be induced to read passages to her. I said something to that effect, and she said, "Mucor can read it to me, if she will."

Surprised yet again, I asked, "Can you read, Mucor?"

"A little." She seemed almost on the point of smiling. "Grandmother taught me."

"She would have, naturally." I was ready to kick myself for not having anticipated something so obvious.

Maytera Marble said, "If she doesn't know a word, she can spell it out to me so I can tell her."

The love in her voice touched me for the space of a breath, I considered what you would want me to do Nettle; but I know you too well to have much doubt. "You want me to bring you a copy of our book, when I return from the Long Sun Whorl, Maytera? From the Whorl?"

Very humbly she said, "If it's not too much trouble, Horn." Her hands had left my face to clutch each other. "It - I would appreciate it very much."

"You won't have to wait. I have a copy in my boat. I'll be back in a few minutes."

I had not gone ten steps when I heard the tapping of her stick behind me. I told her that she did not have to come, that I would bring the book back up to her.

"No, no, I want to, Horn. I can't ask you to make that climb atgain, and - and..."

She was afraid that I might sail away without having given it to her. Perhaps I should have been angry that she had so little confidence in my promise; but the truth was, as I realized even then, that she wanted the book so badly that she could not bear to run even the slightest risk, and waiting for me to return with it would have been agony. I took her free hand, and we descended the precipitous path together.

When we had reached the flat rock upon which the fish had so mysteriously appeared, she asked me about the sloop, how long it was, how wide, how one manged the sails and son on and so forth, all of it, I believe, to postpone the delicious instant when she would actually hold the book in her own hands, pushing the moment back again and again.

I gave her each measurement she asked for, and explained the rudiments of sailing as well as I could, how one trims the sails depending on the angle of the wind to the course, how to navigate by the sun and the stars, how the management of a laden boat differs from that of an empty one, and other matters; and while I was descanting upon all this Mucor appeared, standing upon an outcrop halfway up the cliff so small that it had escaped my notice up to then. I waved to her and she waved in return, but she did not speak.

At last I went aboard, retrieved our book from the cubby, and standing in the stern with one foot on the gunwale presented it to Maytera Marble, a present from both its authors.

It seems foolish now to write that her face, a face composed of hundreds of tiny mechanisms, glowed with happiness. Yet it did. "Horn! Oh, Horn! This-this is the answer to so many, many prayers!"

I smiled, although she could not see it. "All of them yours, I'm sure, Maytera. A good many people have taken the trouble to read it, though."

"It's so thick! So heavy!" Reverntly she opened it, turnign pages to feel the paper. "Are they written on both sides, Horn?"

"Yes, they are, Maytera. And my wife's handwriting is quite small."

She nodded solemnly. "I remember dear little Nettle's hand. She had a very good hand, Horn, even when she was just a child. A neat little hand. It may give my granddaughter trouble at first, but she'll soon be reading it like print, I feel sure."

I said that I was, too, and prepared to cast off.

"We're all in here, Horn? Dear old Maytera Rose, Maytera Mint, and my granddaughter and I? And Patera, and Patera Pike, and you children in the palaestra?"

"There's a great deal about Patera Silk," I told her, "but only a little, really, about Patera Pike. I'm afraid most of the other students at the palaestra aren't event mentioned, but Nettle and I pop up pretty frequently."

I was on the point of saying good-bye, but now that the moment for it had come I found myself every bit as reluctant as she was. "Do you remember how I followed you to the gate of Blood's villa? How I wanted to come in with you, but you wouldn't let me?"

"You were a good, brave boy. I couldn't risk your life like that, Horn."

"It's in there," I said, and cast off. "I'm leaving now. Remember me in your prayers."

"I will. Oh, I will!"

I think passages about the giving of a book are well suited for this topic.

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I've decided on my passage for the next two days. Tomorrow I'll be doing a passage from CJ Cherryh's Downbelow Station, and then the day after I'll be doing a passage from Stephen R Donaldson's A Dark and Hungry God Arises: The Gap Into Power. I'll be doing this to display one of the links between the two texts that suggests to me that Donaldson's Gap series was heavily inspired by Cherryh's Alliance space series. I may continue with at least one other connection between texts, but I need the first book in the gap series to arrive by mail first.

Passage 5:

For today, I'm providing a brief passage, once again from Erikson's The Bonehunters. I found it while I was looking through my dogeared pages (that's the way I found the other passage in the book). It's brief, but as it's a poem I believe it's "dense" enough to be a worthy passage. It doesn't really require context.

Spoiler Rating: 0/10, just one of the introductory pieces the author furnishes each chapter with. Some have relevance to the plot, but this one does not have direct relevance. I believe it might be foreshadowing to a major event that takes place later in the series, but I believe the poem has no predictive power on this event and I don't think you will foresee it at any point with this poem in mind.

And all these people gathered

to honour the one who had died,

was it a man, a woman, a warrior,

a king, a fool, and where were

the statues, the likenesses pained

on plaster and stone?

yet so they stood or sat, the wine

spilling at their feet, dripping red

from their hands, with wasps

in their dying season spinning

about in sweet thirst and drunken

voices cried out, stung awake

voices blended in confused

profusion, the question asked

again then again - why? But this

is where a truth finds its own wonder,

for the question was not why did

this one die, or such to justify

for in their heart of milling lives

there were none for whom

this gathering was naught

but an echo, of former selves

They asked, again and yet again,

why are we here?

The one who died had no name

but every name, no face but every

face of those who had gathered

and so it was we who learned

among wasps swept past living

yet nerve-firing one last piercing

that we were the dead

and all in an unseen mind -

stood or sat a man, or a woman,

a warrior, queen or fool, who

in drunken leisure gave a moment's

thought to all passed by in life

Fountain Gathering

Fisher Kel Tath

Fisher Kel Tath is a prolific poet who probably has the most attributions as far as chapter openings go. The only character who might compete with him is another dude named Gothos.

Ya uh I don't have a lot to say, the poem is mostly pretty self-explanatory. The only thing I'll sorta briefly mull on is the idea that those the drunk is mulling over are "dying" just as they're being remembered. Sort of a knife's edge of a present.

Edited by Sane Young Dog Man
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Passage 6:

Downbelow Station is a story focusing on the events of a planet (Pell, but often referred to simply as Downbelow) and spacestation during a conflict between two major factions, one based on earth and the other based in space. There are a number of major players, but the most affluent are the Konstantins. Angelo, one of the characters in the scene below, is the current "patriarch", Alicia his bedridden wife. I'm introducing this passage mostly to show the contrast with the one I'll be posting tomorrow.

Downers are an intelligent but not technologically advanced species native to Pell.

Spoiler Rating: 3/10: A new reader will be exposed to a few plot elements, early plot elements but still ones which would otherwise be uncovered more organically.

He went home, that little distance down blue one twelve, quietly opened the door.


Alicia was awake, then. He shed his case and his jacket on the chair by the door. "I'm home," he said, smiled dutifully at the old Downer female who came out of Alicia's room to pat his hand and welcome him. "Good day, Lily?"

"Have good day," Lily affirmed, grinning her gentle smile. She made herself noiseless in gathering up what he had put down, and he walked back into Alicia's room, leaned down over her bed and kissed her. Alicia smiled, still as she was always still on the immaculate linens, with Lily to tend her, to turn her, to love her with the devotion of many years. The walls were screens. About the bed the view was of stars, as if they hung in mid-space; stars, and sometimes the sun, the docks, the corridors of Pell; or pictures of Downbelow woods, the base, of the family, of all such things as gave her pleasure. Lily changed the sequences for her.

"Damon came by," Alicia murmured. "He and Elene. For breakfast. It was nice. Elene's looking well. So happy."

Often they stopped by, one or the other of them… especially with Emilio and Miliko out of reach. He remembered a surprise, a tape he had dropped into his jacket pocket for fear of forgetting it "Had a message from Emilio. I'll play it for you."

"Angelo, is something wrong?"

He stopped in mid-breath and shook his head ruefully. "You're sharp, love."

"I know your face, love. Bad news?"

"Not from Emilio. Things are going very well down there; much better. He reports considerable progress with the new camps. They haven't had any trouble out of Q personnel, the road is through to two, and there's a number willing to transfer down the line."

"I think I get only the better side of the reports. I watch the halls. I get that too, Angelo."

He gently turned her head for her, so that she could look at him more easily. "War's heating up," he said. "Is that grim enough?"

The beautiful eyes… still beautiful, in a thin, pale face… were vital and steady. "How close now?"

"Just merchanters getting nervous. Not at all close; there's no sign of that. But I'm concerned about morale."

She moved her eyes about, a gesture at the walls. "You make all my world beautiful. Is it beautiful… out there?"

"No harm has come to Pell. There's nothing imminent. You know I can't lie to you." He sat down on the edge of the bed, the clean, smooth sheets, took her hand. "We've seen the war get hot before and we're still here."

"How bad is it?"

"I talked to a merchanter a few moments ago, who talked about merchanter attitudes; spoke about places out in the Deep, good for sitting and waiting. Thought comes to me, do you know, that there are other stations of a kind, more than Pell left; chunks of rock in unlikely places… things merchanters know about. Maybe Mazian; surely Mazian. Just places where ships know to go. So if there are storms… there are havens, aren't there? If it comes down to any bad situation, we do have some choices."

"You'd leave?"

He shook his head. "Never. Never. But there's still a chance of talking the boys into it, isn't there? We persuaded one to Downbelow; work on your youngest; work on Elene… she's your best hope. She has friends out there; she knows, and she could persuade Damon." He pressed her hand. Alicia Lukas-Konstantin needed Pell, needed the machinery, equipment a ship could not easily maintain. She was wedded to Pell and the machines. Any transfer of her entourage of metal and experts would be public, doomsday headlined on vid. She had reminded him of that. I am Pell she had laughed, not laughing. She had been, once, beside him. He was not leaving. In no wise did he consider that, without her, abandoning what his family had built over the years, what they had built, together. "It's not close," he said again. But he feared it was.

Mazian is a reference to the fleet of battleships serving earth. Q is short for quarantine - there's a bunch of refugees from stations captured by the non-earth faction who come to Pell station early on in the book. Damon and Emilio are their children, Elene and Miliko their spouses (actually, Miliko might just be a girlfriend, I'm not entirely sure).

Edited by Sane Young Dog Man
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There are space battles but not a whole lot. They are mostly (maybe entirely) towards the end of the book. I do strongly recommend Cherryh in general. I don't think Downbelow Station is her best - in fact, I like just about every "Alliance Space" book I've read since more - but I did think it was very good. Besides the downers. As far as aliens go, they are kinda cute seeming, but overall I didn't think they were very interesting. There's another book, 40000 in Gehenna, by Cherryh with much more interesting aliens. I would still recommend Downbelow first because it introduces the setting, although none of the books I have read are direct sequels to each other.

If you want space battles, the gap series has a fair number. I'll be quoting the gap series tomorrow. However, the gap series is probably among the most brutal things I've ever read, particularly the first book. The quote I've chosen from the third book will get that across pretty well, I think.

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