May contain spoilers up to Stormed Fortress.
I'm not 100% sure where this should live, so I figured the best place for it was in the thread for the book that contains it :D
I thought I'd try to initiate some discussion and speculation about the prologue, and what tales it can tell for the future now that we have finished Arc 3.
So here's the prologue (posted with permission from Janny. Thanks!)
The Wars of Light and Shadow were fought during the third age of Athera, the most troubled and strife-filled era recorded in all of history. At that time Arithon, called Master of Shadow, battled the Lord of Light through five centuries of bloody and bitter conflict. If the canons of the religion founded during that period are reliable, the Lord of Light was divinity incarnate, and the Master of Shadow a servant of evil, spinner of dark powers. Temple archives attest with grandiloquent force to be the sole arbiters of truth.
Yet contrary evidence supports a claim that the Master was unjustly aligned with evil. Fragments of manuscript survive which expose the entire religion of Light as fraud, and award Arithon the attributes of saint and mystic instead.
Because the factual account lay hopelessly entangled between legend and theology, sages in the seventh age meditated upon the ancient past, and recalled through visions the events as they happened. Contrary to all expectation, the conflict did not begin on the council stair of Etarra, nor even on the soil of Athera itself; instead the visions started upon the wide oceans of the splinter world, Dascen Elur.
This is the chronicle the sages recovered. Let each who reads determine the good and evil for himself.
I've started to think something along these lines as well actually. The prologue was so well written, however, that it says everything and nothing, and it's incredibly difficult to get any firm ideas from it, even at this stage of the story.
I have noted that it's very ambiguous when it comes to say whether Lysaer would actually have headed up his religion for the five hundred years span. Personally I think the religion will carry on without him, even if he can break the curse before the end.
I will say, I have a feeling that the ending will be by no means standard or expected, and will probably be bitter sweet.
I just started re-reading the series...again... And in reading the prologue I came up with a thought. It mentions Arithon but not Lyser by name, which is an interesting start. However, it does not mention "a man named Arithon" but rather just "Arithon" Coincidence?
Also, while I agree that many things must be different in this seventh age, they still have magic, or else they would not be able to accurately meditate on the past, which implies to me that the paravians are still there. Although maybe I am confusing cause and effect. do the paravians exist because the magic, or vice versa?
What annoyed me most about that passage was the "five centuries of bloody and bitter conflict", which leaves practically no hope for Lysaer ever leading a normal life without the curse. I had read all 8 books before i went back and read the first again and noticed that. I would not be surprised if Arithon was still around in the seventh age, but it would have been nice to see a better end for Lysaer.
Even without the sorcerers I doubt the contents of Althain Tower would ever be available for the perusal of mages no matter how wise they were. The fragments of manuscript are most likely gleaned from the human records of the third age. And the Koriani if they still exist would not be likely to share their knowledge with any mages either, so we will have to wait and see what their fate was. If the Koriani survived to the seventh age I would think they came to their senses and cleansed the crystals that held the records.
Lysaer's shambolic lie of divinity continues into the Seventh Age - is there a better end for the vanity focussed Lysaer than to secure eternal godhood and adulation as the saviour?
We have several books left yet for Lysaer's fate to be resolved in some way - a way, no doubt, that will most likely surprise everyone except Janny. There are still at least two external forces before which Lysaer has yet to stand in judgement.
If we make the assumption that the Seventh Age of Athera features neither Sorcerors nor Paravians, I would suspect that they would remove or destroy Althain and it's contents to keep the contents out of meddling human hands.
I just started rereading this in preparation for a reread of Initiate's Trial. I find that prologue so damned baffling. It's almost as if it's been charmed by sorcery. At one time, I read it that the Alliance of Light had continued to the present, that Lysaer's version of events predominated, that Arithon got lost somewhere along the way. But that's not what it says at all. We can assume from it that Sulfin Evend does something heroic to attempt to break the spell... and we can assume that, just like in real life, what actually happened is not easy to reconstruct.
Lysaer's religion might have stuck with his version of events, but not sure everyone else did. Remember we had that fourth age verse from a children's game in Ships of Merior
Two princes, dark and fair
Cursed by the Mistwraith, Desh-thiere
Hate bound them
Blood crowned them
'Til cold death, war must hound them:
Vie for the shadows and the light
Die blind in shadows, burned in light
Cry, 'Down the shadows, hail the light!'
verse from a children's game
Fourth Age 1220
It would seem even children in the fourth age know the truth. How likely is it the Light's religion lasted till the seventh age? The temple archives could survive long after the religion itself had died out.
This is kind of what I was talking about in the morality discussion. I've always read the whole series as being a history, as the prologue says. But we dont know WHO is recording / reciting the history. We can make educated guesses, but as you say, Janny loves to play with our expectations and perceptions.
Nobody has mentioned the dragons.
Yes, I know. The prologue makes no mention of the dragons. And yet.
Unless I have understood it all wrong:
No dragons, no Athera. The dragons may be in a troubled position regarding Ath Itself, the Creator; and yet, Athera exists, does it not, because the dragons dreamed it?
Athera itself is the uneasy manifestation of a conflicted association between those dreaming dragons, with their chaos and anarchy, and Ath Creator with Its sublime order and Major Balance and all.
I realize that the prologue makes no mention of the dragon/Ath conflict. It is a given, I believe, taken for granted.
So, for instance:
the Paravians. The very presence of the Paravians, if I read this right, is Ath Creator's beneficent response to the dragons getting in over their heads with Khadrim and Methuri and I forget all what else.
I could go on, you get the idea.
Just pointing out that the prologue proceeds on some real fundamental presumptions here: the prologue concerns itself with humanity, and yet humanity is only one piece of the puzzle....