Characteristics of Honor

Janny Wurts Chat Area: Author's Corner: Characteristics of Honor
   By Greg Treat on Friday, February 25, 2005 - 10:42 pm: Edit Post

In the Wars of Light and Shadow series one of the most poignant and powerful contradictions of Arithon is his Honor. His unwillingness to act in a wrong manner against someone else. I think that one of the things that Our modern society has lost, to its grevious hurt, is its basic identity of honor. And I see in this series that honor is depicted in blistering reality. The basic Idea of honor is one who is trustworthy, in word and in action to do what he has sworn or promised. But the real meaning of honor goes far beyond that into doing what is best for others, to be unwilling to take advantage of anothers hurts, to be strong enough to do what is right no matter the cost. The contrast between Lysaer and Arithon's Honor is clear enough, Lysaer holds and act the trappings of Honor while Arithon holds inasmuch as he can given his curse to the real essence of the thing. That much is obvious but the whys that drive those two differences are enormously important. You see Lysaer believes he is right in trying to kill the Master of Shadow and so he is willing to go to any lengths to achieve that goal. Now the desire to kill Arithon is Curse-driven and so maybe Lysaer is not culpable for that. But the belief that any means is worthwhile that is wrong and if Lysaer possesed true honor then he would know it would be an intrisic part of his character that to use means such as hunting down women and children and allying himself with bloodmages, and to set himself up as a God is wrong and can never be justified. In the end, if Arithon was all the evil that Lysaer claimed the decision to bring innocents in Would be wrong. While Arithon at all times tries to minimize the damage not just to his own men but to his enemies. And Arithon is not willing to stoop to torture and rapine and coersion or threats of those to achieve his end. All of that said I wanted to know if you had actively done that kind of analysis on the two Princes. And If you had I wanted to know what you thought was most central.

   By Greg Treat on Friday, February 25, 2005 - 10:42 pm: Edit Post

It seems to me the greatest strenth of Arithon is his ability to reason. His ability to interact with people and to understand them. Some might saw that that is his gifts of Compassion and empathy but as I understand these gifts they aren't Psychic but are more based in the idea that it is in Arithon's nature to take the time to consider the feeling of others and having considered them will be able to understand them. That is a reasoning process, One which I know that some people are born with and many can develop if they take the time to THINK and respond to situations rather than simply react on emotion.

   By Greg Treat on Friday, February 25, 2005 - 10:43 pm: Edit Post

It seems to me that the Curse bears a great deal of likeness to the Biblical definition of sin. That it permeates through the beings that it infects and attempts to warp them. People under the domination of the curse are unaware of it and believe that they are doing what is right. And Even those who are aware of the curse and its effects are helpless to face it at its strongest and are constantly being warped by it, sometimes subtly and sometimes, not-so subtly. I just wanted to know if Mrs. Wurts had considered that aspect.

   By Greg Treat on Friday, February 25, 2005 - 10:46 pm: Edit Post

I guess what all these messages add up to is I wanted to know what you regarded as the princes faults Morally and what actions or kinds of actions are just the result of the curse.

   By Rurack on Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 09:33 am: Edit Post

Well if I had to choose what the princes faults are it would most likly be a little different than what you have stated but along the same lines.

Lysear has grasped the cusre to the fullest. He has been given multiple chances to repent from his course each and everytime he has turned from it. There are two instances I would like to bring up. One when He went crazy when he saw that clans had been made slaves the first time and put himself in chains to make a point. Not a year later he endorses slavery. The curse is at work and the battle in vastmark had just happened.

The other time was when he came face to face with pavaians or their magic. He came face to face with pavarian magic at a grimward in all of it's glory and then again when he came face to face with a centaur in PG. In both instances he turned his back on what was right. He MADE the choice. I truely think the curse had very little to do with either instance.

Arithon is a little different than Lysearin that you have to look at his actions a lot more detail than Lysear. Call me stubborn but I refuse to belive that some part of Arithon Did not realize that Jieret wold take the acorns and not hand it off. Do not forget that the Mistwraith was out of phase with reality. Who is to say that the curse is not to the same degree. Look at the bloodshed released because of it. So his fault is that he BELIEVES that he is doing the best thing. What is morally right. Now do not get me wrong I would not want to be ever in his position where I would have to choise between the death of one or the death of many. Fion Areth anyone? Now I can not say that he did did not make the right choice, the series is far from over and I have not read TK. But maybe he did the right think because he has gone through davien's tunnel.

   By PurplePenny on Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 02:11 pm: Edit Post

Lysaer's biggest fault is his own, not the result of the curse: he has no reverse gear. He would die of starvation trying to push open a pull door before admitting that he was wrong.

   By Cheryl on Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 04:51 pm: Edit Post

I like Arithon's gift of compassion. I think the curse has a stronger hold on Lysaer and he just isn't able to fight it the way Arithon can. The curse is controlling Lysaer and his actions aren't his own. IMO. What I like is knowing that if Lysaer were givin' a chance to beat the curse, Arithon would still be there to help him heal the rest of the way because of his gift of compassion. That's what I'm getting out of the series anyway. That's what I hope happens in the end.

   By Blue on Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 05:21 pm: Edit Post

Beyond the geas given the royal houses of s'Ilessid, s'Ffalenn and s'Ahelas [Lysaer and Arithon both share the gift of s'Ahelas through their mother], I think a lot of how the curse affects each brother is in his upbringing and his ideals.

Lysaer was brought up by an bitter man who had been deserted by his wife for his most infamous enemy. Despite the leavening of the full measure of the Justice geas, Lysaer HAD to be affected by his father's outlook. He was taught to put aside his own feelings and act on what was right for the greater whole, in spite of what it cost him. In the grove of the Adepts in WoV, and again when facing the centaur in PG, he was MIGHTILY tempted to cast everything aside and embrace redemption. However, he pulled back, fearing that he would be dishonoring his charge to protect his subjects. The curse came into play to a degree, since it has warped his outlook, but Lysaer himself was too blinded by his own vanity and his interpretation of honor to accept that he may have been wrong in more than one instance, and accept redemption. In the case of the Adept's grove in WoV, he heard his father's admonition which caused him to turn away. The King of Amroth, despite his faults and what we perceive as cruelty, was the most authoritative voice in Lysaer's life from a very young age. That a King puts his subject's needs ahead of his own must have been quite a refrain throughout Lysaer's life. Did the curse cause him to remember, or did it just come to him, since he knew no better way?

Arithon, on the other hand, was raised in a manner where he constantly had to challenge his limitations and expand his consciousness. He had a greater awareness in many ways than Lysaer did, but that was because of his mage training. Arithon, unfortunately, was and remains a lonely spirit, and there are many ways in which this still affects him. He is rather abrupt, even rude, to those around him, feeling that he needs no one. Those who are clingy or dependent are always turned away in such a fashion as to eventually become independent (?). The Mistwraith was described as a hungry multitude, and I wonder if Arithon's very aloof, lonely independence might also be a factor in his rejecting the curse as much as he can. He does not feel that he needs anyone, and he will certainly not surrender to a multitude.

   By Cheryl on Sunday, February 27, 2005 - 07:00 pm: Edit Post

Thanks Blue, you reminded me of the beginning of the series.I don't think we really know how strong the Curse is. It's hard to say how much of it is affecting Lysaer, but I feel he just doesn't have the strength to fight it the way Arithon does. Arithon said that Lysaer didn't have the strength to fight it and that stuck in my mind. I'm sure Lysaer's father was a big factor, but I think Arithon was beginning to break through to Lysaer before the Curse hit them. I think with Arithon's guidance. Lysaer would have been on the right path. Now I need to read Curse of the Mistwraith again. More to read it seems. lol

   By PurplePenny on Monday, February 28, 2005 - 05:57 pm: Edit Post

In Kewar Arithon discovered that there were times when the Curse was affecting him and he didn't know it - like causing him not to foresee the actual outcome of the Havens. If he with all his training and awareness can be skewed like that how much more can it pervert Lysaer's thought processes.

I think that Lysaer was on the right path before the curse hit. IIRC he had realised the need to see the situation from the clans perspective even though it was alien to him. Without the curse his gift of justice would compel him to see both sides in the end.

   By Hunter on Monday, February 28, 2005 - 08:06 pm: Edit Post

I disagree.. I strongly believe the Lysaer we're seeing has had his views warped and strengthened by the Curse, but the Curse used what Lysaer already was.

Given Lysaer's history and the crucial first part of Curse where we see Lysaer, Arithon, Lysaer's father and the memory of when Talera fled Amroth, I believe that even without the Curse, Lysaer would have ended up in somewhat of a similar position to what he is in today.

Lysaer didn't need to the Curse to hate and distrust magecraft. He didn't need the Curse to hate Arithon and all Arithon stood for - which was mostly the shame Arithon's mother brought to the kingdom of Amroth. Lysaer didn't need the Curse for his treatment of women.

Lysaer is a product of his upbringing, no more no less. The question has always been whether he would break free of this. In many ways, Lysaer is like Elaira - they act within the boundaries that have been defined and which they view as absolute and do not question.

   By Cheryl on Monday, February 28, 2005 - 09:07 pm: Edit Post

Lysaer was changing though in Arithon's presence. He was just beginning to realize that he might have been wrong about Arithon and they were becoming brothers. I don't see Lysaer as hard as that. I like to think the best of people though. I really don't like all that Lysaer does to Arithon but I know he's not himself during all of this either. It's hard to remember that but I try to. I wouldn't love the series so much thinking any other way. JMO though I guess it's how we interpret the series. I was surprised at so many different views of the brothers.

   By Hunter on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 12:27 am: Edit Post


I would have been surprised, if not outright astonished, if everyone here, given the wide and varied ages, upbringings, nationalities, religions and viewpoints of the kind folk who inhabit this place, had all arrived at exactly the same viewpoint about Arithon and Lysaer. After all, Janny herself is not trying to make value judgements, but present the story as a canvass on which each individual draws their own conclusions.

Lysaer has inherited a huge case of Little Man's syndrome from his father. Does Lysaer really hate magecraft per se? I believe he hates it because:
1. It was denied to him;
2. Mage trained people can do things that he cannot do himself, nor can he control them.
3. Mage trained operate to a creed completely foreign to Lysaer's view of how a civilization should be run. Hence it must be subjugated or eradicated.

The differences between Lysaer's views and Arithon's were most expertly displayed by Dakar after his enforced stay with Arithon when Lysaer offers to let Dakar drink himself to oblivion and cosset him - Dakar is repulsed because it a dependency he doesn't want after being forced to be independent by Arithon.

Arithon and Dakar, and now Fionn Areth, have been an Odd Couple for so long, the pairing of Sulfin Evend and Lysaer has really crept in unnoticed. For those who haven't read TK:

You have been warned.

Sulfin Evend is Lysaer's closest friend now, probably closer than Diegan was I think. The altercation between Lysaer and Sulfin Evend in the hot tub shows that Lysaer is unable, or unwilling, to allow other concerns control him.

   By Trys on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 07:09 am: Edit Post

Just a warning. Spoilers belong in the Spoiler topics. I'll leave this one hear as it is very well marked but I really should move it.

   By Rurack on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 09:23 am: Edit Post

Well without reading Hunter's post I have this to add as well, Lysear had changed his view points drastically. if you do not belive me go back and reread the part in COTM where Lysear is looking for Arithon and finds him making shadow illusions for street children. Read that chapeter and then go read PG where he comes face to face with a centaur and tell me how far he has fallen. The curse did not drive him to do that he made a choice.

Oh and I will have to disagree with you hunter as far as Lysear being in the same spot. This time I am not going to blame the curse and neither should anyone else. Arithon is to blame. If you remember back in COTM the F7 wanted to introduce Lysear to townborn culture first but Arithon forced their hand. That incident laid the foundations for Lysear's disreguard for the clanborn. It eventually turned into the hatred we see today.

   By Hunter on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 05:49 pm: Edit Post

Blaming Arithon? Hmm... that's a new one..

Sorry Trys, I know they belong in the spoiler section.. but I'd gotten so far along my post that moving it didn't really seem in context.. I'll remember next time..

   By Cheryl on Thursday, March 03, 2005 - 11:29 pm: Edit Post

I don't know exactly what Janny wants us to think on this with Lysaer. I see it as the curse making him worse than he could have become. I'm just sad the curse came and stopped whatever could have happened between the brothers. I think they had a chance to be real brothers and I wanted to see that. I don't think Lysaer has a choice in anything right now. He's too far gone with the curse. No one really knows how powerful that curse is or how deep inside of him it is. I don't know what Janny wants us to think but it is fun to know not everyone sees it the same way.

   By Blue on Friday, March 04, 2005 - 04:37 pm: Edit Post

As I believe Asandir mused at some point in CotM, the truth is like a finely cut jewel, with many facets upon it, but the only full view one can get of it is from within. Bad paraphrase, and I apologize.

   By Cheryl on Saturday, March 05, 2005 - 06:49 am: Edit Post

Good Blue, thanks that is exactly how it is I think.

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