Firstly, hello to all of you. This is my first post on this forum, though I've been lurking for quite some time (and once wrote an email to Janny, and was delighted to receive a reply!).
I'm sure it's very presumptuous of me to start a new discussion thread as my first post, but I ran a search to see if this has been addressed before, and as far as I know it hasn't. Obviously, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong! I won't intentionally be posting any spoilers for Stormed Fortress, but a few references to earlier books may creep in. Traitor's Knot may get a mention.
This thread is about the prevalence (or not) of gay themes and/or characters in the Wars of Light and Shadow. I'm not assigning any kind of agenda or lack of one to the author, I'm just interested in exploring whether or not this interpretation is relevant.
Well, how do the underlying themes of the series relate to the concept? Among many many other things, the concepts of self-actualisation and self-acceptance are stressed. It is implied over and over that self-understanding and self-love are prerequisites for any kind of higher understanding (for example, see how the Koriani insight is crippled by their rigid chastity requirements - Lirenda's the obvious example here). This certainly seems to imply that the powers of Athera, at any rate, would consider homosexuality to be neither particularly unusual nor abnormal! (Heh, I'm trying to imagine Sethvir or Asandir being homophobic and I just can't!)
However, how do actual characters relate to the concept? Our first reference is a negative one, from the clansman who "captures" Asandir's party in "Curse...", and assume that Arithon and Lysaer are lovers and has a highly negative reaction to this concept. Arithon also appears to be insulted by the implication. That being said, what we're seeing is the prejudice of one individual, and not a particularly nice one. Arithon may simply have been reacting to the fact that offence was *intended*, whether or not the actual form was insulting to him.
We see huge disgust toward the concept of Shandian "prandeys" throughout the series, along with those who provide/avail of them. This, however, is far more likely to be a reaction to paedophilia (and mutilation!), not homosexuality! One of these things is not like the other. Not in the least.
A fairer insight into Arithon's reaction is when he and Dakar once pretend to be a courting couple to escape suspicion. He plaintively asks Dakar if he'd bothered to mask him with a female illusion, and Dakar's bantering response in the negative evokes no revulsion, though some (warranted) amusement. I certainly can't see someone with the sensitivity of an initiate talent as *well* as a Masterbard gift harbouring any kind of homophobia. Alithiel would not submit to being wielded by such a man - its very nature would revolt.
So we've cleared Arithon of any kind of homophobia. What of the clans in general? Perhaps the clansman in "Curse..." wasn't representative, but it's by no means certain. We see no gay or lesbian relationships within the clans at any point, and I think there's a very obvious reason for this.
The clans are obsessed with maintaining their bloodlines and providing descendents. Gay relationships (in general) are not based around this, and under the kind of adverse circumstances the clans live under, might well have seen their toleration sharply decrease. Historically on Earth, even in non-homophobic societies such as Edo-period Japan, there was an obligation for noblemen (and simply men in general) to produce heirs. The clanspeople *all* bear this responsibility, so there's certainly very fruitful ground for a gay-intolerant vibe to predominate.
Without sidetracking into religious discussion, the same patterns can be observed in the biblical prohibition on homosexuality. The prohibitions in fact cover homosexuality, unmarried sex, adultery, and in fact any kind of sex that wasn't directly intended to conceive children. The exact kind of prohibitions a small tribe persecuted on every side and with a high infant mortality rate might adopt - again, like the clans in WoLaS.
Returning to Athera now, we see how there might be some anti-gay tendency among the clans, and how it's certainly not present in the powers. The next important thing, of course, is whether there are in fact any gay characters in the series!
This is speculation, of course, since as far as I know there are no openly gay characters in WoLaS. So here goes! There is significant evidence for at least two main characters in WoLaS being gay, one of whom was pointed out to me by another poster, whose username has slipped my mind (sorry!).
That is (did you guess?) Sulfin Evend. What evidence is there? Apart from him not having shown interest in any women so far in the series (excusable by a devotion to duty), the scenes from his perspective with Lysaer are simply redolent with description of Lysaer's beauty. It's almost homoerotic the way Sulfin "narrates" Lysaer's physical descriptions over and over - anyone else remember the dual-bathing scene that ended in naked wrestling?! His revulsion at siring a Koriani child was a tiny bit excessive for an otherwise fairly pragmatic man. Beyond that, his actions for Lysaer go above and beyond those of a subordinate acting out of loyalty, or even those of a friend risking all for a friend. Sulfin's devotion to Lysaer despite what he has become is evident (to me, at least) of a deep, unrequited love. He is completely smitten with Lysaer's beauty and his potential, his nobility under mind-shattering stress, and the laid-bare soul of a man trying to redeem his fatal character flaws. What makes it worse is that I don't think Lysaer can reciprocate in the way Sulfin needs. Lysaer is not gay. There's never even been a hint of latent bisexuality. He's very interested in women, though he closed himself off sexually after Talith. Among other things, this could be truly tragic for Sulfin - Lysaer's love for him can never be other than platonic, and he knows it.
That's the more obvious gay character. However, there's another, whose sexuality, though less overt, is still fairly obvious (in my opinion, at least) to the dedicated observer. It might be claimed that it isn't relevant, but it suffuses such a large part of who he is that it seems actually essential to understanding his character. Who is this underrated gay character?
Davien, of course. (cue gasps or satisfied nods from observers) Why? Maybe it's just my own perspective that makes this easier, but ... reread any of his scenes with Arithon. Any at all. Particularly in his unguarded moments, Davien's sexuality is just incredibly intrinsic to his relationship with Arithon. Not that he's in love with Arithon or anything so obvious, but he's in love with the *concept* of Arithon, and the freedom for self-actualisation and self-realisation that Arithon represents as the bearer of Alithiel. His description of Arithon as "my wild falcon" is telling. Davien, as a personality, is completely incapable of being untrue to his nature. Sure, he's duplicitous and tricksy and hard to understand. That's part of his nature. Davien can't be not-Davien. (Well, none of the Sorcerers could, but Davien, as I see it, is even more "in" his self and defensive of it than the others.) Some other clues: Davien can't stand restraint. Not by dragons, not by Paravians, not by anyone. He can't stand to see others restrained either. Obviously, this is circumstantial evidence, but "gaydar" (whether for "real" or "not-real" characters) is very much an intuitive thing in any case. The other major factor with Davien is his works. *All* of Davien's works investigate the concept of self, self-understanding and self-acceptance, themes directly related to homosexuality in general and Davien in particular. See his major works:
- Rockfell Peak prison wards - reflect the imprisoned entity back upon itself.
- Kewar maze - goes without saying.
- Five Centuries Fountain - as I see it, this was designed to answer the question "What will a human risk for longevity?" Even more interestingly, it also answers "What will a human *do* with this longevity?" This explores the essential nature of self and purpose.
- Entrance to the elementals' chamber in the Paravian fortress. The test here is a test of wisdom, insight and self-understanding. Only someone with incredibly high (even for Sorcerers) levels of self-understanding could possibly have crafted it. Also, only someone with an understanding of the mind's predilection for self-deception and self-blinding could have crafted the traps within it.
There are a couple more hints in Stormed Fortress, but I promised I wouldn't reference that. So I won't. Maybe in the spoiler forum.
Anyway, that's really about all I have to say on the topic. To summarise: the underlying nature of WoLaS is fully tolerant of homosexuality; Arithon, despite first impression, is in no way homophobic; there is an implied homophobic undercurrent in the clans, which is mostly situational; the two most-likely-gay characters are Sulfin Evend and Davien.
Now, the fun part! What do you guys think on this? Please pitch in, critique my comments and suggestions to bits, post counterexamples or supporting examples. Did I miss a desriptive passage? Did I completely misinterpret something? How could I have omitted [name / thing]? Let me know, and discuss it!! If Janny wants to comment, she's of course very welcome, though I understand she might prefer to keep an amused silence for now. Still, any pronouncements on the underlying ethic would be rapturously received.
Also, thanks very much to anyone who slogged through all that text! I certainly didn't expect it to become as long as it did, but I really enjoyed writing this, and hope you enjoy reading it and discussing the issues I raised. I look forward to discussing it with you all!
Hm, I don't necessarily agree with all the conclusions you've drawn. They seem pretty biased, like you may be reading with the intent of finding what you're looking for. Not that we don't all do that over one thing or another.
But it's been too long since I've read the earlier books to comment on those conclusions. Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong, but I don't recall drawing any of those conclusions when I read the books. But, maybe I'm the biased reader! Who knows.
But to discuss Sulfin Evend at least... Sorry, but I must delve into SF for just a moment, but I SWEAR it's not a plot revealing spoiler in case anyone wants to read through.. Just in case.
Just to address Sulfin Evend for a moment, because I had read the same person's post (whoever it was) wondering aloud if SE was gay, and so I was reading SF with that thought broiling in the back of my mind during all his scenes. In the text of this book, SE himself is subject to regret that he does not have a "beloved woman awaiting, and no children to grace him with welcome." So I think he is a man devoted to his cause, and his 'friend' (as Lysaer is frequently described) to the exclusion of dalliance with women, or anything worth mentioning. His job description would keep him busy day and night. But he has his regret that he doesn't have a wife and family at home waiting for him.
END STORMED FORTRESS SPOILERS
END STORMED FORTRESS SPOILERS
END STORMED FORTRESS SPOILERS
END STORMED FORTRESS SPOILERS
END STORMED FORTRESS SPOILERS
And besides, everyone reflects on Lysaer's beauty or strikingness when they're with him in their POV. Except, perhaps Arithon...
So, I really don't think that SE is gay, or has a romantic love for Lysaer.
I think Janny writes of platonic love between her male characters very fearlessly. I don't read fanfic (just not interested), but I know that readers will glomp onto any and all possible existence of homosexual leanings to create random ships between two characters whom the author probably never intended to be gay. I know there has even been fanfic gay shipping of Janny's own works (though I never read the fics in question, I'm not even interested in reading Janny's characters trying to be "piloted" by someone else). Her writing reminds me of The Lord of the Rings, the way Tolkien wrote of the relationships between his main characters, pretty much all men. There were many deep, loving friendships written into that story. I doubt it ever occurred to anyone at the time to think that there was anything between Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin, Aragorn and Boromir or Legolas, except platonic love and friendship, but in our modern era, a lot of people look at that relationship speculatively and ship them into gay couples, either for laughs or in dead earnest.
But, then, in our day and age (at least in this country), it's rare to FIND two men who would admit to such a deep and lasting, loving and respectful, devoted friendship--like Lysaer and Sulfin Evend. Because people would think "Oh they're gay. Or at least one of them is."
So I think it's fearless for Janny to just throw her characters out there, two guys who are friends that love each other unromantically and are devoted to each other. Even though people may try to hook them up, behind closed tent flaps. ;-)
All I can say is that if I were an author and I wrote from the heart and from years and years and years of intricate development on a character, and then someone blatantly stole that character and willfully turned them into something they were never meant to be... I would be a little proprietarily cheesed off. I think it's very presumptuous.
As for your theory on Davien, I couldn't begin to speculate there. I try to theorize as little as possible when it comes to that particular Sorcerer.
Anyhow, it is interesting speculation, that I'm surprised we've never had before... except that it can be dangerous ground to tread upon.
Thanks for replying, Meredith! That's a good point you make about Sulfin.
STORMED FORTRESS REFERENCE
STORMED FORTRESS REFERENCE
STORMED FORTRESS REFERENCE
STORMED FORTRESS REFERENCE
STORMED FORTRESS REFERENCE
Still, though, I'd read that "I don't have that waiting for me" line more as him feeling he can't have a stable home/traditional family relationship, not because of his duty, but because of his love for Lysaer, both platonic and romantic, as well as his sexuality. I think he's just regretting what he'll never have, that's all.
END STORMED FORTRESS REFERENCE
END STORMED FORTRESS REFERENCE
END STORMED FORTRESS REFERENCE
END STORMED FORTRESS REFERENCE
END STORMED FORTRESS REFERENCE
And it's true that everyone reflects on Lysaer's beauty, but Sulfin seems to do it a lot more than the rest. But perhaps that's just me.
You're absolutely and completely right in what you say about platonic male love, and maybe I should have made clearer what I thought about that. I have no patience with "shipping" in anything other than a joking context - the characters are who they are. Your references to LOTR are good examples: Frodo and Sam is a perfect platonic relationship, and I'd never seen it as anything else.
In this case, however, I'm just trying to interpret what I see as an important aspect of these characters (besides, if I were shipping, you'd think I'd do it with characters who had ANY possibility of ending up together, or, for that matter, had even met!! :p).
The same way that several of Trudi Canavan's and Mercedes Lackey's characters' sexualities are an important, if not intrinsic, part of who they are, I'm just exploring to see if that concept/interpretation relates to any of the characters in WoLaS, as well as providing an overall perspective on these concepts in the series as a whole (because the concepts are definitively there, as referenced by the incidents I mentioned).
I hope you don't think *I* was wilfully misinterpreting these characters, I hope it was just a general point. Because you're right, twisting a character out of who they are *is* highly presumptuous, and I wouldn't like to think I was capable of it. All I was doing was interpreting these two characters from an unusual but certainly valid perspective, from the evidence available. So we don't disagree over that, I like to think.
"Dangerous ground" ... like all things associated with Davien, I dare say!
Anyway, thanks so much for your reply. It's good to know I'm inspiring discussion, and I really enjoyed reading your post.
Yeah I'd have to say, if I got any message at all with regards to homosexuality from these books, it was that it was not looked upon kindly, with perhaps the exception of Jaelot, but there Dakar mentioned it as proof of Jaelot's complete depravity. Which doesn't really surprise me given the sort of society we have in this story. The point you make about how the LotMB seems like it would naturally lend acceptance to any lifestyle that didn't hurt anyone else seems valid, but I really haven't seen any evidence that it is a lifestyle choice for anyone other than pedophiles or debauched Jaelot nobles. My gaydar has never been good, but everyone's reaction to Lysaer has never really struck me as sexually charged. More like looking at a beautiful piece of art or something. ;) His male beauty is what lends him his air of divinity, and I think people would be appalled at the idea of sullying their avatar with normal human lust. Sulfin Evend may not buy his god-shtick now, but until recent events he was convinced that Lysaer was the sort of divine being he professed to be, or at least believed that his powers had delivered him from the grimward. The sort of fervent devotion someone has for a divine idol has always been what I saw characterizing their relationship. Hard to say how it's changed now that Lysaer's been knocked off his pedestal. I think Sulfin Evend's not quite had the light knocked out of his eyes, for all that he now believes Lysaer to be human. It's more like he just transferred his devotion from a religious fervor to his innate loyalty to a friend; considering that most everything he knows about Lysaer is a lie it's hard for me to buy that his love for Lysaer is built on anything but the twisted creature Lysaer has become, so his loyalty to a friend, to me, seems just as irrational as his faith in Lysaer as a god.
Additionally I harken back to that scene in Peril's Gate where Arithon's grandfather forces him to hang out in the brothel to understand the implications of sexual intercourse and the energies exchanged.. Ath's Adepts tendency towards presenting you with an Adept of the opposite sex (with the exception of Lysaer's recent visit in Traitor's Knot) upon your arrival at a hostel. It really does seem like the book is favoring male/female congress because of the "naturalness" of that union.
But I've been happy to see kindly portrayals of homosexual characters crop up in a few of the other series I read, especially since they're booked targeted to adolescents, who could use all the understanding they can get when they're just starting to really confront their sexual identities.
Stephen, it's not a problem. I totally understand the interest in examining the evidence to see what's there. Like we both said, I don't think it's been discussed in depth before.
I was thinking further about the shipping of clearly straight characters (like Aragorn or Sam) into gay couples last night, and it really annoyed me. When it comes to a person's chosen sexuality, you have to respect their rights. And when it comes to a character, you have to respect the author's right to write the character a certain way. You can just overwrite and ignore it. Besides, if someone took an openly gay character and said "No, I'm going to make this character straight and hook them up with so-and-so," I doubt the general response would be as positive as if it were the other way around! Oh well, I just don't understand the thrill of fanfic shipping like that.
Lyssabits brings up an interesting point. The deeper mysteries in Athera have a strong tendency towards invoking a male/female balance for harmony.
I can't wait till I can read SF cause watch out from the how misunderstood lysaer is posts start anew
I find this present day tendancy to push questions of homosexualty into every arena quite distasteful
I think I may have been the poster whose comment you read wondering aloud if SE was gay.
My query was more to do with his amazing depth of loyalty and clear love for Lysaer (witness everything he has done ie cathdein oath etc) than a physical relationship, and while platonic love is absolutely an option, I just feel that SE goes that slight step over that. His committment and passion (completely tempered with lots of cold water shocks of reality and that makes it more relevant)could be the same as for a brother, but I just wonder if it is more than that.
Note that there is a lot of subtlety and delicacy in the way Janny handles writing these kind of things, and I am just curious if perhaps SE leans in that direction slightly, but not even he is aware of it
Wow, this is definitely more responses than I expected!
Lyssabits, that's a really good point about male/female energies. I'll need to take that one into consideration. Right off the top of my head, I'm reminded of a Mercedes Lackey short story where a gay character is observable through magesight as having "perfectly balanced" male/female energies in his aura.
You're also right about male/female balance being perceived as natural by the Atheran powers. Actually this might be a good point to *Ask the Author* (since she, like deities, only intervenes when asked :p) if she'd like to comment on the attitude of Athera's powers here.
I hereby invoke the Author! Ia! Ia! Janny fhtagn!
Totally agree about the positive portrayal of LGBT characters - "Misty" Lackey and Trudi Canavan stand out here, and their stories can be incredibly important to young gay people.
BlueRose, I don't think it was your post (checking reveals it was Stacy Hill's in the Stormed Fortress forum, actually), but you do bring up a point I probably should clarify. I *definitely* don't think Lysaer and Sulfin are, were, or ever could be in a physical relationship. I just think Sulfin has an unrequited romantic love for Lysaer. Lysaer might not even be aware of it. In a more sinister portrayal, though, he could oh so easily use it to manipulate him. Also, that's a really good point as to whether Sulfin himself might be gay but unaware of it / never having confronted it.
Mr. Coventry, I'm not entirely certain what you mean by "push[ing] questions of homosexuality into every arena". Obviously, the initial post was only my own interpretation, but I made it simply *because* I saw the potential presence of these themes, and thought some analysis might draw them out. I saw Sulfin Evend and Davien from the beginning as gay, and wanted to discuss that. Perhaps my own interpretation put more there than might exist (though I don't think so), but you certainly can't deny that the references (which I quoted) exist in the text.
Also, if I might ask, is it that you find pushy portrayals of anything you perceive as unrelated to a subject to be distasteful (eg racial equality, feminism, or globalisation getting shoehorned into an unrelated text), or is it homosexuality questions in particular? If you clarified your position a bit more, I might be better able to respond to your criticism.
I'm really grateful for all the responses and the way you guys are discussing this. Thanks so much!
Stephen the Mercedes Lackey story your are thinking of is not a short story. The character in question is in the last 9 books of her acclaim Heralds of Valdemar series. The character is a Hawk brother adept named firesong and the mage sword Need makes that claim. Since she is only able to be carried and used by a woman for womans need everyone was shocked that firesong be it gay is still male and she says he is perfectly balanced between his male and female sides.
DarthJazy, I know about Need and Firesong, having read the entire Heralds of Valdemar series, but I was actually thinking of a different short story, which escapes me at the moment.
Thanks for pointing out the more obvious and important reference, though! I can't believe I didn't think of that one.
My only distaste arising from the present day tendency to push questions of homosexuality into every arena is that it's at all necessary, that anyone even *cares* what someone else's sexuality is.
Can I just say, even though the Mercedes Lackey discussion is sort of a tangent.. I think it's kind of weird that a sword that can only be used by a woman is able to be used by a gay man. I would be insulted by the insinuation that somehow a gay man is equal to a woman except for that statement that his male and female sides are balanced.. except now I find THAT sort of insulting. ;) I say this having never read the stories, so it's entirely likely I'm missing something here...
Either you're a man or a woman and those things mean something regardless of your sexuality (so a guy, gay or not, shouldn't be able to wield a female-only sword).. or (my preference) you're a person, who has certain aspects and characteristics that are characteristic only of being a PERSON, and whether or not you're at peace with who you are would sort of determine how "balanced" you are, rather than whether you're equally male or female. (Which means every balanced person should be able to wield that sword.. seriously, if a sword is female only why would having a perfectly balanced aura or whatever mean anything? It should still require a woman, right? Or maybe if it was a transgendered man.. I could see THAT working..) Does that make any sense? I really get irritated with this whole notion of male and female characteristics because it convinces women that they shouldn't be aggressive and men that they're wusses if they're nurturing.
I guess it's hard in this day and age to know what it means to be a man or a woman. I'm not sure I care, really, I can hang my personal identity on other things than my gender, but I know for some people it's important to know what your role is.
Hmmmm. I agree with Lyssabits entirely. I don't care about a person's sexual orientation. I am happily married, so it doesn't matter to me who a person is looking at or fondling. In fact, with governments of the west removing themselves from the boudoirs of their citizens, I have never understood the reverse tendency with society, to air everything that should (in my personal opinion) be one's own business.
Were I to speculate on Derek's statement, one must admit that sexuality has become very political, and the politics often exceeds different societal segments' ability to understand the need for some to examine these kinds of issues in many different areas. Whether it is feminism or homosexuality, virtually every area of life has gone under the microscope in recent years, and once in a while, a person's eyes inevitably roll and a "who cares!" slips out, no matter how sensitive they might be to others' need to be recognized for who they are. The pendulum is not centered in the issue of sexual politics, and probably won't be for some time, so this is bound to occur. However, sometimes, as Freud said, a cigar is just a cigar. I didn't see any homosexual issues in WoLaS, and I am afraid that I still don't. I agree with Meredith and Lyssabits in that regard. With Sulfin Evend, I submit that he is simply a dedicated and loyal friend who loves Lysaer with everything but his sex. And we just haven't seen enough of Davien prior to SF to really know much about him at all. And, I haven't finished SF (darn kids!).
I submit that you do not need sexual tension every second page in order to have a good story, and Janny proves that. In fact, Janny has not paid a lot of attention to sex in this series, given that we have had eight long books to read, and only a few sexual encounters (three, I think, except for off-the-cuff references to Dakar's exploits, and Mearn s'Brydion, though I could be way off on this). Contrast that with A Song of Ice and Fire, where you have an almost pornographic scene every hundred pages or so.
I guess it is a matter of perspective, as I am not homosexual and it is not an issue that I go looking for when I am reading fantasy fiction. However, were I so, it might have jumped out at me. I will never know.
This perspective issue can only be settled by the author. Janny, did you intend to explore issues of homosexuality regarding the LotMB and free will, and balance, et cetera? How does it fit in with Athera? Or is this thread just way off whatever you originally intended?
CUE JANNY! Janny! Janny?
Darn it, where has she got to? Maybe she's on that ship again, reefing topsails and such...
Thank you Clansman and Lyssabits, you have both expressed opinions that I share far better than I could
Well, people, You Asked.
This story is all about multiple viewpoints, being colored by individual angles of belief. As the prologue gives fair warning. People will see what they are inclined to. And this is quite fine. The characters in the tale do that, too, via their own personal biases.
Where issues of sexuality have been pertinent to the STORY, I have, I think, rather unflinchingly and explicitly portrayed them on page, given, one hopes, a measure of tasteful tact.
What counts here, is the heart in the scene. Where the characters come from the heart. Period. The rest is open to conjecture. If it was pertinent to the story itself, it would not be left to supposition.
Concerning Atheran human society/societies in general - this is not earth!!! The biases do not match. Humanity on Athera originated (slight historic spoiler here!) as a refugee, spacefaring culture, cast out at the wits end of their resources - certain sociological tendences would remain, descended from that context, and certain socialogical tendencies would differ from ours, in whatever Earth-based bias a reader may bring, because evolution of ideas will have happened.
More, there are layers of social context in this story - which one are you asking about? Town? Clan? Desert tribal? Paravian? White Brotherhood of Ath's Adepts???
It has been asked directly here - about how the Law of the Major Balance would regard/define a violation on ANY "sexual" issue - and that's pretty clean cut logic - the answer would bear only on one point: whether free will consent was present in a harmless exchange between INFORMED adult parties - or not.
Given the hot topic in our real world, I applaud all the posters here who are being tolerantly careful to respect the points of view of others. It's awesome that these sensitive differences of opinion can be discussed in an unthreatening manner.
I forgot to add - Prandeys are gelded - and the ugly practice of male mutilation colors that linguistic term.
Additionally - make of this what you will - I personally do not believe that issues of sexuality are in the least necessary to form a deep relationship.
Wow that was the best explanation of a discussion I have ever seen without actually leaning to one side or the other of the discussion at hand.
Truly, after a book leaves the author's hands, the experience becomes the reader's own.
Far be it from me to feel it necessary to steer that...the value in any story is what it stirs in response, and the relevance of each individual's personal experience.
Thanks very much for that, Janny. DarthJazy said pretty much everything I would, so I'll just applaud along with them.
I've always assumed that Luhaine and Kharadmon were a "happy" couple. I had also started to pick up things about Davien in recent readings. I felt that Sulfin Evend had been written straight.
Having said that, I'm one of the people who is convinced that Sam was in love with Froddo and the bit about him marrying when he got back was just tacked on for 'cover'.
You're kidding about Sam, right? I am taking your comment as satirical, but I could be wrong. You may really mean it.
Kharadmon had a woman he was in love with on his home planet... I really fail to see any evidence that there was anything more than merry rivalry between the two of them... Evidence?
Wow, even I didn't think Kharadmon OR Luhaine were gay, so I'm assuming that post is joking.
Where as I could laugh at the sam and frodo reference I know they are not gay frodo golim were hehe jk. I have seen to many spoofs where they are gay lol. Kharadmon and Luhaine? dont make me laugh there was a whole chapter where drakar sees the woman he was in love with and can nolonger even say her name. i gues syou could look at that as that turned him gay but thats a stretch.
I thought I replied here but it has disappeared - maybe I hit preview but forgot to click post. Anyway, just to let you know. I've read Lord of the Rings once only. Enjoyed it yes but not a mega fan. I was serious in my interpretation. Not that I thought Tolkien meant it to be read that way but that maybe subconsciously he'd provided enough to hang the conclusion on. One bit I remember near the end when Sam thought Froddo was dead he was crying over his body and it said that he kissed his face. It just seemed beyond friendship to me. friend would certainly cry, hold his hand and so on but ... anyway I only mentioned it because Meredith Lee Gray wrote this:
"Her writing reminds me of The Lord of the Rings, the way Tolkien wrote of the relationships between his main characters, pretty much all men. There were many deep, loving friendships written into that story. I doubt it ever occurred to anyone at the time to think that there was anything between Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin, Aragorn and Boromir or Legolas, except platonic love and friendship, but in our modern era, a lot of people look at that relationship speculatively and ship them into gay couples, either for laughs or in dead earnest."
seemed relevant to put my hand up honestly and say I read it that way.
Anyway, regarding Kharadmon ... oops! So much complexity in these books I'd forgotten that detail about his lost love. Maybe Luhaine is putting out the gay vibe and the K Man got bundled in in my head. They do seem to bicker like an old married couple!
There's a lot of face-kissing in Middle Earth when people die.
Well I won't re-state my opinions on that, since you kindly copied and pasted them again. ;-)
I respectfully disagree 1,000% about Luhaine and Kharadmon. I mean, yes, they bicker. But I don't think it's disguising sexual tension. These guys have been together, working side-by-side for thousands and thousands of years. They're practically family. They're bound to squabble. And Kharadmon clearly enjoys baiting Luhaine. A favorite diversion.
Hosanna, I'll state my bias up front, so you can take my comment for what it is worth. Also, fasten your seat belt, because this is going to be a long post. I apologize in advance for any errors, as I am doing this from memory. Also, because I fear that I may be accused of this, I am not homophobic, nor do I in any way offer comment on any particular sexual preference. I have made no secret of my faith in this forum before, but I love my gay sisters and brothers in humanity as much as I love my straight ones. I am no better than they. Everyone is good enough for Jesus, and that is good enough for me. I do not share the beliefs of certain members of my faith who have twisted the truth of Jesus' existence in order to condemn people. He came to save, not condemn. 'Nuff said on that point.
I have read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, each at least seven times. I read the first two again after the movies came out, to compare them more clearly. I have also read Unfinished Tales several times, plus I own, though have not read all of it, The History of Middle Earth (12 volumes). Suffice to say, that I am not only a Tolkien fan, I consider myself something of an amateur Tolkien scholar, or at least a rather educated Tolkien fan. In my opinion, no one came along in the fantasy genre to touch his work until Janny started WoLaS. Robert Jordan and Ray Feist came close, but Tolkien's world was so complete, as is Janny's, that I was swept away into another existence when I read his works. There was so much substance behind the writing, that it felt like you were reading historical narrative instead of the typical sword and sorcery schlock that came after Tolkien.
I appreciate that not everyone likes the same things, and not everyone could enjoy LOTR as I did. Heck, I was made fun of so often in high school that I often hid when I was reading one of my "airy fairy" books (yes, that is really a quote). I am glad that you at least enjoyed LOTR, and I certainly do not expect everyone who reads it to be a mega fan.
However, I think you are guilty of historicism in your interpretation of Frodo and Sam's relationship. You are imposing your 21st century experience on a story that was commenced in 1918 (not the actual book, but the building of Middle Earth). Tolkien was born in the late 19th century, was quite conservative socially (though not necessarily politically), and was a staunch catholic. He was also, like most of his generation, a veteran of the trench warfare of the Great War, a.k.a. World War I, which, for soldiers, was the worst war in history with a level of carnage that was unprecedented, and has not been seen since. Most of it was vicious hand-to-hand combat. Tolkien experienced the close bond that occurs between people who share prolonged horrific experiences, and knew enough from his own personal experience to write about that kind of bond. This is the bond shared by Frodo and Sam, and most of the male characters in LOTR.
The idea that Tolkien would write a homosexual relationship, even subconsciously, has no basis in the evidence of his experience or his perspective.
The relationship that Tolkien wrote of in LOTR is similar to the relationships that veterans cite. Once in sustained combat, some soldiers love each other completely, because they depend so much on each other for survival. They survive through an impossible, horrible situation, and lose the closest of friends along the way. Frodo and Sam do the same. All of the regular garbage is stripped away from their relationship, as they realize that without each other, they will die, along with their mission to save Middle Earth by destroying the Ring. They are desperate to succeed, and are willing to sacrifice everything in the end, not just for each other, but for all that they love in the world. This is what bonds them, not romantic love or sexual love.
I would suggest that Sam loves Frodo just as I and others have posted herein how Sulfin Evend loves Lysaer. Incidentally, I just read in SF (no spoiler, not really) how Vhandon is awed by Lysaer's beauty and charisma, and is made aware how easily he could have been swayed had he not known what he did.
This close kind of love between men is rarely written or spoken of in the post-modern era, because it is so easily misunderstood as being homosexual. Nevertheless, these "intense brother-love by experience" relationships continue to exist, particularly between men who have shared a horrific experience, and supported each other through it.
Supposing that Frodo and Sam shared a sexual longing for each other is falling into the trap that pervades modern society when two people of the same sex share a close relationship ("They must be gay!"). Meredith pointed this out in her first comments above. Men who are actually blessed to share that kind of relationship won't brag about it, for fear of being labeled homosexual when they are not. There is still a stigma for many men in this regard, and to deny that this stigma exists is to deny reality. It shouldn't exist, but alas, it does. However, in days of yore, these close relationships were bragged and boasted of, because it was assumed without question that the friendships were platonic and non-sexual. Sex was not even a consideration.
Incidentally, I agree with Meredith that Janny too writes these kinds of relationships fearlessly. They are what they are, and do not need to be made into anything more.
I (except in satirical works) believe that generally the first and obvious interpretation is probably the right one. Read it at face value first, before looking for hidden meaning. Tolkien himself got rather peeved at people trying to read too much meaning into the Lord of the Rings (i.e. social commentary into the state of England after WWII (see "The Scouring of the Shire", which didn't make the movie version)). Had he lived to hear homosexual speculation about Sam and Frodo, Tolkien likely would have considered comment on the subject beneath his dignity. I submit that Tolkien was simply not capable of considering a homosexual relationship when he wrote the story, and that his background and experience certainly did not leave room for any male sexual interaction. I further submit that Tolkien wrote the relationship "straight", because there was no other way to write it.
I would also point out that there were other intense bonds between males in the LOTR. Legolas and Gimli shared a similar bond to that of Frodo and Sam, but that as they were not the lead characters, we don't have the close description that we do of the hobbits who ventured into Mordor. And what of Merry and Pippin? They certainly showed their closeness to each other as well, especially while in the hands of the Uruk-Hai running across Rohan. But Merry and Pippin did not go through the hell that was Mordor, or of bearing the Ring, and were also separated during the siege of Minas Tirith, and even after, when Pippin went north, and Merry stayed at Minas Tirith to recover from stabbing the Witch King of Angmar. Finally, Frodo left Sam, because the longing of his heart lay elsewhere. Though Sam also left for Valinor, it was much later, after he had buried his wife and passed the Red Book of Westmarch on to his daughter. Sam chose to spend his life with his wife, not Frodo, and he had no idea that he too would one day sail to Valinor. (this last point was totally lost in the movie)
The point that I am trying so verbosely to make is that we really must avoid judging the past by our present standards and societal trends. I think I made this point before in another thread. A book written during the 1940's must be taken in that context, and in its author's context. To do otherwise leads to error.
(This being said, people are free to take whatever they wish from art, whether written, sung, painted, sculpted or otherwise. Janny said this very much better than I, above. I cannot follow the beyond-quantum leap of Frodo and Sam having a repressed sexual relationship, however.)
People, except radicals on the fringes who were suppressed at every turn, did not talk or write about homosexuality in the 1940's. Tolkien, given his place in society and his influences, and the influence that he himself had, would not have considered it in his writing. To say that he did so subconsciously is unfounded speculation, based on observations of modern society, and ignores the author's own provenance.
As you can see, I am something of a relativist. To take something out of the context in which it was created can, and often does, destroy its meaning. As a well-educated Tolkien fan, I simply had to answer, and hence the long post.
Therefore, I submit, for your approval, that Frodo and Sam were not gay, and should not, even by present day standards, be ever considered to be gay, as to do so takes the author's work in a context that he was not even capable of considering, and certainly never intended. Though we have no way of knowing for certain with out old John Ronald Reull himself saying so, the facts we do know certainly point in that direction.
I think it's an interesting tendency of modern society, that people seem to read romantic interest in almost any relationship. I have the same problem with people assuming close same-sex friends are gay as I have with people assuming close opposite-sex friends must be secretly yearning for each other. ;) I'm not sure when it happened, but it does seem like more and more like love of plain ol' friendship is being assumed to have hidden motivations.
This tendency I think is made pretty evident in the jokes folks have made about a particular screen writer and his penchant for writing male characters that are "heterosexual life-partners". I mean, the characters are clearly not gay, and the writer is often praised for his ability to portray really deep male friendships in a realistic and sort of novel way (because on TV it really seems like male friendships are often stereotyped to be pretty superficial) but the fact that they make the jokes use the sort of terminology usually applied to gay couples sort of brings it home.. people assume any close, emotional relationship has to have a sexual component. Which I think is pretty silly.
I mean, has anyone here ever believed for a moment that Arithon and Jieret were sexually attracted to each other? I certainly never did, but you absolutely cannot deny the emotional depth of their relationship, depths that go way beyond the blood binding they shared. I suppose you could make the argument that they were like "brothers" but I also don't believe that any non-relationship of such deep intensity has to be limited to a family-type relationship.
Clansman, I agree with your post 100%, and found it very well-written. But I am biased. (I mean, we're all biased, right?) But my bias is the same as yours, which explains why I agree with you. I am straight, and a Christian (gasp! hiss! Yeah, it's unpopular now, I know.) but I try to refuse at every turn to judge people in any way, even and especially sexuality and/or sexual preferences. Judging and condemning people is none of my business!!
Still, it's difficult to read or view anything, without taking it in the context of your own belief system and biases.
Thus, perhaps someone who was gay, would read a relationship between two people of the same sex as a homosexual relationship, when the author left it ambiguous. But someone who was straight, would not see any such leaning there. Or vice versa!! It's difficult to escape our own biases, when examining such situations.
And authors may often leave such things ambiguous, because no one wants to offend anyone, especially nowadays.
You manage to make the point that was rattling around in my skull somewhere. Taking Tolkien's writing in a modern context can really distort the author's intent. Tolkien especially is perhaps one of the last fantasy authors to be "accused" of adding homosexuality in his writing. He was very conservative and a man of his time. And yet, it seems like his work is subject to the most gay 'shipping of characters in fanfic/fanart. Maybe it's just the movies, IDK. Or maybe it's because I don't really follow many other fantasy fandoms.
But some people surely feel that since Tolkien is dead, the works completed, and since they're just having fun on the 'Net and not trying to make any money off their writing/art, they can interpret what they want in the story, and no harm done. Maybe they're right, I don't know. But I, for one, am usually annoyed (or at best, roll my eyes) when I see somewhere that someone is posting some ship of characters that the author never put in a romantic relationship. Especially when it's someone like, say, Aragorn (who was obviously straight, unless you want to start talking about bears or bi-sexuality), and Boromir. That was not even left ambiguous. Maybe there is no harm done. There are other people out there who will no doubt enjoy reading of Aragorn and Boromir's steamy romance. I just think it's presumptuous. Not, strictly speaking because of the switch in sexual preference, but just the arrogance to take the author's published creation, and twist it around like it wasn't good enough for you in the first place, or as if you can make it better.
People should just create their own characters to do with as they please, as Janny has often advocated when people want to do fanfic/fanart of her works.
As always, humbly trying not to offend anyone. ;-)
Clansman, Lyssabits, Meredith, that's a really fascinating discussion.
Since everyone is posting biases here: yes, I am gay, but I have from the start tried to maintain an objective perspective in my reading of the characters. What you were saying about the differing social systems in Middle-Earth and Athera is very true, and I think I did take that into my account. Also, I am an English student (as well as Psychology, which helped), and I was deliberately trying to take a somewhat objective perspective in the writing of my original post.
(And no, I never paired Sam/Frodo or Kharadmon/Luhaine - ever. :p)
I don't think I perceived certain characters in WoLaS as gay due to bias, but perhaps I am more sensitive to such implications. Still, I maintain my original assertion, and I do think it's a perfectly valid reading of both Sulfin Evend and Davien.
Men can, absolutely, have brotherlike very close relationships between other men that are entirely nonsexual (and I, arguably, am in an excellent position to know! ). I myself have that kind of relationship with several straight and gay male friends, so I do know what you're talking about.
However, I believe Sulfin's love for Lysaer (from his perspective) goes beyond that, even taking brotherly affection, awe, and "guy love" into account. :D
I don't have any intention of perverting characters from who they are. This, for me, is part of who Sulfin and Davien are. This is how I read them, and how they appear to me. All readings are subjective, and I know my opinion is just that. I do hope, however, that I presented my opinion in such a way that it had at least some basis in the text as written, and didn't force WoLaS to conform to how I wanted it to be. Thanks to all of you for discussing this, it's fascinating to read all your responses!
Has anyone overcome their fear of discussing Davien enough to voice an opinion there? :p
The problem is, sometimes we don't realize that we're seeing something through the visor of our bias. If we knew we were being biased, I'd like to think we'd all stop! But, it's really difficult to tell when we are, and when we're being objective.
I'm not saying either you or I are. Just musing on the fact that, can we ever really tell when we're being 100% objective? I often preface my comments with that disclaimer, just because... I'm always afraid I'm seeing things only from my own perspective. Frankly, it's difficult to do otherwise. Almost impossible, some might argue.
So who can ever say they're being truly objective? We can just do our best.
Forgive me for saying so, and please don't take this as being snarky or rude, but I was pretty sure you were gay from your first post on this subject. Just based on your perceptions. You probably could tell I was straight, I'd guess. ;-)
As far as Davien goes, he's a very complex character. There are a lot of aspects of him that are a mystery. Almost all aspects in fact! We know next-to-nothing about him, save his involvement in the uprising, and I'm pretty sure we don't even know all of that! I don't think we have enough info on him to speculate on his sexuality. And I don't want to look like an idiot for putting a theory out there that turns out to be completely wrong! So, yeah, I'm still afraid to voice an opinion there! :-D
Ok how to beging first I am an agnostic. I don't personally beleave in a "God" but since 90% of the worlds populatiion beleaves in a higher power I will admit that there may be one.(for future reference as an agnostic I reserve the right to talk about view or see God as I see fit or choose at the time).
My personal symbol is the ying yang and my zodiac is the scales. Needless to say I have spent my life trying to live in a logical, rational, balanced way.
This being said I am probably one of the most objective people around (atleast with my friends). I am often everyones devil advocate able to argue any side of a situation regardless how I feel on the subject.
Now after the years of having such arguments and debates NOONE IS UNBIASED. to be completly unbiased on any subject you would have to live in a box. The day we are born we are biased because each experiance of life alters our perceptions just a bit. Milton said it best "the mind is a wonderous place it can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven"
No matter the subject and no matter what you do your going to offend someone (probably severly) ie. people writing spoofs on the gay encounters of LOTR characters. Now ussually I find such things hilarious and if i ever created such an epic i would be honored that people wanted to make fun of it.
Janny has it right that each person is going to take what they want from a book regardless of what the author intends. So the best an author can do is leave it open to be interpreted how the reader wants which will lead to the reader feeling as if the book was written specificly for or about him/her.
In the 4 books of poetry I have written(never published just my emotional outlet so that I can remain unemotional in everything else) I always open each book "Do not try to guess what I mean in the journy ahead instead take from it what you can and learn what you may"
This has been a supurb duscussion and am far happier than I can say that i foudn a place that can talk like this without fighting or ripping each others modems out. Where as my life has not permitted me financial stability to be reading SF with the rest of you I still feel I have finally found a home that goes beyond our mutual love for the workings of Janny Wurts.
Thank you for being here
Firstly, I believe that one of Janny's purposes in writing the WoLaS books is to show us that we invariably see things colored by our prejudices.
Secondly, as a person without religious affiliation and a gay man I am very, very impressed with the quality of the discussion here. WAY too often discussion of controversial issues gets out of control. Not because anyone originally intended to inflict insult or injury on anyone but because, as has been pointed out by several participants in this thread, that we perceive things through the lens of our own perceptions. Nothing else is possible. We have no other system of perceiving.
[brief foray into my belief system]
Our consciousness is projected into the physical plane and manifests as the bodies we perceive as 'self', much as the light on a wall appears from the flashlight that is shined upon it (thank you J. Michael Stracynsinki [Babylon 5] for that image). As such the projection filters the information that passes back to our consciousness.
Because we perceive things as we do we will often infer meanings that simply were not present in the other person's statement and, based upon that inference, will often react. Given that it is much more difficult to discern the printed word than the spoken one I am very pleased that this is not happening here.
Frank Herbert dealt with the issue of humans and animals in human form (for those who have read Dune, Paul's testing by the Gom Jabbar determined that he was human). I am pleased to say that everyone here has passed this particular test of humanity with flying colors.
So to each one of you Humans, I say thank-you and well met.
(Message edited by admin on December 01, 2007)
HI ALL!! I ALWAYS THOUGHT DAVIENS INTEREST IN ARITHON WAS MORE OF 'YOU BUG UNDER MY MAGNIFYING GLASS, BUT THEN I DON'T LIKE DAVIEN. SULFIN EVENDS LOYALTY TO LYSAER SEEMED TO ME ONE OF BLIND FAITH AFTER FACING THE HORRORS OF THE GRIMWARD AND HE WAS THE ONLY ONE TO ESCAPE ALIVE. I KNOW THE S7 ARE EMBODIED BUT NOT TRULY HUMAN ANYMORE, ARE THEY? WHAT DOES A SPIRIT NEED WITH SEX ANYWAY. THEY HAVE MOSTLY PASSED BEYOND EARTHLY CONCERNS EXCEPT AS THEIR SWORN DUTIES DICTATE. [COMPUTER IS STUCK ON CAPITALS, I AM NOT YELLING] SEX GAY OR STRAIGHT IS NOT THE POINT OF THE STORY. YES YES DISCUSSION AND SPECULATION ARE FUN. I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL I GET MY BOOK. [NOW DON'T FROWN, I ALWAYS EAT DESSERT FIRST] HAPPY DAY ALL.
First of all, thank you Trys for your comment/accolade to everyone here. That was really nice to read, and made my day a little bit brighter.
Max, I understand what you're saying (loudly and clearly!), but there's a significant difference between sex and sexuality.
Yes, the Fellowship of Seven are probably not interested in sex per se, but their sexuality is still an important part of who they are - Kharadmon is an excellent example of this when Dakar sees his memories.
And I'd describe the Fellowship as very human in a lot of ways. Just not in the sense of "are like other humans". In many ways, they have achieved the pinnacle of humanity (well, not entirely, but they're close).
I dunno, maybe this is just me, but I've always kind of felt that a person's sexuality is only so important to their identity because there's so much furor about it. Like, if no one cared whether a person was gay or not, would it inform their world-view all that much except with regards to who you want to date? ;) I'm much more interested in examining why I gravitate towards certain types of men (neeerds) rather the fact than that I like men in general.
As far as the F7.. I would argue that since they've moved beyond more earthly concerns, their sexuality isn't that important anymore. I think Kharadamon's former life is interesting and important for how his experiences have shaped him into the person he is today, but I'm not sure the fact that he liked girls rather than boys before he lost his body is all that interesting.. the fact that he liked that *particular* red-headed woman however *is* interesting. =>
HI lyssa im the biggest nerd I know and single *wink*
sorry cant resist since im single and finally met a woman who likes nerds
Yeah sorry DarthJazy, it's too late for me. Living in the Nerd Capital of the World (Silicon Valley) as I do, I met plenty of nerds, so I'm already married. ;)
oh well atleast a nerd somewhere has a good woman who likes him for him
hmmm lots of interesting stuff here. I'm thinking about the phrasing of my original statement on sam and froddo perhaps what I should have written was "I always enjoyed my preferred reading of the character Sam as being gay and in love with Froddo". I'm treading a fine line here between saying (as I did last time) there was some subconscious intention by Tolkien to write that and saying that Tolkein's intentions don't matter one way or another as once a book is published it is in the public domain and the meaning of the text does not reside in the author (according to my education in literature) but instead the meaning circulates between text and reader in the ideological ether.
Clansman and Meredith, I hope you see that I am not attacking Tolkien (although I'm not a fan) or any of your beliefs (I'm a can't decide between catholicism and eastern stuff) but I do differ from you on what is valid interpretation.
I think it is okay to read characters way differently from the author's intention as that is part of any reader's enjoyment. A lot of interpretation done today of texts written in the past does seem to ignore the clear indications of where the author sat on certain issues. But we are interpreting the silences as well as the statements. In more conservative times homosexuality did exist but people who were gay suffered from prejudice, their percentage of the population underrepresented in literature. Thus, reading texts from the past "against the grain" of the author's intention becomes an act of empowerment a balancing the scales if you wish. I think it is more 'fun' if you can find some tiny bit of 'evidence' to hang your interpretation on but to me that isn't essential. However my previous comments did lean in the direction of assuming a vague subconsious intention. I am revising that now, on reflection.
People who write fan fic likely do it for the sense of empowerment. I'm not a fan fic writer but I do enjoy reading it. mostly of tv shows not fan fics of successful novels.
In terms of pure platonic love yes, perhaps the scales have started to tip too far in favour of reading gayness everywhere but it is all part of the pendulum swing to me. Platonic love is a valuable, rich reality that shouldn't be overlooked in favour of something more popular. Overlooking homosexual love in the past in favour of strict moral standards was very harsh on some people. But through the ages some representations do sneak through. In fact wasn't ancient Greece a bit of a hey day for gay love with plenty of literature from the time surviving to show the realities?
I'm also trying to remember about what time Maurice was written by EM Forster? Just a few examples spring to mind against the enormous pile of mainstream stuff.
So, I guess I'm saying the interpretation is fun, with or without evidence and valid to balance the scales and speak into the silences left in literature due to the repressive moral codes of the past.
Since Greek literature was brought up, here's an example to consider with regards to different interpretations of literature. ;)
In the Illiad you've got Patroclus and Achilles. They've been debating pretty much forever over whether they were lovers or just friends. Now, I'd argue that it doesn't really matter. Are Achilles' actions more poignant when motivated by friendly love or by romantic love? I'd argue it doesn't really matter. But people change this relationship in the various interpretations of the Illiad to fit their needs. Is that good or bad? I guess I couldn't say -- I think it was completely lame that they made them cousins in the Brad Pitt version, because that was clearly done to make sure no one got the wrong idea. (And to make extra sure, they had Achilles banging everything in a skirt.. can you tell I wasn't a fan of that movie? ;) Except for Eric Bana.) But I would have had no problem with them leaving it ambiguous. I think in this case, it takes nothing away from the story if you change the nature of Achilles' love, because it doesn't change his motivation.
Now, if you look at Sailor Moon (I know, I'm a dork) they took characters in one of the later seasons who are gay, characters for whom this is a major part of their story arc, and turned them into cousins when they originally translated and imported it to the US. Super, super lame. And the S series took 10 years to come over, finally, in the uncut versions because previously I don't think anyone wanted to deal with the trans-gendered overtones of the Starlights. Although I haven't actually seen them yet, so I dunno how they handled them.. but that it took 10 years to come over at all is pretty ridiculous.
So maybe reading whatever you want into a character's relationship is sort of valid as long as it doesn't fundamentally change the character from what is written on the page. I personally have no problem with fanfic, although most of it seems to be pretty silly. This is an interesting debate now with all the Harry Potter knockoffs in China.. people are arguing over whether or not it's okay to enjoy the non-canon stories.
I often wonder whether I'm the only one who get's annoyed with the current use of the word 'gay'. Maybe it's because I'm old enough to remember it's correct meaning and remember the songs of the early 50's in which it was used.
Derek Im not quite that old (only 30)but have been thinking the same thing since this thread started.
I have often wondered at what point we started useing Gay to describe sexual preference and not its inteded meaning. But this thread is very entertaining and makes me very Gay to read it.
I never thought you were attacking Tolkien, in any way shape or form. Neither my beliefs, because you did not know them prior to your post. Also, I don't think they figured in my post very much, as I was trying to demonstrate Tolkien's biases and influences, not my own.
I wholeheartedly agree with the premise that once a piece of art is created and released, it no longer belongs to the author/artist, as the interpretation of the work does not belong to the author. The author does, however, have tremendous power over others' interpretations of his or her work, if they choose to use that power.
What I took exception to was the way you interpreted the relationship of Frodo and Sam, and your statement about Tolkien subconsciously intending to write the relationship gay. Though I believe, as do you, that interpretation is in the eye of the beholder, sometimes there is no evidence. And I see no evidence with Frodo and Sam, or with Tolkien's intentions, conscious or subconscious. Supposing at the outset that Frodo and Sam were gay, without ascribing that intention to the author, is a different thing altogether. Then you are engaging in deconstruction of the author's work, to see what bits went into it. That I can understand, as I have loved doing that with history. For instance, what if the British had changed the way they governed the American colonies just a little bit, and avoided the revolution? Or what if they had defeated the Colonial Army? Think of the repercussions of that change, because they almost happened. But I digress.
I believe that most would agree (feel free to correct me) that Frodo and Sam were not written gay by Tolkien, consciously or subconciously, but that you are free to impose that supposition on those characters when you read LOTR if you wish, just for fun.
Now on to Derek's point, about the change of the use of the word "gay". Remember The Flinstones? "We'll have a gay old time!" No way, no how did Hanna and Barbera write that with homosexual intentions! That theme song came from the early sixties, so the use of the word "gay" up to that point was, at least in the mainstream, its traditional meaning.
Incidentally, Tolkien used the word "gay" all the time.
Finally, I must say that I am impressed with all of you. There have been some widely ranging interpretations and discussions in what could have been a very difficult area. It was not, becuase mutual respect ruled the day. Nobody got called names, and anger was never present. There might have been a little exasperation (I won't say on whose part), but that is as far as it went. My fellow paravia-holics, I salute you. You have truly governed yourselves with honour.
whats with the the spelling of honor?
I often see see it as honour on this website are you all just seriously having typo demons with the letter u?
It's the British/Canadian spelling. Now our perfectly rational conversation is going to deteriorate due to the u or no u spelling debate. ;)
Its not my fault the rest of the world can't keep up with the advancement of the english language. i mena come on the rest of the world is still on that "metric system" and they still don't have english as the world language. I mean really everyone knows they are supposed to follow OUR as USA example on everything.
(now hides from the beating sure to follow)
Lyssabits, you are prescient!!!! Didn't we do this already?
Thanks to Noah Webster and his American dictionary, Americans spell some English words differently than the rest of the English speaking world. "Honour" and "colour" are examples of this. UK, Canada, Aus, NZ, SA et al all spell it with the "u".
You Yanks also say "zee" instead of "zed" for the letter "Z". You also tend to use "z" in the suffix "ize", as opposed to "s", such as "ise".
realize vs. realise
honor vs. honour
There are others (like "tyre" for the rubber wheels on cars and bikes) which is not used in Canada at all, but are in full use in the UK. I don't know about the other former Dominions (Aus, NZ and SA). "Tyre" always made sense to me, so as to distinguish it from "tire" as in fatigue. Don't know why that was ever changed, unless it was changed the other way.
Isn't language fun!!!
Some of this spelling has crept into Canada (the "ize"), probably due to our proximity to the US, and due to us being inundated with American television (sorry, but it is not your best product for export ).
Ah, my dear, dear Darth Jazy:
You have obviously succumbed to the Dark Side of the Force, due to a self-induced mania brought on by your addiction to all things Star Wars, and your penchant for cheering for the bad guy (i.e. Lysaer and Annakin).
There is so much one could say,
but this thread, alas! it has started to stray.
Methinks it is time
To stop this rhyme
And to read Stormed Fortress all day.
Now that we have gone back to the spelling thing, national chest-beating, and even limerick-muse, perhaps someone should start a new thread.
I'd say the US is the one behind with regards to the metric system. I'd be all for converting, viva la metric system! I'm tired of having to mentally convert all my temps to C when complaining about the weather to my co-workers. ;)
Hey now I did'nt root for anakin I just blame his downfall on a woman. As in all thing great and noble they fall and exstinguish thanx to a woman IE. adam eve and the garden of eden, Troy, the old republic, and to top it off they took our dam RIB
(now hides from the women)
I forgot to add that Anakin is the chosen because he does bring balance to the good side of the force by killing the emperor through redemption by his son who is now the living will of the force if ya follow the continueing story line.
To me tyre looks like the Phoenician city off the eastern edge of the Mediterranean that someone forgot to capitalize. ;)
Also, I heard recently that the US is one of only three countries to not officially adopt the metric system. ::sigh::
I don't think even a forklift could get this thread back on track...
I didn't say anything about tyre, I'm pretty sure that was Clansmen. ;)
Anyways, so Trys, I assume that means you'll sign my petition to switch to metric? ;) We're in good company.. Liberia and Myanmar.. we really need to switch. But I doubt it'll ever happen -- they'd have to change all the street signs. Although if we did, the guys who want to switch to a new font that's easier to see in the dark would be able to push their change too.
Do you think it's weird that even though the UK is on the metric system they still measure their speed in MPH on Top Gear?
A question to the Brits, do you still use miles or klicks (kilometers) or both?
Lyssabits, I'll sign the petition. Is it online?
Gray vs. grey is what always makes me afraid. I can never remember which I, as an American, am supposed to use...
Sometimes I'm thankful for the different spellings, on boards such as this, because I know there are a lot of international peeps, and it gives me a clue to where a person may or may not be from.
I'm surprised that all of us Americans are fully accustomed to the UK/Aus spellings, as many times as we've been forced to have to buy those versions of our latest WoLaS tomes. (Okay, twice...)
re: the actual topic on this thread, I did say a couple of times that there may not be any harm with writing your own personal stories that change aspects of the written characters. But I personally find it presumptuous. Lyssabits said:
So maybe reading whatever you want into a character's relationship is sort of valid as long as it doesn't fundamentally change the character from what is written on the page.
I would argue that if you take a given character and write him in a romance with another character, you are changing the character, fundamentally, from what was written. If you write a story (to use the old example) of Sam having a romantic love affair with Frodo, it does arguably change his motivations for what he did and why. It's a different kind of love and loyalty, not as poignant to me as just an intense friendship.
Similarly, to write a fanfic saying Sulfin Evend is in love and lust with Lysaer takes away some of the nobility of his actions. To me, personally. When you're in love, you're almost a prisoner to your emotions. I find it more interesting when you're not obligated to help someone or be loyal to them, but you do anyways, just out of friendship and human kindness. I don't know, maybe none of that makes any sense or makes any difference. I'm listening to the Monday Night Football game with half an ear.
But I do think that if you write a story where you make a character be in love with another character (not gay love, specifically, but just any kind of romantic attachment that wasn't originally there), you are fundamentally changing them and the reasons for their actions.
This ancient Brit weighs in at about 14 stone; walks miles; runs yards; is a tad under 6 feet tall with a 36 inch waist and enjoys a pint of bitter; though I've always fancied trading in my pint glass for a litre tankard. I will confess to being proficient in millimetres when working though.
Also once I would have proudly insisted I'm an Englishman, but since investigating my family tree and discovering I'm 25% Scottish and 12% Irish I've settled for being a Brit. I've yet to locate a Welsh link but I'm sure there is one as I'm forever singing!
It is true that the metric system has not been officially adopted by the government of the United States. And importantly, in popular culture in the United States, the non-metric system is used extensively. I'm 5 foot 9 inches. I am weighed in pounds (not saying). The speed limit is miles per hour. It was 25 degrees Fahrenheit this morning in Michigan. Undoubtedly, the non-metric system of weights and measures is alive and well in the U.S.
But I also chugged down a half liter bottle of Mountain Dew. And when I paid my electric bill last month, it was for x kilowatts of usage. When I pay for natural gas, I am charged for so many cubic meters of gas. If I were in the U.S. armed forces, no doubt I would refer to things as clicks. If I were a prosectuting attorney, I would charge offenders based on how many grams of coke or kilos of pot. And if you are a scientist or an engineer, I guarantee you that all of your work is in the metric system. You get my point.
Although most Americans prefer the English system, it is not true that we are not familiar with the metric system. But many people feel like feet, inches, pounds, ounces, gallons, etc. have more of a humanness to them. The metric system, which was a byproduct of the Enlightenment during the French Revolution, is kind of soulless and purely scientific. This is great for science, but for using language to describe and/or live your life, the metric system is somewhat artificial.
In Australia the only remnant of Imperial measurements we have is height and even then centimetres is really the norm. You'd never give your weight in pounds. Really, you just feel more comfortable with whatever you grew up with.. I can't really see how ounces are more "humane" than grams etc!
In Canada, there is pretty much a mix. Distance, except among some Luddites, is always kilometres, temperature is Celsius (again, except for some Luddites), but when purchasing anything in the store, the price is referred to in pounds. People refer to their weight in pounds, height in feet/inches, and when building, an imperial tape measure is used.
The biggest reason for this is our proximity to the USA, with whom our economy is inexorably tied. Also, there was a case that went to our Supreme Court that said it was an unreasonable restriction on free speech to force retailers to list only kilograms or grams. Now, kilograms and grams only appear on things that are pre-packaged, but if you pick up roast beef, the kilograms is in 4 pt font, and pounds is in 15 pt.
So much for a uniform system of weights and measures!
If the USA finally went metric, then the last vestiges of imperial would disappear in Canada.
I do agree that the imperial names just sound better than metric. Something like calling a flower by its common name as opposed to its scientific name. I would not use the word "human" (and definitely not "humane") but rather "lyrical".
I too, drink pints. Ale, bitter, porter or stout. Pilsner (or Mexican) in the summer.
Incidentally, what has this got to do with the title of this thread?
Like I said above, nothing will get this one back on track, I suspect!!
Oh well, it was good while it lasted. :p
My youngest sister drinks pints, smokes cigars and prefers her own sex, but I'm not sure if she reads WoLaS.
I'm in the UK.
Short distances for me are in metres (e.g. a room size); Longer distances in miles...
Height: mine in feet and inches; Mountains in feet.
I weigh in kilos...
I buy water and diesel in litres; beer in pints.
I did go to a pub in Birmingham once that swtiched to litre glasses for fun(?): About 2 pints.
Funny now I look at it...
Sorry to change this back to the thread...but here goes. My observation is that the Greeks thought women were for breeding with and only men were worthy of loving each other. [methinks the greek men had a serious problem with narcissism] not only Achilles and Patrocles, but Alexander and his first lover was Petreus?? I think that was his name and then he also had a lover, a persian dancer, don't know his name at all. Love between men was believed the only true love worthy of a male. [the women were probably lucky to survive childbirth] But one goddess, Diana, represented both sexes. Today in neo-paganism she represents the best of both worlds male and female. I find it interesting that when Ursula LeGuin wrote the 'Left Hand of Darkness', she began by imagining a world where there had
never been a war. She states in the book that 'they killed each other in ones and twos, and occasionally twenties' but that they had never had what was termed a war. Was this a statment of their dual sexuality? Jane Fancher series 'Dance of the Ringspinners' has one of her main characters fall in love with a hermaphrodite and so also has dual sexuality. She stated that she wondered what did this person think of themselves, male or female? I guess humans are so repressive of any or most sexuality, [too close to the animals] and just now in the last 30 years or so has it been brought out and turned over and examined. By the way, Mercedes Lackey's 'The Last Herald-Mage series, is the trilogy whose main character is gay, Vanyel Ashkevron. Smiling at ya... [I don't know if I see any of Janny's characters as gay, does anyone know for sure??]
The only peron who could know "for sure" is Janny, and she's very wisely allowing people to make their own interpretations. Make some! Go out on a limb! Be the only person other than myself and hosanna with a bold opinion!
"The Last Herald-Mage" was actually my first introduction to Mercedes Lackey. It was beautiful, and got me into reading everything else she wrote.
"My observation is that the Greeks thought women were for breeding with and only men were worthy of loving each other."
From what I've read, that's a pretty good summary, yes.
After the big reveal about Dumbledore it's not surprising people are reconsidering how sexuality impacts their view of characters ... i'm thinking Ashandir and Sethvir might be 'closer friends' then first was thought... =D
That said I think it's a little sad though that people can't envisage close loving relationships nowadays without believing it leads to a sexual one.
Is homosexuality defined by the act of having sex with someone of the same gender (the biological urge to 'get your rocks off')? or by caring deeply about someone of the same sex?
And i know i mispelt Asandir >_< dunno where the h came from.
"Is homosexuality defined by the act of having sex with someone of the same gender (the biological urge to 'get your rocks off')? or by caring deeply about someone of the same sex?"
Assuming that question isn't rhetorical, neither.
As I've acknowledged, you can care deeply for someone of the same gender without it being in any way a sexual relationship. (Also, Sethvir and Asandir? Not a chance!)
Being gay is, primarily, a self-identification. It's a combination of both of the things you mentioned - both a sexual desire AND a wish to love someone of the same gender, in a way that goes beyond, or at least in a different direciton from, the love of a friend.
I feel the F7 are asexual.
I could almost agree with BILLEEBEE, and what I think others have said earlier in this thread.
I think the F7 are pretty much beyond 'common lust'. I could believe that they've 'evolved' or grown beyond that urge.
So perhaps whatever sexuality they claimed is irrelevant now.
It's difficult to say though, because what other human being would be a match (intellectually) to stimulate that desire. And I think if they did want to bed someone, that the stimulation would be mental first, not just random urge to rut. They have each other, but no one else on Athera really in their league. Maybe Arithon. But no women to test the theory. (LOL, MORRIEL!) And without the stimulation of having a match or mate to get the blood pumping, I don't think they would have the need to go find a random pretty woman to sleep with.
But, it's difficult to tell. If my memory serves, I don't think we've had ANY hint of romance/sexuality/lustful desires expressed in thought or word by any of the F7 throughout the series (except Kharadmon in memory). Not in regards to themselves, lots to Dakar of course. So then you have to take what you know or imagine of them and try to picture how it would work...
Sethvir--unfortunately, he gives the impression of being the "oldest" and least virile among the F7. TO ME! I mean, he's pretty spry and all that. But the long tangled beard, he's pretty much a "shut-in", very bookish and dreamy (although we know he can be otherwise, just talking about his normal mien). To me, he doesn't give off any sexuality vibes at all.
Asandir--seems the most likely to have a romance... he's the "field sorcerer" and is active and arguably the most virile in the group. He seems to be willing to interact freely and easily with the common Atheran, on their level, and he has to deal with all the intricacies of life on the go in Athera.
Davien--a huge enigma, and we didn't have to even consider it when he was discorporate. I still won't speculate there.
Kharamon/Luhaine--discorporate, so a moot point (in my mind).
Traithe--we really only get glimpses of Traithe's personality, and that is really only post-maiming. He must blend in easily with the Atheran population, but from his limited screen time, I don't think there's enough to go on. He's pretty ambiguous.
Ciladis--really not enough to guess on. We know he was the gentlest of the F7, and we have gotten at least two sequences of him in action throughout all of Janny's writings that I can think of. He was small, and kind, and gentle, and slow to anger (OK, I'm speculating a little, but I see him as the peacemaker). But I don't want to make any assumptions of sexuality based on stereotypes!
OK, I don't remember what my point was in going through all those guys. But, no I still don't think there's enough evidence to say one way or the other in regards to the sorcerers. And I still think that they're beyond having or having to satisfy sexual urges, so maybe it doesn't even matter what they WERE.
And Stephen you thought this thread would never get back on track! ;-)
I've always thought of the F7 as pretty much asexual too, although for some strange reason Davien feels slightly more human than the rest. I don't really know why I feel that, since Traithe is so approachable, and it's clear how much Asandir cares for Arithon.
I see what you're saying about him, Stephen, though I don't know that I'd go as far as saying I agree. Perhaps it's the fact that he seems more 'dangerous' than other members of the Fellowship - more unpredictable -that we can imagine him in a light that is not possible for the others. The fact that he made such a colossal misjudgement (or did he?) also serves to humanise him in my eyes.
I haven't got my hands on SF yet (argh!), and I'm looking forward to seeing a lot more of Davien. NaNoWriMo ate my November and this month's a killer, but I'm hoping I might get it for Christmas...
(side note: glad no one else has nabbed my username! Been dropping in and out of here for years, but only just registered on the new system.)
I never thought of Dumbledore as gay but apparently some readers picked up on certain things and the author admitted she wrote him with that in mind. With Vanyel, it was very obvious he was gay and it was a major part of his character growth/motivations at the beginning. You pretty much have to beat me over the head with a stick to get me to see gay-ness!
With that in mind, I still don't see sexual preference as being a key factor motivating anyone in this series, but rather the deeper love of the heart between people.
I think it's cool Janny is keeping it ambiguous - that way you can bring your own biases and have a different experience than someone else. I'm still peeved to this day that a poetry teacher of mine insisted on inflicting on the class the 'True' meaning of a poem about a thunderstorm that was really about the author's relationship with his wife who divorced him. While I can see it might have influenced the writing, I'm inclined to think like Tolkien and be annoyed at literary analysts that try to put things into stories that don't belong - better to just let stories be. (angst at that teacher, not anyone here!)
I personally don't think of SE as gay. Davien though... I'm gonna still say no. He's the most human of the F7 and I think the most traumatized by the entire drake binding ordeal. We haven't been let into his viewpoint yet on purpose to keep him mysterious. I think he's awed by Arithon's potential and sees hope for resolution where there was none before. I also think, more importantly, Arithon didn't reject him and even offered some semblance of friendship to him. Whether he outcast himself or feels outcast by others, he's still outcast, and it's been a long time since anyone thought about him in anything other than a negative light. F7 or not, that's got to affect him, perhaps more than he wants anyone to know.
Regarding Frodo/Sam or any other literary pairings, I'd like to say: it's guy love. (Work safe)
I hope that Ciladis is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Healers [in literature] are sexy! I am tired of bearded ratty old wizards. At least Asandir strikesme as a handsome older man. A young handsome wizard would be really fun to read about. Yes I know Arithon is handsome but he is not a wizard yet and the handsome spellbinder in the swamp is not around enough to get to know him, at least not yet. I am looking forward to reading how Ciladis turns out. [smiling at ya]
Max, this question really is not a mystery...;)
Isn't Ciladis described in Child of Prophecy? I don't have my copy handy, so I don't remember the description, but he figures largely in that story, near the end.
Sooooo..... where can I read the 'Child of Prophecy'? I know it's been discussed before but I am in and out of the computer these days and I believe it was part of a collection of short stories. thank you [smiling at ya]
Child of Prophecy is in the book Masters of Fantasy edited by Bill Fawcett & Brian Thomsen.
Speaking of "the handsome spellbinder in the swamp", it might just be an odd quirk of mine, but I have always wished that we saw more of Verraine in the stories. From what I have read of him, he seems like an interesting character, but he sadly doesn't show up all that often. Besides, I feel sorry for him, being stuck out in Mirthlvain all by himself for so long.
Lisa, thanks for the reference to that story. I read it a while back, and have been meaning to reread it, but couldn't remember where it could be found.
Are there any other Athera short stories that I should read?
Yup - grin - Sundering Star, in Under Cover of Darkness, edited by Julie Czerneda and Jana Paniccia
Reins of Destiny, in the Solaris Book of New Fantasy, edited by George Mann
And - your wish with regard to Verrain's story is already IN PROGRESS, as a side piece, but who knows where it could turn up...I have to get it JUST RIGHT before I'll even think of turning it loose. Suffice to say, it's well along...
Wow! A Verrain story...
I've yet to read Reins of Destiny, but reading Sundering Star and Child of Prophecy before reading SF added so much to it! I've got to read Verrain's story, he is so charming, and the whole issue of the F7 having spellbinder and apprentices is fascinating. Janny, when are we going to find out about the other World Gates?
But to get back on track, I'm one of those who you have to beat over the head to see someone as gay. Someone's sexuality is not a big issue for me, but I must admit that Sulfin Evend just doesn't come across to me as gay. He's archetypal warrior - he's sworn fealty and that's what he's sticking to.
I did love the description of Greek attitudes, it rings very true.
Happy New Year to you all - reading SF was my best Christmas present
Hi all, used to be a member but when the change in how accounts work happened I must have been cleansed out.
Anyway I'm going to throw my opinion out.
Personally I feel Athera would not tolerate a wholesale antipathy to those whom are GLBTI. I can see the clans having thier issues clearly from the situation they are in. But the towns may not care as much. I doubt that the 7 would care but we mist remember they actually come from a space faring culture originally, so are more likely to follow modern aka our current cultural tolerances. It is widely accepted by those whom do not disagree with homosexuality that it is intrinsic and is not a choice and cannot be changed. As such being part of a persons base components Athera would not punish them for something they have no choice of. Of course the cultures of the world have no such restraint. I doubt Arithon is homophobic for the simple or not so simple fact of his geis of compassion.
As for Davien and SE I don't see Davien being anything but amused by Arithon, in some ways seeing a kindred spirit. As for SE to me it seems merely or not so merely his almost religious devotion to lysaer and then a deep abiding brotherly love.
My 2 cents
Didn't one of the "Priests" have an infatuation (beyond all others) with Lysaer? how he would link with Lysaer every morning to feel his presence. or was it just his power that the guy was craving?
This is the field priest that was involved with the necromancy issue. Don't have books at hand for reference.
I remember that guy! Yeah I recall feeling as though he had a more than normal religious type fervour for Lysaer and the morning link-up ritual thing, as though he derived some sort of orgasmic bliss from it. I just found it rather disturbing though, like he was just really, overly obsessed to the point of being crazed rather than actually being sexually attracted to Lysaer as a person. But that's just my personal response to it.
Thought as much, thanks Annabelle.