First, I want to say that I love Janny Wurts’ writing style - her prose is close to poetry in a way that I adore. I had just decided that her writing was something I wanted to own, and so when Traitor's Knot came out, I bought it without reading it first (which I rarely do) with the intention of buying up all the other books of the series I'd already read, to make a complete collection. But then I was disgusted by a section, only two pages long (yes, I counted) that has turned me off reading anything more of hers. (She could have fixed it by deleting only one sentence, actually...maybe.)
In Janny Wurts' last book released in the USA, Traitors Knot, there is a section in which (I think) she crosses genre lines to an unacceptable level. Sci-fi/Fantasy can get graphic, but when I want explicit sex scenes, with specific sexual functions described (even if "prettily"), then I'm going to go to the romance genre. The part is when the main couple are having a tryst in the forest...and then the fat prophet comes and breaks it up. If Wurts had stopped there, I would have felt she had crossed over into the romance genre, but not to unacceptable levels. (lets face it, genre lines are meant to be blurred to some degree.) But then Wurts went a step too far. I wont include any spoilers, but those who've read it know what I'm talking about when I say "spurt". Grows!!! I know it's adult fiction (and I am an adult, so no "read for your age" quips), but I was offended! So much so that I immediately took the book to the local thrift store and dumped it in their donation bin (my respect for the written word being too great from me to throw it away).
I just want to know, am I the only one who felt that way? I felt she betrayed her readership. She had been careful in all of her other scenes describing potentially crass material to couch it in non-offensive language. I know America traditionally has stronger moral compunctions than Europe, and having liven in Japan for 9 months, I know that morality has several different definitions. But still, there are (or should be) limits. And I feel she crossed it in this book.
Janny Wurts, if you read this, know that I want to read your books, I really like your style, but I refuse to own something that I would be ashamed to share with my children when they grow older. To other readers, do you feel this way too? I'm honestly curious. (please no "hate" replies...though with a topic this controversial, maybe that's asking too much...)
While I wasn't offended by the scene, I would say that I thought there was considerably more detail than needed to be. Usually I appreciate the amount of description Janny puts into every scene, but sometimes (and definitely especially that scene in particular) I think that not everything needs to be spelled out. The other scenes that this sometimes annoy me a bit are when some work of spellcraft is being performed and it's being reiterated for the nth time that the characters have to hold the spellcraft just perfect or the world will end or something. I think enough grand sorceries have been cast this series that we can assume that's the case when they're gearing up for another large piece of magic.
To be so offended that you have to get rid of the book !!! Someone has serious 'hangups'. I presume the children were adopted.
Presumably you are a Christian? If so what do you think of Genesis 38 verse 9? Perhaps today we sometimes mistake a desire not to be corrupted by this worlds obsession with sex as if it were just recreation (a desire I share BTW)and the other extreme of viewing it as somehow 'unnatural and unmentionable'. Its very clear that God's people in the past had neither view.
I didn't find it offensive at all, just overdone, but that would hardly be the first time I've thought that about a scene in WOLAS. But not so overdone that it would stop me reading it voraciously or loving the series. ;)
As far as "genre crossing" goes, that I don't really get. Books are about life, and life doesn't carve stuff up into parcels with labels on, quite the contrary. Genres can be a useful way of trying to describe a story in general terms, but I see no reason why a story should be molded to fit solely inside one or the other. The best stories have a bit of many, I think, just like life. Thats how I see it, anyway. I wonder if you would really find a scene like the one Angela didn't like in a romance book?
As the mother of two children I would NEVER be ashamed to have my children read Janny's books. I would be THRILLED to see them read such outstanding prose. They are teenagers and old enough to read the material. The material is not intended for young children as the writing is too advanced. These are not children's books.
The scene in question, in my opinion, was not too graphic and without the whole scene included one could not truly understand Dakar's squeamishness. When an author makes you feel something-anything-then the author has done her job. The scene was not comfortable, but then, that is what gives it more of an emotional impact.
S P O I L E R S ************* S P O I L E R S
When I read that section I felt Elaira's pain and humilation of having an intimate moment that she has been waiting for decades interrupted. I felt Dakar's pain and embarrassment. I hurt for Arithon losing this moment of happiness.
I have never found anything in any of Janny's books to be offensive. Janny's writing goes into detail about the violence to show how horrible war really is. She does not hold back and allows us to experience from both sides. This is important for adults to read and understand.
The scene was not really that graphic. It was written in a way, we all clearly understand what was happening, but I have read things much more graphic. I thought is was a well-written scene and to have deleted any portion of it would have significantly changed how we understood things that happened in Stormed Fortress.
Good books are not one that never make us "squirm" in discomfort. Good books make us think and feel. A scene that caused me great pain was in WOV-the Havens. The horror and pain of the slaughtered men and clansmen and tribesmen ripped through me. I understood how Caolle felt. I also knew the great suffering Arithon was experiencing. I understood Arithon reasoning. But it was a painful to read, but it did not offend me. It did what is was supposed to -it made me THINK and FEEL. It was exceptional writing at its best.
Since Angela was so offended she could not keep TK, then I would not recommend she read SF.
I agree with Susan the scene made me squeamish and uncomfortable, like I had interrupted that wonderful intimate moment, and as such it served its purpose. The fact that I have problem reading it says that it was well written.
I didn't find the written particularly adult, although the biology is reasonably obvious this wasn't and erotic piece (I read some erotica).
I also don't have a particular problem with WELL WRITTEN cross genre books, (Janny's one of the few who manges to mixed Fantasy and Sci-Fi) being in love is such a big part of all our lives, that perhaps it should be treated with a higher regard, than "trashy romances"?
I disagree with you Angela.
I don't remember who said it but I'm sure it was an american president, who said, "People like literature that BITES"
A lot of us like the fact that Janny's words bite. They make us think, imagine, and feel. That was a wonderfuly written scene that was written just to the perfect point of biting without actually tearing off any flesh, if you get my idea. The writting of this scene deserves nothing but praise.
As far as RaperIan's comment about too much detail in some of the other scenes of spellcraft. I disagree there too. I think it is important to remember, every single time, how difficult some of the undertakings are. Not to mention that the detail in which Janny writes gives a whole new perspective of the awsomeness of each new event. Janny knows what she's doing when she writes the way she does (other wise we wouldn't like her so much, remember!!)
I do agree that life is not divided into genres and therefore good books are not specifically one genre. Personally I think "Janny Wurts" should be a genre all her own, but thats just my opinion.
I actually smiled as I read this scene, and thought, bravo Janny. The reason I did was that I have seen too much pain and angst in the world over sex and sexuality. The squeamishness and the grossness of what is a totally natural thing is a sign of massive healing needing to take place. It's time such issues were dealt with, and a huge amount of moralising and judgement dispensed with, and power over our bodies and feelings taken back into ourselves. God/Universe/Creator/Divinity does not punish for what is essentially crafted in a Divine image.
Add to that, the squeamishness felt by many over male anatomy. I haven't heard any comments about Elaira's naked form or Talith's or Glendian's breasts. Why?
You might as well be grossed out by the pollen from plants, whilst you are at it.
I'm female btw.
Wow. Of all the reasons to be offended by this scene, the "explicit" nature of the scene I don't really understand. All things considered, this was one of the LEAST explicit sex scenes I've ever read in a fantasy novel. ;) (Seriously, the description was ACCURATE, but not EXPLICIT in my opinion. You knew what was happening, but it's not like we were getting a play-by-play there.) And I think the argument that she couches crass material in more acceptable terms is pretty offensive.. insulting to both the act of physical intimacy and to Janny's writing.
There's nothing crass about Arithon and Elaria's relationship and that's not because they're physically separated. Even if they were making out on every other page, there would be nothing crass about their relationship. I think the notion that love and intimacy are different, that physical love and emotional love are somehow unequal, is poisonous. There's a difference between love and lust, true, but physical intimacy is both appropriate and necessary in the context of a healthy relationship. Arithon and Elaira's love for each other, their ability to connect to each other, is being hindered by their separation. It doesn't make their love "pure", it handicaps them.
Physical intimacy is not crass. The circumstances under which people engage in it can be, but the actual act? Embarrassing, maybe, sometimes kinda gross with all those fluids everywhere.. but crass? No. That scene was definitely offensive, but not in the ways you've said. Exactly the opposite, the actions of the interrupters were crass, the action Dakar was forced to take were crass because they violated Arithon and Elaira's intensely personal moment. It was the violation, not the.. ahem, spurting result that was crass. The love the two of them were attempting to share was beautiful and when the others come crashing in like they have some right to interfere.. that was the offensive part.
Arithon and Elaira are a wonderful example of exactly what sort of role physical intimacy should play. This is a deeply respectful relationship, the two of them loving the other for exactly who they are. They are engaging in an activity with their eyes wide open, Arithon completely respectful of the dangers this could pose Elaira and taking every precaution they can to make sure she remains unharmed and comfortable. Neither one asks more of the other than they are willing to give, and the act of giving to each other is where they get the most pleasure. That's pretty much exactly what I think the model for a relationship that's ready to become sexual should be. It furthers a relationship built on trust and respect. There it's a means to greater connection. I think sex is only crass when it's the end goal of being in a relationship. It's crass if I decide to be with this person because I want to have sex.. not I want to have sex because I love this person, and I want to express that love in every way and on every level I can.
Also slightly off topic but.. RapierIan, I'm totally with you about the magic scenes. ;) While I guess I see that maybe "new" readers need to be reminded that the magic is dangerous, it's getting a little tedious for loyal readers. Same thing for me with how Arithon is constantly having to prove himself to the various clansmen that he meets... Yes, yes, he's very impressive. The characters (and prose, judging by the way the incidence of italicized phrases seems to go up in every book) remain constantly surprised by his abilities but I, admittedly, am getting less and less impressed every time with the urgency of the descriptions. Seems like he spends a lot more time doing things like this and less time goofing around like he used to.. he's always been intense, but found plenty of time to be amusing in earlier books. Seems like he becomes more and more grim as the series wears on and his straits actually improve. He's in a much better position in this most recent book than any of the previous ones and yet I found him to be more joyless than in all the other books. Maybe that's just me. I guess I just wish there were a way to ease up on the exposition, but I doubt since there's new readers to take into account and new generations of characters too. We're sort of getting it from all sides. ;) I suppose it's the curse of multivolume works. Too little and no one can keep the story straight from installment to installment, too much and too much of the book is just a rehash of previous volumes. In other books I tend to skip that stuff but it's hard to know where it's okay to skip in Janny's works, they're so complicated you're afraid to miss anything because that teeny detail on page 10 is suddenly relevant on page 5000.
I am not entirely sure I would say Arithon is in a better position in SF. He and half the people he loves and cares about are stuck in a city that is being attacked. How is this better than before? At least in the other books when he was being amusing he was usually just endangering his own life most of the time. Plus he was normally tring to be coniving. In the newer books he is just trying not to let anyone else die. I agree though he was more amusing in the earlier books. But you gotta figure he is under a lot more stress in the newer books. Might be kinda hard to be chipper when you go from one possible catastrophe to the next.
I must disagee concerning the spellcraft scenes. I don't find them tedious or annoying. I am extremely pleased and awed at the amount of knowledge and research that went into these scenes. I find them to be wonderful scenes. There have been many scenes involving magic that haven't gone into extreme detail. The ones that have been detailed are important. They add texture, knowledge, and provide insight into the characters. Think of the scene in FP with Traithe. We learned a great deal about him and Raven in those scenes. It may be that for each individual reading the books-that individual's personal beliefs on magic and energy (dare I say religion) color their perceptions on these scenes. I don't know-this is a thought I am tossing out for discussion.
As for Arithon having to constantly prove himself to clansmen, this is important. Many clansmen have had little contact with him, and we have reached the 3rd generation, so many clansmen only know of Arithon through the stories of their elders. It shows that some people must always learn for themselves and trust the older generations word. Also, it was stated in FP that Caolle spoke very little about his time with Arithon in WOV and I assume others were quiet about it too. Arithon spends very little time among the clans-years-decades go by so most never really get to know him. Arithon is still a mystery to most of the clans. I learned never to skip a word of Janny's -you will always miss something. I find something new everytime I read the books.
Wow, I really did get a respectful response. Thanks everyone for your restraint. ;)
K, now to address some of the comments:
Many of you commented that you don't think she crossed genre lines, and that such thinking is off base. Your arguments have been very good and persuaded me to agree with you. I still don't like the scene though. ;)
RapierIan and Greebo, I think you may be right, perhapse it was the excesive detail, and not the content itself, that turned me off so strongly. which leads to the comment by John Parsons - I am Christian, but I've also been to an Onsen in Japan. (look that up online and you may get an eyeful, just to warn you.) I view human sexuality as something beautiful and very special, even sacred. And because it is so special and sacred, it should be handled (and discused) with respect.
Which leads to Susan C's comment that proof of good writing is to make the reader feel what the characters are feeling. I completely agree with you. and Janny Wurts is one of best authors I've found for evoking emotion by her skilled manipulation of language. And I view that as a talent that should be handled with care. And it doesn't change my thinking. As I said before, Sex is something very special and sacred. But everyone's experience leads to different conclusions as to what "too far" is, so...
Which leads me to the conclusion that I have been outvoted ^_^ haha! I'm ok with that. But I also got confirmation that I was not the only one to be made uncomfortable by this scene. There is a theory that Humanity has a common conscience, and when many people share a same feeling (regardless of where they think that feeling originates from) then one can assume that one has touched on universal feeling. While the modern trend is to explore the traditionally forbidden, there are many that still hold that tradition is based on the wisdom of years. Call me old fashioned, but I believe this.
PS: I agree with those who state that her intense detail is great...the first five times, but after that it gets tedious. the only time i found this repetition tedious was when he's re-living all the worst battles and tragedies he's been a part of. Any reader who's reading that book has already read about those events, and it's just an unnecesary, annoying (to me) repetition.
I actually giggled at the start of the scene because it was way over the top. I had a hard time taking it seriously and had a few eye rolling moments until the race against time and the final humiliating end.
However, I saw this as a great lesson for Dakar and the reader about trusting Arithon to handle things. I didn't really find the subject matter squeamish, but then again I've seen a lot worse in other fantasy writing.
I find myself having a hard time reading the older stuff because the characters have progressed so far... revisiting their old state is painful. I'm super excited to read about them now and can't wait to see what's in store for the future.
I actually loved Peril's Gate.. it was like watching the cast commentary on a movie or something. ;) I think the difference there for me was that while I knew that story, the details were being refined, we got to watch from other perspectives, see where Arithon was being effected by the curse, etc.. For some reason, repetition of the same information about specific events bothers me less than what feels like repetition of the same sort of event in different situations since we don't really learn anything new, we just watch Arithon do the same thing for different audiences. Like going to the same play night after night. It's always a little different, sometimes different lines get the laughs, sometimes the audience is with the performers and they give an inspired performance, sometimes the audience is bad and the performers start flubbing their lines, but you don't learn anything new about the play. I was an usher once for a show.. I was always intensely grateful when the guys started ad libing, even when the lines didn't work, just to give me something new to watch. I could have played any of the roles by the end of the run, I knew all the lines.
While I was not offended in anyway manner or form, I can't imagine poor Arithon and Elaira having to look at each other with that memory in their heads. And Dakar should be more than ashamed, he should have absolutely refused!! I mean...EW...EW...EW,EW,EW! I am frankly glad that Janny does not shy away from TELLING HER STORY!! That story is not meant for children. And if that story bothers one, there's alot in the same genre that are just plain porn. So one has to toughen up a bit, the real world is alot grosser than that passage. smiling at ya!!
Reading the comments on tedious, repetitive sections in the books, I am perplexed. I know somethings are repeated, but they usually are from another character's perspective giving the orignial scene more depth. One of the most important aspects of the books is to get us to think and realize that each individual's perspective on an event changes the meaning. Finding truth or understanding can be more difficult than many people imagine.
Reviewing the scene in TK that is in question-I can not find how it is sexually explicit in anyway. It is written in a way the reader knows what is going on without it actually going into explicit detail.
Angela, yes it made people uncomfortable, but for many it was not because it was sexually explicit, but because it made us feel for the characters. I read a variety of books and many of the books I read have sexually explicit scenes. This scene is so tame in comparision to other books found on bestsellers lists.
Hi Angela - welcome here.
I respect your view, entirely as is.
And, in fact, you have stimulated a wonderful discussion. (ignore me, people, keep going, please!)
It's well known on this forum, though perhaps not to you, that I will answer direct questions IF I am asked.
Therefore, given my complete respect for your feelings, which does not in any way make me want to change them - in the interest of understanding, though, you May ask - why did I write this scene in the manner I did, and what part does it play?
In that regard, I can emphatically offer the assurance - it was NOT done frivolously, or with intent to shock out of hand, or to whack people's entirely beautiful sensibilities for no reason. I would NEVER! put such sensitive matter on page just to "fizz" the storyline with "porn" to titillate a reader...or to stimulate through "forbidden" ideas by commercial intent, period.
There is an underlying template and purpose (and yes, I can promise, you won't see another scene like -this- one again in this series) and yes, you may, if you like, e mail me privately if you would rather inquire that way, although I have no qualms about answering honestly presented queries directly, right here.
If you look quite carefully at the writing, I THINK I took pains to be certain a child without explicit knowledge would not be able to second-guess what is actually happening. If that does not play true, then, assuredly I did fail on that point.
I admit I am new to this discusion forum, though not to forums in other places. I actually joined beacause, after two years have passed and after an eye-opening sojourn in Japan, I've been debating whether to pick up this series again. This scene is the obstacle I have to overcome, so I wanted feedback and input, which I have recieved and am grateful for. I'm still deciding.
Janny Wurts, I am quite grateful and happy to have you comment on this discussion! You're right, I didn't know about the direct questions getting answers. If I had I would have asked why...but you just answered that. So, thank you. I didn't think you had included that scene just "to 'fizz' the storyline with 'porn' to titillate the reader", but I couldn't see the reason for it. It shows that Arithon is physically, deeply connected with the earth, which we already knew. And, as Auna said, "I saw this as a great lesson for Dakar and the reader about trusting Arithon to handle things". I saw those two points, but I already knew them. I am intensely curious to know if there is a deeper purpose than these for this scene. Am I completely off base, or is there a reason I'm not guessing at? I would be intensely interested if there was.
If questionable content is included for a specific purpose, then I am willing to accept it.
Honestly, I guess I'm looking for an argument that will reconcile me to this scene. Otherwise, I loved Traitor's Knot. I thought it regained the vitality of the first two books that were my favorite of the series. Oh, and let me add that the necromancy scene made me uncomfortable too...but in a horror genre kind of way. Which is to say it sent chills down my spine...and though I hate getting scared, I could see the purpose of it, and therefore it didn't "bother" me. I actually was quite caught up in it. ;)
All right, then. You Asked.
In fact, it's delightful to answer, since this is possibly one of the most misconstrued scenes in the story. Might be a blessing to have the information examined in a less hysterical light - - please note, Angela, the more rabid responses have been elsewhere, and not brought "home" as it were, to this board. I appreciate your courage, for that. (elsewhere, my hands are quite tied, and you have freed me, as it were.)
I will do my best to respond, bearing in mind that the story will cover territory that will vindicate everything, quite well, without my intervention in the direct authorial voice.
Next, we will all note: this is a work of Fiction, and though some ideas have been drawn from some esoteric sources, and while some folks have, or claim to have, experience that may parallel what appears to "be" on any given page, let's not equate this stuff with what IS real - although given a quantum universe, what is real cannot be separated (quite) from the point of view of the observer. I am author, but not authority, if you can catch the subtle difference.
This said, here goes:
The purpose of this scene was manyfold.
Primarily, it was the most graphic example I could create that would unfold the ENERGETIC template that occurs between an attuned crown prince, and the land's energetic patterning, or electromagnetic underpinning.
Before we run off screaming, why This way, let us take due note: NONE of the characters present in that scene was pleased IN ANY WAY with what occurred. So it could be said, their feelings and yours ran in parallel.
If Kharadmon (and through him, Dakar) regarded the event as necessity, the reason for that will unfold with more clarity in due time - although the latent forces in the land's lanes, UNDISCHARGED, was certainly and plainly going to cause ecological disaster, if not more - that exigency was pretty well delineated on page - I can easily concede the possibility that this point becomes eclipsed, in the heat of whatever predisposition a reader brings to what's just happened on the page.
Next, this scene "stages" the foundation for one of the climactic scenes in Stormed Fortress.
WARNING HEREFORWARD - direct spoilers for earlier volumes may follow:
This scene, very dramatically and neatly, shows the reader the importance and the mystery of the crystal left with Koriathain, and why Elaira can't just "ask" for her vows to be rescinded with Fellowship help. There is a gentle restatement of an earlier point, that not even Sethvir understands all the ramifications of this conundrum.
If one sets sexual bias and the squeamishness born of personal and/or societal taboos (which have their reasons, I am not arguing that) the underlying points would become quite clear.
The books STILL HAVE NOT addressed what exactly happens when a crown prince receives Sanction, and the attunement to the land - or what a High King, crowned, really means, or how such ranked service functions. The books will unfold this - look to future volumes. This scene is just the "opener" as far as how IMPORTANT such a binding can become.
This is the scene that begins the fracture between Dakar's past, and his future - which road his acceptance of responsibility will finally take. Heretofore, he's been either blind, or divided. In choosing Kharadmon's stance, that was a defining moment, whether he recognized it or not.
We see that Arithon and Elaira are not unbiased, either, that for them, the greater picture is of less importance, at this moment in the story - and that the meaning of Arithon's name as Fate's Forger will continue to play, as he challenges the lines drawn before him with innovation - but that he sometimes could fail to see everything coming.
This scene was the most graphic I could imagine that would show just how INSIDIOUS the Prime's plotting had become - that the trap she had spun almost slipped straight past the Fellowship Sorcerers' vigilance. Or did it???
In all respects, the stakes were deepened, and heightened - and it's now quite plain that underneath the characters' actions and interactions, there is an energetic law and pattern at play - hard to explain without a lot of dry exposition - far better to see it in action. A lesser scene would have been too easily disregarded, or forgotten, or written off as of no importance. When the pattern comes round again, you will not have forgotten - the act itself was the lesser point - the greater was the implication drawn.
That Kharadmon would have ever contemplated such an intervention - imagine the stakes? When once he loved, also, and you have seen his gallantry when he interacted with Elaira, in Fugitive Prince. Might ask WHY he thought the importance so high - and then watch for the unfoldment to see.
This scene spring-boarded Arithon's aversion to ASK Fellowship help - and why he ran quite such a high risk at Etarra in subduing the Gray Kralovir....YES that scene ought to scare you silly!!!! It did me. In spades. It's an ugly concept, horrific, and will stage into the handling of the two more apparently refined, and insidious cults that are still left on world.
You are MEANT to feel viscerally in this scene...doesn't matter what society you are from, or what those human systems deem acceptable - the emotional violation of ALL the characters involved, vs the exigency of what the Fellowship Sorcerers were forced to stand by in the moment - this was actual the crucible.
There is a contrast drawn, too, with THIS event and later ones in Stormed Fortress, set against that climactic scene for Arc III - you'll need to read the story further, for that, I will not risk spoiling it here.
Anyone who does not wish to go on, or who is so offended by this scene - so be it. I don't choose your reading - you do....but I would ask, is there anything WORSE than the scene at the Havens, or Tal Quorin, or - well name any of a dozen??? And neither of those were done frivolously, either, as later books bore out quite nicely.
My applause to this group here for discussing this topic with the respect and insight that both awes me, and makes me appreciate you as my readers - thank you!
My closing point: you are NOT MEANT TO BE RECONCILED with this scene - on any count! That was its purpose - just as the scene at the Havens, or what occurred in Daon Ramon Barrens, under Jieret - these scenes were never meant to rest well, or feel good - they will, however, drive the characters to unveil further strengths and depths. And rise to new changes. THAT will be well worth the waiting for, I can quite earnestly hope.
"there is an energetic law and pattern at play - hard to explain without a lot of dry exposition - far better to see it in action"
And ick factor aside, I agree wholeheartedly with this. My first thought on reading it was, lovely, cheers, getting the point but was it really necessary to use that particular illustration? But on thinking a little, I realised that the scene worked on many levels because of the example chosen, and some other illustration would not have had anywhere near the impact - on the readers, or on the characters. I wouldn't respect the story so much if it was always an easy read. So thats that, and bravo Janny for tackling it, and as tastefully as possible, on the whole. ;)
Tis a strange world we live in when descriptions of multiple mass murders of thousands upon thousands of people for misguided ideals, be those people innocent or war hardened warriors, is somehow deemed as far less offensive (or far more acceptable) than a couple of pages of description of an interrupted private act. People's emotions got trampled in this bit, many of the other scenes have people's lives ripped, hacked and crushed out of them. Each to their own for what they deem offensive.
Were you not more offended by the description of what Lysaer's headhunters did to the women of the Deshir clans before Lysaer turned them into ash? Did not the treatment of Jieret at Lysaer's hand turn your stomach - the first hand account of such violence?
For me, the scene with Arithon and Elaira was almost a "can't see the forest for the trees" kind of scene. On the surface we can visualize what's happening but beyond that, the scene commands you to ask - why? What's happening here? Why is this important? Janny has expounded on this above to provide more basis for her writing in this instance.
On a lighter note, if Janny had used the term "heaving bosom" anywhere in the scene, then you would be correct is banishing this to the Mills and Boon section.. thankfully that did not happen, nor do we yet have a Lysaer as Fabio pose on a cover.
Right on Hunter!!! I agree totally! Janny has a way of making the love between Arithon and Elaira more sacred than just the act they were interrupted from. That was, at least for me, as heart-wrenching an act as any of the other horrible moments, such as Jieret's torture, or the desolation of Talith before her death, or the battles like Tal Quorin, the Havens or Vastmark.
Janny is magical in her ability to convey words that can cause such emotion in her readers. She is able to express the desecration of negative events with such an amazing capacity. But, that at least goes both ways, as the triumphs in the book are able to make the reader understand how wonderful it is. The love that Elaira and Arithon share, and their empathic link is one, or even the healing of the boy that caused the link, or Arithon's evolution as both mage and musician.
Which brings me to add that though some of the scenes describing in-depth the precaution and steps for each and every complex conjury or song are necessary. Without that the complexity would be commonplace, and rather plain. Janny shows us that it is not easy, and that it should be given it's due respect.
This is a nice little *gem* from Janny: "handling of the two more apparently refined, and insidious cults that are still left on world"
We only know of these 2 factions from SF when Arithon tells us about their existence although Traithe or Davien refer to Grey Kralovir in TK as the "worst" implying other necromancers.
"Apparently refined" is a new tidbit though ;-)
These two cults must be aware of Arithon and the demise of the Kralovir. They won't be sitting around waiting for an attack.
Presumbly these cults never do enough dammage to the land to arouse the Fellowship. Townborn humanity seems to be their prey.
Is Arithon motivated to go after them or will Lysaer try something? What are A's and L's next moves?
Do only the Fellowship, Koriani and Arithon know about the Biedar's history?
I wanted to add about the horrors unleashed at Tal Quorin, Vastmark and in gutting the Kralorvir, didn't seem to cause any response in the light of the one above - but I ran out of time.
(As I reread, I see Hunter has made comment on this too. )
This is not just a phenomenon in this book, but everywhere. Hardcore violence with buckets of blood is barely blinked at, human nakedness gasped at. Which is the worse? Nobody blinks at hordes of people gunned down for political expediency (and often just for business), but oh my word if someone lifts a shirt, has sex outdoors, runs naked across a pitch (as happened in Oz during the cricket - nice rugby tackle too...)
Not that I'm advocating free for all orgies; obviously it has its risks, but surely on the scale of shockability, should be less? In any case, to quote Dr. Brennan - we should not forget just how "deeply physical" a being we are.
I love how this series is deeply physical in its rendition of the human (and other) spirit. Though at times the bodies of the poor characters do get beaten around a lot... a little too calvinistic at times for my taste. Does Arithon ever get a massage?
[Stormed Fortress Spoilers deleted]
As for the Episode in Perils Gate - imagine having sex, and the WHOLE COUNTRY going ballistic? Man, that is just too much... *laugh* knowing that every sensitive person along all the lanes would get an earful that the Sanctioned royal of the country is inflagrante? Would certainly put me off. *grin* Wonder how the King of Havish feels?
(Message edited by admin on March 13, 2008)
WATCH YOUR SPOILERS!!! This is an open topic.
(Gryphon, can you mark the above post as a spoiler beware?)
I edited the post above and deleted the SF spoilers.
*BLUSH* oops... normally careful about that. I am SO sorry. A good discussion that really absorbed my attention.
I briefly mentioned the Havens in an early response, but Hunter and Motley really hit the nail on the head. In US society, violence is much more tolerated than sex. Our hang-ups as a society are confusing.
While violence is more tolerated than sex there is even mixed messages on what type of violence is tolerated. There are many shock/horror films that are truly gruesome in their graphic detail of violence and very little outcry is heard, but then a movie like Saving Private Ryan received a great deal of attention because of the graphic nature of the violence. Saving Private Ryan was trying to present as true as possible depiction of WWII battles specifically the D-Day invasion. A film like Texas Chainsaw Masscre isn't presenting anything but an entertainment that horror fans like to see. One movie is trying to scare you and make a profit, while the other also is out to make a profit it also makes a point that war is hell and war is bloody. People getting "whacked" on TV shows doesn't seem to phase peoople, but Janet Jackson flashes a nano second of breast on TV the country is in an uproar.
The nice thing is we still have the right to choose what we read or watch on TV and in movies.
Susan, that's true. But sometimes one is watching something, and is sideswiped. I was watching a news documentary on reporters in the field, and suddenly they played the soundtrack of the notorious execution of a hostage... and though I scrambled for the remote, it was over. I had nightmares for MONTHS afterwards. (I still shudder at it)
I wrote to the show and expressed my disgust. Their point was to show how traumatic it is to be a journalist sometimes, and I grant that, but not at 9pm! It was done for sensationalism, and they got a lot of flack from the public. Had I known they were going to actually PLAY it, I would not have watched, and also for the fact that it was a deed that deserved no attention.
Actually that was a turning point in my life - I realised what sensationalism actually does, and has done, to normalise our senses, and so refuse to do the same. (Funny thing life: this was soon after I participated in something similar.)
Motley, granted we get sideswiped. My point was more to the one you and Hunter made. Why does sex send people screaming, but not violence? How can one be offended by something more implied than explicit, but not even mention the violence? Somethings we can not seeing coming and hence-the shock of it, but for most regular TV shows, etc-we can turn it off or stop watching if we don't like a series or stop reading if we don't like a book. In some countries reading material, TV, movies, and the media are heavily censored and no one has a choice. That is the choice I mean.
My job deals with teenage sexuality and I forever and facing the problem of parents who are afraid to teach their children anything because the fear it will encourage them. They think keeping them ignorant will somehow protect them. There are alot of people who can't talk to their children because they can't say certain words (like correct anatomical terms). These people worry about exposing their children to anything of a sexual nature, but will let their kids play violent video games.
First off, thank you Janny Wurts! Your answer completely satisfied me! I may have to apply white-out to one sentence to assauge my conscience and keep my books children friendly (I started reading from the adult fiction shelves in the library at 11 years old, FYI.), but i think i'll track down your books again. And you provided tantilizing hints at future content that has me itching to read Stormed Fortress. So, THANK YOU very sincerely! I am even more grateful that you weren't offended, especially since I know my morals are considered stuffy and old fashioned now days. oh well, to each their own.
ok, I have to say that, Hunter, your post made me laugh because it is so true! And I have wondered about it myself - why is violence seemingly much more acceptable then sex when portrayed? My friend (athiest) has a theory about why in America: he says it's all due to America being founded by Puritans and the like, and that culture has stayed strongly with us. but i don't think that's it because that theory fails to address violence being acceptable, nda the fact that America is not the only country to have this view. I think that our acceptance of seeing blood and guts has evolved because, face it, we eat meat. Humans are Omnivors. only 100 years ago our grandparents were slaughtering their own chickens and pigs. Now we get our meat in neat plastic packages. THAT is wierd, if you think about it.
So, my ideas on why violence is more acceptable than sex when portrayed in any art form is twofold. 1) As I just said, Humans are meat eaters. AND we have constant wars. we are constantly exposed to blood and death. death is a part of life. we see is all the time without the help of movies or books. So , when media and art chooses to portray death, though we may be disgusted by it, we are not viscerally shocked by it. (and yes, the violent scenes did effect me, but prime time news and war specials have long since acustomed me to it.) 2) As to why sex is met with more shock and disaproval, like I said in an earier post, it is something special and sacred. such things are not paraded around out of respect...but when it is paraded around (I think of gay parades and cring) people are offended because of the disrespect - and shocked because we don't "see" it regularly. Also because, well, frankly sex is done behind closed doors...and usually in the dark (giggles). Always has been. Death, on the other hand, by it's very nature, is seen. wars are very public affairs. so is eating meat. sex is a very private affair. Therefore, when sex is put onto the public platform, the human psciche is shocked. There is a visceral reaction.
that's my theory at least. easy for me to understand, hard to put into words. I hope I made sense. I also tried to cut out any religious arguments out of my reasoning. this post would have been longer (and lets face it, given less credibility) if i had included religious reasoning. it's a pity, really. i love my religion.
oh, and Susan C, I forgot to address this. so, sorry for the double post, but...
I think when parents are so embarrased about discussing sexuality with their kids that they CAN'T do it, then that is definately a problem. My mother was that way, and she knew it wasn't right to leave me in the dark, so she took me to a school hosted discusion for maturing girls. wonderful thing. I also applaud Oprah for her daring discusions...and I pity the men who accidentally tune in some times. haha
So, yea, my opinion is that Americans are too shy about discussing sexuality with their kids, but there is a movement to fix this, and I think it's working. I think we should be comfortable enough with our own bodies to teach our children about theirs, and that it should be discussed with the respect it deserves. k, tangent finished. ;)
Hmm.. how to answer what I want to say without inviting a thousand flames? Let me try.. as a devout (this is funny) follower of prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, the Puritan angle you mention above concurs with my thought. I've rewritten the post five times and it's still inflammatory so I've deleted it.
Prohibition never worked with alcohol, why should keeping children in complete ignorance about something completely natural as sexuality - and even worse, filling kids heads with all sorts of pre-conceived ideas and dogma - be expected to work and produce rational, well rounded and self-thinking individuals? The more things are discussed, the less discomfort there is and the taboo factor goes away.
-"This scene, very dramatically and neatly, shows the reader the importance and the mystery of the crystal left with Koriathain, and why Elaira can't just "ask" for her vows to be rescinded with Fellowship help.... "
Wow, this dumb reader didn't pick up on this at all. I'm totally grateful this discussion took place.
-"If you look quite carefully at the writing, I THINK I took pains to be certain a child without explicit knowledge would not be able to second-guess what is actually happening."
I somehow totally missed the end result until someone mentioned it on the forum here and I went back and reread it. I think I was still reeling from the guilt I felt from siding with Kharadmon to actually pay attention to exactly what went on there. I clearly think it was obscure enough.
TOTALLY off topic but.. is anyone else having trouble with the e-mail notifications from the board? It seems to be happening most with this thread in particular. I'm getting them all out of order, I got some of the replies to Angela's post Tuesday but I just got the original post this morning, a good 4 days after it was posted. Some of the replies I haven't gotten at all, although I suppose if it took 4 days to deliver the first post I may get some of them next week. ;)
nope, I haven't had that problem. I was so innundated from this discusion, though, that I turned it off. ;)
Wow. You go away for a few days and look what happens. My inbox was filled with Janny Wurts messages.
This is what I love about this chat area. We can discuss something about which people hold different beliefs, but do it in a way that respects our respective individuality. My hat is off to the entire board.
I agree with Lyssabits' posts and Hunter's first post wholeheartedly. The former subject having been nicely and completely dealt with by the Consummate Tail Spinner (aka Janny), the question of violence versus sex is now up for comment. Firstly, my bias, which most of the board knows, is that I am Christian. I believe that sex is a gift from God, not a plain biological function equated to voiding one's bowels, nor is it a simple opportunity to escape into physical pleasure. Sex is too important to be treated as cavalierly as it is by so many. The abuse of sex is evidenced by the power that it has over people's lives (evidence: Gov. Spitzer). Sexual taboos deserve to be uncovered, but the reasons that the taboos exist are still relevant.
The guidelines set out regarding sex, including those of the ancient Hebrews, protected people and families against many things: sexual diseases (which are even more rampant and deadly today), emotional turmoil and damage, prohibited relationships of blood causing birth defects, children's relationships with their parents, etc., and including the structure of society and the passing of property from one generation to the next, and so on. The breach of these guidelines causes pain and hardship, or in the case of property, confusion and disputes, which are among the many reasons that the guidelines exist.
As a lawyer who is involved in family disputes of many kinds, this is patently obvious to me. If a person thinks an affair or sexual misconduct of any kind is okay, then ask what the 14 year-old daughter thinks of her mother's new relationship. Ask how the little children like seeing Daddy every second weekend, instead of running into their parents bed and jumping on Mom and Dad on Saturday morning. Ask how Mommy likes to have a positive AIDS test as a result of her husband's indiscretions. Ask how Mrs. Spitzer feels, and Mrs. Clinton felt.
The damage that abuse of or lack of understanding about sex can cause is massive, and I have only touched on the surface of some cases that I have actual professional experience with (save the political references). Other case I have been involved with but I have not touched on are the horrors of child sexual abuse or the problems surrounding teenage promiscuity and the damage that those things cause.
Sex, properly respected, as it was between Arithon and Elaira (as beautifully written by Janny) is a beautiful gift, whether or not you think it comes from God. If sex it is not respected, or beyond that, it is abused, it causes societal ills that are far reaching and extremely damaging. However, it is also a matter of personal autonomy (between consenting adults), and one to which the Law of the Major Balance applies. In this context, the lyrics of George Michael are so very true (I never, ever thought I would quote him, but he is right): "sex is natural, sex is fun, sex is best when it's one on one".
Turning to violence, like Hunter, I have never understood why sex gets more play than violence does. In my view, the two are often the same. The whole sex-based industry (pornography, prostitution, strip clubs, even Hollywood etc.) subjugates the participants and the consumers, and portrays all involved as animals, not as something beautiful. Would that the consumers did something as simple as imagining their sons' or daughters' faces on what they were viewing, there might be a seminal change in how pornography is viewed and received. Everyone photographed in pornography is someone's son or daughter. Violence and the sex trade walk hand-in-hand.
I agree with the comments about Saving Private Ryan. That was an important film. My grandfather served in the trenches in the Great War, and again in WWII (he was at Dieppe before being transferred back to Canada in 1943 to train soldiers), and he hated war movies, because he said they lied. He could never talk about his experiences much, because they were truly awful. The veterans who were asked about Saving Private Ryan said that the D-Day scene was incredibly accurate for Omaha Beach. The first moments of the invasion were a bloodbath for American troops.
Violence is given scarcely enough attention, and sex given far too much. Both are horribly abused (one, at all times, is abuse), and I don't wonder if it is the human desire to control that is a root cause of both. In truth, I was more horrified about the murder and rapine in Deshir than I was about the aborted love scene in Traitor's Knot. In fact, the latter did not register as disturbing compared to Deshir. At all.
One of the big problems for Christians is the tendency among some congregations and movements within the church towards being judgmental, prudish, and in particular, hypocritical. That it is okay for Christians to kill in Iraq, but it is not okay for them to have sex before they are married, is not reconcilable for me. According to my God, both are off limits, as both cause, or have the tremendous potential to cause, irreparable harm, and they don't treat other humans with the respect they are due. My daughter and son are going to be told, over time, all of the facts about sex in an open and safe manner, and what sex can be, what it shouldn't be, and that there are always consequences for one's actions, no matter how trivial or small the action may seem at the time.
A lot of Christians seem to forget the Beatitudes, and in particular the Golden Rule. As they came from Christ's lips, I take them as a law for my behaviour and life, as imperfectly as I can (I fail, daily, but I try): Treat others as you yourself would be treated. If someone slaps your cheek, offer up the other (I believe this means stand up for what is right, but commit no violence). Go the extra mile. I believe that a lot of the Beatitudes are summed up in the Law of the Major Balance.
The neat thing is, is that The Wars of Light and Shadow have done an excellent job of exposing violence as unjustified and and unacceptable way in which to resolve problems. It similarly shows how beautiful sex can be between two loving and committed adults. And, how awful it is when such a beautiful thing is intruded upon. Sex is not meant for spectators, and that is what the scene originally complained of was partially about.
I think, in the context in which Janny has written, there is room on this Board for agreement on the nature of the abuse of sex and violence, whether one is Christian, Bhuddist, Zoroastrian, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, or pagan, etc. The use or abuse of sex or violence as a tool is a use or abuse of power, and that use of power leads invariably and eventually to evil and damage.
Sex should never be used, nor should violence (obviously). Sex should only be experienced as a beautiful moment between two adults who love and are committed to each other.
Well said Clansman, I am in full accord with you on the context of Janny's storylines though I may take your views on religion with wry amusement. While being raised C.of E. my belief has slowly moved from agnostic to tolerant atheism. I know little of the 'Beatitudes' but I was brought up to "Do as you would be done by" which can cover a lot.
And as a father of three who divorced when his eldest daughter was 13, I can appreciate your view as a lawyer.
I'm not sure I'd be as kind as Derek as they seem a very rose coloured view but everyone is entitled to their opinions. Interesting you mention your children will be *told* all about sex rather than giving them all relevant information and allowing them to reach their own conclusions?
I guess it's good you weren't at woodstock where it was said it was easier to have sex than get breakfast.
Apparently dolphins, like humans, are animals for who enjoy sex for enjoyment not just for procreation, breeding and the continuation of the species.
I wonder if, should Arithon and Elaira had consummated their relationship in the grove given the heightened lane flux and potential impact of power released on Athera, whether the Arithon would have asked - "did the earth move for you?" (bad I know..)
Hunter, I think you are reading a bit much into my comment about "telling" my children about sex. Perhaps I should have used the words "fully inform", i.e. I will tell them everything about sex, from its basic biological mechanisms to its abuses, to sexual orientation, to pregnancy, to birth control, what I believe about how sex should be experienced and why, in an open and honest way. I will use reliable, scientific materials to educate them. I will encourage questions, so that sex is not some taboo topic that is not spoken of and as a result, my children go elsewhere and get information from less-than-reliable sources (i.e. their friends, the internet, and MTV).
This way, I encourage an open and honest relationship with my children and demonstrate that I am worthy of their trust (even when they become teenagers, I hope).
Right now, my children are 3 and 7, and not capable of making conclusions about sex. Eventually, they will make their own conclusions, based on all of the facts. I think that is the point of teaching them honestly and openly. I think that teaching them to fall in love with someone's head and heart before falling into bad with them will let them lead happier, more filfulling lives.
Incidentally, I came to my views about sex long before becoming a Christian, when I was still firmly agnostic. My family background is secular agnostic humanism, with a healthy dose of liberalism. My Christian faith only confirmed beliefs about sex that I already held, as personal choices. My liberalism and my Christian faith does not allow me to impose my view on others, merely to present it and argue it (as I am ). Please don't confuse my profession of faith with that of the so-called Christian Right. Much of what they do and profess I find very un-Christian and hypocritical, and evil, and is a slander to my faith.
RE: Woodstock. I would have loved it! I was only two, but I love music, so Woodstock would have been my thing. I don't care about other people having sex. I do care about the cavalier attitude that society encourages about sex that causes the pain and difficulty that people do not consider before succumbing to the myth of the greener grass (more than once I have thrown up my hands and silently shouted "why didn't you just tie a knot in it, you idiot!" when hearing, yet again, of a client's pain due to his or her indiscretions). I do care about the abuse of sex by pornographers, pimps, and the like. It would be trite to say more on that latter point.
RE: Dolphins and sex. The bonobos (sp?), chimp-like primates that live in small numbers in the eastern Congo, use sex for enjoyment and consolation. For instance, if one gets a minor injury, then another has sex with it. They do it several times a day, and indiscriminately with both sexes. Active little fellows.
Sorry, I meant "bed", not "bad" in my last post, and no, it was not a Freudian slip.
Hey Trys, how about an edit function for posts for cases like these? Is that possible?
A Jungian slip? <grin>
I can edit the post if you want. You can edit any post for up to 5 minutes after you post it. That number can be changed but it is always in minutes. There is no infinity setting for this option.
Until now, I have failed to notice the little "Edit Post" message beside the posting time...
I agree whole heartedly with Clansman. I did not grow up in a Christian environment, I became a Christian in my early teens. As I am still in my early 20's now I can honestly say that the way my mother approached the "sex talk" was way off base for how I will approach it with my future children. My mother actually told me that she did not want me to have sex until I was 16 and that when I decided to have sex to just tell her and she would put me on the pill. I laughed at her and told her that there would be no sex until I was married. After that sex was taboo in our house.
My children will of course be raised in the church and taught the principles of character that are part of my beliefs as a Christian. That being said, as a Christian there is no "conclusion" about sex to come to. The truth is that sex is a beautiful thing when kept in the context that God created it to be in, and outside that context it is abuse and it is wrong. Stay pure of body and mind, fall in love, get married, then have sex. That is a very clear cut line in my opinion.
I disagree completely with children being permitted to come to their own conclusions about sex. I intend that my children will be educated in the joys and dangers of sex so that they don't need to figure it out on their own. Im the parent its my job to inform my children of experiences in life that they are not yet ready to experience themselves. Sex is clear cut and not open to a conclusion seeking thought process.
Janny does a fantastic job of illustrating the proper use of sex. I believe in Perils Gate it discusses Arithon having to go sit in a brothel for an evening to learn why casual sex is a bad thing. I personally liked that particular illustration. There were many times that I was completely dumbstruck by the horrifying violence that this series as produced and that one moment of interrupted prviacy did not hold a candle to the many scenes of violence.
Ok.. so in all this spiritualizing of an act of nature ( I wonder how the 10,000 BC Neanderthals knew whether what they were doing was right or not given God hadn't been invented at that stage), where does this then put Arithon's mountainside dalliances with Dalwyn that were in reality Elaira's face on another's body? Arithon assuaged his need with Dalwyn, how is this different to the many mentions of Dakar's sojourns into the houses of paid delights? And why aren't people clamouring for Dakar's blood to ensure he burns the nethermost pits of hell for his transgressions?
Or, perhaps, the "loving" that Lysaer gave Ellaine which was within the supposed blessed sanctity of a Westlands marriage?
I don't know think that if Arithon had a "dalliance" with Dalwyn that it would be any different at all then Dakar paying to sleep with woman. As a Christian I don't clamour for anyones blood and would hate to see anyone burn in the nethermost pist of hell. One character flaw does not make a person a horrible person. Dakar has done a lot of good too.
And Lysaers treatment of Ellaine was horrible, who cares if they were married, it was just awfull. And I would call the treatment of another human in such a manner sinnful.
And how were the Neanderthals supposed to invent God when God invented them?....
Procreation is an act of nature but I think sex can be considered something else. For example it is often called making love. Making love is not an act of nature.
Pause for vision of large mythical being sculpting cavemen from large bowl of clay...
I quite understand Dakar's dalliances, sex is a biological urge that does not require it's participants to be in love.
"Making love"! silly phrase isn't it. Love is not something that can be made; it has to be experienced.
I once brought up the subject of sex education with my son when he was younger and he grinned and said "What do you want to know?". I think I said something similar to my dad long ago.
I think my main point was that sex is much better (a more fulfilling and intense experience) in the context of a loving and committed relationship. The one-night stand can never compare, and certainly resorting to paid sex is just plain pathetic, besides being criminal and exploitative.
I disagree with Brittani on the point of Arithon's dalliance and Dakar's complete lack of any sexual conscience. I still love both characters, despite their flaws and mistakes. Dakar's activity, however, is exploitative, whereas Arithon's was not. The Peril's Gate reference in Britanni's previous post was an excellent example. Although all sin is created equal, the consequences of it vary widely, and Dakar will be sure to bear his consequences, and in fact, appears to be already doing so.
You can behave like a barnyard animal if you want, but the price to be paid for that is that you often end up being a barnyard animal. I might have liked Dakar, but I only started to respect him in the last couple of books.
Oh, and sin does not send one to hell according to Christian theology. If it did, there would be no point in being a Christian, because all of the Christians commit sins every day. Every one of us. It is the lack of a relationship with Jesus Christ, according to my faith, that results in eternal separation from God, because Jesus bridges the gap created by sin.
Though we will continue to disagree it is fun to parry and thrust on this stuff. Makes me think, and keeps me sharp, and actually reinforces the reasons I chose to become a Christian as a mature adult.
Arithon had a mutual dalliance with Dalwyn - fact (in the WoLaS world), not conjecture. One wonders what that did for his aura. Thankfully he was not in Rathain or parked on an activated flux line at the time.
That Lysaer is married to Ellaine is critically importantly - the ceremony, sanctity and blessing purportedly conveyed on the couple to live in mutual bliss for ever anon and therefore participate in loving, consensual relations was what both Ellaine and Lysaer allegedly whole heartedly agreed to - and many mentions in the above posts have stipulated a view that only with the bounds of this sanctity is such intimacy permissible and acceptable. Fat lot of good it did Ellaine. As a complete contrast, the intimately written scene that prompted this entire thread was, until Kharadmon and Dakar stepped in to forestall disaster, a description of a perfect union of two committed people, properly blessed and in tune with the land around them and having no need whatsover of any blessing or other ceremonial requirement to legitimize or otherwise sanctify their union.
I'm not sure how to respond to the supposition of God creating Neanderthals.. the image of the large dollops of clay seems highly amusing. I'll leave aside the dating of this extinct race to many millennia prior to the scriptural starting date of our existence.
Lysaer's alleged "marriage" to Ellaine was anything but. It is not the ceremony, but the commitment of the heart that makes a marriage. The ceremony, which has tremendous differences across the Christian faith, not to mention other faiths, is simply a public declaration made for the purposes of law and to allow for a family celebration. I would consider Arithon and Elaira to be married, as they are committed to each other exclusively. They are much more "married" than are Lysaer and Ellaine.
I believe that I am correct that in the eyes of God, a marriage can occur when the couple commits to each other for life and exclusively, whether or not a priest/pastor/minister is present. That marriage has been and continues to be abused is not debatable, it is a truism.
I don't believe that I used the word "marriage" in my posts above, for this very reason, as it creates confusion. I used the term "loving and committed relationship", which is what marriage should be. Clearly not all of them are, which is why I did not use the word "marriage".
A few responses:
I've always found the possessive phrase 'My God' a little weird.
Dakar uses drinking and sex to supress his prophetic talent, which I keep forgetting, and then will be reminded of as at Alestron. Yes, he could try master it, but then it would not be the character foil to Arithon's learning to face things head on.
I think it's true that Lysaer's marriages were not sanctioned by Ath's brotherhood in both cases?
A general ramble after reading all the viewpoints:
I've observed that institutions tend to sanitise their original figureheads. These characters lives were about going AGAINST common, harmful and restrictive beliefs, and usually to restore balance to a restrictive society. Most were geniuses and rebels who eoncouraged free thought love, BUT NOT DOCTRINE. Anything else is created by founders and social architects of organisations that eventually lead to social control, however good the initial intention. Then further revolution.
So often the discussion about marriage, or not marrying, or sex before or after, etc... is following the conditioning of doctrine, or reacting against it because of (another set of) beliefs in science or post-modernism.
I like that in COTM that the introduction leaves it up to us to determine. There's just no wrong or right. I like that Hunter points out Dalwyn, and that Lysaer REALLY LOVED TALITH, so much that Sulfin is able to use that. You can never finalise a judgement. I end up just seeing the whole continuum and admiring the pattern.
Clansman - you can't have it both ways, either the ceremony itself requires Church blessing for "legitimacy" in the eyes of the Church or the Church is irrelevant in the whole process. Weddings are held in Churches so believers are married in the presence of their deity - or at the very least those appointed as representatives thereof - to give legitimacy to the union beyond the purposes of earthly law. To deny that this symbolism is critical to marriage means you're opening advocating "living in sin".. cohabitation without the formalized approval of your Church.
Acutally I was the one that went so far as to say that sex should be in the confines of marriage.
I would like to point out that there really are two very different discussions here.
One involving the sexual relations of WOLAS and another involving the sexual relations of our world.
I believe that in our present world that yes you should actually be married, legally or in a church, before having sex.
WOLAS is not the same because they do not have the same structure of faith as Christians in our world do. I think that in this case we have to look at it with a moral point of view. The way Lysaer treats Ellaine is wrong, Arithon and Elaira's relationship is perfectly fine.
And I am still not convinced that Arithon actually had sexual relations with Dalwyn. I thought it was implied that the two thought about it but that it never actually happened. I will go read it again but I never got the idea that anything beyond comforting conversation ever really took place.
One of the key points here is that we're all bringing our real world view to the happenings in WoLaS. These conversations are intermingled, not separated. Lysaer's upbringing on Dascen Elur and his Westlands kingdom are certainly far closer to conservative western societies than Arithon's piratical and clan views. In the cases of both Talith and Ellaine, Lysaer observed the proprietaries of marriage first. The societal structure that he lived in required that marriage occur first which is a similar societal structure those in Christian communities.
I would amend your last comment, Hunter, to say European/Western Christian communities. The Middle-Eastern and African church (particularly in Ethiopia) was quite a bit different. The church in Europe was drastically changed over time by the societal ideas of the invading barbarian tribes, just as much as those tribes were changed by the church. The church has changed so much and is now is so widely varying that no particular description of it can be said to be universally applicable.
I agree that Lysaer would have been particularly hide-bound about marriage in a conservative, catholic sense, as succession to the throne is very closely tied to legal and contractual marriage (bastards don't inherit). Even the birth of children had to be properly witnessed in royal families in Europe to legitimize succession.
I have never been able to find a spot in the Bible that says a priest has to waive his hands and say "you're married". As a result, I do not believe that the church has divine authority to monopolize the sanctioning of marriage. The state, on the other hand, has delegated legal authority to religious institutions. So I don't think that I am "having it both ways". I am merely saying that marriage as a religious institution is not necessary for people to be married.
The common law of the British Commonwealth and the United States supports this view (hence the term "common-law marriage"). In most countries, it is the government that requires some sort of solemnization, whether in front of a religious officer or an officer of the state (a justice of the peace, a mayor, a judge, or a ship's captain).
However, your other point in your last post is well taken. Imposing our real world view, or discussing it in the context of Athera, creates distortion.
I still do not believe that the Church has the monopoly on marriage. There is, even inside the Christian faith, historical and biblical precedent for two adults marrying themselves in the eyes of God (simply saying "you're my wife" and "you're my husband" and "for the rest of our lives" etc. and so on would do it). Witnesses were added later when inheritance and property issues started to arise, and it all became overly legal as marriage became more than a commitment between two people. Also, the state had to get its finger in the pie (and it is still firmly planted there, too!).
After all, the ancients had to give us lawyers something to do to justify our existence!
I have enjoyed reading this great discussion- there is so much to comment on! Here are my several 2 cents- I have read only bits and pieces of the Old and New Testaments and never found reference to priests or for that matter God sanctifying the marriages of the main players (Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, Esther, Ruth,Mary, Joseph)it seemed they "took to wife", so marrying in the eyes of God seems to have been another contrivance of the mideaval church to control the lives of the people. Modern day people of faith have an obligation to understand where the tenets of "morality" come from.In other words is sex between a married couple forced into that union(i.e. arranged marriage)less of a sin before God than sex between two unmarried people in love? I think a loving and merciful God would not condemn responsible sex within a loving relationship.
As far as educating our young: open, frank discussions, access to real information and birth control including in the schools works much better than abstinence only. I live in the US where the abstinence only sex education has been an absolute disaster. Personally I am prouder of my kids not becomming teenage parents than of what colleges they have attended!
If you think about it, Elliane and Lysaer have a *very* traditional royal marriage. Marriages, until fairly recent history, weren't so much love matches as they were legal contracts between two people for the purpose of joining finances and to establish the paternity of children so they could inherit property in the patriarchal societies where paternity determines your legal rights. Royal marriages, as is clearly the case for Lysaer and Elliane, were to formalize alliances. Almost like hostage taking, you couldn't attack the kingdom your daughter married into without damaging your grandchildren. Lysaer's treatment is pretty reprehensible by modern standards, and by Atheran standards, but not so much in the days when women had no legal standing.
What role does Ath's Brotherhood play in this situation anyways? I've never been clear on that, because they're not an organized religious institute in the way that the Christian Church is. I never got the impression that Ath's Brotherhood on Athera worked the way the Christian faith does with regards to legitimizing relationships. I mean, doesn't that make sense in a way? A relationship is what a relationship is. The Law of the Major Balance shouldn't require public/religious sanction, so I don't think the Brotherhood would play any role other than a symbolic one. Sanctioning Princes is another matter as clearly that process forges some sort of bond between land and man that can't form without an intervention from the Fellowship.. but the Fellowship aren't exactly arbiters of Ath's Law, either. They can't do anything to alter the Law of the Major Balance either, they can only act within it's bounds and the whole Sanctioned Kings thing seems to be a sort of.. artificial (sort of) construct built within that system. (And by artificial I don't mean forced, I just mean that Athera would get along just fine without the Kings, they're there to help mediate between the foreign humans and the native Paravians. They're necessary as the humans are a sort of unnatural incursion on the normal functioning of the system.) Marriage seems to be mostly a legal contract that tends to go along with feelings but.. I mean, you look at the Ships of Merior and Elaira's fear that the fisherman would lose his wife because her parents would nullify the marriage because he lost his livelihood. The grounds on which they would end the marriage were purely practical and completely disregarded the feelings of the two people in the relationship.
Whooo! I've been missing out on a doozy of a conversation, the price of not getting the messages emailed to me, but there's no way I'd be able to keep up during the week. I'm really impressed with the people listing here. It's wonderful when people can express such diverse views with respect. So much to comment on!
Marriage was only added as a sacrament in the church some time in the middle ages. I think before then people got married how and when they wished (often on the steps of the church, not inside). I gather some people wanted to make the sacraments up to a nice holy number like seven, so they added a few. Having just finished a very heavy Lenten study I'm really conscious of the difference between faith and institutional religion, and how much the law of the major balance reflects my image of how God has given this world and us free will.
I did love the image of the Neanderthals being shaped from lumps of clay by some mythical being.
Just thought I'd also add in a bit about Ath's brotherhood. I'd gathered that they do traditionally attend and bless marriages. Given that en masse they are capable of channelling Ath's love and power into the world, and individually capable of travelling through space in ways I'm not sure even the Fellowship can, I'm sure a blessing from one of them on a marriage would be a wonderful gift. That said, the nature of the marriage depends on the two people in it - no blessing is going to prevent a marriage being awful if the individuals don't work at it, but like so much in human society, a community of support makes a massive difference.
I've never been sure how far Arithon and Dalwyn went, it is left very deliberately vague. I can't believe (given his mage training and exposure to a brothel) that he would have had sex without love, even for mutual comfort. There are a multitude of ways that men and women can express care for and comfort each other in need and grief without that extreme mingling of auras. Remember Dalwyn is untouchable in her society - even being hugged would have been a forbidden blessing for her.
Someone also talked about the Law of the Major Balance almost as though it was a physical law?
I thought it was just a principle to which the Fellowship voluntarily subscribe - because they are so painfully aware that meddling/taking free will away has worse consequences in the long run?
Question is, DO they really follow the law? They do interfere a lot, is it just in service to the land? Look at Dakar's service, is that not Fellowship intervention in Arithon's life?
The Fellowship and Sethvir really seem to be manipulating things to get a child who carries on Rathain's crown bloodline. I know everything was 'free will' but there was an awful lot of other stuff going on behind the scenes. I mean, Kharadmon is sent to chase the Koriathain away from Alestron, but it is months before Asandir is sent to put a halt to the hostilities. Why couldn't Kharadmon or Luhaine have done it earlier? Was it really just because they needed a corporate sorcerer to intervene?
Gotta say that I fully agree that the violence in the series is much more distressing than the sex (as it is meant to be), but I still found myself uncomfortable with the power ascribed to sex in Stormed Fortress - maybe because it was almost like it was a cure-all for a number of woes. Perhaps I've been celibate too long and forgotten how much it is a cure-all Perhaps it is just that our society accepts/celebrates violence and cheapens sex, and in spite of everything I'm absorbing society's values. sad sad sad sad sad.
Well, I'm inclined to think that the Law of Major Balance is one of those laws that you can violate if you're unaware, but have a hard time violating once you are, my evidence being that Arithon experienced such a violent backlash when he violated it by unmaking the arrow in Curse of the Mistwraith.. I suppose his subsequent lack of access to mage talent was self-induced, but that initial bout of unconsciousness wasn't. Or am I missing thing? It's true that humans with a lack of awareness seem to violate it all the time, which is one of the reasons for the High Kings to exist in the first place. Which was my point about the the Brotherhood. Since they're aware, I can't imagine that they'd set themselves up as folks who could legitimize a marriage.. bless a marriage is a totally different role from saying you can't really be married without our approval.
Spoilers.. or something
As for the thing with the sex being a cure-all.. I got the impression that it was a cure-all for Arithon and Elaira specifically. Also that it was being used to cure backlash specifically and not really anything else. I did find it kinda weird and didn't really like that it was being used that way.. but given what we know about the exchange of energies during the act, I can see why it would work that way. Someone like Elaira or Arithon would be able to manipulate those forces to do more than just flow back and forth.
There's really never been any doubt in my mind as to whether or not Arithon and Dalwyn got physical. There were plenty of little hints from Elaira's view of it during lane watch, to Dakar's ribbing him for setting up camp in Dalwyn's tent, to Dalwyn and Arithon's conversation about whether or not Arithon was free to offer himself that way. The thing with Arithon is, you're right, he wouldn't have sex without love. But who's to say what sort of love is appropriate? Arithon is the master of empathy, I'm sort of convinced there's very few people he couldn't bring himself to love, and he already admired Dalwyn and cared about her after the events with Jilleth (I'm probably spelling that wrong.) People are capable of loving each other in so many different ways and showing that love in just as many ways, I don't think it's right to decide that some methods are only appropriate in ONE circumstance. If Arithon and Dalwyn were to come together for a brief time, I know the both of them would do so with nothing but respect for each other. Arithon told her about Elaira, so there was no deception, and Dalwyn wasn't accepting the position as "second best", she entered into that relationship with different expectations and for her own reasons. Nothing exploitative about that relationship, unlike relations in a brothel.
Thanks Lyssabits, I'm going to have to re-read Arithon and Dalwyn's time together, I didn't recall Arithon setting up in Dalwyn's tent, though I did recall them as having had a close relationship that Dakar (bless his cotton socks) would have seen in the worse possible light at the time. I also recall Dalwyn remembering Arithon with longing and affection. Maybe it's just me, I couldn't reconcile Arithon, with his hopeless (as he saw it) but incredibly deep love for Elaira, being prepared to sleep with anyone else, especially as he knew Elaira would be aware of it though their link.
I think the backlash that Arithon suffered when he unmade the arrow was because that was much more than breaching the Law of the Major Balance, it was actually unmaking something, which had (if I recall rightly) the risk of unmaking everything including Arithon. A breach of the Law of the Major Balance would be, for example, forcibly bringing Jilleth back when she was at death's door, instead of seeking her willing consent to return. It would appear that the Koriathain do it all the time.
What's the point of being true to someone who you can *never* have? That's not to say that I think you should jump into the bed of the next willing thing to come along, but yanno, Arithon was, as you say, HOPELESSLY in love with Elaira. ;) At that point he was rejecting the relationship as much as he could, because he didn't want Elaira to suffer any consequences as a result. I suspect his relationship with Dalwyn was possible due to a whole constellation of circumstances: They'd shared the experience of Jilleth's death, which was particularly hard on Dalwyn due to her barrenness and the fact that she was disbarred from seeking physical comfort of any kind from a member of her clan, Arithon was freshly from the experience with Elaira and very vulnerable, and he was planning a slaughter that would be anathema to his every instinct.. yanno, both of them had some stuff going on. Can you blame them for latching onto ANY good thing to come along? Arithon was the only one available to comfort Dalwyn as no one else would have anything to do with her and as the one person who could truly understand her loss, she was drawn to him. Dalwyn was there and in need of comfort at a time when Arithon was struggling with a number of losses and heartaches, this was something positive and joyous he could offer someone in the face of all the death he was contemplating doling out. Knowing that he could never be with Elaira in the same way, knowing that Dalwyn didn't expect anything more than he was prepared to offer and that he wouldn't leave any children behind.. I din't, and neither did Elaira, see it as any kind of comment on the love he felt for her.
Spoilers for Warhost of Vastmark:
There was a HUGE deal made out of Dalwyn's infertility. She had no kids with her first husband, then was allowed congress with five others, still no kids, so she had to wear BELLS to advertise her infertility, which meant, no relationships. That allowed Arithon not only to empathise with her, but to comfort her physically, and ease his own pain, without any possible children coming of it.
I had no doubt in my mind that it happened, and for a young man as he was then, not entirely unexpected. It made him human in my mind. But then, that's just what I read into it.
Yip, these are such great discussions. I really enjoy coming on and reading/participating. Learning a lot.
ps: - bells were ringing for Dalwyn, but not marriage ones... a nicely written reversal.