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Chronicles of the Black Company

Started by droqen, October 20, 2021, 01:22:23 PM

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Quote from: The Books of the South, p327Her schemes could kill thousands, could distress millions, and to her it was play.

[He said, ]"I'll never understand you."

[...]She was neither young nor empty-headed. "I don't understand myself. But I gave up trying a long time ago. It's distracting."

Games. From the first she had been involved in tortuous maneuvers and manipulations, to no obvious end. Her great pleasure was to watch a scheme flower and devour its victim.

I want to remember this moment in which the motivations behind a character's machinations are exposed... as nothing, as something explicitly intentionally unexamined by the character herself. It's on a more grand, more evil scale, but these few lines are deeply moving to me about human nature.

Especially "I don't understand myself. But I gave up trying a long time ago. It's distracting." which reminds me distinctly of the interview with Agnes Martin.

The worst thing you can think about is yourself.


Quote from: The Return of the Black Company, p 650"Only a very great evil could remain so single of purpose, so uncaring of cost, as to create something so ultimately useless."


Quote from: The Many Deaths of the Black Company, p241..if you can't think logically and argue logically, then there isn't much hope that you'll have any success with the sorcery, no matter how talented you are. I know, I know. From everything you've seen, the bigger the wizards are, the crazier they are. But within the boundaries of their insanity, every one of them is rigorously, mathematically rational. The entire power of their minds serves their insanity. When they stumble it's because they let emotions or wishful thinking get in the way.


Quote from: The Many Deaths of the Black Company, p382No world lacks its villains so self-confident that they don't believe they can get the best end of a bargain with the darkness. I married one of those. I am not sure she has learned her lesson yet.



Quote from: The Many Deaths.. p676He felt no particular elation. What he felt, in fact, was sorrow. All their lives, his and theirs, had come to no more than this. For a moment there was even the temptation to shout a warning. To cry out that that prideful fool who had made such a stupid choice in Dejagore so long ago had not meant any of them to come to this. But, no. It was too late. Fortune's die was cast. The cruel game had to be played to its end, no matter what anyone wanted.

The impact of this piece of writing doesn't reach its full significance until later in the war (battle?), when Mogaba's trap is sprung on a huge number of main characters. The title of the volume, The Many Deaths of the Black Company is really pushed here... and yet it's also strangely distant? I love the way it's written, the deaths are both deeply impactful as well as very removed. As it often is in the series.

Looking back on Mogaba's sorrow is the bitterest part of this and the most interesting to me. There are other moments leading up to the conflict, moments of hesitation and regret and inevitability... somehow I wasn't expecting such tragedies to befall the Black Company.

I suppose the horror of the trap is not especially visceral. The trap's mechanisms are described but the details of suffering and loss are left entirely unprovoked, between the lines. (Actually there are two traps. And in both cases, the annalist doesn't dwell on much. It's not even clear when a major character dies... Is that what it would be like, in a chaotic wartime situation? This occurs many times throughout the series; there is a discovery, afterwards, of exactly who is lost and who is still alive.)

It's tasteful, in a way.


Quote from: The Many Deaths.. p767[..] but she was just too young. Most of her earnest conversation seemed so naive, or even foolish, that it became hard to recall a time when I was that age, still idealistic and hurling myself at life headlong, believing that truth and right must inevitably triumph.

I kept my opinions to myself. [She] did not deserve to have her surviving optimism skewered by my bitter cynicisms.


QuoteI am a snail with the meat on the outside.