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Why can't Kellhus plan? posted 17 Dec 2005, 02:12 by Artful, Candidate

This is just confusing the heck out of me, so I'll just ask... He's a very intelligent guy. However, he frequently seems caught flat-footed. He was involved in the war planning, but he didn't forsee the water ships being ambushed? The adage 'an army marches on its stomach' is so basic that he should have been able to pick it up in an instant. He spotted the first skin-spy, but didn't think there might be others? He had to come with a new plan when he met Sarcellus. Also, he had no previous escape plan when the army got trapped. Moreover, he's a public religious figure in a hostile country with a rapidly diminishing army. He might get to his father, but I refuse to believe any amount of sweet-talking would save him if he was caught. Even bigger, he said that his ultimate mission was to prevent the corruption of the world from reaching the Dunyan. Or so he said to the trapper, and he had no reason to lie. It's equally obvious that the world is affecting him. However, he often seems to think he has much to teach them when he comes back. However, if what he said is correct, the Dunyan will kill him to prevent corruption. Why doesn't he see that? view post

posted 17 Dec 2005, 05:12 by Nauticus, Auditor

I clicked on this thread ready to tear your argument apart and prove you wrong. Upon reading your argument, I find myself at a loss of words. Good argument. Hopefully someone else can rebute it. view post

posted 17 Dec 2005, 06:12 by Entropic_existence, Moderator

I don't know if some of these points really show an inability on Kelhus' part to plan. After all, when the water ships were ambushed, it was Kelhus who found water in the desert. This was someting that further solidified his role in the Holy War and among the Inrithi. Some of the things that may directly pertain to warfare, well...he has admitted he has no knowledge of warfare, one of the many reasons he does have Cnaiur with him. I think he does know that the Dunyain may very well want to kill him should he return, after all the elders who were contacted in dreams by his father were killed. I think he has some deeper plan here, we just haven't seen it. As I'm reading one of the biggest things I keep in mind is that Bakker is an author who reveals by showing. The reader is unaware of Kelhus's ultimate goals and plans because it is something integral to the story. I don't really have access to the books though right now so I can't really go and look into it any deeper at the moment. But this is sort of my gut feeling and interpretation as I read the books. view post

posted 17 Dec 2005, 06:12 by Artful, Candidate

Finding water in the desert was example of being reactive. He couldn't have planned that because: 1) He hadn't been in a desert before 2) He would have been gambling with his own life 3) While it increased his position, it weakened the army. Clearly he thought he could have the whole thing. And are you contending that while listening to war planning he remained deliberately ignorant of everything regarding to war, trusting entirely in someone who hated him to tell him? You'll find no bigger fan of wheels-within-wheels plots than me. (Read "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman for the best example of that style.) I was completely blown away by the revelations that the Ancients of the story were in fact aliens. However, these caricture masks of characters are driving me nuts. view post

posted 17 Dec 2005, 13:12 by Twayleph, Auditor

You make some good points overall ; it's true that Khellus seems to be reacting more than he should, instead of planning, but I think to some extent he can be excused by the sheer amount of data he has to process to conquer the Holy War. Considering the considerable amount of attention this demands and his initial state of ignorance regarding the Three-Seas, I think his earlier lack of planning can be explained. Concerning the water supplies. Of course, with the benefit on hindsight, it can seem predictable that the Fanim would attack the Holy War's provisions, but can you honestly say that before you read about it, you thought to yourself "You idiots, they'll send the Cishaurim after your boats, you're marching into your doom." ? It's specified that no one among the Holy War even considered the possibility that Kian would wage war on water after the first days of the war. At least he was the first to realize what was going on among the Great Names when the fleet was missing. Concerning the skin-spies, I'll grant you he might've devised a plan to deal with them by assuming there were more than of them. But remember that when he first sighted Skeaos, he knew next to nothing about the Consult, and no-one knew about the skin-spies. He could only guess at their nature and purpose. He didn't know at the time that the Consult was secretly steering the Holy War, and so couldn't have guessed there were so many of them within the army - although he probably should've assumed there would be at least a few. Concerning what he's planned when he gets to his father and to Ishüal, I don't think we can judge his plans for that, for the simple reason that we've no idea of his plans. Perhaps I've missed some details in the books, but all I've seen for certain concerning these is that the Pragma sent Khellus as an assassin. We don't know if Khellus really intends to follow these orders anymore and as for Khellus coming back to Ishual to "enlighten" the Dunyain, where do you see him stating that? Finally, concerning warfare, Khellus probably tried to learn warfare from the Inrithi war council, but as we find out in TWP they're really not experts at it. At every turn the leaders of the Holy War are baffled and trapped by the Fanim, and as it's been indicated in TDTCB, they have to be saved from their ignorance by someone who really knows warfare - either Cnaiur or Conphas, both of which violently resist Khellus' manipulation. Being Dunyain, he [i:2q2m247p]was[/i:2q2m247p] able to learn from the war councils and even become more knowledgeable than they were in the matter - remember the examples of the desert - but there's only so much you can learn from novices. view post

posted 17 Dec 2005, 17:12 by Entropic_existence, Moderator

Aye, I agree Twayleph. The thing with what, with hindsight, may seem to be a lacki of planning on Kelhus' part isn't a lack of planning at all. Kelhus can extrapolate and scheme, and plot, and plan, and logic all he wants but the biggest, and most fundamental block to him being able to completely manipulate the situation and plan for every contingency is a lack of knowledge. Notice how as the book proceeds his planning of future events seem to become more and more firm, because he has more knowledge to work with. He has had to learn warfare, he didn't really know anything about war before the Holy War began. And no I don't think he remained deliberately ignorant, as Twayleph said, the early war councils really taught him very little, because the majority of the nobles among the Inrithi really aren't brilliant tactical minds. He has had to learn from Cnaiur and Conphas, both of whom have strong wills and a desire to see Kelhus fall. He can only learn through them as the war progresses, as they actually wage war, and employ their tactical knowledge. Sure I think he has been caught flat-footed a few times, in my opinion this gives him more depth as a character, not less. He is scary and brilliant, not perfect. He admits this to himself many times when assumptions he has made prove to be flaws. He then goes on to revise, create new assumptions, and change the variables of his calculations if you will. Kelhus adapts, this is perhaps one of his greatest strengths. view post

posted 19 Dec 2005, 02:12 by Artful, Candidate

You're just restating the question, really... saying that adapts well is the same as saying he's reactive instead of proactive. And no, as the books progress, new items keep popping up, most notable his near execution and the mysterious business of TTT. He might have some secret plot we're not aware of, but I don't really buy it. All he's ever done to plan is the broad scheme of recruiting members of the holy war, which he's done in an extremely unweildy and dangerous way. This is a very odd and inexplicable character flaw. A 'Mary Sue' character is typified as much by their sufferering as their successes. view post

posted 19 Dec 2005, 04:12 by Nauticus, Auditor

Well, how can Kellhus proact? He doesn't even know why he's going to Shimeh - he doesn't know what Moenghus wants. But how would he plan for the ships being attacked? His expertise is not war. Nobody is perfect - including Kellhus. You said it - 'character flaw'. Every character in near any book has one. Now, I don't believe he can't plan - the whole concept of manipulating a holy war to get to Shimeh is proof of that - but Kellhus can't be solely responsable for the ships attacking his, etc. view post

posted 19 Dec 2005, 14:12 by Harrol, Moderator

The issue of the skin spies was one that I always questioned. We know that in the TWP Kellhus saw about a dozen in the camp. They were a factor to him but not part of his goal. As long as the skin spies stayed out of his way he did nothing to them. As soon as one of them did get in the way he eliminated it. The example being the first Sarcellus. view post

posted 28 Dec 2005, 15:12 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

This is interesting. Usually the complaint is that he's too [i:36sa578n]good[/i:36sa578n] at maneuvering! Kellhus does get caught flatfooted on more than one occasion, and he does make mistakes, as you would [i:36sa578n]expect[/i:36sa578n], given the complexities he's dealing with. The ambush of the Imperial Navy is only obvious in retrospect. You could look at losses suffered by the greatest generals in history and compile long lists of 'it-should-have-been-obviousnesses.' The fact is, you don't know what you don't know, which is precisely why things that seem totally obvious in hindsight can be completely invisible to foresight. Think of the internet. Kellhus suffers this as much as we worldborn. Otherwise, some of your questions I'm not sure I understand, and I suspect turn on the fact that Kellhus's actual plan is not yet known by the end of TWP. Without knowing his mission, how can you assess the rationality of his course of action? Why do you think he didn't know there were other skin-spies? As for revising his plans regarding Sarcellus, he had to simply because it was now apparent they knew he could see them. Remember also, that he's playing for time through much of TWP. He's trying to manage a volatile situation, which forces him to be reactive in certain cases. As for returning and being killed, remember that the Pragma who intially received Moenghus's dream willingly committed collective suicide. view post


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