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dusted off in read-only


posts by Triple-J Commoner | joined 18 Apr 2005 | 2

posted 18 Apr 2005, 20:04 in Author Q & AA few questions . . . by Triple-J, Commoner

To switch things up, I'll ask a question about what you've already written. Though I do love the PoN series so far, there are some aspects about the story that bother me, and I'd like to get your perspective on them. You can take the following comments as questions or as constructive criticisms; in any event they are no more and no less than the opinions of one of your readers. Kellhus displays a variety of extraordinary powers/abilities. As a fantasy reader, I'm willing to accept a number of extraordinary or impossible things on faith, without requiring an especially rigorous explanation of them. But it is important to me that a fantasy world display some kind of internal logic -- an "explanatory sufficiency," such that if I were to know all the rules of that world, I could understand how the extraordinary events were possible. In general, your books show an admirable level of this internal logic. So for example, I was satisfied by your account of how Kellhus came to dominate Leweth. You explained how Kellhus watched Leweth, what he looked for, how he had been trained to read faces for thought and emotion, and what signals Leweth gave away in response to Kellhus' words. Likewise, I had no problem with the extraordinary level of swordsmanship Kellhus displayed against the Nonman at the end of TDTCB's prologue. Even though the Nonman appeared to be a veteran of a thousand or more battles, had had centuries to study swordsmanship, and (presumably) possessed inhuman strength and speed, it's not inconceivable that Kellhus could win, given his training in the (long-lost) arts of Dunyain fighting, together with his first-rate physical gifts and natural talent with the blade. I guess what satisfies me about these examples is that, theoretically, any human could learn to do what Kellhus did, as long as they had the requisite physique/intellect; were patient enough to try to really understand another person's motivations, fears, and hopes; had undergone the necessary practice/training. But at other times Kellhus' abilities seem inexplicable. He can jumpkick a Scylvendi warrior off a charging horse, snap a steel blade in half with his hands, and pluck arrows designed to penetrate body armor out of the air. As far as I'm aware these things are literally impossible for human beings on Earth. So if things are different on Earwa, I'd want to know how. It's fine if he has some kind of magical aid, or if it turns out he's not a human after all -- but no explanation of any kind was offered. Similarly for his (now) seemingly limitless ability to read thoughts and dominate others. It was comprehensible with Leweth, since Leweth actually verbalized bits of his past for Kellhus to seize upon, spoke openly about what was on his mind, and took no care to conceal his emotions. But intelligent, cautious, emotionally guarded leaders like Nersei Proyas or General Martemus or Cnaiur? Kellhus unerringly guesses their thoughts and feelings even when the thought in question could not plausibly [i:3ntwyo8d]be[/i:3ntwyo8d] expressed on a face (e.g., toward the end of TWP, when Proyas bursts into Kellhus' bedchamber, discovers Esmi, and silently remembers Cnaiur's warning about Kellhus' duplicity). Will Kellhus never guess wrong, or fail to dominate someone? (You might reply that Conphas and Cnaiur are counterexamples, but Conphas has not yet had one-on-one time with Kellhus, and I consider Cnaiur dominated for all intents and purposes because he always ends up doing what Kellhus wants -- he gave away the secrets of War even knowing that this was his final trump card). And how did he find the water in the desert? :D --------------------------- Though this post has become extremely long, it really contains only one question: are you going to adequately explain what you have left unexplained about Kellhus? I hope for my part that the above has sufficiently clarified what I mean by "adequate" explanation. view post

posted 21 Apr 2005, 19:04 in Author Q & AA few questions . . . by Triple-J, Commoner

Ok, good hint. It's true that I became more incredulous the less I got to see (from "inside") how Kellhus was doing the things he was doing. But now I recall signs that Kellhus himself may not entirely understand his own nature. Having had so much time inside his mind, I began to assume that he alone knew what was really going on, that he was right to disbelieve what others (i.e. Akka) believed about him. Perhaps I was thrown off by this assumption. It's entirely possible that the third book will resolve all of my concerns. Of course, it could also only make them worse! :D For what it's worth -- and again, I realize that my problems with Kellhus are not necessarily shared by your other readers -- I would suggest that if Kellhus does turn out to be a prophet, you need to explain: (a) what it means to be a prophet (b) why being a prophet would give him special powers (c) what made him a prophet/how he became one Without at least basic answers to these questions, the revelation that Kellhus really is a prophet wouldn't help us understand the events of the first two books. On a different note, I have to express my admiration for the way you personalize your characters. I don't have the books in front of me right now (so forgive me if I misquote), but I remember in particular when Conphas told the leaders of the Holy War about the Vulgar Holy War's premature departure: "Conphas spoke, as he always did, as though intellectually filing his nails." Other highlights for me were when Achamian's boss at Atyersus repeated something distasteful "as though it were a morsel of questionable food"; and when Iyokus visited Achamian to apologize, "his red eyes heavy-lidded with indolent regret." For me, these literary touches elevate your writing miles above what I've come to expect from other fantasy writers. You've really rescued the genre. view post


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