(urth) The Piteous Gate

mournings glory mourningsglory at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 21 18:08:29 PST 2006

>Mournings glory wrote:
> >If it's illegal to travel via the roads, how exactly are
> >all these people planning to get to where they're going?
>And Rob Davies:
> >Why have a gate if no one is allowed to use the road to
> >pass through it?
>Chris's post - that the law is only enforced now and then - answers both
>these points.
>Indeed, it could hardly be enforced any other way. Travel is not
>forbidden. The law, we are told, simply demands that you travel across
>the countryside. You leave the city then get off the road as fast as you
>can. Only in this particular instance there was a patrol of uhlans

This seems somewhat contradicted by what Severian is told by Master Palaemon 
in Chapter 13 of -Shadow_ (part of which has already been quoted).


"You know of the roads?"

"I know they must not be used. Nothing more."

"The Autarch Maruthas closed them. That was when I was your age. Travel
encouraged sedition, and he wished goods to enter and leave the city by the
river, where they might be easily taxed. *The law has remained in force 
and there is a redoubt, so I've heard, every fifty leagues. Still the roads
remain. Though they are in poor repair, it is said some use them by night."

"I see," I said. Closed or not, the roads might make for an easier passage 
traveling across the countryside as the law demanded.

"I doubt you do. I mean to warn you against them. They are patrolled by 
under orders to kill anyone found upon them, and since they have permission 
loot the bodies of those they slay, they are not much inclined to ask 


Notice how Palaemon says nothing about how you might be able to use the 
roads if you wish to indulge in travel Russian-roulette style. So while 
Chris's notion has a certain appeal to it, there is absolutely no evidence 
that the uhlans only selectively enforce the law when they feel like it. In 
fact, the only time we hear that travel by road is otherwise expressly 
permitted by day is in the war zone, although apparently the Pelerines can 
provide safe conduct.

Also, why we're discussing the ending of _Shadow_ I still do not understand 
the purpose of the Autarch's pandours--the cacogen warriors who stand watch 
inside the honeycombed Wall. Dr. Talos thinks they're looking for a specific 
miscreant (Osama Binlanders? Feh!) But Jonas's tale of the black beans seems 
to hint at the Megatherians. The fact that they're aliens as opposed to 
humans puzzles me too, especially since the only other aliens we meet are 
Father Inire, the Cumaean, and Ossipago, Barbatus and Famulimus--all 
Heirodules. Are the pandours from Yesod as well? And is it Father Inire they 
obey and not the Autarch? Aren't the cacogens generally disliked/feared? And 
what is it they're on the watch for that humans couldn't detect? The 
Ascians--who are far to the north? Or something even more dastardly?


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