(urth) The Piteous Gate

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Thu Feb 23 00:21:56 PST 2006

Tony Ellis wrote:
>Well, there is evidence in the fact that the Piteous Gate is packed with
>a multitude of travellers - including experienced wanderers such as Dr
>Talos, Baldanders and Jonas. No one expresses any concern at taking this
>route out of the city, so clearly most of the time the enforcement is at
>least lax enough to allow people to enter and leave unmolested.

And that's part of the reason why what happened that morning at the Gate was
so unusual. The large volume of travelers waiting to exit the city when the
gates opened each morning indicates that they had no reasonable expectation
of being slaughtered by mercenary troopers waiting for them outside the Gate
on the road. They would have to be idiots to routinely take such a chance,
and many of the travelers were tradesmen, as indicated by the carts and
wagons. It stands to reason that there was a similar volume of traffic each
day streaming **into** the city. Those travelers waiting **outside** the
Wall for the Gate to open could, and would, have provided ample warning to
those exiting the city, had there been any unusual military presence to
cause alarm.

No such warning was given. There had to be a common public area immediately
outside the Gate, just as there was inside the Wall, where traffic could
move freely without having to use the forbidden road. The flow of outbound
traffic was moving steadily until something happened to panic the animals
and people. Sev saw five armed riders on the road outside the Gate, with
people moving to either side of them, apparently going unmolested
cross-country. The only people the riders killed were those who had panicked
and who took off down the road. The five riders may have been waiting there
since before the Gate opened that morning; they may even have been routinely
stationed there. It doesn't matter, because, regardless of whatever paths
the travelers normally took, either that day or any other, **they did not
routinely use the road**.

This fictive fact is proven on the first page of CLAW, where the road
outside the Gate is described as "grown up in fresh grass". That road just
wasn't traveled, regardless of how well it was patrolled.

>I sometimes get the
>impression that people feel some sort of inverse Occam's Razor principle
>applies to explaining the mysteries in Wolfe's work - that the more
>fantastic the theory, the more likely it is to be true. Crabtree's
>Bludgeon springs to mind.

Generally speaking, I agree with you!


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