(urth) Piteous Gate - one last rehash

Tony Ellis tonyellis69 at btopenworld.com
Tue May 23 11:16:43 PDT 2006

Apologies for dredging this up yet again, but I missed b_sharp's post
when it appeared.

b_sharp wrote:

>S- "You've been trying to kill me ever since I glimpsed you in the
crowd at 
>A- " Is that an accusation?  Yes."
>S- "You're lying."
>A- "What do you mean?"
>S- "Only that you were trying to kill me before Saltus"
>A- "With the avern. Yes, of course"
>S- "And afterward. Agia, I know who Hethor is"

<snip> ...the 
>first part of that sentence says that Agia (with Hethor's help implied)

>tried to kill Severian somewhere in the time between the avern duel and

>Saltus Fair, which she doesn't deny.

Actually, what that sentence says is that Agia was *trying* to kill
Severian between the avern duel and Saltus Fair, not that she 'tried' to
kill him. Yes, I know, I'm pedantic, but the distinction is crucial,
because 'tried' requires a specific attempt on Severian's life, whereas
'trying' offers rather more leeway. If, for example, last week I hired
an assassin to kill you, then that week I was trying to kill you. 

And this exchange is all about Severian building up to the fact that he
knows Agia hired Hethor to kill him. He's effectively saying: "Agia, I
know you've had a hired killer on my trail since before Saltus."

It's also worth noting that nothing in the way this conversation
continues suggests that anyone thinks Hethor used one of his creatures
at the Piteous Gate. Agia says: "He followed you for me after you killed
Agilus; with his silver I hired the men you killed at the old mine, and
the creatures he commands will kill you for me yet."

Not "He followed you for me and tried to kill you at the Piteous Gate,"
you notice. And the order in which Agia puts these events also makes
sense if Hethor didn't start using his creatures until after Saltus.
Followed. Used silver. Used creatures.

After this, Agia asks Severian how he guessed about Hethor. Severian
proceeds to list all the monster attacks we know of, in order: notules,
slime monster, salamander - explaining how each betrayed a connection to
Hethor. No mention of any monster at the Piteous Gate.

This is precisely my problem with the whole monster-at-the-Gate
argument: why does Severian never mention it? A monster is a pretty big
deal, especially when it's the first one you've ever seen. Why, when
Severian dreams about the Gate at the start of Claw of the Conciliator,
does he remember uhlans but not a monster? Why, when he meets Baldanders
again, does he refer to them getting separated but never say "And wow,
what about that monster in the Gate - that was really something, wasn't
it?" Why, when very other attack by Hethor's creatures gets written up,
is this one omitted?

The fact is, we don't need a monster to explain the disturbance at the
Piteous Gate. If you have a lot of people crushed into a confined space,
that's *all* you need to create a disturbance. If a bunch of armed
guards turn up and start throwing their weight around, then it's just
about inevitable.

More information about the Urth mailing list