(urth) Questions about BNS

thalassocrat at nym.hush.com thalassocrat at nym.hush.com
Wed Nov 14 19:21:59 PST 2007

On Thu, 15 Nov 2007 06:26:21 +1100 Eric Ortlund 
<eortlund at briercrest.ca> wrote:
>1) When Severian enters the shop of Agilus and Agia, Agilus is 
>wearing a
>mask that makes him look like a corpse.  No detail in Wolfe is
>inconsequential: so why is that there?  Foreshadowing of Agilus' 

Also, Agilus has some kind of permanent mask attachment points on 
his neck. Sev can still see them when Agilus removes the mask. 
What's with that?

>2) When Severian and Agia are in the Jungle Garden, the apparently
>travel in time and space (the story about Father Inire's mirrors
>apparently prepares the reader for this) to a missionary couple in 

>jungle.  Can someone please explain to me what on earth the native 

>talking about on pg. 131?  The woman in the couple reads from
>Deuteronomy 34 - about Moses looking into the promised land but 
>being able to enter it - and then the native tells a story about a 

>who apparently is a woman.  I'm totally at a loss here; what is 
>connection?  What is the naked man talking about?  How does this
>contribute to the story?  

On the fish part: Just after the jungle hut scene (I think) Sev 
tells Agia the story of Inire and Thecla's little friend, the one 
in which the mirror-fish appears. I'm pretty sure this is the same 
fish, and the woman is the "reflection" of Thecla's friend. 

>3) What about the vision Dorcas and Severian see when they're 
>Nessus of the huge palace (pg 181)?  What is it of?  I vaguely 
>that the conversation which Severian has with the woman who gives 
>tea at the fair in Saltus might hint that it is somehow identified 

>the tent of the Pelerines.  Is that on the right track?

I thought it was pretty clear that this was indeed the Pelerine's 
temple rising up like a hot air balloon.

>4) At the end of Shadow of the Torturer, there's a disturbance at 
>huge gate of Nessus; we only learn in Severian's dream in the next 

>about the five soldiers turning people aside.  Severian seems so
>circumspect in describing this that I'm suspicious he knows 
>which he isn't telling us.  Is this incident in the book 
>Or is it just that Severian doesn't know why the soldiers are 

Over the years, this has puzzled many. I haven't yet heard an 
entirely satisfactory solution & don't have one myself.

>5) One more and I'll stop - when Severian nearly drowns in the 
>near the beginning of Shadow, he sees a woman's face; later, 
>during his
>dream while he's sleeping next to Baldanders, the brides of Abia 
>that they came to see him at the Gyoll - so that's who he sees.  
>questions: who is the woman crying that he hears - Thecla?  Also, 
>his friends pull him out, he says that he saw the dead Malrubius - 

>and a
>boatman asks if Malrubius is a woman.  I know this is really 
>small, but,
>like I said, no detail is insignificant; why would the boatman say 

>Is there anything here?

My guess is that the crying woman was his mother (near-death has 
dredged up a very early memory, or something like that). The 
boatman knows that water-women come up the river, and he wonders if 
"Malrubius" was one of these. (Actually, I can't remember exactly 
where we get told that water-women coming up the river is 
relatively common - but I believe at the end of CoA there's enough 
to make this clear, and SilkHorn says somethign like this in RTTW.)

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