(urth) Sev the Murderer

thalassocrat at nym.hush.com thalassocrat at nym.hush.com
Thu Jun 5 03:52:56 PDT 2008

One of the first things Sev does in BOTNS is kill an innocent man 
who is fighting to prevent the violation of his dead, who presents 
no danger to him and with whom he has no quarrel. 

"The second volunteer rasied his ax, then hesitated ... he circled 
to get a clear stroke ... The ax rose; I grasped the helve just 
below the head almost by reflex, and found myself at once in the 
struggle, kicking, then striking. Quite suddenly it was over. The 
volunteer whose bloodied weapon I held was dead."

The context makes it clear that the blood is the "second 
volunteer's", and that Sev has killed him. Only later does Sev come 
out and say explicitly that he did so. Perhaps somewhere he 
expresses some kind of remorse or shows some empathy, but I don't 
recall it.

Sev does this to protect Vodalus, of whom he knows practically 
nothing except that he is a grave robber, apparently just because 
he likes Vodalus' style: " .. it was that willingness [to die] that 
kindled my admiration for him." And because he is attracted to 

The culminating point of Sev's sham "trial" in Yesod is when he 
joins battle on the side of the eidolons against the sailors 
fighting to prevent the destruction of Urth. (UOTN XXI) The 
eidolons are weak at first, then appear to gain strength as he 
focuses on them, and when he joins the battle, they triumph at 

There is a resonance here; once again he takes sides against the 
real defenders in a cause he knows almost nothing about. He has no 
idea who the Hierogrammates and Hierarchs really are, or what their 
agenda is, or how it is to be accomplished. He had meant to 
question Apheta the night before, but was distracted by sex. At the 
crucial point, he chooses figments and fantasies over the lives of 
real people. 

This, I believe, was the point of his "trial" - willingness to 
countenance the death of his fellows in a cause which he does not 
understand, and which he makes no real effort to understand. But 
right at the start of his story he demonstrates the characteristics 
which led to his selection for the role. 

(Part of Gunnie's role in the story is I think to give us a 
viewpoint not infected with Sev's woolly mysticsm. She, like the 
other sailors, doesn't seem particularly impressed with the Hiero-
dudes; should she be, after experiencing Tzadkiel's apparent 
inability to maintain good order even on the Ship? 

At any rate, she calls Apheta a whore.  (UOTNS XXIII)

Apheta: "On Urth, women who look as I do, do no work at all - or so 
I have heard."
Gunnie: "Some do.")

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